In Mirkwood....
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Author:  Felarof [ August 22nd, 2012, 1:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

hobbitgirl922 wrote:
I think he probably was there. But during the Hobbit, elves only come in so much, that it didn't seem like something to mention.

I agree. he probably was there, but either he was just a rough character or there was no way to put him in. I think it's both.

Author:  Nesselde [ September 5th, 2012, 10:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

I write and I know how that is.

Author:  Hanasian [ March 19th, 2017, 1:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

Elthir wrote:
I also agree with krtr that although Tolkien probably did have rough character sketches of Legolas among his many notebooks of Middle-Earth info, but perhaps he thought this story was not a good place to introduce him. Maybe he thought that introducing a new Elven character would draw away from the story-line of the dwarves and their quest, which is, after all, the main tale of importance in The Hobbit.

The History of The Hobbit (by John Rateliff) reveals no such notes however, that I recall anyway. The Hobbit began as an oral tale for Tolkien's children, and the only 'Legolas' that arguably existed in Tolkien's head at the time was a Gnome from Gondolin (The Book of Lost Tales, The Fall of Gondolin).

And I realise that no one can know what JRRT was thinking of course, but based on the textual evidence I would say that Legolas of Mirkwood son of 'Thranduil' (no longer simply the 'Elven-king') was ultimately imagined during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, with the name borrowed from The Book of Lost Tales.

This is a reasonable assumption to make.

Author:  Elthir [ March 19th, 2017, 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

Thanks Durian! Full disclosure however, I can be unreasonable too :-D

And blathery as well (and in illustration of that, I just feel like posting the following). According to the external history of The Lord of the Rings [The Return of The Shadow, In The House Of Elrond] Tolkien, early on, called the Elf from Mirkwood Galdor rather. "There was a strange elf clad in green and brown, Galdor, a messenger from the King of the Wood-elves in Eastern Mirkwood."

Also, there was a Gnome (that is, an Elf of the Noldoli) called Gimli in the early tales. Gimli the Gnome had amazing hearing, while Legolas of Gondolin was "night-sighted".

Whatever anyone takes any of that to mean. I think Tolkien was drawing from his private store of already invented names as the tale of The Lord of the Rings took shape, though there is a brief notation that Glorfindel should tell of "his ancestry in Gondolin", which arguably (at least) seems to speak to Tolkien thinking [at the moment he penned this anyway] of the particular Gnome Glorfindel, who had died defending the fugitives of Gondolin. Elven reincarnation was very much a reality of Middle-earth already, though at this time [draft writing of The Lord of the Rings] the mode of reincarnation was...

... physical rebirth!

Author:  Gandolorin [ March 20th, 2017, 8:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

esselei wrote:
I'm pretty sure that I've read in many different places that Legolas wasn't thought of until Tolkien began to write the Lord of the Rings, and that was why he wasn't mentioned. I mean, though he did love to think ahead, he didn't really plan to write a sequel until after The Hobbit was published, because his writers asked him too- and even then he wasn't sure he would do it, until he got the urge later. He had to go back and rewrite the scenes with Gollum and the Ring later on, because in the first edition of the story it was just a magical ring that turned people invisible, nothing more. And that was only just after he thought of the Ring as a device for LotR. I think rewriting Legolas into Mirkwood after he thought of him would have made it seem a little disjointed, tbh, but that doesn't mean he wasn't there because he wasn't mentioned.
So I don't really find it hard to imagine Legolas standing as a silent onlooker somewhere during their time in Mirkwood, really. I don't know if Orlando will have a silent cameo or a few lines, but I'm really glad he'll be there.

Since we're talking about the book TH here, esselei pretty much nails it.

