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  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Huan, the amazing talking wonder-dog from Valinor. Not really relevant to the lack of more ordinary creatures talking in LOTR apart from the bit with the fox's internal monologue which was mentioned earlier.





    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin2099

    Also Draugluin whose dying words to Sauron is 'Huan is there!'.

    Draugluin was a werewolf, i.e. a monstrous wolf with a demonic spirit within it. (And besides, even in The Hobbit the Wargs could only talk in their own wolf-language, which Gandalf happened to be able to understand). Also to note what I said earlier about how the Sil has its own style, that of myth and legend - in this case it's how the story was told, but nobody could actually know that (no witnesses, much as when Ungoliant speaks to Morgoth) so it's not necessarily 'true'.
    This is an interesting slant on things. I am unaware of this rule. Can you please state the rule for us so that we may apply it to other situations? Thank you.

  2. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    This is an interesting slant on things. I am unaware of this rule. Can you please state the rule for us so that we may apply it to other situations? Thank you.
    The legal system calls it "hearsay" and disallows it out of hand, for very good reasons.

    You didn't hear it and what the guy in the bar told you doesn't count.
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  3. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    This is an interesting slant on things. I am unaware of this rule. Can you please state the rule for us so that we may apply it to other situations? Thank you.
    This is no sort of 'rule', it's just common sense - it's obvious narrative license to, say, put words in Draugluin's mouth when there was nobody but Sauron there to hear them; it cannot be told whether it 'really' happened that way or not. It's just the way the Elves told the story and hence how it was supposedly passed down to us, as Tolkien pretended for the sake of storytelling.

  4. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    This is no sort of 'rule', it's just common sense - it's obvious narrative license to, say, put words in Draugluin's mouth when there was nobody but Sauron there to hear them; it cannot be told whether it 'really' happened that way or not. It's just the way the Elves told the story and hence how it was supposedly passed down to us, as Tolkien pretended for the sake of storytelling.
    Let’s see then. There is no rule. (statement by you) So, we have no reason to accept your interpretation as anything more than your version (opinion) of what “common sense” is (i.e. – narrative license) in this case. Do I have it correct so far?

  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    Let’s see then. There is no rule. (statement by you) So, we have no reason to accept your interpretation as anything more than your version (opinion) of what “common sense” is (i.e. – narrative license) in this case. Do I have it correct so far?
    Enough weasel words. Are you saying I'm wrong to point to that as an example of narrative license and if so, why? It's common sense that if there could have been no witnesses, then it would have to be essentially made up for the sake of the story (again, as it's supposedly the tale as told by the Elves). There are other examples of this to be found in the Sil, like the conversation between Glaurung and Nienor, or what Gurthang said to Turin.

  6. #156
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Enough weasel words. Are you saying I'm wrong to point to that as an example of narrative license and if so, why? It's common sense that if there could have been no witnesses, then it would have to be essentially made up for the sake of the story (again, as it's supposedly the tale as told by the Elves). There are other examples of this to be found in the Sil, like the conversation between Glaurung and Nienor, or what Gurthang said to Turin.
    No, I am not saying that you are wrong to point to that as an example of narrative license. I do not know whether you are wrong and am trying to find out whether you are wrong or right.

    So, are you saying that it is fact that, that is "narrative license" in this particular instance; or are you saying, that in your opinion it may be narrative license?

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by WBS View Post
    The legal system calls it "hearsay" and disallows it out of hand, for very good reasons.

    You didn't hear it and what the guy in the bar told you doesn't count.
    This brings up another interesting point. Is everything that Tolkien wrote; “hearsay”? Take for example; The Hobbit. Do we have Bilbo’s/Frodo’s/Sam’s original document/story to reference? If we do have the original; do we have documented examples of the 3 hobbit’s handwriting to compare with the document to verify its authenticity? Will this hold up in your court of law? Or should the Tolkien (what the guy in the bar said) account (hearsay) be disallowed out of hand for very good reasons? Did Tolkien claim to have been at every event he wrote about and to be giving first hand testimony as to what actually occurred? If we cannot trust Tolkien to be giving us correct information, is there really any need to be concerned with what is canon?

