- Nov 28, 2004
- Reaction score
Should we accept as “canon” the thing we can date as latest in Tolkien’s writings?
I don't accept it as canon. The question of Gil-galad's parentage is settled for me because for me, "latest" carries great weight (if I have no author-published version of something).
In my personal Silmarillion: '"it is so"
I see no reason not to. And I argue that even Tolkien "must" treat his published work as canon, and that he knows and illustrates that he must; and even when he just can't help himself, he wriggles or dances to explain a given change. Why? So readers will believe in green suns. Or in another sense, he knows he can't simply treat already published text as mere draft work. Altering already published work has the potential to undermine the Secondary World. I note, for example, that Tolkien doesn't simply abandon the first edition of The Hobbit, he integrates it into the Legendarium.
In short: it's (whatever "it" is) canon; his readership at large (even future generations) knows "it" and Tolkien knows he just can't ignore it.
I don't think so. But that said, I do have my reasons for constructing my personal Silmarillion. Example, I've seen folk argue that the rate of Elven-ageing in their personal Silmarillion hails from L&C, because it is more "fleshed out" and detailed there -- compared to a line in Vinyar Tengwar (which seems to agree with a line in the Line of Elros), and the VT line being a late text, certainly later than L&C, appears, at least, to put aside the notion in L&C.Better yet: Must we all agree to the same conclusions about material not published during his lifetime?
My answer, however (in short): well, if Tolkien wants to change his mind later -- and nobody knows about L&C from his perspective -- why should he feel the need to flesh out the later idea? We don't know what we don't know (which includes that maybe JRRT wants to keep this simpler), and as CJRT bent over backwards to provide dating where he could, it would seem to me that. . .
- A) Tolkien knowingly abandoned the earlier idea (however in-depth one version is compared to the next)
- B) Tolkien forgot the earlier idea -- but when putting his imagination once again to the same question, came up with an idea that suited him.
- c) Something else.
I think Christopher Tolkien would have loved to incorporate JRRT's every last known idea into his constructed version published in 1977, but again, he has restrictions that we do not, or at least, has set these restrictions for himself. My guess is that Angrod > Arothir > Gil-galad would have been CJRT's choice for the constructed Silmarilion, if he had had enough text in his father's hand to work it in without "too much" invention. Same as the Helm of Hador in my opinion.
To me "late/latest known" has weight. If Tolkien goes on for ten minutes describing a new cheese he'd like to try, and I get on my destrier to go to the market to buy that cheese . . . but at the last moment he runs out and simply cries out: "No forget the cheese, I want bacon!"
Then I get bacon