Silmarillion Discussion discussion

Quenta Silmarillion

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message 1: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
And this is where it is supposed to become interesting. *crossing fingers*

message 2: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
Do you think that JRRT 'liked' Feanor?

*Everything* he says about Feanor can be taken two ways: one positive, one negative.

message 3: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
I suppose you're right, but I certainly felt an undercurrent that smacked of disapproval.

message 4: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
I'm actually enjoying the stories very much. What makes my head hurt is trying to fit some of them into their proper context. The constant name changes don't help.

message 5: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
I kind of think that may be part of the problem - trying to fit them into their proper context. There's not necessarily a 1:1 correspondence. JRRT devised these stories to represent old myths handed down through the ages, orally and in writing. Just like in the real world, you can't trace it back to one specific thing - it's general ideas or story themes. You find threads and subtle links that tie the 'current' stories (LotR) to the 'old' stories (Silmarillion) and the recognition of those links is what makes them strong.

message 6: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
I find it interesting how the elves in this book differ from those in LotR. For one thing, they've obviously gained some wisdom from their long troubles. But for another, LotR is written from the perspective of the hobbits, and they see the elves as much wiser and more serene than a complete history would indicate.

message 7: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
More quotes, comments, and oddments:

"...a spirit of great strength and hardihood came to the aid of the Valar, hearing in the far heaven that there was battle in the Little Kingdom; and Arda was filled with the sound of his laughter. So came Tulkas the Strong, whose anger passes like a mighty wind, scattering cloud and darkness before it; and Melkor fled before his wrath and his laughter..." This points to the idea of a 'righteous wrath' which in Catholic theology is the only acceptable form of anger. And it also has interesting implications that Melkor could not stand before laughter. Laughter is the ultimate insult in this scenario, and Melkor's pride cannot stand before Tulkas' contempt. Laughter can go both ways - joy and contempt. Which is meant here? (I think both.)

"Therefore they departed from Middle-earth and went to the Land of Aman, the westernmost of all lands upon the borders of the world; for its west shores looked upon the Outer Sea, that is called by the Elves Ekkaia, encircling the Kingdom of Arda." I do wish I had a better understanding of the nuances of meaning between Aman, Arda, Ea, etc. JRRT seems often to use them interchangeably, but they don't seem to be exactly 'all the same'.

"Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else..." One of the thorniest passages in the entire corpus of JRRT's works. On this, the debate between fate vs free will for all of Tolkien's creation hinges.

"‘These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.’ Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwë, who knows most of the mind of Ilúvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him." What really jumps out at me from this passage is not that Men resemble Melkor but that he has always feared and hated them. Why? The first thing that comes to mind is the Biblical 'in his own image' concept. I don't think I've ever seen any discussion on the ramfications of this in any of the stuff I've read.

"It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not." Death and Free Will are gifts of Iluvatar, but they come at a price. This goes back to what JRRT said in "On Faerie-stories" about the Human-stories of the Elves being concerned with the Escape from Deathlessness.

"Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy." Ditto, see above.

"Yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee; and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father. But what shall I do now, so that thou be not angry with me for ever? As a child to his father, I offer to thee these things, the work of the hands which thou hast made. Do with them what thou wilt. But should I not rather destroy the work of my presumption?'" Aule's total humility and admission of wrongdoing is in stark contrast to Melkor's arrogance and desire to be Creator rather than Sub-creator.

"Aforetime it was held among the Elves in Middle-earth that dying the Dwarves returned to the earth and the stone of which they were made; yet that is not their own belief. For they say that Aulë the Maker, whom they call Mahal, cares for them, and gathers them to Mandos in halls set apart; and that he declared to their Fathers of old that Ilúvatar will hallow them and give them a place among the Children in the End. Then their part shall be to serve Aulë and to aid him in the remaking of Arda after the Last Battle." Very interesting because so little is said about the Dwarves' own mythology. If Iluvatar hallows them and they have a place among his other children in the End, does that mean they will join in the Second Music (yes, imagine a choir of Dwarves - I dare you!)?

"But in the forests shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees." The genesis of the Ents!

"And high in the north as a challenge to Melkor she set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom." Something to think about whenever you spot the Big Dipper or Ursa Major!

message 8: by SEP (last edited Mar 18, 2013 04:48PM) (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod

"From without the World, though all things may be forethought in music or foreshown in vision from afar, to those who enter verily into Eä each in its time shall be met at unawares as something new and unforetold." The Music is not the be-all and end-all of creation - there will always be something new and fascinating to see. In other words, the world is a wonderful and marvellous place!

"And Oromë loved the Quendi, and named them in their own tongue Eldar, the people of the stars; but that name was after borne only by those who followed him upon the westward road." I don't think that JRRT ended up being this strict about the proper usage of 'Eldar' in LotR. I think he used it for Elves in general, though according to this, it was only properly used for those who had been to Valinor and had returned to Middle-earth (the Exiles). From a LotR standpoint, that means Galadriel only. Maybe Gildor and Glorfindel, but for main players - only Galadriel. Even Elrond was born in Middle-earth and never went West until the end of LotR.

"...shadow-shapes that walked in the hills above Cuiviénen, or would pass suddenly over the stars; and of the dark Rider upon his wild horse that pursued those that wandered to take them and devour them." Shades of the Black Riders and the Nazgul.

"...and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilúvatar." Important at many levels. First, to contrast with Aule's humility in the creation of the Dwarves. And confirmation of Treebeard's comment that Orcs were made in mockery of Elves, or from corrupted Elves. And how interesting that the Orcs hate their Master and serve only in fear. That gives an indication of free will and a sense of right/wrong or 'appropriateness' in their creation. And their creation was in mockery of Iluvatar because it usurped his prerogative of Creation (as opposed to Sub-creation).