  8. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    No, I am not saying that you are wrong to point to that as an example of narrative license. I do not know whether you are wrong and am trying to find out whether you are wrong or right.

    So, are you saying that it is fact that, that is "narrative license" in this particular instance; or are you saying, that in your opinion it may be narrative license?
    It's my firm opinion that it's narrative license for the reason stated. Now, do you have any real reason to argue with what I said?

  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    It's my firm opinion that it's narrative license for the reason stated. Now, do you have any real reason to argue with what I said?
    No, I have no reason to argue with your opinion on the matter. As with all opinions, I will simply say that you may be right and you may be wrong in your speculation. Although, seeing as how you have not, as of yet, quoted any text from Tolkien stating that he was using narrative license in this case; speculation on the point is probably moot.
    Last edited by RKL; Jan 08 2014 at 03:59 AM.

  10. #160
    Position #1
    The fiction of feigned history, essentially an unspoken framing narrative, is sacrosanct. Plot elements which exceed the foundational perspective of the narrative must therefore be taken with a grain of salt and seen as rhetorical invention, an authorial intrusion by the fictional authors of narrative.
    Position #2
    The fiction of feigned history is a means to an end and not an end in itself. In this case the narrative license is actually the temporary suspension of the fiction of feigned history in order for the author to incorporate plot elements that, though they exceed historical perspective, are nevertheless authoritative events even if they are an authorial intrusion by the actual author.
    Last edited by Ceredig; Jan 08 2014 at 11:48 AM.

  11. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    No, I have no reason to argue with your opinion on the matter. As with all opinions, I will simply say that you may be right and you may be wrong in your speculation. Although, seeing as how you have not, as of yet, quoted any text from Tolkien stating that he was using narrative license in this case; speculation on the point is probably moot.
    Thought as much, you've really got nothing to say and are just being argumentative for the sake of it (again).

  12. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    Position #1
    The fiction of feigned history, essentially an unspoken framing narrative, is sacrosanct. Plot elements which exceed the foundational perspective of the narrative must therefore be taken with a grain of salt and seen as rhetorical invention, an authorial intrusion by the fictional authors of narrative.
    Position #2
    The fiction of feigned history is a means to an end and not an end in itself. In this case the narrative license is actually the temporary suspension of the fiction of feigned history in order for the author to incorporate plot elements that, though they exceed historical perspective, are nevertheless authoritative events even if they are an authorial intrusion by the actual author.
    Isn't the published Sil presented as a collected body of (constructed) myth and legend, rather than as a feigned history? And it's plainly not written as a novel, either, leaving no particular reason to treat the narrative as reliable, If something's written as a legend then nobody should expect it to be literally true, although it might still be 'true' in the sense of reflecting some essential or deeper truth. That sort of truth was something Tolkien talked about at length, and even wrote poetry about.

  13. #163
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Isn't the published Sil presented as a collected body of (constructed) myth and legend, rather than as a feigned history?
    I use the term feigned history in reference to Tolkien as the author. As for it being a collected body of (constructed) myth and legend, that statement would hold true from our real-world perspective but would be false from a sub-creational one.
    And it's plainly not written as a novel, either, leaving no particular reason to treat the narrative as reliable, If something's written as a legend then nobody should expect it to be literally true, although it might still be 'true' in the sense of reflecting some essential or deeper truth. That sort of truth was something Tolkien talked about at length, and even wrote poetry about.
    The problem with taking that route is that you are inevitably led down the road of questioning the authenticity of the entire Silmarillion as being a narrative of actual events in Tolkien's subcreated world.
    Are the Elvish authors of the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and Quenta Silmarillion describing events in which they, or their informants, directly took part or are they part of a remote past (from their Elvish perspective.)
    I guess I am not clear on your position. Are you saying that the accounts provided in the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and Quenta Silmarillion are utterly unreliable as factual accounts of events which occurred within Tolkien's subcreation?