One enormous difference between TH and LoTR is the almost Tinkerbell-like treatment of the Elves in TH. JRRT, having originally told what would become TH to his children as a bedtime-story, starting as early as the late 1920s, probably hadn't quite rid himself of this "child-compatible" mindset regarding Elves. He would later quite vehemently distance his Elves from such frivolous depictions. And as the Elves are very much just background characters in TH - except for the way they fought in the Battle of Five Armies, perhaps a late addition to the unfinished manuscript shown to Allen & Unwin - somehow writing in Legolas from LoTR and other changes to the Elves would just have totally changed the character of TH the book. Which is exactly what PJ did with the overlong movie trilogy. And then again, the sequence of the movies is exactly opposite to the sequence of the books, and the Hobbit movies were without a doubt never meant to be targeted at the same audience as the book was. So PJ had to LoTR-ize the movies, but they have very little to do with the book except for time-line and main characters. And Movie fans of the first trilogy without knowledge of the books, or at least The Hobbit, would probably have wondered why characters were missing that they were expecting.
And let's not forget the Leggy fan-base ... :whistle:

Author:  Elthir [ March 22nd, 2017, 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

Not that anyone said otherwise, but the external chronology of The Hobbit text seems to be a little murky in places. John D. Rateliff, author of The History Of The Hobbit, disagrees with parts of Carpenter's [Tolkien's biographer] description, for example; and according to JDR, the full story of The Hobbit was written out before being loaned to various people, including C. S. Lewis, and then JRRT completed a typescript for official submission to Allen and Unwin in 1936. In JDR's introduction he characterizes the "Third Phase Hobbit" as almost certainly written down by January 1933, and that what was circulated among Tolkien's friends was a "composite typescript/fair copy/manuscript", and again, when Tolkien was asked to submit his story to Allen and Unwin, he extended the typescript through to the end of the book.

Hammond and Scull seem to be more cautious about what Tolkien's friends had read, but they appear to agree that Allen and Unwin received a story which included the end chapters, and the "terrific battle with the goblins" [after Smaug was killed] is referred to by the then 10 year old Rayner Unwin in his written comments.

Switching to Elves, Rateliff states of the Rivendell Elves: "If in some features the elves of the valley echo the worst excesses of Edwardian and Georgian fairy sentimentality, other elements suggest traditional fairy lore -- i. e., folk lore rather than fairy tales" Toward the latter point, Rateliff also notes the hints that Elves can be dangerous, for instance. Regarding the former he writes: "The other, the image of elves as delicate little fairy dancers or pipers, derives from Jacobean writers like Drayton and Shakespeare and is represented here by the Elves in the trees."

Stated generally, that's fair enough; so to argue with myself, I don't recall any specific description here to necessarily confirm delicateness in The Hobbit, and regarding littleness, the Elf we meet is a "tall" young fellow. Yes, the Elves sing in trees, but I can't imagine the Elves of Lothlorien not singing in their Mallorn-trees, for instance; they might not sing a nonsense song in The Lord of the Rings, or a ridiculous song...

... but then again, what about the arguable benefits of nonsense in life?

I wonder if Tolkien would have edited out this Elven-song, or replaced it. He could have in the third edition in the 1960s [and in the second as well, in theory, though JRRT appears more focused on the finding of the ring there, for obvious reasons], but, well, he "could have" done lots of things, and didn't, for whatever reason [meaning I realize such a statement only goes so far, and arguably not very]. In the 1960 Hobbit we get tantalizingly close to this section, and I think it would be easy enough to eject the song without too much ripple-effect... but again, should it be [in theory] ejected, even considering the larger legendarium? This might be a good place to introduce a little frivolity into even a "mostly" Noldorin culture, to possibly set against dirges and tears.

If "some features" refers to the Hobbit song and more, I'm guessing that the teasing is meant. Relatively speaking, the Rivendell elves aren't in the story for long, and I understand the general effect a reader might get by judging only what they find here in this scene. That said, Rateliff also notes: "The mocking of other's difficulties (people who can't swim crossing the fast-running stream) shows a traditional heartlessness out of keeping with Tolkien's Elves elsewhere [footnote: with possible exception of the Green Elves behavior in the Nauglafring, when they laugh at and mock the desperate Dwarves attempting to flee their ambush at the fords of Aros."]."

To me these scenarios don't seem that aptly comparable, as in The Book Of Lost Tales II, the Green Elves had been slaying Dwarves, before their fleeing, Dwarven "illshapen figures" filled the Elves with mirth. Without digressing into this early tale [and the arguable early notion of Dwarves as well]to my mind the teasing in The Hobbit is rather light-hearted and merry, as fits with the welcome the Dwarves receive here.

