The following review is probably the longest review we will post for some time, but those of you who are familiar with the Histories will understand why Charles has gone into such detail.
Edited by Christopher Tolkien.
London: HarperCollins, 1996. £25 (hardbacks now out of print).
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Paperbacks: HarperCollins, London, £9.99
Review by Charles B. Noad
This, the twelfth and final volume of The History of Middle-earth, returns to the composition of The Lord of the Rings, being for the greater part of its length concerned with the evolution of the Prologue and Appendices to that work. Various later writings (including, at long last, the paper on the reincarnation of Glorfindel and what exists of The New Shadow) take up the remainder of the book.
Most of the supplementary writings (Appendices and Prologue) were composed subsequent to the main body of The Lord of the Rings narrative. Tolkien was under severe pressure both to finish them in time for publication of The Return of the King, and to trim them to fit within the allotted space. As we shall see, these constraints had a detrimental effect on the final versions.
It might be noted at this point that although in most cases there was a fairly straightforward line of development of each particular text from its earliest drafts to its final published form, there was also (as one might expect with Tolkien) some shifting about and repositioning of sections of texts before the definitive arrangement was arrived at. Some of this process simply involved taking out some of the passages of lore and history which had come up in the main narrative and relocating them in the Prologue or Appendices.
The Prologue has origins nearly concurrent with the start of writing The Lord of the Rings, but incorporates further changes and expansions beginning in about summer 1948. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this work is how Tolkien handled the new, 'true' account of Bilbo's finding of the One Ring. In 1947 he had sent Sir Stanley Unwin what he considered no more than a 'specimen' of a rewritten Chapter V of The Hobbit containing the new account. He was greatly surprised to receive in July 1950 proofs of the next edition of The Hobbit incorporating those changes; however, he accepted the publication of this version, but with the necessity of now having to adjust the text of The Lord of the Rings to accommodate the existence of the new version in the published Hobbit. He hesitated between leaving the old 'Birthday Present' account in the Prologue and having Gandalf reveal the true story in Chapter II, in a rider added to the text, or giving the true account in the Prologue. He settled for the latter.
Although the Note on the Shire Records was added to the Prologue only in the second edition, Christopher Tolkien observes that his father noted that it 'belongs to the Preface to The Silmarillion.' This is a significant matter, deserving closer examination, as it was this 'Note' which dismantled the framing mechanism for The Silmarillion that had survived for the past half-century. I shall recap here:
The initial scheme of The Book of Lost Tales had the 5th-century Angle Eriol sailing West to Tol Eressëa where the fairies of that Lost Isle relate to him the tales of the Elder Days. He writes down the stories after Tol Eressëa has been dragged back to the Great Lands and become Britain. This design was soon revised, probably to make it more coherent chronologically, the mariner's name being altered to Ælfwine, who this time sails from Britain to Tol Eressëa where he now learns the tales both from the writings which he finds there and from the lips of the Elven sage, Pengolod, before returning home. And this remained the scheme in which the tales of the Elder Days were framed for almost all the rest of the time in which Tolkien actively considered them. Even some of the material in the present volume adheres to this format.
The Lord of the Rings was explained as being based on extracts from the 'Red Book of Westmarch', which in its origin was Bilbo's and Frodo's diary, but was supplemented with accounts of the North and South Kingdoms and other Third Age (and hobbitic) material. So far, then, so good: Ælfwine's recounting of the First Age myths and legends survives into our own history and is the basis for The Silmarillion; while the Red Book survives through the Hobbits (who must be assumed to live on in the primary world) and contains much of the later history of that world, and is an entirely distinct ancient text. But in the second edition of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien introduced his Note on the Shire Records, which says: 'But the chief importance of Findegil's copy is that it alone contains the whole of Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish". These three volumes were found to be a work of great skill and learning in which, between 1403 and 1418, he had used all the sources available to him in Rivendell, both living and written. But since they were little used by Frodo, being almost entirely concerned with the Elder Days, no more is said of them here.' Those three volumes contained, then, The Silmarillion, an arrangement which makes Ælfwine's tales redundant.
