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Silmarillion - To be taken as authority?

Thorin

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In the movie forum, there was a huge discussion concerning taking only LoTr and The Hobbit as standard. Some felt that only these writings could be trusted and that all post-Tolkien works were interesting at best....

I did read somewhere that before Tolkien did LoTR he tried to get Silmarillion published, but to no avail, so he set it aside and started LoTR. After LoTR was published he turned his eyes to the Elder days of ME.

My point is, is that I think (though edited by Christopher Tolkien) the Silmarillion was pretty definitive on what Tolkien felt and agreed on concerning other matters. I think that Sil can be trusted as a definitive source along side Hobbit and LoTR.

Any comments?
 

Grond

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The Silmarillion is a complete work. There is virtually no Christopher Tolkien narrative in it. It is almost totally the 1st and 2nd age as portrayed by the author. I'm not sure if it is exactly as JRRT would have presented it (we'll never know for sure) but I feel assured that he would approve of its content.

For that reason I think is a definitive reference and can in many instances supercede inferences in the Hobbit and TLotR simply because he did amplify his thoughts that were only referenced in the other books. (ie. Luthien is only mentioned casually in the other two books. I would hold the Silmarillion as more sacrosanct concerning her. The Rings of Power is another segment that if in conflict with the other two works would hold precedent.) Of course, these are just my humble opinions. Take 'em or leave 'em.

I will say that I have less faith in UT and HoMe, simply because CT does interject an enormous amount of interpretation or which example would have been his father's definitive word on a subject aka origins of Elves. I think that only the author could have unconditionally told us what his final thoughts are.... and, alas, he never will now.:(
 
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Curufinwe

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I'm not quite catching you here, are you saying that the hobbit and lotr are the only real pieces of writing done by Tolkien and the rest are just pieces of writing that you can't trust?
 

aragil

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Curufinwe:
I think that this thread is meant to be a debate on whether post-humously published material should be regarded as having equal (or greater or lesser) authority in terms of what they say about Middle-Earth. I don't want to put words into the mouths of Grond and Thorin, but I wouldn't characterize their opinions on the post-humous material as "pieces of writing that you can't trust".
As for my opinion, I'm mostly in agreement with Greenwood on this one. I do think that we can look to UT and HoME when we need clarification- there is a much greater level of detail here for certain aspects of Middle-Earth that Tolkien didn't address in the earlier publications. It's where there is conflicts that I have problems. First off, I can't really think of any points in Silmarillion that conflict with LotR- there's a remarkable level of consistency between the two, especially considering the scope of both writings. But, as Grond has stated, Tolkien was a lot closer to being finished with the material in the Silmarillion than he was for the bulk of HoME and UT. These works just never had the chance for Tolkien to give them that last look through to make sure that everything was exactly as he wanted it. LotR did have that opportunity, plus several extra editions in publication for Tolkien to bring it to perfection.

ps. Thorin- the arm of the movie forum has grown long.
 

Thorin

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:( Leave me alone! 'sob' Why can't you just leave me alone???

;) That's okay, aragil. You can come and debate with me anytime....just leave a few certain friends at the movie forum...:D Though I'm sure there will be much less that we disagree on or need to insult each other about on these forums....And on here you all can't call me a NPW fundmentalist, because now we are on Tolkien's turf.
 
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ReadWryt

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The important thing to remember about the Silmarillion is that, the Appendicies at the end of LotR were a concession on the part of Tolkien, he originally wanted to publish all of the Silmarillion WITH LotR, but when Unwin balked at the idea Tolkien went with the Appendicies instead. Ergo the Silmarillion was in what Tolkien considered a publishable state since the original publication of LotR.

Any work that Christopher did was not to add to it, but rather to insert text from notation made by the professor changing text in his original final version. Unlike certain Movie Directors, Christopher did not Invent anything to stick into his father's work...
 

¤-Elessar-¤

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plus, wasnt the Sil actually pre-LoTR? I thought that it was what he orriginally started with, and then put it on afterburners for a while. I really think I remember hearing that somewhere...any comments?
 