  14. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    I use the term feigned history in reference to Tolkien as the author. As for it being a collected body of (constructed) myth and legend, that statement would hold true from our real-world perspective but would be false from a sub-creational one.
    Naturally, it's only constructed from our point of view but even internally, it's still myth and legend. Even if some few of the participants (e.g. Elrond, Galadriel) were still around, they had in essence become legends in their own lifetime and most people had no access to them. In Gondor, they knew all the old tales but were very far distant from them, and even from their own origins in Numenor. (Three thousand years plus is a long time, never mind how long ago the First Age was to them).

    The problem with taking that route is that you are inevitably led down the road of questioning the authenticity of the entire Silmarillion as being a narrative of actual events in Tolkien's subcreated world.
    And rightly so, because that was a path Tolkien trod himself. Such narrative does not have to be factual, not even internally. That's the nature of stories. The First Age has the character of an age of legends.

    Are the Elvish authors of the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and Quenta Silmarillion describing events in which they, or their informants, directly took part or are they part of a remote past (from their Elvish perspective.)
    I guess I am not clear on your position. Are you saying that the accounts provided in the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and Quenta Silmarillion are utterly unreliable as factual accounts of events which occurred within Tolkien's subcreation?
    As I pointed out, the nature of some of the tales would strongly indicate they'd become fictionalised, at least in part. We're talking about Elvish minstrels telling stories rather than writing a history; with the stories coming down to us (notionally) but the histories failing to survive. So no, the Quenta Silmarillion isn't supposed to be a reliable, factual account of events - Tolkien didn't aim to write a history, but instead 'a body of more or less connected legend', so that's what we have.

  15. #165
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Naturally, it's only constructed from our point of view but even internally, it's still myth and legend. Even if some few of the participants (e.g. Elrond, Galadriel) were still around, they had in essence become legends in their own lifetime and most people had no access to them. In Gondor, they knew all the old tales but were very far distant from them, and even from their own origins in Numenor. (Three thousand years plus is a long time, never mind how long ago the First Age was to them).
    This may be true of the people of Gondor, but the "Silmarillion' (excluding the Akallabeth and "Of the Rings of power and the 3rd age") are translations from the Elvish by Bilbo who DID have access to the most knowledgeable people still left in Middle-earth. The exemplars of his translations are by Elves, or by Men such as Dirhavel who lived in the same times. Internally, the level of reliability is far greater than you ascribe.


    As I pointed out, the nature of some of the tales would strongly indicate they'd become fictionalised, at least in part. We're talking about Elvish minstrels telling stories rather than writing a history; with the stories coming down to us (notionally) but the histories failing to survive. So no, the Quenta Silmarillion isn't supposed to be a reliable, factual account of events - Tolkien didn't aim to write a history, but instead 'a body of more or less connected legend', so that's what we have.
    No where in any of Tolkien's writings am I aware of a statement wherein he states the Quenta Silmarillion was based on oral history. You are correct that he intended to write 'a body of more or less connected legend' but he seemed to go great lengths to ensure that the historicity of the accounts were valid. That minstrels sang poems like the Narn i Chîn Húrin does not mean they were as far removed from the historical context that they portray since Tolkien states that that poem was written a few decades after Turin's death.

    I guess my objection is to applying the historiographical approach of source criticism to Tolkien's works which are fictional documents as opposed to real ones. I do so because it would inevitably allow argumentation to be introduced that ALL of Tolkien's writing are unreliable since one could construe even the Lord of the Rings as being a piece of Elessarian propaganda meant to vilify a Promethean Sauron.

  16. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    This may be true of the people of Gondor, but the "Silmarillion' (excluding the Akallabeth and "Of the Rings of power and the 3rd age") are translations from the Elvish by Bilbo who DID have access to the most knowledgeable people still left in Middle-earth. The exemplars of his translations are by Elves, or by Men such as Dirhavel who lived in the same times. Internally, the level of reliability is far greater than you ascribe.
    It' remains a collection of tales, not a history.

