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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion: Origin of Evil


macross wrote:
Well the origin of orcs, As powerful as Melkor (Morgoth) was he could not create life. He could only manipulate it. The first Orcs were indeed corrupted elves. Melkor always tried to manipulate, twist and defile the creation of IIuvatar. Trolls are his go at creating an Ent. I doubt there could be a good orc, since they have been breed for evil for more than 10,000 years. besides I dont think the Free People of Middle-Earth would ever trust an orc. As for there Immortality, its never really says.

I had been wondering if it were best to have read the Silmarillian first or Hobbit-LOTR. In doing a bit of research into the Silmarillian I believe that the proper order is probably the Hobbit-LOTR first. Questions that are raised in LOTR are answered in more depth in the Silm and the answers make more sense when you start with the questions. In the discussions here on Orcs and the lengthy thread on religion in LOTR, the discussions seem to center on the explicit references, whereas the Silm presents the philosophical underpinnings.

I was reading Shippy this morning and was struck by a very important observation. He was actually referencing Lewis and his Preface to Paradise Lost and how Lewis and Tolkien shared the same basic religious-philosophical assumptions. Quoting Lewis he says "God created all things without exception good." Then referencing Melkor as an example of evil that started out with good intentions and also by implication Orcs and their creation he goes onto quote "What we call bad things are good things perverted ...This perversion arises when a conscious creature becomes more interested in itself than in God..the sin of Pride...whoever tries to rebel against God produces the result opposite to his intention . . . Those who will not be God's sons becomes his tools."

He then quotes Iluvatar from the Silm "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me...he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."

 

I have never read the Silm but I can already see it will most likely answer questions that have been discussed here pertaining to LOTR. 

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TiggerBear
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Re: The Silmarillion: Origin of Evil

 

Hobbit, then LOTR, then Silmarillion is best if this is your first time.

 

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Re: The Silmarillion

[ Edited ]
Are we starting the Silm in September? I'm willing but I don't know if there are any others? I don't want to be the only one doing it.
Message Edited by niki on 08-18-2008 05:57 PM
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Re: The Silmarillion

[ Edited ]

niki wrote:
Are we starting the Silm in September? I'm willing but I don't know if there are any others? I don't want to be the only one doing it.
Message Edited by niki on 08-18-2008 05:57 PM

Count me IN!

 

One way of doing such a study might be to give a brief statement of each chapter of the Silmarillion, with a few appended questions. Secondly, we can read each section and simply let the readers discuss the points they feel are important.

 

An example of the first comes from Orgulas' Silmarillion Study, cf Tolkien's Ring, and it might serve as a pattern here:

 

CHAPTER 2 Of Aulë and Yavanna



The Dwarves have been made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth. He desired the coming of the Children greatly, as he wanted to teach them his knowledge and skills, and he grew impatient. Since he was afraid the other Valar would blame his work, he made the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in secrecy. Because Melkor’s power still was over Middle-earth, he made them strong to endure, stubborn and fast in frienship, which is as they still are today. But Ilúvatar knew what he was doing, and he spoke to Aulë just as he had finished his work. Ilúvatar asked him why he had done something that was beyond his power and authority, and explained him the Dwarves would only move as he thought to move them, but stand idle when he was elsewhere. Aulë answered he did not want such lordship, but only wanted to love them and teach them, so that they could gaze upon the beauty of the Earth. He then offered his creations to Ilúvatar, and asked him if it would be better when he’d destroy them. Yet as he took a great hammer to smash them, the Dwarves recoiled in fear. But Ilúvatar, who had mercy, spoke. He told he had accepted Aulë’s offer and would take on the Dwarves as if they were his own children. Else they wouldn’t have been frightened and have stood still when Aulë raised the hammer. But Ilúvatar did not want to reward Aulë’s impatience. Therefore he did not allow the Dwarves to come before the Firstborn, but instead they would sleep until their coming, and Aulë should wait for them. So Aulë took the Seven Fathers with him and laid them asleep on far places. Then he returned to Valinor to wait many years.

