i Nili o i Ardanole Newsletter:
Your source for Lord of the Rings News, Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.
Issue 14, Volume 1, October 31st, 2003.
Assitant Editor: Xara.
Reporters, contributors and whatnot: Erm, none.In this issue: The Reality of the Myth.Featured Article: Tolkien: Tale-weaver or Translator? by Perian.
Frodo Baggins's Secret Heartache by Xara.
Orodruin: Life After Sauron by Xara.
The Date of the War of the Ring (Almost) Revealed by Perian.
In every issue:
Fanfiction: This Fortnight: ALS by Perian.
Letters to the Editor.Featured Article:
Tolkien: Tale-weaver or Translator?
The timing for this particular issue, unplanned though it was, is fortuitous. Whether you receive it on Halloween or All Souls’ Day, fate seems to have played us a delightful trick and treat in coinciding days. Why? Because this issue, themed as it is with The Reality of the Myth, so closely corresponds with the theme of the day. Samhain, All Hallows, All Souls’: by any name considered in many cultures to be a day when the veils between the material and the immaterial have parted, leaving us a glimpse of the world of spirits, goblins, the wee folk ... who knows? Maybe even elves and balrogs.
But do such things exist, or did once they exist? Did the world of Tolkien exist? This is the perfect time for such speculations.
One ponderance of this nature which has crossed nearly every Tolkien fan’s mind at one point or another (generally in the most disoriented or philosophic times - the one being interchangeable with the other) and that is: Did Tolkien imagine all of this, or is there historical validity?
Of course, the wording varies from person to person ("Whoa, this is too cool to not be real..." "Where can I fine one of those elves?") But we have all thought it, haven’t we? Be it while reading the rich, legendarily-valid details of persons and places in The Lord of the Rings, or in reading Tolkien’s own words from letters and interviews, there often creeps in validation to the possibility of it having happened.
You may note that the earliest surviving versions of the manuscript are written as a first-person narrative from Frodo’s perspective (The Unfinished Tales, The Quest of Erebor, pages 335-351). Tolkien’s notes would also indicate a personal detachment from the text. As an aspiring writer myself, I am somewhat familiar with the mode in which fantasy writers annotate their work with random explanatory notes and journal-like entries. Yet Tolkien rarely, if ever, mentions himself or his own influence upon his work. He avoids confident or definite statements, writing within his margins hesitantly: "The Northmen appear to have been..." "... It seems that Grimbold’s valiant defense..." "... but maybe in the dark the fall of the land had bent his course..."
Such can, perhaps, be marked off as the product of an irresolute personality (which Tolkien was not exactly known to be) but it does give one reason to pause.
If... if ... Frodo, or his equivalent, did write the manuscript in the far distant past, is it all possible for the manuscript to have survived? What is Tolkien’s involvement with it? If he was not the writer, what was he?
Well, what was he in life?
A linguist, a professor teaching Anglo-Saxon, a translator of ancient manuscripts (such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) into English ... wait a minute. Now there’s an idea! Could it be that Tolkien, rather than being a masterful tale-weaver, was a master translator? It would certainly explain many unresolved questions. For example, why did he only ever use one world and one set of myths for his "fantasy" writings? Never once did he stray. What a thought. The possibilities are endless, and left me more than a little giddy.
Long after formulating this theory, I was drawn to pull out my copy of The Tolkien Companion, the wonderfully detailed predecessor to The Encyclopaedia of Arda, so that I might compile a list of Hobbitish vocabulary words for this newsletter. As I knew I would be reading from beginning to end for the first time, I thought perhaps I should take a glance at the preface as well. Now, understand, I hate prefaces with a passion, rarely ever reading them. But I decided to struggle through this one. I read the first sentence haltingly, like a thief being brought to the guillotine. Then, after getting past that sentence (about eight or nine minutes of staring first at one word, then another, at random) I stopped, quite certain I had misread. So I went through the long process once more. And again:
"Throughout the entire history of the philological sciences there have been few feats of literary translation to equal that performed by Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, of Oxford, England, between the years 1932 and 1953..."
Soon my eyes were flying back and forth over it and moving on. I smiled. I was right.
What I found was the icing on my proverbial cake. Perhaps it doesn’t give substantial credence to my theory, but it was certainly a delicious tidbit. And so I will leave this article with a further extract for you to ponder:
"... During this period Tolkien laboured, if not unceasingly, then with such an intensity and devotion as his other (considerable) scholastic duties permitted, on the translation, annotation, and general reorganisation of a collection of extremely ancient bout volumes which had entered his benevolent custodianship some years before..."