    No where in any of Tolkien's writings am I aware of a statement wherein he states the Quenta Silmarillion was based on oral history. You are correct that he intended to write 'a body of more or less connected legend' but he seemed to go great lengths to ensure that the historicity of the accounts were valid. That minstrels sang poems like the Narn i Chîn Húrin does not mean they were as far removed from the historical context that they portray since Tolkien states that that poem was written a few decades after Turin's death.
    Accurate as to date (etc.) doesn't necessarily mean accurate as to detail more generally. There are plenty of real-world stories that include real events and characters but are fictionalised to greater or lesser extent. There are details in those tales from the Sil that could not 'really' be true to life (from the point of view of someone in Middle-earth) because there was nobody there to bear witness; they can therefore only have been invented. They might be 'true' in a sense (capturing the essence of the situation, perhaps) but they couldn't be literally true in every detail. That's only awkward if you try to insist that it bears the full weight of history (Middle-earth's constructed history in this case), which a story doesn't have to.

    I guess my objection is to applying the historiographical approach of source criticism to Tolkien's works which are fictional documents as opposed to real ones. I do so because it would inevitably allow argumentation to be introduced that ALL of Tolkien's writing are unreliable since one could construe even the Lord of the Rings as being a piece of Elessarian propaganda meant to vilify a Promethean Sauron.
    Now you're catching on!

  17. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Thought as much, you've really got nothing to say and are just being argumentative for the sake of it (again).
    Of course I have nothing to say on the matter. You appeared to have a new interpretation of Tolkien’s writings. A new rule as it were. But you have admitted that it was nothing more than opinion. So what is interesting enough for me to have anything to say about this most recent speculation from you?

  18. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    Of course I have nothing to say on the matter. You appeared to have a new interpretation of Tolkien’s writings. A new rule as it were. But you have admitted that it was nothing more than opinion. So what is interesting enough for me to have anything to say about this most recent speculation from you?
    And yet you keep posting anyway. Funny, that

  19. #169
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    And yet you keep posting anyway. Funny, that
    Yes we do; now that “might” be interesting.

  20. #170
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    It' remains a collection of tales, not a history.[/I]
    Just because something is a tale does not mean that it lack historicity (or subcreative historicity as the case may be). The Ainulindalë and the Valaquenta were written by Rumil for instance, who had access to the Valar and Maiar as informants, and his historical document the Annals of Aman was the source for the opening chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion.

    Accurate as to date (etc.) doesn't necessarily mean accurate as to detail more generally.
    True but it does not entail inaccuracy as well.

    There are plenty of real-world stories that include real events and characters but are fictionalised to greater or lesser extent.
    My B.A. and M.A. were in Medieval Studies. I am well aware of fictionalized historical accounts, heh. But we are not talking about them.

    There are details in those tales from the Sil that could not 'really' be true to life (from the point of view of someone in Middle-earth) because there was nobody there to bear witness; they can therefore only have been invented.
    Your statement is only true if you are assuming an intact consistency of narrative perspective in the stories.
    Re-read by position #2 above.
    That there are events portrayed which exceed the narrative perspective of the limited narrator does NOT make those events dubious if you view those events as Tolkien's authorial intrusion into his metafiction of feigned history. It is as equally plausible to see these events as subcreatively 'true' and that the weakness they expose is not their dubious authenticity but a weakness in the consistent application of the framing device applied by Tolkien.

    Now you're catching on!
    I caught on a long time ago, heh. It is just that I reject that methodology since it inevitably leads to re-writing Tolkien as opposed to reading him.

  21. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    Just because something is a tale does not mean that it lack historicity (or subcreative historicity as the case may be). The Ainulindalë and the Valaquenta were written by Rumil for instance, who had access to the Valar and Maiar as informants, and his historical document the Annals of Aman was the source for the opening chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion.
    Come on, you can't pretend that the Ainulindalë supposedly has historicity when it's specifically written as a creation myth!