When Aulë laboured on the making of the Dwarves, he kept it secret from the other Valar, but at last he told everything that had happened to Yavanna. She answered Eru was merciful and saw his heart was rejoiced, but she also knew Aulë’s children would care little for growing things, but would love to make things and delve in the earth, as their father did. She feared what might happen on Middle-earth, and was grieved. She went to Manwë and told him about her fears when the Children would take rulership over all of her creations. She entrusted him she wanted something free of dominion, and when Manwë asked her what she would choose she told she liked the trees most of all things that grow. She wanted the trees to speak for all the growing things, and to punish those who hurt them. Manwë thought it strange, yet when Yavanna ensured him it had been in the Song, he heard it again. In it, the Vision was renewed, and he understood many things that had still remained hidden before. He then told Eru had spoken to him, and had told him Yavanna’s thoughts also would wake up along with the Children, and that the Shepherds of the Trees would wander in the woods.

1. Aulë has exceeded his power and authority. Why? What does he do? And what effect will his actions have in Middle-earth?

2. Aulë and Yavanna are husband and wife. Why is it important for them to work together in the creations of Arda?

3. Yavanna wants something to speak for the trees, plants and anything that grows. What do we know about these Shepherds of the Trees? How does it fit in Tolkien’s mind for nature?

 

_____________________________________

 

Re: Orgulas' Sil Study CH 2
« Reply #1 on 2/23/06 at 21:45 » Andorinha

RE Androga's: 3. "Yavanna wants something to speak for the trees, plants and anything that grows. What do we know about these Shepherds of the Trees? How does it fit in Tolkien’s mind for nature?"

The section of the Silmarillion titled "Of Aule and Yavanna," is a fairly late addition to the body of JRRT's Middle-earth mythology. It does not appear in the original versions of his mythology, and seems to post-date the publication of LotR in 1954-56. Some of the Ent-material, especially their background story, was actually outlined as late as 1963. (see HOME XI "The War of the Jewels," p. 356)

Ents being "Tree-shepherds" was so late a development that JRRT, even at the end of writing LotR, may have had no good idea as to the origin of Ents himself. When he prepared his old tales for publication as "The Silmarillion," he found it necessary to write an entirely new chapter ("Of Aule and Yavanna" ) to fill this gap. In the first drafts of LotR, Treebeard was a "mere" human-type giant, in fact a malevolent character, and not a decent spokesperson for nature. This early Treebeard was seeking to capture and delay the Fellowship, perhaps to find the Ring for himself, or for Sauron. But, sometime in the late 1940's, the idea that Ents would be "Tree-shepherds," and have treeish connections themselves was finally conceived. When he made this transition -- changing Treebeard from a fairy-story type giant to a tree-shepherd -- JRRT could have left Treebeard and the other Ents as "evil" characters, perhaps tying them in with the menacing type of tree seen in the Old Man Willow of the Old Forest. But, I think JRRT's own love of trees and forests convinced him to alter the Ents from evil giants into the good, nature-loving, nature-protecting entities that we find in the final LotR version. Here, I think Androga is very correct in pointing out that Tolkien's own deep committment to the unspoiled realm of nature, and his celebration of trees in particular, would not allow him to portray the new Treeish Ents as foul creatures. So, in LotR, they become dangerous entities, capable of reacting harshly when Men, Dwarves, or even Elves get too enthusiastic in collecting firewood and lumber, but still they act predominantly as forces of "good." They are quite willing to make alliances with the better sorts of Men, Elves, Hobbits, even Dwarves to fight a more dreadful, common foe.
« Last Edit: 2/23/06 at 21:50 by Andorinha »

 

 

Message Edited by Dagor on 08-21-2008 01:11 PM
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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion

Excellent, Dagor. I could follow that. It would be a perfect way to start each chapter. But what is "Orgulas' Silmarillion Study, cf Tolkien's Ring".

 

I'm in then. Let's just do it! Any others in?

