• Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ (2/4)

    From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Feb 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Apr 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jul 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Aug 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Oct 21 23:14:02 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Nov 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Dec 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jan 21 22:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 21 22:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Apr 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri May 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Aug 21 23:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Sep 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Oct 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 21 22:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Dec 21 22:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 21 22:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Feb 21 22:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Mar 21 23:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Apr 21 23:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    was of crucial importance and thus could not be left out or glossed
    over, but Tolkien had written almost no description of the event since
    1930 (long before even /The Hobbit/ was published) and the mythology
    had changed drastically since then. Moreover, Tolkien was never happy
    with some aspects of the story, in particular with the question of how
    the Dwarves could invade Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian. The
    published version was directly inspired by some of Tolkien's drafts of
    the tale (those which seemed easiest to reconcile with the rest of the
    story), but was essentially rewritten to be consistent with the rest of
    the book and to include a few ideas from Tolkien's later writings.
    That meant some major changes: for example, in Tolkien's own drafts,
    the Nauglamir did not exist before it was made to hold the Silmaril
    (out of raw gold from Nargothrond), and Thingol was not slain until the
    full Dwarvish army attacked.

    In his comments on "Of the Ruin of Doriath" (an appendix to "The
    Tale of Years" in /The War of the Jewels/), Christopher Tolkien
    concludes with the regret that "the undoubted difficulties could have
    been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the
    bounds of the editorial function." Elsewhere in that book, at the end
    of the section "The Wanderings of Hurin", he speaks of other omissions
    and alterations, and says,

    it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive
    tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus
    raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified'
    /Silmarillion/ should have been embarked on.

    Whatever failings /The Silmarillion/ as published may have, I think
    that most of its readers are grateful to have it, and would assure
    Christopher Tolkien that his work was worthwhile. He undertook a great
    task in bringing it to print, and despite his later misgivings I think
    most would agree that he did an excellent job.
    -------

    4. Which are "The Two Towers"?

    Tolkien was never very happy with the title. In Letters #140 and
    #143 he considers many interpretations of it, each with its own
    rationale, and even comments that it could be left ambiguous. It
    seems, however, that he eventually settled on one interpretation.

    The note at the end of /The Fellowship of the Ring/ in three-volume
    editions of LotR states that

    The second part is called /The Two Towers/, since the events
    recounted in it are dominated by /Orthanc/, the citadel of Saruman,
    and the fortress of /Minas Morgul/ that guards the secret entrance
    to Mordor.

    According to Wayne Hammond's /J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
    Bibliography/, Tolkien submitted that note a month after his indecision
    in Letter #143. And a month later, Tolkien submitted an illustration
    for the dust-jacket of /The Two Towers/; as can be seen in /J.R.R.
    Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ (plate [180]), that illustration shows
    Minas Morgul and Orthanc as well. It seems clear that this was
    Tolkien's final decision.
    -------

    5. Which books /about/ Tolkien are good, and which aren't?

    A few disclaimers. First, this is a very subjective question, and
    what follows is largely a matter of individual opinion. This list was
    gleaned from discussions on the newsgroups and it reflects some level
    of consensus, but no verdict was unanimous. Second, this list is
    /very/ incomplete, but there simply isn't space to list all of the
    excellent scholarship on Tolkien that has been produced. Unfortunately,
    this means that only books will be included, and I will focus on only
    the best known of those (and even then, I'm sure some are missing). My apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.

    With that being said, these are some of the best secondary works
    about Tolkien, in no particular order. I have included general
    descriptions for books whose titles do not make their content clear.

    * /The Complete Guide to Middle-earth/, by Robert Foster. A
    detailed and very trustworthy glossary of people, places, and
    things in /The Hobbit/, LotR, and /The Silmarillion/, including
    page references to the original texts.

    * /[J.R.R.] Tolkien: A Biography/, by Humphrey Carpenter. (The
    initials are not part of the title in the USA.)