Why did Tolkien make this change? Having two sources, Ælfwine's book and the Red Book, for two distinct eras of the history of the ancient world seems perfectly reasonable and coherent, and it is very difficult to see why Tolkien should have rejected the arrangement. The only reason that this reviewer can think of is that Tolkien felt that the 'straight road' to (and from) the West could not possibly be any longer available by our time, and so not available to Ælfwine, and that the Silmarillion had to be 'transmitted' by some other means, the most obvious one being that by which The Lord of the Rings had been communicated.
Or would it be wiser to regard this change as a temporary aberration which Tolkien would have rejected had he given the matter more thought (although it must be admitted that our knowledge of his thought on this matter is far from complete)? Certainly the adoption of the Red Book as the sole source for the history of the Three Ages removes the special connection with English history which the invented mythology, in its original form, was meant to have. Was this change a sign that Tolkien had, by the mid-sixties, finally let that old dream go?
What became the first part of Appendix F, 'The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age', began as a kind of Foreword containing mostly general remarks about the 'Common Speech of the West' and the languages and scripts of the races of Middle-earth. Although this text was to prove unsuitable for his purposes, Tolkien was to reuse elements from it in later versions of Appendix F as well as in the Foreword to the first edition of The Lord of the Rings. (This Foreword is helpfully reprinted in the present volume.)
He was here concerned not only to set forth the general linguistic background which had for so long been evolving, and which the emergent histories of the Second and Third Ages had enlarged, but to justify his procedures of 'translation' from those languages into the names and conventions used in the book; or, rather, we might say that he was concerned to demonstrate to the reader that the names and usages encountered in the text were justifiable within the more general linguistic context of the epic, and were not simply the product of whim. (Of course, a good many were the product of whim, but Tolkien had more than enough ingenuity to overcome that problem.)
Especially interesting is the discussion of how Hobbit-names were dealt with, with many examples given of the 'real' names in their original form, such as Batti Zilbirapha for Butterbur. Unfortunately, as Christopher Tolkien notes, this material vanished with the final draft as sent to the publishers, an indication of the extreme pressure that Tolkien was under: the published appendix might have been different, perhaps fuller, in more benign circumstances.
Underlying much of Tolkien's thought on the matter of translation was an awareness of the need to justify the names of the Dwarves given in The Hobbit. There the Dwarves have names taken direct from the Elder Edda. Obviously, these could not be the 'real' names of the Dwarves. Tolkien's solution was ingenious: (i) the Dwarves' true names they keep to themselves and never tell to outsiders; (ii) they adopt 'outer' names typical of the speech of the Men among whom they live; (iii) the Dwarves around the region of Dale therefore adopted 'outer' names in the language of the Men of Dale; (iv) the Men of Dale spoke a language related to the Common Speech roughly in the same way that Norse is related to Standard English; (v) the Dwarves' outer names can then be properly given equivalents in Norse. And so Fili, Kili, and all the others can be justified. It will be noted that this solution to a feigned 'problem' in translation ends up casting new light on the Dwarves, and serves to round out their character. In fact, Christopher Tolkien considers that the Dwarf-names in The Hobbit provided a starting-point for the whole structure of the Mannish languages in Middle-earth.
One begins to get the feeling that Tolkien actually welcomed such problems since working out their solutions ended up influencing, and indeed creating, much of the matter of Middle-earth beyond the immediate area of the problem.
The evolution of the Family Trees of the leading hobbit families is here shown mainly by redrawing each original genealogical table as it stood before subsequent emendation in preparation for the next version. Here are not only the tables for Baggins, Brandybuck, Took and Gamgee, but also those for the respectable families of Bolger and Boffin. We learn that the latter two had made it into typographic form before being rejected from Appendix C. Although the exact reason is not apparent from surviving documentation, this is surely another example of the pressure which Tolkien had to cope with in preparing the Appendices. (It is unclear, too, whether those printed versions of the Bolger and Boffin trees survive: they are not reprinted in this volume; it would be nice to see them.)
