Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The origins of Elrond

Did you know that when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the character Elrond of Rivendell was not intended to be Elrond, son of Eärendil (who already existed in Tolkien's unpublished writings on the First Age)?

Elrond of Rivendell was conceived as a long-range descendant of Elrond, son of Eärendil, genetically in a position similar to that later occupied by Aragorn. His introduction in The Hobbit hints at this: The master of the house was an elf-friend -- one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories before the beginning of History, the wars of the evil goblins and the elves and the first men in the North. In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond the master of the house was their chief.

When Tolkien was writing LotR and decided to bring back Elrond, he at first had the same idea in mind. In an early draft, Erestor is also described as being one of Elrond's kin and of mixed human and Elven ancestry; there was supposed to be a whole clan of them. Then it occurred to Tolkien that it would be really cool if Elrond of Rivendell actually was the son of Eärendil, still present in Middle-earth after all that time. Nothing he had written in The Hobbit ruled that out, so the two Elronds were merged and became the same person. Since Tolkien still wanted a clan of Men with distant Elven ancestry, Elrond developed a convenient twin brother to found that line.

This wasn't the only time Tolkien considered merging two characters with the same name, originally conceived as different people. The other famous case is that of Glorfindel: the one we meet in LotR borrowed the name of the hero of Gondolin, but was not intended to be the same person. Later, Tolkien again got the idea of making the two into the same character, in this case reembodied after death and returned to Middle-earth. The merging of the Glorfindels never made it into canonical publication, however; it came from late in Tolkien's life, and we know of it through an essay which appears in HoME.

~ Originally posted by Reera the Red

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Geste part 6

Someone, I can't remember who, asked if we could look at the moment when Beren
receives his quest. So here it is:

A treasure dear I too desire,
but rocks and steel and Morgoth's fire
from all the powers of Elfinesse
do keep the jewel I would possess.
Yet bonds like these I hear thee say
affright thee not. Now go thy way!
Bring me one shining Silmaril
from Morgoth's crown, then if she will,
may Lúthien set her hand in thine;
then shalt thou have this jewel of mine.'

Need a little exposition? Ok... Lúthien, or 'Lúthien Tinuviel', as Beren called her (Nightingale, daughter of twilight in Sindarin), was the fairest of all elven maids and dwelt in Beleriand, in her father's kingdom of Doriath during the First Age. Her father, Thingol (also known as Elwë Singollo star-man. Thingol basically means grey-cloak) discovers that Beren has wandered into his kingdom uninvited. Not only that, but the mortal has seen and fallen in love with his daughter. Thingol swears not to harm him but demands that Beren come to speak with him. The King has no desire to permit Beren to take his beautiful daughter away. And thus sets him what appears an impossible task. As the speech above describes. If he succeeds, Lúthien will be his, but if he fails, Beren will leave empty-handed (hehe - sorry, empty-handed? *snert* Erm... never mind). And as insurance, the fair elven maid is locked away in Doriath by her mother Melian. (Melian was a maia like Gandalf and Saruman, the story of how she meets Thingol is truly beautiful, but that's for another time).

Why is this such a difficult task? Well, Morgoth lived in a dark underground fortress kingdom called Angband. It was a mighty fortified citidel that would make Barad-dur look like a holiday camp. Balrogs and supernatural werewolves prowled about it, the Encyclopedia of Arda gives its chambers the name "Hells of Iron" Someone better versed than me will be able to tell you if that was a title Tolkien himself created. It wouldn't surprise me! This is a basic description for you::

"Angband was primarily an underground fortress, it had many hidden underground chambers and vaults far beneath the earth. Its main features above ground were the three peaks of the Thangorodrim, mighty towers of ash and slag raised above Angband's gates. The peaks of Thangorodrim were hollow, and from them channels and chimneys ran down to the deepest pits of Angband. So, Morgoth could produce poisonous clouds and vapours,"

The Lay of Beleriand says of Angband:

"The wolf howls. The ravens flee.
The ice mutters in the mouths of the sea.
The captives sad in Angband mourn."

Indeed it is so impenatrable that the Noldor held an unbroken seige against it for 400 years! Not a description that fills one with hope and confidence!

As for the Silmarils themselves, they were held in an Iron Crown that Morgoth had fashioned himself and never removed. The jewels were fused into the crown by the same evil magic that made Melkor powerful enough to torment Middle-earth for so many years.