The Elves tease the Dwarves and Bilbo for example, but in The Lord of the Rings, some of the Noldor [chapter with Gildor and Company] tease the hobbits a bit as well [".. and Hobbbits are so dull," they laughed"], and later, as I read it, some Elves lightly tease Bilbo in Elrond's House, laughing that Bilbo doesn't tire of reciting his own verses. Not teasing in a mean way, but with affection I would say, or merriment. I think the Elves of Rivendell are summed up nicely by Sam: "Some like kings, terrible and splendid; and some as merry as children."

I take it that these "some", who are merry as children, were rather merry when the Dwarves and Bilbo arrived years before. As Gandalf says [The Hobbit]: "Some Elves have over merry tongues. Good night!"

Some again.


Only possibly the "other" Elthir... I can't remember ;-)

Author:  Gandolorin [ March 22nd, 2017, 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

As always, Elthir, you amaze me with your knowledge of books that I also own, but could not quote without a week's reading (as you have already done in CoE).


I guess my vision of the Elves is very much a Silmarillion one. How shall I put it? Fëanor's host entering Middle-earth would have shredded the baddies in the Battle of Five Armies in maybe 15 minutes, Fingolfin's host closer to 5 minutes (I exaggerate a tad).

And there is (somewhere, not going to check it right now) the mention that the Silvan Elves (as Moriquendi) were less civilized, meaning wilder and more dangerous than the High Elves - ummm, yes, after the Fëanorians had been dispensed with?

The Elves in The Hobbit are "children's fairy tales" Elves, nothing in The Hobbit is farther away from the gestating and still very much incomplete Silmarillion than these "Rivendell Elves!"

Author:  Elthir [ March 23rd, 2017, 3:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....

No problem. For me Sam's description is apt for the Feanoreans, for example, or the Finarfinians, as well as other Elves. And the Exiles can vary in mood, Tolkien himself publishing a scene in which the Exiled Noldor are not too high to joke with, or tease, Hobbits [Three Is Company].

"The Elves were the first to charge. Their hatred for the goblins is cold and bitter. Their spears and swords shone in the gloom with a gleam of chill flame, so deadly was the wrath of the hands that held them (...) Behind the arrows a thousand of their spearmen leapt down and charged. The yells were deafening. The rocks were stained black with goblin blood." The Clouds Burst, The Hobbit

Style aside, that could come right out of Quenta Silmarillion in my opinion, and the Elven-king is very arguably a literary loan of Thingol himself.

Anyway, perhaps you're thinking of this line from Flies And Spiders: "The Feasting people were Wood-elves, of course. These are not wicked folk. If they have a fault it is distrust of strangers. Though their magic was strong, even in those days they were wary. They differed from the High Elves of the West, and were more dangerous and less wise."

I take that to mean they were more dangerous in the sense of their noted distrust. Distrust plus less wisdom might mean peril for any folk who wander into the Elven-king's realm uninvited. For myself, I doubt Tolkien meant more dangerous with respect to martial prowess or power, compared to the High Elves. The Qenta Noldorinwa, the only complete Silmarillion ever to be written, existed by 1930, and even within The Hobbit narrative it's suggested that the High Elves fought the Goblin-wars, with swords made in Gondolin.

And regarding the Rivendell scene, I keep in mind the warning of the narrator, noted after Bilbo arrives in Rivendell: "They were elves of course. Soon Bilbo caught glimpses of them as the darkness deepened. He loved elves, though he seldom met them; but he was a little frightened of them too. Dwarves don’t get on well with them. Even decent enough dwarves like Thorin and his friends think them foolish (which is a very foolish thing to think),..."

Author:  Gandolorin [ March 23rd, 2017, 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: In Mirkwood....


Elthir wrote:
... I take that to mean they were more dangerous in the sense of their noted distrust. Distrust plus less wisdom might mean peril for any folk who wander into the Elven-king's realm uninvited. For myself, I doubt Tolkien meant more dangerous with respect to martial prowess or power, compared to the High Elves ...

I agree entirely. But for Dwarves, never mind a Hobbit (Gandalf is basically beyond any Elf) the difference between a Silvan Elf and a Noldo fresh from Valinor was probably irrelevant.

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