The trees of all the families underwent enlargement and elaboration as Tolkien got to grips with the ramifying interrelationships through marriage of the families while at the same time making them consistent both with each other and with the bits of Shire history in the matter, say, of family 'homelands', or of the Thainship. (The chief of the Hobbits of the Shire was at first called the 'Shireking' or 'Shirking', but Tolkien wisely, changed it to Thain.) It might be noted that Sam and Rosie's fourteenth and last child, Lily, survived right up until her removal on the first proof.
Next come the Calendars. Given Tolkien's attention to the detailed consistency of his imagined world, it is hardly surprising that he should have put some considerable effort into constructing the calendrical systems of Third Age Middle-earth. Even so, all but the most hardened of his readers may find that the detailed working-out of the reckonings used by the Hobbits (as derived from the Dúnedain and before them the Eldar) requires their full attention. It will be needed in understanding, say, the chart of the New Era calendar of the Fourth Age.
But the final form of Appendix D as published lacks much of the sophistication and detail of the material presented here, and Christopher Tolkien remarks again that had circumstances been otherwise the form of the appendix would have been different. So, yet again, we are made aware both of how hard Tolkien strived to achieve his vision and of how the sheer pressure of time and space prevented the full flowering of that vision.
Next is examined a piece of writing which did not form part of The Lord of the Rings but which is of significance in the development of the history of the Second Age and the rise and fall of Númenor: The Akallabêth. This text was derived mainly from The Drowning of Anadûnê and to a slighter extent from The Fall of Númenor. The matter of Númenor can be traced back to an outline of about 1936, although the idea can be discerned in the isle of Eneadur and the Shipmen of the West in Ælfwine of England of about 1920.
Basically, Númenor was part of the history of the invented world and had to be worked into the history of that world between the events of The Silmarillion and those of The Lord of the Rings, once the significance of such history became apparent. This significance seems to have become clear to Tolkien during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, but it was not until the composition of the Tale of Years that he filled in the details and made of them a consistent whole. It may be noted that The Notion Club Papers, dealing in its own way with Númenor, was written in a gap near the end of writing the narrative of The Lord of the Rings. (This was pointed out during the 1996 Tolkien Society Seminar by then Mallorn editor Pat Reynolds.)
The examination of The Akallabêth is carried out by means of a comparison with the text published in The Silmarillion in order to save the space of a full reproduction. The most significant editorial change in the published version was the complete removal of all references to Ælfwine and Pengolod, The Akallabêth being originally a speech of Pengolod to Ælfwine. Thus, the 'authentic text' began: 'Of Men, Ælfwine, it is said by the Eldar that they came into the world ...' We are therefore still in the period when the Ælfwine/Pengolod origin of the Silmarillion - and now, significantly, post-Silmarillion - material still applied.
Perhaps it is of importance that Tolkien himself seems never to have gone back over his manuscripts to perform such wholesale deletions as were necessary once the 'vehicle' of Ælfwine had been dropped. Other editorial changes were made by Christopher Tolkien in the published version for the sake of consistency; some of them are now regretted.
Appended are some interesting, if rough, manuscripts bearing on the marriage of Míriel and Ar-Pharazôn.
The next three parts, 'The Tale of Years of the Second Age', 'The Heirs of Elendil' and 'The Tale of Years of the Third Age', I shall treat together, given that their single theme is the elaboration of the history of the Second and Third Ages with especial reference to the ancestry of Aragorn. It should be noted that such a brief survey, here as elsewhere, does far less than justice to Christopher Tolkien's painstaking and detailed exposition of the evolution of these texts. Here we shall pause just to notice some of the more interesting points.
The chronology of the Second Age began as a very brief 'Time Scheme' concerning the reigns of the Númenórean kings, starting with the Great Battle which concluded the First Age and ending with the Downfall of Númenor and the gathering of the Alliance between Elves and Men to defeat Sauron. At the beginning of this brief text, Tolkien noted ' "Ages" last about 3000 years.' What reasons he had for assigning this length of time to an Age, or, indeed, why time should be partitioned into Ages in the first place, as though they were more than the cultural artefacts of societies which have an interest in history, we do not know. But once he had established that time-scheme for the Ages then he had more than 6000 years in which to elaborate the history of the world from the Elder Days to the end of the Third Age.