 

Let's start the first week of September. Is there one for the Ainulindale? Are we doing one chapter per week or in groups of chapters? I've never read silm. The chapters don't look very long but they might be very deep and require a lot of disussion. 

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Re: The Silmarillion

Me too! There is still plenty of life in this club. It just need some direction. And it is still one of the most active clubs on the boards. I don't think our drop-off was any worse than any of the other clubs during the summer lull. Hey, the Silm can keep us going for a long time. All we need is a bit more traffic of interested people and some committed direction.

 

Any one else who is interested in doing the Silm speak up so we can keep this club on the boards. I remember trying to exist on the SF board--it got very messy.  


Nadine wrote:

Excellent, Dagor. I could follow that. It would be a perfect way to start each chapter. But what is "Orgulas' Silmarillion Study, cf Tolkien's Ring".

 

I'm in then. Let's just do it! Any others in?

 

Let's start the first week of September. Is there one for the Ainulindale? Are we doing one chapter per week or in groups of chapters? I've never read silm. The chapters don't look very long but they might be very deep and require a lot of disussion. 


 

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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion

Dagor wrote: 

 

The Dwarves have been made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth. He desired the coming of the Children greatly, as he wanted to teach them his knowledge and skills, and he grew impatient. Since he was afraid the other Valar would blame his work, he made the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in secrecy.

 ........ 

 

1. Aulë has exceeded his power and authority. Why? What does he do? And what effect will his actions have in Middle-earth?

--------------- 

 

I haven't read this yet but as I remember from some discussion here -- I think it was in the Religion thread -- that Tolkien believed only God could create life. This is an interesting exception (if it really is). I'm probably getting ahead of things since I don't know the details of what happened before.

 

 

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Re: The Silmarillion


Nadine wrote:

Dagor wrote:

 

The Dwarves have been made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth. He desired the coming of the Children greatly, as he wanted to teach them his knowledge and skills, and he grew impatient. Since he was afraid the other Valar would blame his work, he made the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in secrecy.

........

 

1. Aulë has exceeded his power and authority. Why? What does he do? And what effect will his actions have in Middle-earth?

---------------

 

I haven't read this yet but as I remember from some discussion here -- I think it was in the Religion thread -- that Tolkien believed only God could create life. This is an interesting exception (if it really is). I'm probably getting ahead of things since I don't know the details of what happened before.

 

 


I have this book by Kocher that Fan suggested, and he has something interesting to say on the subject.

"But Illuvatar [Tolkien's "God"] ... spoke to Aule, asking why he had tried to do what he well knew was forbidden and, moreover, beyond his ability to perform. All that Aule had been given at the time of his creation was his own Being, and this he was unable to impart to the works of his hands. Only Iluvatar could give it with the Imperishable Flame. Consequently, his Dwarves could be nothing more than automations without any wills of their own, thinking what he thought, moving only when he moved them, and standing frozen when he did not. . . . By posing such questions Illuvatar made Aule realize that possession of an independent and free will was vital to all intelligent creatures who have life."

So essentially Aule had created only automations and not real beings with wills and souls.

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Re: The Silmarillion

I think I'm confused. In the "Next Book" thread it said they were eliminating the Tolkien board, yet we are launching into the Silmarillion.
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lorien
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Re: The Silmarillion

This is from Tolkiens Letter #131 and I think it is an excellent introduction to the beginning of the silm. It also offers a wealth of discussion points but it will take some time to sort them all out and take them point by point but I thought it might be worthwhile to provide a portion of that letter for general review at this point:

 

=========================

 

Tolkien Letter #131

 

The cycles begin with a cosmogonical myth: the Music of the Ainur. God and the Valar (or powers: Englished as gods) are revealed. These latter are as we should say angelic powers, whose function is to exercise delegated authority in their spheres (of rule and government, not creation, making or re-making). They are 'divine', that is, were originally ‘outside’ and existed 'before' the making of the world. Their power and wisdom is derived from their Knowledge of the cosmogonical drama, which they perceived first as a drama (that is as in a fashion we perceive a story composed by some-one else), and later as a 'reality'. On the side of mere narrative device, this is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the 'gods' of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted - well, shall we say baldly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity.