Walter

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The first origins of The Silmarillion reach back as far as 1914 - Eärendil's starship episode - and by 1923 the book was more or less finished (for the first time), long before he started working on the Hobbit or the LotR. But rather than finishing the book and offering it for publication, Tolkien started to rewrite it, partly for he might have been afraid no one would want to publish it, partly because he didn't like the idea of having finished his "process of creation" on this book that after all meant something like a "lifetime passion" for Prof. Tolkien...

So - if anything at all - I would consider The Silmarillion as the authoritative source...
 

Greenwood

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In the movie forum, there was a huge discussion concerning taking only LoTr and The Hobbit as standard. Some felt that only these writings could be trusted and that all post-Tolkien works were interesting at best....
Hi Thorin! :)

I am afraid you have misunderstood the "huge discussion". The question was in the case of a conflict between LOTR and Tolkien's posthumously published work which should be given more weight concerning the conflict as regards LOTR. The answer based on standard principles of research is LOTR. It is the primary source, all other sources are secondary. As Aragil has said Tolkien had the opportunity to review and approve The Hobbit and LOTR in final form before publication and even to make changes in later editions, a chance he never had for The Silmarillion and all works published later. Remember, we are dealing with works of fiction, not actual history. Things mean only what Tolkien wanted them to mean.

The debate, in fact, was started because someone who claimed to be a purist insisted on accepting a definition found in a reference book by another author over Tolkien's own clear meaning in LOTR.

Good to see you again. :)
 

Bucky

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The basis for all the information in the Silmarillion is pretty clearly laid out in Christopher Tolkien's forward:

1. 'A complete consistency (either within the Silmarillion or between it & my father's other published works) is not to be looked for'.

2. 'My father came to conceive of The Silmarillion as a compillation,.... made long after by sources of great diversity (poems & annals, & oral tales). These, in Tolkien's 'explanation' of this being a real world, were finally put to writing by Bilbo & Frodo & included in The Red Book.....


Some other points:

3. This was not a finished work when Tolkien died. This can clearly be seen in Unfinished Tales, where 2 stories, 'Of Tour & His Coming To Gondolin' & 'Narn I Hin Hurin' are partially expanded on to a level similar to The Hobbit & TLOR.
Myself, when I read the book, I switch to the longer tales in UT at the parts where they appear in The Silmarillion.

4. I don't know where he says it, but Christopher Tolkien comments somewhere (UT I think) about 'The end of the world, when Melkor is unchained & returns for the final battle' (paraphrase), that this has to do with the 3rd (or is it 2nd?) prophecy of Mandos, & 'it would need some explanation & development in regards to the published form'.

5. I personally also find no major historical inconsistencies with The Silmarillion & The Hobbit & TLOR.

6. I also take it as 'fact' as it pertains to the history of Middle Earth.....
 

lilhobo

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i dont think its the historical/chronological facts we are worried about......

it the more fundamental issues like immortality, what form can sauron take etc,
 

Eonwe

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Bucky said:

"I personally also find no major historical inconsistencies with The Silmarillion & The Hobbit & TLOR"

I never have seen anything either, right down to the song Aragorn sings about Luthien. Anybody else know of anything in the Sil that is inconsistent with TLOR?
 

Bucky

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The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is that in Appendix B, prior to 'The Tale of the Years', a different name or 2 is used for Elves. Finarfin & Finrod seem to come to mind.
It could be a typo though.
 

Greenwood

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Bucky and Eonwe

The dispute that Thorin refers to on the movie forum in the opening of this thread was over the meaning of the words uruk vs. Uruk-hai. Several people said that the two words were interchangeable. I and others pointed out that in LOTR they are not used interchangeably and that Tolkien seemed to consistently use Uruk-hai to refer to Saurman's elite troops who were apparently a blending of humans and orcs and who could tolerate daylight. In contrast uruks seemed to be a perhaps more general term for the large soldier orcs in Sauron's employ who gave little evidence of light tolerence. Those of us holding this view gave a number of direct quotations from LOTR demonstrating the use of the words in LOTR. Other people claimed that the two terms were interchangeable and gave as their evidence the fact that a number of Tolkien scholars and compendiums, as well as the appendix in Unfinished Tales, claimed the terms were interchangeable. It was at that point that I pointed out, with backing from Aragil and others, that as a general rule of research when discussing the meaning of things in The Hobbit and LOTR, or conflicts between The Hobbit and LOTR and posthumously published Tolkien works, the latter works are secondary sources and cannot refute the clear meaning in The Hobbit or LOTR. This of course applies even more strongly for the works and opinions of other authors, including Tolkien's son Christopher.