All this I hope will add weight and force to Beren's response to the Sindarin King's request:

Then Beren laughed more loud than they
in bitterness, and thus did say:
'For little price do elven-kings
their daughters sell--for gems and rings
and things of gold! If such thy will,
thy bidding I will now fulfill.
On Beren son of Barahir
thou hast not looked the last, I fear.
Farewell, Tinúviel, starlit maiden!
Ere the pale winter pass snowladen,
I will return, not to thee to buy
with any jewel in Elfinesse,
but to find my love in loveliness,
a flower that grows beneath the sky.

He must have been in love...!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

typo semantics

bumpkin notices a typing mistake

I found a typo in the The Lord of the Rings Centenary edition. Yes, page 1130 Appendix B, March 12 section.
If you dont have a life either you can spend some valueless time looking this up. What is it?

Years ago I found two typos (1) In the Fellowship and the other one in TT.
Im wondering - Any others - maybe different editions?

Reera the Red replies

Which edition do you have? UK or US? Apparently the pagination differs, since page 1130 in my (US) edition puts me in Appendix F.

On the other hand, you may have access to a time warp, since you say that this is the "Centenary edition", and LotR was only published 50 years ago. (The fancy new volumes are 50th anniversary editions, not centenary.)

Anyhow -- I assume you're referring to March 12, 3019, as that's the only March 12 I can find an entry for. That one reads as follows in my edition:

"Gollum leads Frodo into Shelob's lair. Faramir retreats to the Causeway Forts. Théoden camps under Min-rimmon. Aragorn drives the enemy towards Pelargir. The Ents defeat the invaders of Rohan."

No typos in mine, and the only change I see from the earlier editions I have is that "Min-rimmon" is now hyphenated -- it wasn't before. This is a correction, as it now matches other references in the text.

The 50th anniversary edition has done a nice job of cleaning up some longstanding inconsistencies and errors in the text. I looked up a few of my pet peeves from earlier editions as soon as I got it, and was pleased to see them cleared up.

Arevanye states

No, no time warp. I believe bumpkin is referring to the special edition that was published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tolkien's birth. It is also the one that contains the illustrations by Alan Lee. The back cover of mine has a lovely seal with Tolkien's JRRT graphic, and the words

The Centenary
1892 - 1992

The reference you cite is the appropriate one--and in the centenary edition there is no hyphen in this entry for "Minrimmon".

Reera the Red

Ah, that makes sense. If that text wasn't specially prepared and corrected for the edition, though, I'd expect it to have a number of the errors which have been repeated in various editions over the years. That was why I particularly wanted the 50th anniversary edition; it had been carefully and painstakingly edited to remove those errors and produce a "definitive" text. (I haven't found any new errors in that one yet, and the old ones are certainly pretty much gone, although I did notice one questionable old reference which I thought Christopher might change for this volume, but didn't.)

grammaboodawg adds

Found a huge mistake in the Ballantine/Fantasy edition: Copyright 1965, 60th printing: June 1977 ISBN 0345253434

Many Meetings: Fellowship of the Ring

pg 291 -- the paragraph is totally screwed up. It reads:

"'Only a Ranger!' cried Gandalf. 'My dear Frodo, that is just what the Rangers are: the last remnant in the North helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days of the great people, the Men of the West. They have to come; for we have reached Rivendell, but the Ring is not yet at rest.'"

It should read:

"'Only a Ranger!' cried Gandalf. 'My dear Frodo, that is just what the Rangers are: the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West. They have helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days to come; for we have reached Rivendell, but the Ring is not yet at rest.'"

any more?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Geste part 5

For those who haven't seen my occasional posts on Tolkien's other work, this should be fairly self-explanatory...

It is quite simply, a very different kind of Book Spoiler. To try and encourage those of us who seldom, or never, brave the world of the Reading Room to look deeper into all that Tolkien created. At the moment we are going through extracts from the Lay of Beleriand, which covers the story of the mortal Beren and his beloved elven Lady Lúthien. Two lovers in whose footsteps Arwen and Aragorn later walked.

I'll give some explanation of what is going on, and feel free to comment any way you like, ask questions, note the poetic style, the imagery, the story line, tell us if you hate it, find it boring, fall into hysterical weeping.. anything really. And if you've discovered some exciting nugget of information yourself, feel free to add it!

Well, without further hesitation, I thought I'd just throw you straight in this week and give you a chance to explore the poetry for its own sake before I give you some information as to what it's all about. Tolkien's words alone are enough to give you a sense of atmosphere!