There is an interesting glimpse of Aragorn in a note pencilled beside calculations on the average lifespan of Númenóreans: 'In character Aragorn was a hardened man of say 45.'
Notable is the fact that the final year of the Second Age was established as 3441 very early on and was never subsequently changed despite accumulating complexities in the history. Was there a significance to that number that is now lost?
The final version of the Tale of Years of the Second Age had, inevitably, to be pruned for publication. The texts of 'The Heirs of Elendil' give a detailed chronology of the Kings of Arnor and Chieftains of the Dúnedain in the North Kingdom and of the Kings and Stewards of Gondor. This was not published, but a very compressed version surfaced in Appendix A, on which see further.
Also discussed is a genealogical table for the descendants of Angelimir, the twentieth prince of Dol Amroth, Imrahil's grandfather, which has some dates well into the Fourth Age and gives the previously unpublished name of Faramir and Éowyn's child.
The earliest text of the Tale of Years of the Third Age concentrates on events in the Shire and on the history of the Ring, rather than on Arnor and Gondor, for its relatively few entries. This developed into a long and elaborate chronology which had much added detail both on hobbit history and on that of the wider world. The chronology proper ends with the memorable words: 'With their passing ended the Third Age, the twilight between the Elder Days and the Afterworld which then began.' And the commentary ends: '... for Gondor and Arnor are no more; and even the chronicles of the House of Elessar and all their deeds and glory are lost.' But, yet again, these passages were not in the chronology as finally published, for the publishers wanted something in a much more 'staccato' style.
A distinction is drawn between the chronology proper, which ends in Third Age 3021, and the commentary which encloses it: the former is presented as an extract from the Red Book, while the commentary is written by a later editor. The status of this editor is uncertain: it could be Tolkien himself as the editor of material from the Red Book. This is plausible in so far as the commentary is made much later than the chronology since, as noted above, the editor refers to the loss of the chronicles of the House of Elessar as though that time were very long past. Yet one is not quite sure if Tolkien-as-editor quite fits the bill since the commentator seems a little too involved emotionally with his material, while Tolkien-as-commentator in The Lord of the Rings as we have it is much more detached and scholarly. Perhaps Tolkien's own feelings on the matter underwent a subtle shift after the completion of this version of the Tale of Years, and the changed tone of the published version is not entirely owing to the required compression.
The account of the Realms in Exile in Appendix A had its origins as a shortened form of The Heirs of Elendil, with quoted extracts from the Red Book. Tolkien apparently did it this way, again, in response to the need to save space.
Here also we find the early versions of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. It took Tolkien some time to see it as an isolated piece instead of, possibly, part of the Realms in Exile account, but he finally saw that it was indeed a distinct entity. It remains, in this reviewer's opinion, a supreme example of Tolkien's 'high' style.
Also examined here are earlier versions of The House of Eorl and of Durin's Folk. Notable in the former is a struck-out passage referring to the presence of Elladan and Elrohir at the Battle of Calenardhon. The latter contains a good deal on Thorin's history, and on the longevity and domestic life of the race, which did not survive into the printed version and (apart from an extract in Unfinished Tales) has not seen print until now.
In the Foreword to Sauron Defeated Christopher Tolkien warned that a history of the Appendices would prove 'both far-ranging and intricate'; and so they have. Even so, the intricacies are unravelled as clearly as they can be, and we should be thankful that this work has been accomplished within the span of The History of Middle-earth.
The Appendices can be seen as a consolidation of the historical, linguistic and other material of the Second and Third Ages which had arisen in the course of writing The Lord of the Rings. We might consider them as written both to bring order to Tolkien's own thoughts on the background to The Lord of the Rings and to provide that background for readers of the book. Certainly he was aware of the interest that that kind of material evoked. In a letter to Rayner Unwin of 6 March 1955, he remarked that it was 'a tribute to the curious effect that story has, when based on very elaborate and detailed workings of geography, chronology, and language, that so many should clamour for sheer "information", or "lore". But the demands such people make would again require a book, at least the size of Vol. I.'
But it was those very elaborate and detailed workings which resulted in such difficulties in preparing the Appendices for publication. While recognising the stress which Tolkien suffered in preparing the Appendices against severe constraints in both time and space we must balance the fact that Tolkien himself must have severely underestimated the effort needed to complete them. Had they been ready and finished when publication of the work was agreed upon, then history might have been different; but they were still to achieve.