    * /The Annotated Hobbit/, by J.R.R. Tolkien, annotated by Douglas A.
    Anderson. Textual history and general comments (be sure to get
    the recent second edition).

    * /J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator/ by Wayne Hammond and
    Christina Scull. Pictures by Tolkien and accompanying
    discussion.

    * /The Road to Middle-earth/ and /J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the
    Century/, by Tom Shippey. Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Splintered Light/ and /A Question of Time/, by Verlyn Flieger.
    Literary analysis and criticism.

    * /Tolkien's Legendarium/, ed. Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.
    Literary analysis and criticism related to the "History of
    Middle-earth" series (and Tolkien's other works). Some find
    parts of this book to be a good introduction to that series.

    * /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/, by Wayne Hammond
    and Christina Scull. Page by page annotation of LotR with
    comments of interest to everyone from second-time readers to
    seasoned experts. Contains material from some previously
    unpublished letters and essays by Tolkien, as well as summaries
    of textual history and general observations.

    A notable book whose status is ambiguous is /The Atlas of
    Middle-earth/, by Karen Wynn Fonstad. It is the best general Tolkien
    atlas available, covering the full history of Middle-earth, and in most
    cases Fonstad has done well in extrapolating detailed topographic maps
    from Tolkien's texts and rougher originals. However, there are a fair
    number of minor errors in her research, and it can sometimes be
    difficult to tell what level of justification exists for each of her
    maps' details.

    Finally, what follow are a few books that many Tolkien scholars
    avoid. All of them can be enjoyable to read when taken on their own,
    but they are not entirely trustworthy guides to Tolkien's Middle-earth
    and are generally ignored in scholarly debates. Because I am not
    comfortable speaking poorly of others' work without justification, I
    have provided links to further discussion for each of these titles.

    * /A Tolkien Bestiary/, and other books by David Day.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

    * /The Tolkien Companion/, by J.E.A. Tyler.
    http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TylerBook.html

    * /The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth/, by Ruth Noel.
    http://www.elvish.org/articles/LRH.html
    -------

    6. Is Middle-earth Medieval?

    Tolkien's works draw from quite a few periods of human history, and
    many aspects of Middle-earth distinctly resemble their real-world
    counterparts in the Middle Ages. However, there are substantial
    discrepancies in society and culture that indicate that other periods
    in history also made large contributions (as one example, in Letter
    #211 Tolkien compared several significant aspects of the society of
    Gondor to that of ancient Egypt). The relative influence of Medieval
    and other periods has been hotly contested in the past, though this has
    not been a major issue in recent years.
    -------

    7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

    A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
    Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
    attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
    right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
    most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

    On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
    so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
    much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
    flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
    than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
    little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

    One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
    because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
    comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
    #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
    and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
    but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
    to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
    example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
    should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
    in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
    about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
    subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

    Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
    Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
    (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
    different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
    have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
    reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
    the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
    certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

    Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
    books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
    forget that most of the Numenoreans (the "highest" humans) fell into
    deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
    of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
    Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
    peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
    lacked), to take two of many examples.

    Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
    "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
    "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
    stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
    Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
    Erech, to name a few exceptions.

    As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
    evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
    skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
    Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenoreans as mentioned above. And it is
    notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
    men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
    Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
    imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
    that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
    during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

    In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
    in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
    typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
    mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
    be condemned for intolerance.
    -------

    8. Are there electronic versions of Tolkien's books?

    At long last, authorized electronic editions of several of Tolkien's
    books are available: at this time, they include /The Hobbit/, /The Lord
    of the Rings/, and /The Children of Hurin/. Links to purchase these
    editions can be found in the Tolkien section of the HarperCollins
    website:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/11538/index.aspx

    There are of course limitations on these texts. All of the formats
    currently available (there are quite a few) are protected by various
    types of "Digital Rights Management" software to limit printing and
    copying, so you should make sure your hardware is compatible before
    buying.
    -------

