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The Role of the Author

Ancalagon

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It is my personal conviction that JRR Tolkien narrated the events told within The Silmarillion not as Iluvatar (even though he (the Author) was the architect of this world), but as a scribe who had been directed by his own creation. Somewhat the similarity to the Old Testament is difficult to dismiss.
When you consider the genesis of time and the music of the Ainur, who could translate this knowledge other than Iluvatar himself?

Do you beleive that Tolkien saw himself as a 'vessel' or as 'creator' as he scripted the tales within The Silmarillion? More to the point; Is the vision of creation in The Ainulindale the authors interpretation of our own existence and creation enigma?
 

Courtney

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I read a biography on Tolkien once and he said that first of all that none of the books symbolized anything. One of my friends insists that Lotr is a representation of WW2. That really pisses me off. (especially since Tolkien started writing it before then) Anyway, it also said in the biography, that Tolkien felt that the world of ME existed before he wrote it down. I guess you could take that to mean he was a vessel and not the creator. That is how I take it, anyway.
 

Gothmog

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We know that Tolkien was the creator of ME. However, this was in his imagination before it was writen down. From the way it is writen I do not feel that Tolkien saw himself (the Narrator) as the creator of the world but as a vessel into which the knowledge was placed and from which the writings poured.

This is all that I can say at this point. I must give these questions much thought before I can post more.
 

Grond

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I inadvertently and erroneously referred to JRRT as Iluvator when responding to a question as to how we knew something portrayed in the book was known to have happened. I explained that the author (Iluvator) would write the truth.

My analogy is totally incorrect. I'm with Anc, Courtney and Gothmog on this issue. Tolkien was the recorder of the myth/history of Middle-earth and never portrayed himself in any divine role. I do believe that he was all-seeing, in so far as the world of Middle-earth was concerned. Not meaning that he new every tidbit of information but that he would divine and write the truth since in was from his creative inner being that the story sprung. (By the way Anc, I am still working on the Melkor thread and will post tomorrow!)
 

Ancalagon

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What about the second part of the question;

Is the vision of creation in The Ainulindale the authors interpretation of our own existence and creation enigma?
Would like your feelings on this.
 

Tar-Steve

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I'd say no because I'm under the impression that JRRT was a devoted Roman-Catholic. He thus should believe that G-d is sole creator of all.

I think Ainulindale is simply a mythology he came up with and nothing more with respect to his personal beliefs.

However, Readwryt seems to be the Tolkien man around here with the quotes and the excerpts and the letters and CLAVEN CLAVEN! (Let's see what he's got to say.)
 
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ReadWryt

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I actually believe that Tolkien approached his work on the anals of Middle-earth more from the position he had held for so long, as a historian of Language. His translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl are renowned for their accuracy and for the great care he took to keep them as closely within the social mindset and still kept, to the amazment of many, the metrical construction of both 101 line compositions. He prided himself on being capable of maintaining the "emotional texture" contained in the two pieces while translating them from a manuscript that was physically 'corrupted'.

Many times in his letters he claims that the errors in The Redbook of Westmarch were because of his "Translations" and that he was "certain" that there had been no error in the original recording of the events...I don't so much think that he thought of himself as the author of the mythology at all so much as being a translator, and in doing so I feel that he shared our joy in the discovery of the history of Middle-earth...
 

Walter

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It has already been quoted more than once (Letter to Milton Friedman, 1951) that Tolkien intended to create a mythology that would be comparable to the great Greek, Celtic, Germanic or Scandinavian ones.

Which puts Tolkien surely into the role of the "Mental Creator" of the Ainulindale as well as of the History of Middle Earth rather than the role of a Translator.

And - as far as I know - in none of the mentioned mytholgies is the part of the "Narrator" identical with the part of the "Creator" (of the Universe)

Whether the Ainulindale represents Tolkien's idea of the beginning of our universe I do not know, maybe some of the members "more firm in the lore" will know, but I am quite sure he didn't "steal" it. Nonentheless I am sure he had read most of the creation myths available to him and this has sure been a - more than marginal - influence...
 

Ancalagon

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I feel that as Tolkien continued his work, while always remaining a Christian, he devoted more and more of his time to contemplating the comparisons of his own origins both ancestral and spiritual. Although he seeked lore from a variety of sources to develop his own mythology, I beleive he became more immersed in the Ainulindale than he originally intended.

Christopher Tolkien writes in the foreward of The Silmarillion;
In his later writing mythology and poetry sank down behind his theological and philosophical preoccupations
To look at the style and structure, the depth of empathy with this single chapter, I beleive underlies his own fundamental concept of creation. Certainly as you read 'The History of Middle-Earth', it is clear the rest of his work is largely driven by Mythology and Legend. However, the very first chapter of The Sil. is inherently different to all his other writing. I do not believe there is any hint of Mythology in the earliest parts of The Ainulindale from the authors point of view, for the whole undertone describes the very fabric of Tolkiens deep held beliefs.