It moves then swiftly to the History of the Elves, or the Silmarillion proper; to the world as we perceive it, but of course transfigured in a still half-mythical mode: that is it deals with rational incarnate creatures of

*Not in the Beginner of Evil: his was a sub-creative Fall, and hence the Elves (the representatives of sub-creation par excellence) were peculiarly his enemies, and the special object of his desire and hate - and open to his deceits. Their Fall is into possessiveness and (to a less degree) into perversion of their art to power.

more or less comparable stature with our own. The Knowledge of the Creation Drama was incomplete: incomplete in each individual ‘god’, and incomplete if all the knowledge of the pantheon were pooled. For (partly to redress the evil of the rebel Melkor, partly for the completion of all in an ultimate finesse of detail) the Creator had not revealed all. The making, and nature, of the Children of God, were the two chief secrets. All that the gods knew was that they would come, at appointed times. The Children of God are thus primevally related and akin, and primevally different. Since also they are something wholly ‘other’ to the gods, in the making of which the gods played no part, they are the object of the special desire and love of the gods. These are the First-born, the Elves; and the Followers Men. The doom of the Elves is to be immortal, to love the beauty of the world, to bring it to full flower with their gifts of delicacy and perfection, to last while it lasts, never leaving it even when ‘slain’, but returning - and yet, when the Followers come, to teach them, and make way for them, to ‘fade’ as the Followers grow and absorb the life from which both proceed. ‘Me Doom (or the Gift) of Men is mortality, freedom from the circles of the world. Since the point of view of the whole cycle is the Elvish, mortality is not explained mythically: it is a mystery of God of which no more is known than that ‘what God has purposed for Men is hidden’: a grief and an envy to the immortal Elves.

As I say, the legendary Silmarillion is peculiar, and differs from all similar things that I know in not being anthropocentric. Its centre of view and interest is not Men but 'Elves'. Men came in inevitably: after all the author is a man, and if he has an audience they will be Men and Men must come in to our tales, as such, and not merely transfigured or partially represented as Elves, Dwarfs, Hobbits, etc. But they remain peripheral - late comers, and however growingly important, not principals.

In the cosmogony there is a fall: a fall of Angels we should say. Though quite different in form, of course, to that of Christian myth. These tales are ‘new’, they are not directly derived from other myths and legends, but they must inevitably contain a large measure of ancient wide-spread motives or elements. After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear. There cannot be any ‘story’ without a fall - all stories are ultimately about the fall - at least not for human minds as we know them and have them.

So, proceeding, the Elves have a fall, before their ‘history’ can become storial. (The first fall of Man, for reasons explained, nowhere appears - Men do not come on the stage until all that is long past, and there is only a rumour that for a while they fell under the domination of the Enemy and that some repented.) The main body of the tale, the Silmarillion proper, is about the fall of the most gifted kindred of the Elves, their exile from Valinor (a kind of Paradise, the home of the Gods) in the furthest West, their re-entry into Middle-earth, the land of their birth but long under the rule of the Enemy, and their strife with him, the power of Evil still visibly incarnate. It receives its name because the events are all threaded upon the fate and significance of the Silmarilli (‘radiance of pure light’) or Primeval Jewels. By the making of gems the sub-creative function of the Elves is chiefly symbolized, but the Silmarilli were more than just beautiful things as such. There was Light. There was the Light of Valinor made visible in the Two Trees of Silver and Gold. * These were slain by the Enemy out of malice, and Valinor was darkened, though from them, ere they died utterly, were derived the lights of Sun and Moon. (A marked difference here between these legends and most others is that the Sun is not a divine symbol, but a second-best thing, and the ‘light of the Sun’ (the world under the sun) become terms for a fallen world, and a dislocated imperfect vision).