    9. Where can I report copyright violations that I observe?

    If you find an unauthorized copy of any of Tolkien's works on the
    Internet, you may want to take some action to support the rights of the
    Tolkien Estate. It is generally best to begin with a polite request
    that the texts be taken offline, and only if that fails to take more
    drastic action such as contacting the hosting Internet service
    provider. If all else fails, you can send a brief letter to the
    Estate's legal representative informing her of the situation, although
    this should be considered a last resort:

    Mrs. Cathleen Blackburn
    Manches & Co.
    3 Worcester Street
    Oxford OX1 2PZ
    U.K.

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

    III.B. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: CREATURES AND CHARACTERS

    1. Did Balrogs have wings?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    Debates on this topic have been frequent and intense, in part
    because people unknowingly interpret the question in very different
    ways. Most participants in these debates agree on the following:

    * The Balrog in Moria had "wings" of some sort, or if you prefer, a
    "shadow" shaped like wings.

    * Those "wings" were probably not made of flesh and blood, but
    rather of some sort of "dark emanation" or "palpable darkness".

    Many of the most intense arguments seem to have resulted from
    different uses of the word "wing". In this consensus statement, the
    (quoted) word "wing" is used only as a convenient symbol for the
    feature of the Balrog under discussion, without reference to any
    standard definition. In particular, the statement does not specify
    whether the "palpable darkness" always had a winglike shape.

    So what are the different definitions that people use? The Oxford
    English Dictionary divides its relevant definitions of the word "wing"
    into two groups. Group I includes definitions that for the most part
    refer to physical parts of a creature's body. For example, #1.a. is
    "Each of the organs of flight of any flying animal" (but broadened to
    include cases where similar organs are not used for flight, such as
    penguins' wings and even "the enlarged fins of flying fishes").

    Group II includes definitions relating primarily to a thing's shape
    or position. For example, #5. is "An appliance or appendage resembling
    or analagous to a wing in form or function", including #5.a. "An
    artificial apparatus attached to the human arms or shoulders" and
    #5.d.(a) "one of the planes of an aeroplane". Even broader, #6 is "A
    lateral part or appendage: in various connexions."

    With a "Group II" definition of "wing", the question "Do Balrogs
    have wings?" is more or less trivial: Tolkien's description clearly
    fits (at least at the time described in the quotes below), as does the consensus statement above. With a "Group I" definition of "wing", the
    question is more interesting and the answer less obvious: it depends on
    the specific definition, and even then not everyone will agree.

    The consensus statement above was not reached quickly, and even with
    a "Group I" definition some newcomers believe that a simple "yes" or
    "no" is clear from the description of the Balrog in "The Bridge of
    Khazad-dum". The debates generally begin as follows:

    * "Pro-wingers" point out that when the Balrog steps onto the
    Bridge, "its wings were spread from wall to wall".

    * "No-wingers" point out that the word "wings" was first used in the
    phrase "the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings", and
    deduce that the word "wings" refers to the "shadow" itself rather
    than to a part of the Balrog's solid central body. (The "shadow"
    was seen when the Balrog first appeared: "it was like a great
    shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form", and it is likely
    the "cloud" in the phrase "It came to the edge of the fire and
    the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it".)

    * "Pro-wingers" claim that as the Balrog came closer to the
    Fellowship its uncertain appearance became clearer, so what first
    looked like a "shadow" or "cloud" and later "like wings" was
    finally recognized as "wings" once the Balrog was nearby.
    "No-wingers" do not agree with this interpretation.

    Progress beyond this point is difficult, but again, most of those on
    both sides of the debate agree with the consensus statement. One
    substantial remaining point of disagreement is whether the "wings"
    always had a winglike shape (supported in part by Tolkien's use of the
    direct phrase "its wings") or if their form was variable (supported in
    part by the "cloud" description), and there is no firm evidence known
    for either position.
    -------

    2. Could Balrogs fly?

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a much more detailed essay on this
    question as part of his "The Truth About Balrogs" series, on the web
    at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/TAB6.html. That page also includes
    links to other discussions of the issue.]