In Wizard's Isle still lay forgot,
enmeshed and tortured in that grot
cold, evil, doorless, without light,
and blank-eyed stared at endless night
two comrades. Now alone they were._________2570
The others lived no more, but bare
their broken bones would lie and tell
how ten had served their master well
There in the dark they wrestled slow,__________2620
remorseless, snarling, to and fro,
teeth in flesh, gripe on throat,
fingers locked in shaggy coat,
spurring Beren who there lying
heard the werewolf gasping, dying._____________2625
Then a voice he heard: 'Farewell!
On earth I need no longer dwell,
friend and comrade, Beren bold.
My heart is burst, my limbs are cold.
Here all my power I have spent
To break my bonds, and dreadful rent
Of poisened teeth is in my breast
I now must go to my long rest
Neath Timbrenting in timeless halls
Where drink the gods, where the light falls
Upon the shining sea.' Thus died the king
As elvish singers yet do sing.


So sad....

so, what's going on?

Well, I'll start with where the scene is set.

The 'Wizard-isle' is also known as 'Tol-in-Gaurhoth' - The Isle of Werewolves.

It was originally 'Tol Sirion', an island in the middle of the river Sirion, on which the elf Finrod Felagund (Galadriel's brother) built the first Minas Tirith - which literally means 'Tower of the Guard'. A tower that watched over the western pass of Beleriand to protect it from attack by Morgoth or his servant Sauron.

Alas. In the late First Age it was captured by Sauron who held it himself for about ten years. He inhabited the tower instead of destroying it, filling it with his dark malice and the filthy, evil servants at his command.

Meanwhile, Beren enlisted the help of the dispossessed Finrod to go on the quest to Angband to snatch a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. He hoped, as I'm sure you know by now, that by doing this he would win permission to take Lúthien's hand. The story is fairly familiar in many ways. It mirrors the path that Frodo and Sam take in LOTR.

Dressed in the guise of Orcs (heard that one before?) they passed through Anfauglith. Anfauglith was originally the plain of Ard-galen -literally the 'Green-Region'-, between the Elvish realms of Beleriand and Morgoth's Angband stronghold. It was a beautiful grassland in which the Elves set up their camps during their siege of Morgoth's lair. One dreadful day, which was to be known as 'Dagor Bragollach' - the Battle of Sudden Flame - Morgoth sent rivers of flame pouring out from Angband which destroyed the Elvish armies and turning Ard-galen into a desert.

"Thus Ard-galen perished ... and it was called Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust. Many charred bones had there their roofless grave..."
(Quenta Silmarillion 18 - Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)

That reminds me of the plains of Dagorlad (or 'Battle Plain') outside Mordor that Tolkien describes as having the detritus of Mordor vomited all over it. Nasty!

In a reversal of Frodo's fortunes, it was while dressed as Orcs that Beren and Fingon were captured. And Sauron held them in the pits of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, surrounded by "...werewolves; fell beasts inhabited by dreadful spirits that he [Sauron] had imprisoned in their bodies" (The Silmarillion, 19 Of Beren and Lúthien).


Alas in a mortal irony Finrod is killed by Sauron's minions - or perhaps simply by the dread nature of his captivity - in the very tower that he created to keep Sauron out.

But what of Beren? Has his quest to reach Angband and the Silmarils failed too?

Well, as Beren lies in the dark dungeons of Sauron's Isle, Lúthien becomes aware of a darkness creeping over her heart. Her mother Melian tells her that this is a sign of Beren's capture. So the Elven Lady travels northward to find him, but gets tangled in her own adventures. Then comes Huan the Hound of Valinor:

Thus Huan spake, who never before
had uttered words, but twice more
did speak in elven tongue again:
'Lady beloved, whom all Men,
whom elfinesse, and whom all things
with fur and fell and feathered wings
should serve and love--arise! away!
Put on thy cloak! Before the day
comes over Nargothrond we fly
to Northern perils, thou and I.

And so she makes her way to Tol-in-Gaurhoth to try to rescue her beloved, with Huan in tow to aid her fight against the fell beasts of Sauron's making.....


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tolkien's home: 20 Northmoor Rd, Oxford

9:32am (UK)
Suburban House Where JRR Tolkien Wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Is Listed by Heritage Minister Andrew Mcintosh

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (152¼04) issued by the Government News Network on 23 November 2004

A comfortable 1920s eight bedroom house in the suburbs of Oxford is to become a Grade II listed building, Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh announced today.

Despite having no special architectural qualities, the house is to get the extra protection from alteration or demolition that listed building status confers, because of its historical importance.

For it was there – between 1930 and 1947 – that Prof. JRR Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and virtually all of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently voted the ’most popular book in Britain’ in a BBC survey.

Andrew McIntosh said:

“Buildings are usually listed because of their fine architecture or unique design. But we can also give protection to buildings that have historical association with nationally important people or events. Professor Tolkien’s house in Oxford is a fine example of this.