    True but it does not entail inaccuracy as well.
    It doesn't prove any specific inaccuracy but it might well entail it, so it makes the tales less than fully reliable - and that's fine, because they're not written as a history and so don't have to bear the burden you're trying to place on them.

    My B.A. and M.A. were in Medieval Studies. I am well aware of fictionalized historical accounts, heh. But we are not talking about them.
    I can't see any practical difference, myself, between 'genuine' fictionalised historical accounts and a constructed one when it comes to their relationship to their parent history. Neither would be reliable. (And by framing his stories as legends, Tolkien avoids any implied need to be reliable).

    Your statement is only true if you are assuming an intact consistency of narrative perspective in the stories.
    Re-read by position #2 above.
    That there are events portrayed which exceed the narrative perspective of the limited narrator does NOT make those events dubious if you view those events as Tolkien's authorial intrusion into his metafiction of feigned history. It is as equally plausible to see these events as subcreatively 'true' and that the weakness they expose is not their dubious authenticity but a weakness in the consistent application of the framing device applied by Tolkien.
    If you admit authorial intrusion and an inconsistent perspective that means you can't ever tell what's supposedly real from (notional) outright authorial invention within the metafiction. The seed's been sown.

    I caught on a long time ago, heh. It is just that I reject that methodology since it inevitably leads to re-writing Tolkien as opposed to reading him.
    Rejecting it is questionable since Tolkien pondered it himself.

  22. #172
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Come on, you can't pretend that the Ainulindalë supposedly has historicity when it's specifically written as a creation myth!
    From an external perspective it is indeed a cosmogony, but from an internal perspective, Tolkien explicity historicized it by stating it was written in Aman by Rumil. So from a purely sub-creative perspective, do you believe the Valar and Maiar had no input into the construction of Rumil's narrative? I agree that of all the works, the Ainulindale is the most problematic as being completely reliable but only because the sequential narrative written by Rumil implies temporality when Time had yet to be created.

    I can't see any practical difference, myself, between 'genuine' fictionalised historical accounts and a constructed one when it comes to their relationship to their parent history. Neither would be reliable. (And by framing his stories as legends, Tolkien avoids any implied need to be reliable).
    But Tolkien does not merely frame them as legends, he takes great pains to provide an actual internal historical context to their writing. From a historiographical perspective this is a key indication that he wished to historicize his fiction.
    If you admit authorial intrusion and an inconsistent perspective that means you can't ever tell what's supposedly real from (notional) outright authorial invention within the metafiction. The seed's been sown.
    I agree the stance I take is not without problems. But your statement above can also be altered to apply to the stance you have taken since by admitting that narrative details falling outside the scope of the internal narrative which proves a narrative unreliability also entails calling into question the entirety of the narrative itself. Such a stance calls into question the entirety of the Middle-earth corpus as being utterly unreliable, and thus trying to construct commentary on it as either an endeavour in futility or an exercise in hypocrisy.
    Rejecting it is questionable since Tolkien pondered it himself.
    Could you provide a specific quote detailing this? I am not sure as to what statement by Tolkien you here refer.
    Last edited by Ceredig; Jan 09 2014 at 10:10 AM.

  23. #173
    I am at work at the moment so cannot check the Silmarillion but do any of the Elves or Ainur actually 'eye-witness' Ungoliant's destruction of the Two Trees, or 'eye-witness' Ungoliant (as opposed to an impenetrable darkness with which she clothed herself) at all?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    I am at work at the moment so cannot check the Silmarillion but do any of the Elves or Ainur actually 'eye-witness' Ungoliant's destruction of the Two Trees, or 'eye-witness' Ungoliant (as opposed to an impenetrable darkness with which she clothed herself) at all?
    Almost everyone was off feasting in Manwë's halls upon Taniquetil.