As a Christian, and I imagine for most people of any faith, the question we never quite seem to have answered satisfactorily is our identification with the Origin of our chosen God. What happened before the start? One only understands our own genesis (beginnings) by taking for granted the vagueness of our own 'individual' faiths and their attempted explanation of our creation. This applies to most religions, clarity is misted by vagueness and it is for this very reason that some always seek further analysis in order to fully comprehend the meaning of their origin. This is why I feel Tolkien endeavoured to explain in great depth the Ainulindale, not because it was the genesis of his own created mythology, but because he could clarify his own belief in his origin with more justification than the vague translations of the Genesis story in the Bible.

Hard to grasp? I know, but I truly hold to this theory. However, never being the type to let me away with something so 'ludicrous' I fully expect to shot down by my venerated colleagues on the forum.
 

Grond

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Very simply, I feel Tolkien was creating a mythological world and, as such, doesn't believe in it. Heck, it's a creation of his imagination. So no, it ain't his vision of real, it's his creation of how we wish it was........:)

Now to respond to Anc's last post. No Anc... I won't shoot you down. Your explanation is sound and I agree with it. I will clarify it with my own beliefs about the Genesis... both mine (Christian) and Middle-earth's.

Anc writes, "What happened before the start?" Anc, there wasn't a before. Before equates to time and time didn't begin until planets started orbiting suns. The universe, laws of physics, every single strand of information and governing rules did not exist until time started. In both the world of Middle-earth and the Christian world this didn't occur until a mechanism of time was created. For us Suns were created.... planets formed and begin rotating around it. For Middle-earth the Music of the Ainur began. For us that's all time is.... the measurement of planetary rotation around another body. For Middle-earth it was the establishment of ME and the rules that followed. So..... there was no time before the universe was created.

Jeez, I got totally confused. Does anyone understand what I'm talking about????
 

Walter

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Well I do see some analogies to like our momentary knowledge - or maybe better: theory - of how our universe actually was "born" in the big-bang. And I find the comparison of solar systems with music very appealing.

And the question - or speculation - of what has been before is as interesting. Chances are, that in some 50 billions of years our universe will stop expanding and start to contract, leading to another big-bang in some 100 billions of years which could be the birth of another universe.

So - maybe there was a time before the time started, who would know? Maybe old Tom Bombadil, but surely not old me... ;)
 

Grond

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Ty, As a Christian, I can't help but be offended by your post. To me, and all Christians (and for that matter, people of all religions) there is no mythos involved in our beliefs. It's all a matter of faith, but a faith that makes us certain that our belief system is real and not mythos. Tolkien's mythos is totally created.
 

Tar-Steve

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Grond, I think the guy's entitled to view Christian doctrine as myth if he wants to without worrying about offending your beliefs. What's truth to you is your business. To the best of my knowledge religion has no place here.
 

syongstar

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the part of the brain that relates to imagination is the door to faeryland,middle earth, oz and such ,some may see it make believe but when it is brought to this dimension and written down it has been made so believe.
 

Grond

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Tar-Steve, I have every right to be offended. Much as you would be offended if I uttered an ethnic or sexual slur at you, saying that my beliefs are fiction and unwarranted offend me.

I also have every right to state my offense. Whether anyone cares is another matter. But I will defend my and everyone elses right to post as long as "I or they are not offensive to anyone". So... right back at you!
 
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Ancalagon

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Lets not lose sight of my question;

As a Christian, and I imagine for most people of any faith, the question we never quite seem to have answered satisfactorily is our identification with the Origin of our chosen God.
Tar-Steve, I fully understand that this should not spiral into some 'religious edict' by contributors. However, I am trying to point to the relation between the Authors own faith, his initial introduction to Arda's creation story and his own personal vision of creation. I agree also with Grond,

To me, and all Christians (and for that matter, people of all religions) there is no mythos involved in our beliefs. It's all a matter of faith, but a faith that makes us certain that our belief system is real and not mythos. Tolkien's mythos is totally created
Yet, I still hold to the fact that Tolkien is (and this is important) explaining his own comprehension of Arda's creation, very much in sync with his own view of 'our' creation. I am only relating this to Ainulindale, nothing more. The remainder of his work is obviously mythical. I would refer you all to mine and others who have posted their views and argued this point before in 'The Hobbit as a Religious Parable'

http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=160

Yet, I still feel that in relation the the first few paragraphs in particular of the Ainulindale, the Author wrote with clarity and conviction his own view of our creation, simply translated into the beginnings of a mytholical and fictional masterpiece.

My view I know, but still my belief. Even moreso, this does not only relate to the Christian view of creation, but to many other faiths aswell. Yes, this is 'Pandora's Box', the proverbial 'can of worms', yet still only a personal view I have thrown to you 'lions'.
 

Walter

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Let me try to settle this some:

The early parts of the Old Testament - especially the "Genesis" are often considered or referred to as "Christian Mythology" so, I don't think there is actually a discrepancy between mythos and beliefs.

And when I read:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good...


From the "feeling" and the "tone" of it, am I the only one who sees paralleles between this and the Ainulindale?
 

Ancalagon

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Yes Walter, I fully agree with your point in relation to this, which as I am sure as you have read through mine you have noted the comparisons.
 
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Confusticated

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This is one of those threads I subscribed to for quick access when I discovered it long after it had gone dormant.

Anyhow, just bringing it up in case any newer members haven't read it and would like it.
 

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