This is not the place to rehearse the complex history of the publication of The Lord of the Rings; suffice it to say that Tolkien seems not to have given sufficient thought to the time and effort necessary to prepare for publication anything beyond the immediate narrative of the book. It is not clear exactly when he conceived the necessity of having extra matter giving background material to the story, but he plainly left its composition until after the completion of the bulk of the narrative.
Ideally, he should have got down to the Appendices in earnest immediately after the narrative's completion and had them more or less ready for printing before offering the book for publication. At least that way he would have been in a better position to resist demands for their compression. But he may well not have started in earnest at an early enough time (and in any case he had his normal crowded academic schedule to cope with), and in the end found himself having to complete the large and complex task of ordering the historical and other aspects of his invented world in just about the worst possible circumstances.
Whoever is to blame for the debacle, it is a pity that, as we have seen repeatedly, Tolkien had to apply so much curtailment and compression to the Appendices. Notably, they were not re-expanded for the second edition of The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps some future editor will one day provide a reconstruction of the book with the Appendices as they should have been. As an aside, we know that Tolkien had initially hoped to have The Lord of the Rings published with The Silmarillion. Given how long he would have needed to finish the latter work, one can only assume that he was being extraordinarily optimistic about the patience of his publishers!
The various later writings constituting the last third of the book come from various times between about the early 1950s and the last year of Tolkien's life. Such relatively precise dating is made possible only because many of the writings were done on dated waste paper passed on to him by Allen & Unwin.
A primarily linguistic essay, editorially titled Of Dwarves and Men (the first page is missing), perhaps dating to the early 1970s, discusses the Dwarves' linguistic capabilities, comments on representations of Dwarvish writing in The Lord of the Rings, reviews their historical relationships with Men, looks at the history of Mannish languages, and goes into the matter of the different races of Men (Drûgs, Middle Men, etc.). Here is some fascinating information on the origins and names of the races of Dwarves other than the Longbeards, information not altogether consistent with some of that given elsewhere. Tolkien seems never to have explored the Dwarves as thoroughly as he might, and the new information in the present book is as extensive as anything already published. We have a glimpse of an ancient history in which Men and Dwarves entered into cooperative living arrangements wherein their complementary skills worked to the advantage of all.
The history and languages of the first Men to come west, the Atani, are discussed, as also the Drúedain, although the section which was extracted for Unfinished Tales is not reprinted here. Hobbits and the languages of the Men of Middle-earth are looked at, as well as the development of the Common Speech.
'The Shibboleth of Fëanor' is a late (c.1968), unfinished essay largely involved with Elvish linguistic change and naming practices, but which happens to touch on a number of related topics. (The title is editorially supplied from a phrase in the text.) This is an instance of Tolkien noticing a minute linguistic point and attempting to find an explanation for it within the context of an established, and hence unalterable, historical and linguistic structure which could be added to but not contradicted. The specific sound-change concerned need not be gone into here, save that the discussion stresses a trait of elvish linguistic evolution which may not have been apparent before: whereas changes in human language occur in an unplanned and, as it were, unconscious fashion, the Eldar, to the contrary, planned the changes in the languages they spoke. Once a change was agreed upon by the most respected loremasters, then it would be rapidly adopted by all the speakers concerned; only, in this particular case, the change was drawn into the whole complex business of the death of Míriel after Fëanor's birth, and Finwë's remarriage to Indis of the Vanyar.
A lengthy passage on Galadriel (it was his observation of her linguistic usage as quoted in The Lord of the Rings which started Tolkien on this theme) finishes the main part of the essay. Part of this has been printed in Unfinished Tales, but some comments here seem appropriate. Tolkien seems in his later years to have become greatly concerned to elevate Galadriel's status and to exculpate her from any guilt in the rebellion of the Noldor. In her initial appearance in The Silmarillion she is something of a minor character; she does not take the Oath of Fëanor, but she is still 'eager to be gone' to Middle-earth, and her part in the Kin-slaying is unspecified. (A marginal note to the effect that she fought against Fëanor is presumably a late addition, made at the same time as Tolkien's very late note on the subject that we shall shortly come to (see vol. X. 128).) But in the present essay she becomes just about the equivalent of Fëanor himself: 'she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar...' Something of a clue may be found a little later on:
'Even among the Eldar ... her hair was held a marvel unmatched ... and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses. Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight. He begged three times for a tress, but Galadriel would not give him even one hair. These two kinsfolk, the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor, were unfriends for ever.'