This is just a matter of basic principles of research applicable to many fields beyond Tolkien. To further elaborate on the question, it has been pointed out many times that Tolkien was an author who nearly constantly rethought and rewrote his work. Obviously one result of this is that the meaning of words that Tolkien invented might change over time in the reworking. The Hobbit and LOTR are the only major Middle Earth works to be published during Tolkien's lifetime with his approval. He even changed things between editions, which is certainly his right as an author. Having died before The Silmarillion and all later books were published, these books clearly do not have the same kind of "seal of approval" from Tolkien. As Bucky has quoted, Christopher Tolkien says in his foreward to The Slmarillion "A complete consistency (either within the Silmarillion or between it & my father's other published works) is not to be looked for."

The question was never one of "trust" as Thorin phrased it, but of which works were published in a final form by Tolkien himself and which were in essence still drafts.
 
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Tar-Palantir

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Originally posted by Bucky
The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is that in Appendix B, prior to 'The Tale of the Years', a different name or 2 is used for Elves. Finarfin & Finrod seem to come to mind.
It could be a typo though.
I think there's a note on this in UT (the chapter on Galadriel, maybe?) where CT states that in the first edition of LOTR, Finrod was named as the person who eventually became Finarfin and the son was named Felagund. JRRT amended this in all subsequent versions of LOTR.
 

Grond

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LOL Tar-Elenion, after a year at the back of the pack, I'm glad you brought this thread to forward again. After doing another year's worth of reading and research, I'm not sure I'm willing to call anything in Tolkien's writings canon anymore. You find things in so many of the HoMe that are seeking to bring his First and Second Age writings in line with his published works. His attempts were great but I don't think I give the Silmarillion canon status. There are two many alternative writings that have been revealed in UT and HoMe for us to know which were his "final" views.
 

GuardianRanger

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I'm looking into getting HoME....I'd really like to get a box set where I can get all the books at once.

I know there has been some talk as whether or not these books can be referred to as canon. My question is, were these books actually written by JRRT, or are they mostly extrapolation by his son. I always see his son's name on the covers of the books. How much of the writing is JRRT's and how much belongs to his son?

As for the Silmarillion, I think I fall into the camp of those who believe that book to be part of the canon.


Thanks.
 

Grond

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Originally posted by GuardianRanger
I'm looking into getting HoME....I'd really like to get a box set where I can get all the books at once.

I know there has been some talk as whether or not these books can be referred to as canon. My question is, were these books actually written by JRRT, or are they mostly extrapolation by his son. I always see his son's name on the covers of the books. How much of the writing is JRRT's and how much belongs to his son?

As for the Silmarillion, I think I fall into the camp of those who believe that book to be part of the canon.


Thanks.
The Silmarillion was never a finished work. Christopher Tolkien actually edited the Silmarillion and it was he, who decided which versions of the histories to put forward. Knowing that, we can hardly assign any more credence to the Silmarilliion as a work of J. R. R. T. than we can the HoMe.

GuardianRanger, the HoMe is completely filled with writings of J. R. R. T. These represent many of the alternative versions/history that Christopher culled through and "rejected" for the published Simlarillion. These texts do have significant additional narrative from Christopher (who should know his father's mind better than anyone currently living, although he is surely not infallible.) I find many of the alternative stories in the HoMe series to have just as much merit as the published Silmarillion. For that reason, I give the Silmarillion no more authority than U. T. or HoMe. The only authoritative works we know for sure are the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings with the Appendices which were written and edited by the writer himself.
 

Maedhros

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The Silmarillion was never a finished work. Christopher Tolkien actually edited the Silmarillion and it was he, who decided which versions of the histories to put forward. Knowing that, we can hardly assign any more credence to the Silmarilliion as a work of J. R. R. T. than we can the HoMe.
I think that Christopher decided to put the stories that were completed and not necessarily his father's latest ideas. And Christopher has stated that if he would do the Sil again, he would change certain things. Ex. the parentage of Gil-Galad. I agree with Grond that the Published Silmarillion cannot be considered canon.
 

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