“The house is largely unaltered since Tolkien’s time, with original doors, doorhandles and ornate window catches. As such it is an important part of our national heritage, and worthy of the additional layer of protection that listing brings.”

Notes to Editors

1. The house – at 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford – was built in 1924 by Fred Openshaw, a local architect, for Basil Blackwell, the owner of Oxford’s famours bookshop. JRR Tolkien lived in the house from 1930 to 1947 and is known to have written The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the drawing room. The interior plan, as well as numerous features, survives unaltered except for the removal of a wall between the former study and drawing room (by Prof. Tolkien) in order to increase the size of his study, presumably to accommodate the increasing number of reference books required to write his work. The main purpose of listing a building is to ensure that care will be taken over decisions affecting its future, that any alterations respect the particular character and interest of the building, and that the case for its preservation is taken fully into account in considering the merits of any redevelopment proposals. The listing covers the whole of the building. Any significant changes to exterior, interior or within the curtilage of the building would require listed building consent. The listing is not restricted to features mentioned in the list description.

2. The criteria for listing are set out in Section 6 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment (PPG15). This can be found on this web page:–planning/documents/page/odpm–plan–606900.hcsp

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 6276¼6272

Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153

Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6200


Department for Culture, Media and Sport

2-4 Cockspur Street

London SW1Y 5DH

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Geste part 4

A very different kind of Book Spoiler....

From the Geste of Beren and Luthien:

Imagine the scene... a ragged, forlorn, weary Beren chances upon a maid, dancing on a hillock... and is lost.

Of finding, (lines 687 to 700):

"The wind dies; the starry choirs
leap in the silent sky to fires,
whose light comes bitter-cold and sheer
through domes of frozen crystal clear.
A sparkle through the darkling trees,
a piercing glint of light he sees,
and there she dances all alone
upon a treeless knoll of stone!
Her mantle blue with jewels white
caught all the rays of frosted light,
She shone with cold and wintry flame,
as dancing down the hill she came,
and passed his watchful silent gaze,
a glimmer as of stars ablaze."

... and then in lines 1210 to 1223 after Beren is banished from Doriath;

of losing:

"The murmurs soft awake once more
about the woods, the water roar
past the great gates of Thingol's halls;
but no dancing step of Lúthien falls
on turf or leaf. For she forlorn,
where stumbled once, where bruised and torn,
with longing on him like a dream
had Beren sat by the shrouded stream
Esgalduin the dark and strong,
she sat and mourned in a low song:
'Endless roll the waters past!
To this my love hath come at last,
enchanted waters pitiless,
a heartache and a loneliness.'"

What are your thoughts on the passages? Any comments are welcome.

A couple of thoughts about Beren falling in love with Luthien. (these mostly come from a friend of mine who's walking me through his favourite passages bit by bit - it's really thanks to him that you get these posts at all, I haven't got a copy of the Lays of Beleriand yet.. *hangs head in shame*)

on falling in love:

And now his heart was healed and slain
with a new life and with new pain.

Lines 555/6

I like that interpretation of Love.. exquisite pain, that brings life and slays
at the same time.

He gazed, and as he gazed her hair
within its cloudy web did snare
the silver moonbeams sifting white
between the leaves, and glinting bright
the tremulous starlight of the skies
was caught and mirrored in her eyes.

It's good to remember, at this point, that Tolkien chose to have the names Beren and Luthien engraved upon his tombstone, beneath his own name and the name of his wife.

I am reminded of a comment made by Thomas Hardy of Tess Durbyfield...

"She influenced me..."

And yet, she was his own creation!

It testifies to the amazing power that words have, and how majorly a created world can affect its creator.

JRRT said (like many authors) that his characters

just took over. Remember his comment about Strider?

"But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure." ~ Letters 163 #216-7

it's almost as if he was the one on the adventure...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Friendship Quotes

Altaira's Birthday Mathom

This just happens to be my birthday, and true to TORN tradition, I’ve prepared a special mathom just for all of you.

As I pondered whether to parody or limerick, roast or hug, it occurred to me that the most important thing about TORN to me is the friendships I’ve made along the way (not to start a hug-fest or anything, Draupne and Fingon would kill me ;-)). So I decided to gather up quotes from LOTR that mentioned friends.

Piece of birthday cake, you say! But, true to the essence of our beloved Professor, there are scores of references to friendship in LOTR. I had forgotten how many times our heroes refer to each other as dear friends. Thus, I was forced to narrow it down to twenty-five.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite references to friendship in LOTR, along with a few images of friends I’ve made along the way. (looks both ways, and at the risk of getting whacked on the side of the head, hugs everyone)!