    There is considerable disagreement on this point. Most agree that
    the Moria passage does not provide convincing evidence for or against
    Balrogs' ability to fly. (For example, while the Balrog does not fly
    out of the chasm, it may not have had enough room to use its wings, or
    its highest priority may have been the destruction of a rival Maia in
    its domain.) Most also agree that as Maiar, Balrogs could conceivably
    be able to fly even if they had no wings, or that they could have had
    wings but remained flightless. Still, the two issues are certainly
    related to some degree.

    A number of facts have been taken as indirect evidence that Balrogs
    could not fly (e.g. they never flew over the mountains to discover
    Gondolin; at least two died falling from cliffs), but counterarguments
    have always been found (the eagles defended Gondolin; the Balrogs fell
    only after great injuries). Clearer evidence comes from "Of Tuor and
    his Coming to Gondolin" in /Unfinished Tales/, when Voronwe says, "as
    yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs". Even
    if Voronwe's information was complete, however, this still leaves room
    for Balrogs to be able to fly at low altitudes.

    The only known place where Tolkien may have made a direct statement
    on Balrogs' ability to fly can be found in "The Later Quenta
    Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/:

    Far beneath the halls of Angband... the Balrogs lurked still....
    Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum,
    and they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

    Some believe that this passage clearly describes Balrogs flying, others
    believe it just uses imagery of flight to indicate speed, and still
    others believe it to be ambiguous.
    -------

    3. What was Tom Bombadil?

    [This supplements question V.G.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [I have written a much more detailed analysis of this question; it is
    on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html]

    Theories on Bombadil's nature abound. Many people believe that Tom
    was a Maia: if we assume he is one of the types of entities we know of
    from the Silmarillion, this seems to be the best fit. (A closely
    related suggestion is that Tom was an Ainu who never took a place in
    the usual hierarchy of Arda). Other popular views make Tom a nature
    spirit of a kind never explicitly described, either one of many, or the incarnation of Arda itself. These theories are inspired by comments at
    the Council of Elrond and in /Letters/.

    Many other possibilities still arise regularly (for example, that he
    is some particular Vala or even Eru himself), but there are fairly
    strong arguments against them. (For example, Tolkien said in several
    Letters that Eru did not physically inhabit Middle-earth.) Some people
    argue that Tolkien intentionally left Bombadil an enigma even to
    himself, and that therefore any attempt to find out what he was is
    doomed to fail. A truly satisfying explanation of Bombadil's nature
    would explain Goldberry as well.
    -------

    4. Did Elves have pointed ears?

    [This supplements question V.C.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    [Conrad Dunkerson has written a more detailed discussion of this
    question, on the web at: http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Ears.html.]

    There is no known text in which Tolkien makes a final, unambiguous
    statement about the shape of Elvish ears. Those who argue in favor of
    pointed ears generally cite a remark which seems to support that
    position found in the "Etymologies" (part of /The Lost Road/). That
    document was written in the period immediately before the composition
    of LotR and revised sporadically while LotR was being written, so it is
    unclear to what extent it should be treated as a canonical source.
    Those who argue against pointed ears focus on Tolkien's statements that
    Elves and humans were sufficiently similar that they could be mistaken
    for each other. There is no consensus on this issue.
    -------

    5. Did Elves have beards?

    Most of Tolkien's writings imply that Elves were generally
    beardless. This is stated clearly in a note written late in Tolkien's
    life which is summarized in the section "Amroth and Nimrodel" in "The
    History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in /Unfinished Tales/. In the note,

    there is a discussion of the Elvish strain in Men, as to its being
    observable in the beardlessness of those who were so descended (it
    was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless).

    At first glance, this would seem to settle the issue.