 

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Re: The Silmarillion

[ Edited ]

Maybe before we even get to the beginning of the silm and its religious and philosophical concepts, we might first want to address Tolkien's desire to develop a Mythology for England. If I may again quote from his famous letter #131:

 

=========================

Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story - the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths - which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our 'air' (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), it should be 'high', purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry. I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.

 

Message Edited by lorien on 08-21-2008 05:02 PM
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Re: The Silmarillion

Letter #212 also has some information on Aule and his creation:

 

======================

 

Dwarves - Page 287, Letters (Letter 212)

[Dwarves may take a bit more researching since they are not actually talked about in Letter 131. I thought for now I would just put this bit out. Aule appears to be a craftsman of sort and he creates the dwarves prior to the creation of the elves. A big no, no!]

Aule,...one of the Great...so desired to see the Children, that he became impatient and tried to anticipate the will of the Creator. Being the greatest of all craftsmen he tried to make children according to his imperfect knowledge of their kind. When he had made thirteen, God spoke to him in anger, but not without pity: for Aule had done this thing not out of evil desire to have slaves and subjects of his own, but out of impatient love, desiring children to talk to and teach, sharing with them the praise of Iluvatar and his great love of the materials of which the world is made.

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Re: The Silmarillion

[ Edited ]

Nadine wrote:

Excellent, Dagor. I could follow that. It would be a perfect way to start each chapter. But what is "Orgulas' Silmarillion Study, cf Tolkien's Ring".

 

I'm in then. Let's just do it! Any others in?

 

Let's start the first week of September. Is there one for the Ainulindale? Are we doing one chapter per week or in groups of chapters? I've never read silm. The chapters don't look very long but they might be very deep and require a lot of disussion.


Hi, Nadine!

Orgulas, aka Androga Erdilant, is a member of another Tolkien discussion group, "Tolkien's Ring." He and several others have put together a series of discussion questions for each chapter/ section of "The Silmarillion." There are other such discussion formats online as well, and any/ all of them might serve as patterns for creating a B&N discussion. See TR Silmarillion discussion at:

http://tolkiensring.proboards30.com/index.cgi?board=Silmarillion

The first week of September, as a starting point, sounds good to me.

I'm not sure what the B&N team have in mind here, if the older messages are to be scrubbed out when the Tolkien discussions are folded into the general fantasy section, do we start up a new forum specifically on the Silmarillion?

_________________________

Orgulas does not have a discussion section covering the opening section of "The Silmarillion," "The Ainulindale," so I've written the following synopsis and questions as a trial run. Perhaps, after being suitably amended, we might use something like this (under its own topic heading) to get things started? Each time we move on to a new section, a different member might volunteer to do the synopsis and questions?

"Ainulindale" synopsis, pp. 15-22:

Tolkien wrote several versions of the creation of his universe, so a good deal of the material found in "Ainulindale" will be repeated (often with variations) in later sections of "The Silmarillion." In this first description of his cosmogeny (universe-creation) Tolkien sketches the creation as originating with a single divine being, "Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar" (p. 15). Initially Eru creates the Ainur ("the Holy Ones" ) as the offspring of his mind, and through the medium of musical themes he communicates with them. Each of these Ainu (singular form of Ainur) knows a portion of Eru's mind, and sings about that portion. Eventually, the Ainur begin to weave their individual songs into a harmonic whole. What they sing becomes a choral "Great Music," and the Ainur are given a bit of the creative "Flame Imperishable" which allows their individual thoughts/ songs to become a physical reality.

At first the Great Music is harmonious, but one of the Ainur, Melkor, tries to impose his own will upon the general melody, interweaving "matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar" (p. 16). Discord arises from this presumption, and the Great Music falls apart as the competing themes of Melkor infect some of the other Ainur. Illuvatar quells this tumult, smiling, and starts a second Great Theme that reconciles the competing threads of music. But, again, Melkor's individuality is exercized, and he seeks to control the new theme, and the second Great Music collapses. A stern-faced Iluvatar halts this second discord, and begins a new, third theme. Once more, Melkor cannot bring himself to harmonize with the others, and Iluvatar, now wrathful, brings the dissonance to a close, "the Music ceased" (p. 17).

