More quotes from The Silmarillion. I marked these down only as page number references, then went back through, trying to recall which part of the page I wanted to cite. I've put some notes in on why I appreciated each phrase.
"After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth! War shall he have and hatred undying."
This epitomizes unreason in vengeance, especially given that the folks in question pretty much put themselves in a bad situation and are now blaming Morgoth.
"But Olwe answered: 'We renounce no friendship. But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly.'"
"But even in the hour of the death of Feanor an embassy came to his sons from Morgoth, acknowledging defeat, and offering terms, even to the surrender of a Silmaril. Then Maedhros the tall, the eldest son, persuaded his brothers to feign to treat with Morgoth, and to meet his emissaries at the place appointed; but the Noldor had as little thought of faith as had he. Wherefore each embassy came with greater force than was agreed; but Morgoth sent the more, and there were Balrogs."
If you're going to cheat, you better assume the other guy will as well. Better not to deal with people you want to screw over.
"Now when Turgon learned of the breaking of the leaguer of Angband he would not suffer any of his own people to issue forth to war; for he deemed that Gondolin was strong, and the time not yet ripe for its revealing. But he believed also that the ending of the Siege was the beginning of the downfall of the Noldor, unless aid should come; and he sent companies of the Gondolindrim in secret to the mouths of Sirion and the Isle of Balar. There they built ships, and set sail into the uttermost West upon Turgon's errand, seeking for Valinor, to ask for pardon and aid of the Valar..."
I like the idea of setting off on a somewhat desperate, long-distance voyage in hopes of seeking aid from the mysterious powers. In general, long, mysterious journies are a good concept (see "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath").
"At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven. thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood."
"Then the Valar took counsel together, and they summoned Ulmo from the deeps of the sea; and Earendil stood before their faces, and delivered the errand of the Two Kindreds. Pardon he asked for the Noldor and pity for their great sorrows, and mercy upon Men and Elves and succour in their need. And his prayer was granted."
The upside of a great voyage to seek help -- actually receiving it.
"Yet they achieved only the art of preserving incorrupt the dead flesh of Men, and they filled all the land with silent tombs in which the thought of death was enshrined in the darkness."
It's hard not to be stuck on death, what with mortality and all. In The Silmarillion, mortality is frequently presented as a gift given to Men. Where Elves must remain alive forever, regardless of how fatigued they may be by the world, Men quit the world once their time is up. Tolkein directly addresses the fears that are associated with death in this contrast, because even when an Elf dies (say, violently), they know exactly where they're ending up, walking around in the Elven realm of the dead. Humans, on the other hand, don't know what their post-death fate is going to be -- just as in our world. They're required to have faith.
It's interesting to contrast the way Tolkein addresses faith in comparison with how his friend C. S. Lewis did so. Lewis takes it on much more directly, whereas Tolkein has woven it into the world he has in his head. That's not to say that it isn't apparent, nor that people don't miss what strikes me as obvious allegory in some of Lewis's fiction.
They must have had some fascinating conversations.
2004-12-11 05:25 pm UTC (link) DeleteFreezeScreen Select
Heavens, that prose is thick.