"Círdan the Shipwright was their lord." I always kind of thought that Cirdan was an Exile, but apparently not. He had really 'been around' though, if he was in Middle-earth since before the First Age.

"They hoarded them not, but gave them freely, and by their labour enriched all Valinor." Contrast to Feanor and his family.

"‘It is indeed unhappy,’ said Míriel, ‘and I would weep, if I were not so weary. But hold me blameless in this, and in all that may come after.’ She went then to the gardens of Lórien and lay down to sleep; but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body, and passed in silence to the halls of Mandos." I don't like Feanor. Period. And, IMO, JRRT didn't like him, either. Everything he says about Feanor is double-edged. Here, his mother isn't portrayed in very favorable light, either. This comment smacks of entitlement and self-indulgence. And who knew that Elves suffered from postpartum depressions??? EDIT TO ADD: And it grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard how she whines and says 'hold me harmless in this' as though she's being forced against her will to 'give up'. This screams something like 'moral lassitude' to me. Don't like Miriel any more than I like Feanor.

"He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark" This is a description of Feanor, and I find it interesting because there has been dispute over the 'normal' hair color of Elves. LotR says that their hair was dark 'except in the golden house of Finrod', and some writers have twisted that (somehow) to mean that all Elves were blonde... A little before this quote came: "A sister they had, Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finwë; her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin." Forget what 'Galadriel' translates to, but it's not her real name, it's a nickname and it has something to do with the pretty hair. And the simple fact that she got a nickname that related to her hair indicates that it was not the norm.

"The wedding of his father was not pleasing to Fëanor; and he had no great love for Indis, nor for Fingolfin and Finarfin, her sons." Spoiled, self-centered, brat!

"For Manwë was free from evil and could not comprehend it, and he knew that in the beginning, in the thought of Ilúvatar, Melkor had been even as he; and he saw not to the depths of Melkor’s heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever." Manwe is showing how gullibly innocent someone who is 'good' can be. He should have been wiser, or have known better, or have learned from experience. But all those things sort of presuppose a kernel of 'not-good' in the makeup. From a purely rational standpoint, this makes Manwe look naive, but I think it really means to illustrate that he is so totally 'good', he has no concept of 'not-good' except as a theory (rather than reality).

I'm sick of typing - more later... and why am I the only one writing these long posts????

message 9: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
A few ideas on your comments…

Ea vs Aman vs Arda... I think "Ea" is the entirety of creation. Arda the planetary world (i.e. not the heavens) and Aman was once a continent on Arda but eventually removed therefrom and became "the Undying Land" of the Valar. It's my understanding that this was separate and apart from Arda after that move. (off the flat earth?)

Also, re Aule and the dwarves, his immediate surrender of them reminds me of the story of Abraham and Isaac. A total trust in one's Lord to make it a good thing. And I think that's why Aule wasn't considered to have "sinned". Or at least he was completely forgiven, if that's the right term.

message 10: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
Oh, and I still don't think Tolkien ever did like Feanor. I just don't read the comments as positive.

message 11: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
Denise wrote: "Oh, and I still don't think Tolkien ever did like Feanor. I just don't read the comments as positive."

I don't think he did either. I think he was careful to not take an 'editorial' attitude and express his own opinion, but his word choices are telling. He doesn't come right out and blast Feanor, but Feanor is a Lucifer-figure to the max. There was a great deal in the letter to Milton Waldman (the prefatory material) about Middle-earth not having a Fall because the concept of a Fall was too integral to our 'real world' history & mythology to be believable in Middle-earth. But I think the story of Feanor is pretty darn close. (Although the 'Fall' can be taken two ways - the Rebellion of the Angels or the Fall of Adam - and Feanor is more of a Lucifer-figure than an Adam-figure.)

message 12: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
Denise wrote: "A few ideas on your comments…

"Also, re Aule and the dwarves, his immediate surrender of them reminds me of the story of Abraham and Isaac. A total trust in one's Lord to make it a good thing. And I think that's why Aule wasn't considered to have "sinned". Or at least he was completely forgiven, if that's the right term. "

I agree. Aule's total humility and submission to the will of Iluvatar stands out strongly when compared to the attitude of Melkor and Feanor regarding Creation/Sub-creation and the pride of possession.

message 13: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Mod
SEP wrote: "Denise wrote: "Oh, and I still don't think Tolkien ever did like Feanor. I just don't read the comments as positive."

I don't think he did either. I think he was careful to not take an 'editorial..."

Well, and later there's a comment about how the "marring" of Feanor was among the ugliest works of Melkor. So the fact that he could have been so much more was a great tragedy, but he made some pretty rotten choices.

message 14: by SEP (new)

SEP (goodreadscomsep) | 15 comments Mod
Denise wrote: "SEP wrote: "Denise wrote: "Oh, and I still don't think Tolkien ever did like Feanor. I just don't read the comments as positive."

I don't think he did either. I think he was careful to not take a..."

Seems to me that Feanor's choices started even before Melkor was released from Mandos. Melkor certainly pushed Feanor over the edge, but he was teetering there of his own free will when Melkor came along.

message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael | 1 comments Fingolfin over Feanor ANYDAY! Feanor was prideful and selfish, Fingolfin, though a proud prince of the Eldar, was humble and selfless as High King rather than reckless and vengeful like Feanor. I think JRR preferred Fingolfin over Feanor, at least the way the writing views the deeds of each (ie: Feanor's inglorious death VS Fingolfin's honourable duel with Morgoth to the death).

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