Now Iluvatar reveals to the Ainur that all they have sung has been woven into a form of Reality, a reality that finds its sole base in his own person, both the harmonic elements and the dissonance itself are therefore rooted only in the nature/ power of Eru. Iluvatar then shows the "representation" of the Music to the Ainur, a vision of a World (Arda) which they have made, a place where Time moves -- and so History is possible.

As the Ainur view the vision of the World, they see many things unfolding in it, things they have no pre-knowledge of, things they will forget. They see the creation and coming of the "Children of Iluvatar," apparently just Elves and Men at first. These Children seem to be largely independent of the Ainur, and never fully known by them; do they have the power of choice, the power to shape and follow their own destinies? Melkor at once wants to dominate and control these Children "and he wished himself to have subjects and servants, and to be called Lord, and to be a master over other wills" (p. 18).

Iluvatar further reveals that all the discordance of Melkor has been altered by Eru so that, in the end, it actually enhances the beauty and poignancy of the World. Water can now be frozen by the extremes of Melkor's thought, hence the beauties of ice, frost, and snow come into existance; clouds and rain exist now because Melkor envisioned heat, the evaporative force; furthermore, the extreme heat from Melkor's thought, allows the beauty of geysers, of hot-spring pools, and the spouting fountains of red lava.

After viewing the World of their Music, the Ainur begin to desire it, wanting it to become more than a vision, wanting it to Be, that is, Be Real. Eru reads their desires, and grants them, with a single word of final, creative power -- he cries "Ea! Let these things Be!" (p. 20) and the universe of song becomes a physical reality of time and space, energy and matter through the agency of the Flame Imperishable. Those Ainur who wish it, may now enter this real world, but they are "contained and bounded in the world, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs." (p. 20) The Ainur who thus enter the World (Arda) become its Powers, the Valar.

Once in the World (Arda), the Valar are bound to its history, and Melkor begins his struggle to dominate. In the primeval period of Arda's history, come the first battles between Melkor and the other Valar, with great upheavals of the geology of the World -- mountains being toppled, and valleys gouged, seas spilled as the earth is tormented, a whirling chaos. The foes of Melkor seek ever to create harmony, order, and security so that a stable platform might be present into which the Children of Iluvatar may be born. So that the Children might have a World in which they can flourish, "the Earth was fashioned and made firm" (p. 22)

Potential Questions: pick any one, or all to discuss. Alternatively, come up with questions of your own based on the material of this section.

1. Tolkien starts with a pre-existant, single god who is the only being responsible for the subsequent cosmic creation. How does this god, Eru, resemble the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic Creator God? How do they differ, and do you think JRRT meant his Eru to be the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic God?

2. What is the purpose of this creation? Does Tolkien ever tell us "why" Eru creates his universe? Was he lonely? In comparison/ contrast: Why does the God of the biblical Genesis create his universe? In comparative mythologies, why do the other gods in other religions create their universes?

3. What do you think about the concept of "Genesis through Music?" Is it an effective literary device? Is "creation through music" a Judaeo-Christian-Islamic concept (compare Ainulindale with the book of Genesis)? Are there any other examples in world mythology wherein the Universe is created through the medium of Music?

4. What is the source of Conflict in JRRT's creation myth? Just who is Melkor, and why does he become the focus of Discord? Is he the only Ainur who exhibits "freedom of thought," the ability to think in a fashion that is independent/ contradictory of Eru? Is this "Discord" in Tolkien's creation synonymous with the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic concept of Evil? If Melkor is actually just a portion of Eru himself, does this mean Eru contains his own Evil? How does the concept of Discord/ Evil being a part of God himself, differ from the Roman Catholic, Augustinian interpretation of Evil being the mere lack/ absence of Good?