    However, this ignores a crucial exception. In "The Grey Havens",
    when Cirdan the Shipwright greets Frodo and the Elves, we read "Very
    tall he was, and his beard was long". This canonical evidence makes it
    clear that some Elves do have beards. A very incomplete explanation of
    this apparent discrepancy appears in a note associated with "The
    Shibboleth of Feanor" which was published in the journal /Vinyar
    Tengwar/ #41, which reads

    Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of
    life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his
    second.

    (Nerdanel was Feanor's wife.) No other mention of Elvish "cycles of
    life" is known. Even without a full understanding, however, this helps
    to reconcile these statements: Cirdan was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth and could easily be in his "third cycle of life", and
    humans descended from Elves might never live long enough to reach the
    bearded state.
    -------

    6. What happened to Elves after they died?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    A great deal of information on this topic can be found in /Morgoth's
    Ring/ (HoMe X). Tolkien's latest thoughts on the issue can be found in
    "Note 3" to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" and in the Appendix to
    that text. In brief, when Elves died, they were summoned to Mandos.
    Once the Valar deemed them to be ready, they could (if they wished) be
    directly re-embodied (with the aid of the Valar) in a body identical to
    the one they had lost. Tolkien clearly abandoned the idea that the
    Elves could be re-born as children.

    "Note 3" says that Elven spirits "could refuse the summons [to
    Mandos], but this would imply that they were in some way tainted".
    Details of such refusals are not given in the text above, but are
    discussed in an earlier essay: "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", part
    of "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II)" in /Morgoth's Ring/. Those who
    refused "then had little power to resist the counter-summons of
    Morgoth." The reason for this "counter-summons" is not explained, nor
    is it clear what became of them after Morgoth's defeat, but the text
    mentions that some of the living sought to speak with the "Unbodied" or
    even to control them, and that "Such practices are of Morgoth; and the necromancers are of the host of Sauron his servant."
    -------

    7. Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same as Glorfindel of Gondolin?

    [This updates question V.D.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Yes. With the publication of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/,
    certainty has become possible: the first essays in the section "Last
    Writings" of that book discuss Glorfindel and his history. Those texts
    make it very clear that after his death in the flight from Gondolin,
    Glorfindel was re-embodied in Aman (see question III.B.6) and was later
    sent back to Middle-earth as an aid or an emissary. Tolkien seems to
    have been uncertain as to whether he returned in the Second Age by way
    of Numenor or in the Third Age as a companion of Gandalf.
    -------

    8. Who was Gil-galad's father?

    /The Silmarillion/ states many times that Gil-galad was the son of
    Fingon, son of Fingolfin. However, in /The Peoples of Middle-earth/
    (in comments on the essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Christopher
    Tolkien explains that this was an editorial error due to the complexity
    of the source material: "Gil-galad as the son of Fingon... was an
    ephemeral idea."

    Tolkien changed his mind about Gil-galad's ancestry several times,
    but it seems that his latest decision was to make Gil-galad the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod, son of Finarfin (making him the brother of
    Finduilas and nephew of Finrod). Christopher says that "There can be
    no doubt that this was my father's last word on the subject", but that
    because the change was never incorporated into other texts,

    "it was obviously impossible to introduce it into the published
    /Silmarillion/. It would nonetheless have been very much better to
    have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure."

    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, it is at least clear
    that /The Silmarillion/ is not entirely trustworthy here.
    -------

    9. Did Dwarf women have beards?

    [This updates question V.D.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    Yes. The most canonical evidence for this comes in Appendix A,
    where it is said of Dwarf women that

    They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a
    journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other
    peoples cannot tell them apart.

    It seems that (male) Dwarves in Middle-earth all have beards: among
    other evidence, as Bilbo sets out on his adventure in /The Hobbit/, we
    read that "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a
    dwarf, as he had no beard." Given that, the quote above must imply
    that Dwarf women were bearded as well.