Frodo Baggins's Secret Heartache
It is an undeniable fact that Frodo Baggins was the only hobbit to return from death and danger, war and destruction of evil covered in glory and honour and cuteness and not marry a pretty young hobbit lass and settle down with a family. It has been speculated by many that this was because of his traumatic experience during the War of the Ring, eventually resulting in his departure from the Grey Havens. It has been remarked by others (rather rudely and needless to say inaccurately) that this was because of homosexual tendencies but of course we have all learnt that such a remark is only made by the particularly frivolous and so can be ignored. But why did Frodo really not choose a bride and settle down? Was it that none of the hobbit girls would have him, or was it his heart already belonged to another?
In my recent re-reading of the chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring in which the four hobbits meet Tom Bombadil I discovered startling new evidence to suggest that Frodo was in fact already hopelessly in love long before he even arrived in Rivendell. Want to hear more? Read on:
"The hobbits looked at [Goldberry] in wonder; and she looked at each of them and smiled. 'Fair lady Goldberry!' said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy he did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange. 'Fair lady Goldberry!' he said again. 'Now the joy that was hidden in the songs we heard is made plain to me.
O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool! Fair river-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!' Suddenly he stopped and stammered, overcome with surprise to hear himself saying such things."
It is made plain by Frodo's behaviour here on meeting Goldberry that he has fallen in love with her, but after this point, for obvious reasons rather embarrassed, Frodo seems to have managed to conceal this from the rest of the house, and it is not mentioned again in the book until they leave the house of Tom Bombadil two days later:
"They had dismounted to lead their ponies up the last steep slope, when suddenly Frodo stopped. 'Goldberry!" he cried. 'My fair lady, clad all in silver green! We have never said farewell to her, nor seen her since the evening!' He was so distressed that he turned back..."
Now here it cannot be denied that Frodo is behaving as one in love. It would be normal for him to be a little disappointed and guilty at his rudeness for not saying a proper good-bye, but to think of turning back again is irrational and can only be explained by the assumption that Frodo must be infatuated by her. Although, it is true, Frodo never mentions Goldberry again, he does not show any interest in marriage to any other woman when he returns. It can also be said, that none of the other hobbits showed any similar symtoms of Frodo's infatuation with Goldberry and so his behaviour had to more than normal Tolkienian enchantment with elveness or beauty. Every other traveller in Fellowship of the Ring to have met Goldberry showed no more than normal interest in her, and moved on, but I think it is fair to say that Frodo left his heart back in the Old Forest.
Orodruin - Life After Sauron
Orodruin - Mount Doom - The Mountain of Fire - Forging Place of the One Ring of Sauron - Garden? It seems strange that these words should go together, and yet, it is possible, indeed, it is quite probable. You may laugh and be skeptical, and yet, looking at the evidence of our own eyes and our own volcanoes it seems highly likely that this could indeed be the case. Let me explain myself a little better.
At the time when Frodo and Sam crossed the plains of Gorgoroth Mordor was a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust to use Boromir's very accurate description. The air reeked with poisonous fumes, the ground was dry and cracked, the air was so thick with pollution that the sun was quite effectively blotted out. Now, some believe that this was due to the evil arts of Sauron yet this may perhaps not have been so. Looking at the conditions of Mordor and the fact that it contained a very active volcano, it is quite possible that this harsh environment was not due solely to the fact that Mount Doom happened to be there.
Now, assuming that when the Ring was destroyed Orodruin became an extinct volcano we can now tell a very, very great deal about the future of Mordor after Sauron. Why? Because we've already seen what happens after volcanoes become extinct on our own soil. After a volcano becomes extinct, the ash and fumes that it emitted into the atmosphere disperse and eventually disappear, leaving the sky clear and the land about it free from the negative influence of a poisonous atmosphere. Now, the lava vomited up from a volcano is from deep beneath the earth's crust and full of wonderful nutrients and minerals. Once this lava hardens in the lands about, the soil around about becomes rich and fertile. Only a few hundred or maybe thousands of years later what was an evil uninhabitable volcanic plain becomes a lush and prosperous land excellent for gardening, farming or just general growing things.
So you see, after Sauron Mordor would have become like a vast extension of Ithilien! And a very nice place to spend your holidays too!The Date of the War of the Ring (Almost) Revealed
To the best of my knowledge Tolkien left no clear indication as to the date (relative to the modern age) of the happenings of the War of the Ring and prior events. He leaves such speculation up to the reader. Being incurably curious, I have taken up the unspoken challenge.