5. It seems that the creation of the physical world, and the initial "geological" war of the Valar is all in preparation for the eventual coming of the Children of Iluvatar. Why should these fragile, "mortal" beings be considered so important that the Valar would actually go to war in this fashion? Is Tolkien's universe "anthropocentric?" Do we have a similar "man-centered" universe in the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic tradition?

Message Edited by Dagor on 08-22-2008 03:34 PM
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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion

Great "Ainulindale" synopsis. Yes, this will probably be the best way to go so we have a points of discussion to start with. But I do think we should have a separate thread for the Ainulindale and maybe keep this one for general comments on the Silmarillion.

 

I'll set one up and transfer your synopsis over and we will have a place to get started. I'm anxious to get going and don't know if I can last until September!

 

I sure hope they don't delete the threads. There's a lot of good discussions in those threads that we can expand on. And I am find a lot relevant and inspirational material. It would be a shame to lose it all.

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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion

I think what makes reading the Silm so difficult for people is that they try to read it as a story in much the way they read LOTR. Tolkien wrote this material as a collection of myths, histories, individual stories, genealogies , etc. much like the Bible and in a Biblical style. And more as a King James translation rather than a modern one. He never actually put them together as a single book himself. They were a collection of tales with several different versions, again much in the way the Bible is. As in reading some of the Biblical histories, you can read some portions a bit more casually--and, of course, skip the genealogies. But other sections are far more dense and thought-provoking, like the first two chapters of Genesis might compare to his Ainulindale and Valaquenta and the whole of Genesis as the first part of the Quenta Silmarillion. The major difference between the two bodies of work is that Tolkien is the sole author of his (including its many conflicting versions) and he had only one scribe-editor (his son Christopher) who decided what was to be "canon" in the "official" Silmarillian.

It is probably less daunting to think of the Silm as a kind of Bible to be studied, thought about, discussed, analyzed and reread several times chapter by chapter. That is why I am interested in this group. I can see where this could be simply boring read on your own. But a discussion can open up all sorts of area of thinking.

If some archeologist had discovered this in a cave some place and thought it very ancient, it would be approached in this way. And what a find it would be! An ancient civilization before anything we ever knew to be in our recorded histories. Wow! At least that is the way I plan on approaching it.
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BarbaraN
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Re: The Silmarillion

 

dagor wrote:

The first week of September, as a starting point, sounds good to me.

I'm not sure what the B&N team have in mind here, if the older messages are to be scrubbed out when the Tolkien discussions are folded into the general fantasy section, do we start up a new forum specifically on the Silmarillion?

-----------------------------------------------------

 

I've been away but it looks like you guys are on your way. Are our old messages being deleted? How come?

 

 

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Nadine
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Re: The Silmarillion: Why Read It?

Why Read The Silmarillion?

 

I have been doing some preliminary research before starting the Sil and getting my head back into things Tolkien. One question that I have been thinking about is why read Sil, especially since some people seem to compare it to a trip to the dentist. Many people read LOTR but the Sil leaves them cold--I wasn't too encouraged about reading it and may have given it a try at one time but don't recall getting too deep into it. So this seems like a worthwhile question.

Well, one important vote for reading the Sil was from Tolkien himself. He thought it essential to understanding LOTR. If I may reference his Letters pages 136-137:

In reference to LOTR: "...it is not really a sequel to The Hobbit but to The Silmarillion....I feel it that it is tied to the Silmarillion....Its shadow was deep on the later parts of The Hobbit. It has captured The Lord of the Rings, so that that has become simply its continuation and completion, requiring the Silmarillian to be fully intelligible..."

I have started reading a book called Splintered Light by Verlyn Flieger, a thought-producing book that may go deeper into the Sil than I expected. (Well, I was looking for something to get my teeth into!). She expands a bit on this topic and is quite explicit: This is from the Introduction on page xvi.

"The ethos of Tolkien's created world was missing. The genesis and continuing history, the religio-philosophical basis on which it stands, the governing principles -- all these are explicit in the Silmarillion, implicit in The Lord of the Rings. Without one the other could not exist.