So Galadriel's hair, like the long-established Silmarils, caught the light of the Two Trees. In a sense, Galadriel was a kind of living Silmaril. The Silmarils were in Tolkien's heart, and, quite by chance, he had created a character who could be considered a living embodiment of them. Hence, perhaps, his retrospective attempt to make her spiritually stainless, which involved her resistance to Fëanor in both the matter of the Silmarils and that of the Kin-slaying at Alqualondë where, in the present essay, 'she fought fiercely against Fëanor in defence of her mother's kin', repeated in a 1973 note, wherein she makes her own way back to Middle-earth with Celeborn.
Galadriel's refusal to give Fëanor a tress of her hair prompts two reflections: (i) if she had let him have one, then he might not have felt the need to make the Silmarils, and a good deal of trouble (to say the least) could have been avoided; (ii) no wonder that the Elves 'stirred and murmured with astonishment' when Gimli (surely unknowingly) repeated Fëanor's request when the Company of the Ring sailed from Lothlórien.
Notes to the essay discuss mother-names and the names of Finwë 's descendants; Christopher Tolkien omits one Note on phonetic 'taste' and 'theory'. Also discussed are the vexed question of Gil-galad's parentage, which involves a reworking of some elvish genealogy from what we already know; the name 'Felagund'; and the names of the sons of Fëanor, where there is a new story about the death of one of them.
In the same period as the preceding piece, Tolkien wrote a discussion about the Elvish linguistic element -ros, here given the title 'The Problem of Ros'. But only afterwards did he realise that an already published note invalidated the extensive and minutely detailed discussion he had produced. But the linguists will doubtless find much to chew over in any event.
And here in print at long last is the piece on Glorfindel, written in the last year of Tolkien's life, which has been eagerly awaited since its existence was first revealed in 1977 ("The Filial Duty of Christopher Tolkien", Bill Cater, Sunday Times Magazine, 25 September 1977, pp.61, 63), and which has since given rise to many a discussion about the relationship between the Glorfindels of Rivendell and of Gondolin. (There are in fact two distinct essays on the subject, but since the second seems to have followed the first at no great interval, they can be treated as one.) Oddly enough, Tolkien, taking note of the 'somewhat random use of the names found in the older legends', thought that both Glorfindels were the same person because the 'repetition of so striking a name, though possible, would not be credible'. This seems a rather slender basis for such a conclusion, but since that is Tolkien's opinion, it is one that can hardly be questioned.
(Just to clarify: such an opinion might well be questioned if Tolkien had long held the firm view that they really were different persons, and only now made a very late, and possibly transitory, change to that view; but the real situation here is one of addressing a point which had not even been considered before, and on which no firm view had been established in the first place.)
Nevertheless, on the basis of this identity, Tolkien felt its acceptance would 'actually explain what is said of him and improve the story', thus leading to another example of his ingeniously using a problem that has arisen in order to extend and deepen his understanding of the world he has created. We may at this point note that here Tolkien thinks the name 'Glorfindel' 'is now difficult to fit into Sindarin, and cannot possibly be Quenyarin', another instance of the extraordinary concern with details that have stood for years, if not decades, but which in his later years he considered would no longer fit in.
In the present essay we learn that, while the spirits of the rebellious Noldor slain in Middle-earth would apparently return to Mandos, they were denied incarnation in a new body made for them by the Valar specifically because of the Ban set upon their return to Valinor. However, in Glorfindel's case, because of his heroic stand against the Balrog, thereby allowing Tuor with Idril and Eärendil to escape the ruin of Gondolin, Manwë treated him as a special case and permitted his reincarnation. It is noted here also that Glorfindel 'had no part in the kinslaying of Alqualondë', which we did not know before and seems typical of Tolkien's rather pietistic exoneration of anyone he came to especially favour (like Galadriel) of that episode. It seems specious in any case that Glorfindel should have got this privileged treatment. Were there no other Elves who had fought heroically in Beleriand (and bear in mind that when Glorfindel fell to the Balrog, he was protecting refugees from Gondolin in general, not Tuor and family in particular)?