The first step in discovering the time period was to search the text for geological indicators. The most dramatic of these would be when Numenor was "thrown down and swallowed down in the Sea" (3319 of the Second Age). As Numenor directly lay west of The Shire and The Grey Havens (England, Wales, and Ireland) it was somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. If you happen to have a map of the submarine features of the Atlantic you will see a star-shaped section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge close to, and at times penetrating, the surface of the ocean in the area of the Azores. This happens to be an area often sighted as the location of the ancient Atlantis. Right. So. Two mountainous, star-shaped, sunken islands midway into the Atlantic Ocean is just a wee bit too curious for me to mark of as coincidence. Atlantis and Numenor were, then, one and the same.
This led me to the writings of philosopher and recorder of mytho-historic traditions Plato (428-347 b.c.) Among other things, Plato wrote of the isle of Atlantis, and recounts the date of the island kingdom's dominance as 9,000 years before his time (that placing it at some 11,000+ years ago). It was supposedly destroyed by either a meteor or a collapse of its volcanically-formed supports about one-thousand years later. This account corresponds with Irish and Welch legends of a superior race who came over the seas from a sunken land, brought down into the sea by "falling sky".
So now we have a clear passage through the Sundering Seas, much as the ocean is today. What effect would this have on Middle-earth? One of the first changes would be a shift in the air and ocean currents, warming the ice-locked western coastlands. Around this time we find the hobbits migrating westward into the newly inhabitable and still somewhat wild lands of The Shire. Another result of this warm Atlantic current, though it took much longer for this element to be felt, was for the snow and ice further north (Ered Luin, The Ice Bay of Forochel, and beyond) to melt and recede, swelling the waters of Middle-earth until they reached today's levels (The Brandywine as it correlates to the English Channel being one good example.)
Enough of geology. I'll get back to that (including a rather startling revelation about the fate of Mordor) in another article at a later date.
So, Numenor sank in about 8,300 b.c. The second age lasted little over one hundred years beyond that. The third age ended in its 3019th year. That would bring the date of the destruction of the Ring to approximately 5,200 b.c. Now if you will excuse me, I have a pair of seven-thousand year old hobbits to track down...
This Fortnight: A Little Something
I was very nervous today when I went for my first job interview ever, I turned up, walked boldly up to the establishment in question and asked for the manager saying that I had an interview...and he wasn't there...I waited for half an hour and he didn't turn up. Would you be able to help me come after him with a pitch-fork and flaming torch? Or if not tell me what to do or where I can find a hobbit who will?
Certainly! He resides in the office of Thain, in the Tukborough. Please, take him. Much obliged.
FOR RENT: 3620/2 room, 1 bath fortress upon the Anduin. Courtyard, bridge, ARGH! ORCS! Erm, make that no bridge. Seven- ach! wait, that's now six, towers. Sparsely populated area. Great view of two mountain ranges. Call while it's still available! Captain of Gondor.
WANTED: A sharp stick. Thankyou. firstname.lastname@example.org
WANTED: A title for my fanfiction. I don't care what it is, so long as it's extraordinary and witty and fabulous and fits and is 100% perfect. Perian@frontiernet.net
Tolkienish.Hobbitish, Part IX.
smial: (noun) a hobbit-hole, or underground dwelling. As used in The Great Smials.
Solmath, Somath: (noun) February.
sterren: (noun) star.
Sterrendei: (noun) Saturday.
Sunnendei: (noun) Sunday.
Suza: (noun) original, untranslated name for The Shire.
Letter(s) to the Editor.
As always, thoroughly entertaining newsletter! John Howe on our little newsletter!?! I feel so honoured! The Kingslayer article was interesting, but there is one point that I would like to contest. I do not think Eowyn's near-death experience can be attributed to Aragorn but rather Wormtongue. You see, as Gandalf and Aragorn discuss in the chapter "The Houses of Healing" (if I recall correctly) Eowyn fell in love with Aragorn because she was under Wormtongue's evil influence, the same one that made Theoden think he was an old cripple only more subtle. Wormtongue artfully poisoned Eowyn's will, making her believe that there was no dignity in the House of Eorl. So then Aragorn turns up and she sees dignity and majesty in him, wants to be like him, and so falls in love with him. So you see, it was really Wormtongue's fault, not Aragorn's in this case. Apart from this, I completely loved the article and can't wait for the next issue! Another triumph Perian!
Thanks for the comment! You're not the only one to feel honoured at John Howe's appearance. I still marvel at the fact that he agreed to another interview... Which reminds me, if anyone has questions for him, send them to me and I'll pass them on. He is the most gracious artiste I have ever known. Erm, the only real artiste I have ever known, so make that the most gracious artiste I have ever imagined.
I know that Grima certainly played a strong role in the degradation of Eowyn's confidence, but it was only after Aragorn came and left for the Path of the Dead that it was utterly shattered. To each her own opinion.
Thank you for all your hard and wonderful work. I am forever in your debt.