The importance of this cannot be emphasized too strongly. To read The Lord of the Rings -- or, even better, to reread it -- in the light of The Silmarillion is to be newly aware of an immensely greater perspective, a suddenly increased depth of field. Obscure references take on their proper meaning, shadowy figures leap into prominence."

It looks like I might have to reread LOTR as well! I can see where we will be returning to various "themes" of LOTR and possibly to some specific events and characters in the books.

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BarbaraN
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The Silmarillion: Schedule


BarbaraN wrote:

 

dagor wrote:

The first week of September, as a starting point, sounds good to me.

I'm not sure what the B&N team have in mind here, if the older messages are to be scrubbed out when the Tolkien discussions are folded into the general fantasy section, do we start up a new forum specifically on the Silmarillion?

-----------------------------------------------------

 

I've been away but it looks like you guys are on your way. Are our old messages being deleted? How come?

 

 



I guess it is agreed that we are doing one chapter a week of the Silmarillion starting in September. We will be posting a new message thread per chapter plus anyone can post a thread for any side-topics. I thought some sort of schedule might be helpful for people planning their reading, though I think we can be pretty flexible here. Some chapters are pretty brief and we may finish up after a couple of days. Others might take longer than a week. And there are also the side topics. We might be returning to some of the Hobbit-LOTR chapters as we read through the the Silm. We can see how it goes and then adjust the schedule accordingly. The page numbers of your book might not match mine but they are mainly for indicating the amount of reading you have to do each week--which is not much.

Sept 1-7
Ainulindale (pg 15-21)

Sept 8-14
Valaquenta (pg 25-32)

Sept 15-21
Chapt 1: Of the Beginning of Days (pg 35-42)

Sept 22-28
Chapt 2: Of Aule and Yavanna (pg 43-46)

Sept 29-Oct 5
Chapt 3: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor (pg 47-54)

Any comments or different suggestions? I have no idea what the Big Chiefs at B&N have in mind, and at this point don't even know who to ask! But we might as well forge ahead (as we have always done) and let happen what happens.

I'd be happy to stick up the chapter threads for the month. That way people can move ahead a bit faster if they wish. The dates are mainly to keep us roughly together but moving forward at some sort reasonable pace. If this is OK with everyone, then I will also stick it up in our "Schedule" thread.

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lorien
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Re: The Silmarillion: Schedule

Is there anyone left who wants to continue our discussion of this? We would have to re-adjust our schedule since we only started the Ainulindale. I was just getting warmed up.

 

This was our original schedule before we were interrupted and moved here:

 

Sept 1-7
Ainulindale (pg 15-21)

Sept 8-14
Valaquenta (pg 25-32)

Sept 15-21
Chapt 1: Of the Beginning of Days (pg 35-42)

Sept 22-28
Chapt 2: Of Aule and Yavanna (pg 43-46)

Sept 29-Oct 5
Chapt 3: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor (pg 47-54)

 

We could slip everything a week. That is if there is anyone left who wants to discuss The Silmarillion!

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Fanuidhol
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Registered: ‎12-14-2007
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Re: The Silmarillion: Schedule

[ Edited ]

Hi Lorien!

Boy, I leave for a few months and you guys get up and move on me! (I had a major computer crash and unfortunately had to prioritize my time on a borrowed one.) I did check in once and awhile to read what was going on, though.

 

Anyway, are you happy here discussing Tolkien and The Silmarillion on the SF and F board? I can tell already that I won't be.

 

I am suggesting that we move back for the Silmarillion. The Tolkien board is still usable. The only thing difference that the "powers that be" won't do is advertise it on the main page or give us a moderator. We could advertise it ourselves on the community board, etc.

Another alternative:

http://tolkiensring.proboards30.com/index.cgi?board=Silmarillion&action=display&thread=688

 

Fan

 

 

Message Edited by paulgoatallen on 01-01-2009 10:21 PM