    However, we do not need to rely on such implications: Tolkien
    answered this question explicitly in other texts. In /The War of the
    Jewels/ ("The Later /Quenta Silmarillion/: Of the Naugrim and the
    Edain", written ~1951), Tolkien wrote that

    no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf - unless he were
    shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame...
    For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male
    and female alike...

    In /The Peoples of Middle-earth/, Christopher Tolkien says that a
    similar statement was present in an earlier draft of Appendix A as
    well. As these statements are entirely in agreement with the canonical evidence cited above, the conclusion that Dwarf women had beards seems inescapable.
    -------

    10. Was there "telepathy" in Middle-earth?

    Although it is not emphasized in the books, direct communication of
    thought from mind to mind was certainly part of Middle-earth. This is
    stated directly in the chapter "Many Partings" of LotR, when Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Elrond lingered before parting:

    ...they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind;
    and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts
    went to and fro.

    Another example is the voice Frodo hears in his mind on Amon Hen,
    saying, "Take off the Ring!", which was that of Gandalf as he "sat in a
    high place, and... strove with the Dark Tower" ("The White Rider").
    ("The Black Gate is Closed" confirms that this was Gandalf, when it
    suggests that Frodo felt Gandalf's thought on him, "as he had upon Amon
    Hen".)

    Tolkien discusses the details of this "telepathy" at length in the
    essay "/Osanwe-kenta/: Enquiry into the Communication of Thought",
    which was published in the journal /Vinyar Tengwar/ #39 (available from http://www.elvish.org/). It seems that all minds had this ability, but
    that it was "dimmed" whenever it passed through a physical body. Elves
    could therefore use it more easily than humans, as their wills had
    greater control over their bodies. The essay contains many more
    fascinating details, but there is not space even to summarize them
    here.
    -------

    11. Did Sauron have a physical form during /The Lord of the Rings/?

    There is strong evidence that Sauron did have a humanoid physical
    body at the time of LotR. In "The Black Gate is Closed" we read, "'He
    has only four [fingers] on the Black Hand, but they are enough', said
    Gollum shuddering." Gollum was tortured in Barad-dur, and this
    statement sounds as if it comes from personal experience. Some have
    objected that Gollum's memory of his torture might not be accurate for
    various reasons, but this is still the only fully "canonical" evidence
    on either side of the issue, so it should be taken seriously.

    It need not be taken alone, however. Tolkien makes multiple
    unambiguous statements that Sauron did have a physical form during the
    LotR era in /Letters/. For example, he describes Sauron's use of a
    humanoid shape in Letter #200:

    It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was 'real', that
    is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision
    transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It
    was then destructible like other physical organisms. ... After the
    battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to
    re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I
    suppose because each building-up used up some of the inherent energy
    of the spirit...)

    Because it took time for Sauron to "re-build" after his body was slain
    by Gil-galad and Elendil, it is clear that it was more than just a
    "vision". As there is no suggestion that Sauron was ever "slain"
    between that time and the destruction of the Ring (he was merely
    "driven out" of Dol Guldur), this re-built body presumably still
    existed during LotR. Another clear statement can be found near the end
    of Letter #246, where Tolkien discusses the possibility of a direct confrontation between Sauron and a Ring-wielder at the time of LotR (he considers both Aragorn and Gandalf). He says,

    in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a
    physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when
    actually physically present. ... The form that he took was that of a
    man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

    No statements by Tolkien conflicting with these descriptions are known.

    Some have objected that the many references to the "Eye" of Sauron
    must refer to his physical shape. However, Tolkien used that term even
    when referring to the period before the war of the Last Alliance, when
    it is well known that Sauron had a physical form: for example, the
    Akallabeth says that after Sauron "came back to Middle-earth and to
    Mordor... the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

    So what does "the Eye" refer to if not Sauron's physical form?
    Frodo's perception of it is described in "The Passage of the Marshes":

    But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself.

    [continued in next message]

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