The reincarnated Glorfindel remains long in Valinor, and indeed becomes nearly an equal of the Maiar, but is thought to have returned to Middle-earth before the end of the Second Age, about 1600SA, although Tolkien had also considered the possibility that he had returned in the company of Gandalf in c. l000TA.
Also written at this time was a note on Elvish reincarnation which is left mostly unprinted except for a passage concerning Dwarves which entertains the apparently contradictory notions (a) that the spirits of the Seven Fathers of their races could be reborn in their kindreds, and (b) that the spirit of each of the Fathers should 'fall asleep, but then lie in a tomb of his own body, at rest, and there its weariness and any hurts that had befallen it should be amended. Then after long years he should arise and take up his kingship again.' A further note comes down on the side of the latter notion. This method of reincarnation (if one can call it that) is critical upon the preservation of the body of the Father from all outside harm, a dubious proposition in the dangerous world of Middle-earth.
Further discussions in this section touch on the Five Wizards (now it is said that the two 'Eastern Wizards' were sent to Middle-earth in the Second Age, with Glorfindel, and played a part in preventing 'the unification of the forces of Men of the East which would have vastly outnumbered those of the West), and on Círdan the Shipwright (who goes back to the very early days of the Elves, and who was granted a vision by Ulmo of Eärendil's ship which he would in time to come help build).
The Dangweth Pengolod - the Teachings of Pengolod - of probably the early 1950s exists in a fine illuminated manuscript. This considers the matter of change in Elvish languages, related as it is to the perception of time that Elves have as contrasted with that of mortals. These teachings are addressed by Pengolod to Ælfwine, and thus go back to a time when The Silmarillion was still essentially based on Ælfwine's writings.
A short piece, 'Of Lembas', again as by Pengolod, reveals that lembas is made from the corn originally brought forth by Yavanna in Aman and subsequently taken to Middle-earth.
The New Shadow was begun as a sequel to The Lord of the Rings some time in the 1950s (more specific dating is not possible), but set aside and only returned to in about the mid-sixties. There is not much of it - some 7½ pages of printed text in this book - and it perhaps does not merit the attention which its notoriety has focused upon it. Set in the reign of Eldarion (Tolkien is inconsistent in assigning it an exact date) we follow the involvement of the aged Borlas (younger son of Beregond, and so the brother of Bergil, whom Pippin meets in Minas Tirith) with a shadowy cult associated with one Herumor and which appears to be associated with various disquieting goings-on. In his letters, Tolkien referred to a 'secret Satanist religion' in The New Shadow.
This was written in the kind of third-person narrative which Tolkien seems never to have mastered, all rather wordy: it is just not the same kind of narrative as that in The Lord of the Rings, although it is difficult to pin the difference down. Tolkien himself eventually thought it not worth doing, and one suspects he was right. I think we may regard The New Shadow as non-canonical, in so far as we might want to know what happened later on in the Fourth Age.
The very last piece of writing in this book, and so in The History of Middle-earth, is Tal-Elmar, dated to the mid-fifties. It concerns the first meetings between the 'Wild Men' of Middle-earth and the Númenóreans in their early voyages to Middle-earth before the Downfall. Tal-Elmar is the last child of Hazad, one of these Wild Men, whose father, Buldar, took to wife Elmar, seemingly a woman of the Atani who was captured in a raid. Tal-Elmar is Hazad's youngest son, and takes after his father's mother. Hazad himself is distinguished by his having seventeen sons and a beard five feet long. The story, so far as it goes, concerns the arrival of ships off the nearby sea-coast, and Tal-Elmar's reception by the disembarked Númenóreans, who think Tal-Elmar is one of their own.