    "In that day the streets of Valmar were empty, and the stairs of Tirion were silent; and all the land lay sleeping in peace. Only the Teleri beyond the mountains still sang upon the shores of the sea-"

    Absent were also Finwe and the rest of the Noldor of Formenos, save for Fëanor, who'd been commanded to come.

    When Ungoliant drank the lights, the Darkness grew.

    "Varda looked down from Taniquetil, and beheld the Shadow soaring up in sudden towers of gloom; Valmar had foundered in a deep sea of night."

    A bit later is also mentioned that "Manwë from his high seat looked out, and his eyes alone pierced through the night, until they saw a Darkness beyond dark which they could not penetrate, huge but far away --- and he knew that Melkor had come and gone."

  25. #175
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    From an external perspective it is indeed a cosmogony, but from an internal perspective, Tolkien explicity historicized it by stating it was written in Aman by Rumil. So from a purely sub-creative perspective, do you believe the Valar and Maiar had no input into the construction of Rumil's narrative? I agree that of all the works, the Ainulindale is the most problematic as being completely reliable but only because the sequential narrative written by Rumil implies temporality when Time had yet to be created.
    From an internal perspective it's still framed as a myth. Look at how it's written. The problem is perhaps one of Tolkien trying to have his cake and eat it, too - you're quite right, you'd imagine Rumil could just have asked and been given a matter-of-fact account but that would come across weirdly - people expect such accounts of the Creation to be mythological in character (like traditional creation myths), not matter-of-fact. If you're aiming to recreate the 'feel' of myth and legend, as Tolkien was, then they need to feel mythological, not historical. And so it does.

    Also: from a semantic point of view, could something that mostly happened before time began be termed 'historical' anyway? And there'd also be the problem of how the Ainur could have put what one would imagine be iineffable into words for the Elves' sake.

    But Tolkien does not merely frame them as legends, he takes great pains to provide an actual internal historical context to their writing. From a historiographical perspective this is a key indication that he wished to historicize his fiction.
    He provided a chronology, true enough, but that doesn't instantly make it fully historical in character. It's just a framework on which to hang tales that are purposely written as legends. I already pointed out that he had legend in mind, that much is incontestable so at best your would-be history has become fictionalised. Notionally, only fragments came down to us: stuff like the chronology, and these tales - what's missing is the proper detailed written histories that one could pretend once existed, but didn't make it through to the present.

    I agree the stance I take is not without problems. But your statement above can also be altered to apply to the stance you have taken since by admitting that narrative details falling outside the scope of the internal narrative which proves a narrative unreliability also entails calling into question the entirety of the narrative itself. Such a stance calls into question the entirety of the Middle-earth corpus as being utterly unreliable, and thus trying to construct commentary on it as either an endeavour in futility or an exercise in hypocrisy.
    Of course it's a problem, it mirrors the concerns you'd have over a genuine tale from long ago. Is it real? Did someone just make it up? Is it part real, and part imagination? You need confirmation from something else in order to be able to tell. In the real world, this has prompted people to go looking for archaeological evidence - like whether Troy was a real place, as a classic example. This is all a consequence of Tolkien's choice of writing constructed myth and legend rather than just writing straightforward stories.

    Could you provide a specific quote detailing this? I am not sure as to what statement by Tolkien you here refer.
    If you read Humphrety Carpenter's biography of Tolkien I believe it mentions how Tolkien later fell to reconsidering his creation in light of perceived problems such as a modern audience's mental resistance to such things as creation myths (they tend to come across as hokey). An example would be his reconsidering of the origins of the Sun and Moon as fruits of the Two Trees - he had an alternate notion where the Moon was largely conventional and looks like it does because Melkor and the Valar had warred over it. (This prompted me to have a funny five minutes imagining Morgoth in space, like a Marvel super-villain with a sinister space fortress). Fortunately these were just musings on Tolkien's part.
    Last edited by Radhruin_EU; Jan 09 2014 at 02:05 PM.

 

 
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