"Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

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"Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

Heritage Auctions has a Tolkien manuscript entitled "Concerning the Hoard" from 1964, well after the last version of the Tale of Years, in which Tolkien says that the thieves bring the treasure of Nargothrond to Menegroth for Húrin and are killed there. The Dwarf-army gets past Melian's Girdle because it had either failed due to the evil done in Menegroth or because Melian had removed it in "grief and horror at the deed that had been done". He also says that it was Beren at the ford (no mention of Ents in this version) who slaughters the Dwarves and recovers the Nauglamír/Silmaril. (The title to the manuscript is explained in the typewritten cover letter. The letter was to a fan who made comments about Tolkien's poem "The Hoard" from Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the manuscript is supposed to be about those comments, but is mostly about events in the Silmarillion.)

You can see large size images of every page at the auction site: https://historical.ha.com/itm/books/sci ... on-120115# (Others have captured and transcribed those images, but I'm not linking to those as they are likely copyright violations. There's a fair chance that the auction page will disappear once the auction is over on July 16.)

At least the typed cover letter to the manuscript was known: Part of it is included in Letters by Carpenter as letter 255. But that could have been a carbon copy of the typescript cover letter without the manuscript addendum.

One must wonder if Christopher would have made different choices or avoided editorial invention altogether in the Ruin of Doriath chapter of Silmarillion had he had this manuscript in hand. (Or, if it turns out that he did have it, why he didn't mention it in "A note on Chapter 22 Of the Ruin of Doriath in the published Silmarillion." in War of the Jewels.

Voronwë, do you have knowledge or insight about this manuscript?

PS (Addition): Apparently this same manuscript appeared in a 1984 Sotheby auction and Hammond and Scull saw it and commented on it: https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Concerning_The_Hoard saying, among other things, "Presumably Tolkien made no file copy of this manuscript, and otherwise left no record in his papers to assist Christopher in his work on The Silmarillion. A few years ago, Christina sent Christopher a copy of the notes she made at Sotheby's ..., which he found very interesting."

PPS (Another addition): In Hammond and Scull's notes reported at Tolkien Gateway mentioned in my PS it says, "Thingol, however, is still killed outside Menegroth, with Tolkien giving two possible reasons why the dwarves were able to pass the Girdle of Melian." There is no indication in the manuscript that Thingol is killed outside of Menegroth; indeed there's a pretty clear statement that he was killed inside. Their notes or recollection appears to be incorrect in this instance.
Last edited by Voronmirdil on Wed Jul 06, 2022 7:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Voronwë the Faithful
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I have no knowledge of this, and have not clicked on the link as of yet.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by elengil »

I don't have any insight in terms of editorial considerations but I did find the contents of the letter very interesting.

It seems to be Tolkien either reimagining the death of Thingol or perhaps attempting to shift from the focus of "greedy Dwarves" to "cursed treasure" that affected both the Dwarves and Thingol equally (which I find to be a welcome change, even if it does kind of add more negativity onto a character who seems to suffer from being not terribly wise to begin with)

I don't think he'd had enough time to fully consider all the various implications of changing the timeline of events (such as what grief prior to Thingol's murder was so much that it affected her Girdle?) but it does give interesting insights into the mindset of those involved.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

Those who have replied already might want to note my PS added to my original post.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Why do say that Wayne and Christina are wrong?
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

In the online post quoted at Tolkien Gateway (linked above), it says: "Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have commented that: ... 'Thingol, however, is still killed outside Menegroth, with Tolkien giving two possible reasons why the dwarves were able to pass the Girdle of Melian.'"

The manuscript, however, says nothing about Thingol being killed outside Doriath. What it does say is, "Back in their mountain-strongholds, they [the Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod] plotted revenge, and not long after they came down with a great force and invaded Doriath. This had before been impossible, because of the Girdle of Melian, an invisible fence maintained by her power and will through which no one with evil intent could pass. But either this fence had been robbed of its power by the evil within, or Melian had removed it in grief and horror at the deed that had been done. The Dwarf-host entered Doriath and most of Thingol's warriors perished. His halls were violated and he himself slain. ... The great Necklace was taken from Thingol as he lay dead." (Emphasis added.)

That bit about halls and he being slain in the same sentence at least implies that he was in those halls. What it doesn't say, nor anything else in the Ms says, is that he was outside.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Eldy »

Hi, Voronmirdil! A belated welcome to HoF on the occasion of your first posts. :)

Thanks for sharing the link to the auction site. It's really neat to get to read the whole uploaded manuscript, despite how difficult it is to decipher in places (all the more respect to Christopher and everyone else who has gone through it). It's interesting that this version places Melian's "grief and horror" before Thingol's death. I guess, based on context, that the evil within Doriath referred to is the fight with the outlaws over the treasure. As best as I can make out the writing:
The outlaws, released from the presence of Húrin, claimed that it [the treasure of Nargothrond] was theirs, won by their weapons and labour. Fighting broke out, even in the inviolable halls of Thingol. Blood was spilled on either side, but in the end all the outlaws were slain.
But that seems like ... not a very high threshold for what would make Melian take down the Girdle (or cause it to fail on its own), so I dunno.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

Hey, Eldy, and thank you.