From some names written on the last page of the manuscript, Tolkien may have thought of Tal-Elmar subsequently visiting other places in Middle-earth, so perhaps a tour of the lands was contemplated (but in a rejected version of the opening section, the story starts with: 'In the days of the Great Kings when a man could still walk dryshod from Rome to York (not that those cities were yet built or thought of) . . .').
It is far from clear how Tolkien considered this story as it was to have stood in relation to the other writings on Middle-earth, not least because it does not seem to have described anything of great historical significance: as Christopher Tolkien remarks, it is a 'departure from all other narrative themes within the compass of Middle-earth'. Tolkien later noted that it was the 'Beginnings of a tale that sees the Númenóreans from the point of view of the Wild Men.' Considering that here we have a writing which looks at some of the history not, for once, from the point of view of the Elves, it may be the case that after The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was fascinated by the concept of looking at aspects of the legendarium from points of view which do not depend on the 'mainstream' Elvish-Númenórean-Hobbitic 'tradition'.
Given the foregoing remarks about the removal of the Ælfwine/Pengolod framing device for The Silmarillion, not to mention the differing 'traditions' of the Downfall of Númenor (see IX.406), there seems to be, if not a pattern, then at least a hint of a growing awareness of the subjective nature of the construction of history, and that different viewpoints need to be taken into account before a more objective history can be considered. Much more could, I think, be said on this and one hopes that it will be considered as a subject for exploration at a future time.
The material in this book on the development of the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings reveals tantalising glimpses of what a more complete book might have looked like, but also reveals the extreme difficulties in which Tolkien found himself in order to get them finished within a reasonable time.
The various later writings reveal all manner of fascinating sidelights on aspects of the legendarium but are, to this reviewer, somewhat disturbing in that they show Tolkien becoming increasingly hypercritical about extreme minutiae, and taking an attitude with regard to certain of his characters (i.e. Galadriel and Glorfindel) which might well be described as fussily pietistic, and which one feels that a liberal dose of irony would greatly have benefited.
Given also that in some of the very late pieces he gets certain details of the existing 'history' wrong (although in these instances he may not have had his manuscripts and typescripts ready to hand), one is very uncertain as to the 'canonicity' of some of this material, especially when it involves altering aspects of the history which have been fixed for years or decades. The prime example must be the radical alteration to the cosmology discussed in Morgoth's Ring, but such changefulness surfaces in many other places, not least in the writings in this book.
Doubtless such reminders of the essentially arbitrary nature of the creations of any writer will be disturbing if that writer has, as in Tolkien's case, succeeded in creating a world which seems to move and have its own being beyond the pages of the book. However, we should not forget that much of his later writing may well be located in an experimental rather than a definitive stage, when ideas and concepts are neither accepted nor rejected, and do not necessarily need to affect the existing solid foundations. But it is ungrateful to carp because a writer (or any kind of creator) does not always stand at the height of his powers, and we should instead be thankful for the excellences that have been achieved, and which, in this case, are so great as to put even Tolkien's own other work into the shade.
One of the problems in ending reviews of previous volumes of The History of Middle-earth has been to find a new form of words to describe Christopher Tolkien's editorial achievements in producing these books. Here is someone with the purely academic ability to examine, understand and explicate a vast amount of sometimes disparate and inchoate typescripts and manuscripts of varying degrees of legibility, and in discussing them to show in detail how concepts and characters have changed or shifted in significance over time and between different texts; and here also is someone with the unique advantage of a long and intimate acquaintance with the subject-matter itself. I would not go so far as to claim that no-one else could have undertaken this task; but any outside academic editor would have had to be extraordinarily good. So everyone who has a serious interest in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien must be thankful that the task of editing them fell to the one person most capable of undertaking it.
The whole series of The History of Middle-earth is a tremendous achievement and makes a worthy and enduring testament to one man's creative endeavours and to another's explicatory devotion. It reveals far more about Tolkien's invented world than any of his readers in pre-Silmarillion days could ever have imagined or hoped for. Any understanding of the shape and nature of Tolkien's imaginative art as it evolved over his lifetime must depend on a thoroughgoing study of the History, wherein the matter of Middle-earth is portrayed in all its grandeur.
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