1) Frodo (The Shadow of the Past): “O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid.”

2) Gildor (Three is Company) “Be careful, friends!” cried Gildor laughing. “Speak no secrets! Here is a scholar of the Ancient Tongue. Bilbo was a good master. Hail Elf-friend” he said to Frodo.

3) Gildor (Three is Company) “If you demand advice, I will for friendship’s sake give it... take such friends as are trusty and willing”

4) Gildor (Three is Company) “I name you Elf-friend, and may the stars shine upon the end of your road”

(Two towers Oscar party-goers)

5) Frodo (A Shortcut to Mushrooms) “I’ve been in terror of you and your dogs for over thirty years, Farmer Maggot. It’s a pity: for I’ve missed a good friend."

6) Merry (A Conspiracy Unmasked) “You can trust us to stick to you, through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”

(ROTK Oscar Party-goers)
7) Guess who? (The Old Forest) “Hop along my little friends, up the Withywindle.”

8) (Flight to the Ford) “[Frodo] saw his friends’ faces more clearly again, and a measure of new strength and hope returned.”

9) Gandalf (The Council of Elrond): “..and Shadowfax departed.. but a great friendship has grown between us, and if I have need he will come at my call.”

10) Elrond to Frodo (the Council of Elrond): “Though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador and Hurin, and Turin, and Beren himself were assembled together your seat should be among them.”

11) Elrond to the Fellowship (The Ring Goes South): “You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends along your way when you least look for it.”

12) Legolas (The Riders of Rohan): “Come, you shall sit behind me, friend Gimli. Then all will be well and you need neither borrow a horse nor be troubled by one… Gimli was lifted up behind his friend and he clung to him, not much more at ease than Sam Gamgee in a boat.” (Marquette group)

13) Treebeard to Merry & Pippin (Treebeard): “Many of those trees were my friends, creatures I had known from nut and acorn; many had voices of their own that are lost forever now.”

14) Treebeard to Merry & Pippin (Treebeard): “Of course, it’s likely enough my friends, likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents.”

15) Aragorn to Gandalf (The White Rider): “In one thing you have not changed, dear friend, you still speak in riddles.”

16) Theoden witnessing the reunion of the three hunters with Merry and Pippin (The Road to Isengard): “It cannot be doubted that we witness the meeting of dear friends... The days are fated to be filled with marvels.”

17) Legolas to Treebeard (The Voice of Saruman): “I should dearly love to journey in Fangorn’s wood. I have made a bargain with my friend that, if all goes well, we will visit Fangorn together – by your leave…” “Any Elf that comes with you will be welcome,” said Treebeard. “The friend I speak of is not an Elf. I mean Gimli.” “Hoom! This is a strange friendship!”

18) Treebeard referring to Merry & Pippin (The Voice of Saruman): “I shall miss them. We have become friends in so short a while that I think I must be getting hasty. They shall remain friends as long as leaves are renewed.”

19) Frodo to Sam about what to do after the Ring is destroyed (The Passage of the Marshes): “But Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit – indeed, Sam my dearest Hobbit, friend of friends – I do not think we need give thought to what comes after that.”

20) Frodo to Faramir (Journey to the Cross-roads): “Most gracious host, it was said to me by Elrond Halfelven that I should find friendship upon the way, secret and unlooked for. Certainly I looked for no such friendship as you have shown. To have found it turns great evil to good.”

21) Eomer to Aragorn (The Battle of the Pelennor Fields): “Twice blessed is help unlooked for, and never was a meeting of friends so joyful,” and they clasped hand in had. “Nor indeed more timely,” said Eomer. “You come none too soon, my friend. Much loss and sorrow has befallen us.” “Then let us avenge it ere we speak of it,” said Aragorn, and they rode to battle together.”

22) Gandalf & Gwaihir (The Field of Cormallen): “Twice you have born me, Gwaihir my friend,” said Gandalf. “Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing. You will not find me a burden much greater than when you bore me from Zirak-zigal, when my old life burned away.” “I would bear you,” answered Gwaihir, “whither you will, even were you made of stone.”

23) Aragorn (The Steward & The King): “A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when it comes I would have my friends beside me.”

24) Pippin (Many Partings): “I wish we could have a Stone that we could see all our friends in and that we could speak to them from far away.”

25) Gandalf to the Hobbits (Homeward Bound): “As for you my dear friends you will need no help. You are grown up now. Grown indeed very high; among the great you are, and I have no longer any fear at all for any of you.”

(Maori bone carving - gift from a friend)

Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings. It must always be given, it cannot be bought for oneself.

Altaira - if you want me to remove any pictures, do let me know!