I've been thinking about the possibilities for "either this fence had been robbed of its power by the evil within, or Melian had removed it in grief and horror at the deed that had been done."

I'm wondering if those might not be more or less the same thing with the only difference being whether the Girdle collapsed on its own or was removed, but with the cause ultimately being the same. And like you, I initially thought it was the slaying of the thieves but I now think that "the evil within" refers to the dragon-cursed treasure being present in Doriath and "the deed that had been done" being the fighting and deaths between the thieves and the Elves motivated and brought on by the dragon-curse. If I'm right then the Girdle could not continue because Doriath had been corrupted by the dragon-curse and was no longer worthy of being protected.

If Melian removed it, however, I have to wonder if she looked over at dragon-cursed Thingol before she did it and said, "This! This is why we can't have nice things!" (Sorry, but I can't pass up a dad joke.)

More seriously, it's interesting that Melian just vanishes off the stage in this version once (and if) she removes the Girdle. It's "fugitives from Doriath" not Melian herself that takes the news to Beren and Lúthien (at least not explicitly; I suppose she could have just been lumped into "fugitives" but that doesn't seem to fit with Tolkien's style). That kind of logically fits with the idea that she removed the Girdle, but that's utter speculation.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Hi Voronmirdil, my apologies for my short responses earlier. I made the mistake of looking in to HoF while I was in the middle of a Continuing Legal Education training. Now that I am done I can give more attention to this. As Eldy said, welcome to HoF and thank you for bringing this to our attention. It definitely looking like a pretty exciting development and I look forward to looking at it closer.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Voronmirdil, I certainly can't argue with your conclusion that Wayne and Christina (well, Christina, really, since apparently she was the one who reviewed the manuscript) misread something in concluding that Thingol was killed outside of Menegroth. That seems pretty clear to me. It almost makes me wonder whether she actually reviewed some different manuscript. It seems an odd mistake for someone as precise as Christina is to have made.

Has anyone else commented on this seeming anomaly, to your knowledge?
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Eldy »

In Christina Scull's defense, the comment was made in a forum thread on the LOTR Fanatics Plaza a quarter-century after she saw the manuscript, and she might not have had her original notes on hand. Though I bring this up mostly for the excuse to share the link, since seeing some of those usernames has sent me on a trip down memory lane that I think Voronwë might be able to appreciate, especially given the identity of the first person to reply to the post in question. :P

https://web.archive.org/web/20160824111 ... post232653
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Wow, not just a thread at the Plaza, but the thread dedicated to comments on Charles Noad's excellent review of my book, Dmitra Fimi's book, and Elizabeth Whittingham's book. You'd think I would have remembered that!

(You don't happen to have an archived copy of that review, do you, Eldy? When the original Plaza went down, I lost access to it and I have not been able to locate it since.)
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Eldy »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 2:56 pmYou don't happen to have an archived copy of that review, do you, Eldy? When the original Plaza went down, I lost access to it and I have not been able to locate it since.
Here you go, V. :)

https://web.archive.org/web/20100201112 ... TID=234548
Voronmirdil wrote: Wed Jul 06, 2022 11:10 pmMore seriously, it's interesting that Melian just vanishes off the stage in this version once (and if) she removes the Girdle. It's "fugitives from Doriath" not Melian herself that takes the news to Beren and Lúthien (at least not explicitly; I suppose she could have just been lumped into "fugitives" but that doesn't seem to fit with Tolkien's style). That kind of logically fits with the idea that she removed the Girdle, but that's utter speculation.
I think your interpretation, about the problem being violence caused by a dragon-curse, makes sense. Though I find Melian's disappearance a point of difficulty in this manuscript's account one way or another. In the Christopher/Guy Kay version, Melian leaving after Thingol's death makes sense to me, especially if (like me) you're inclined to interpret her as a sovereignty goddess of sorts, whose significance to Doriath lay largely in the conferring of authority upon the now-former King. Though I admit to a degree of motivated reasoning here, in that I prefer there to be some sort of explanation in the rules of "magic" or natural theology or whatever that means Melian couldn't do much for Doriath after Thingol's death, since otherwise her abandoning the realm to its fate sits poorly with me. On the other hand, if the significance of the dragon's curse really was that great, it could provide an alternative explanation.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Eldy wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 5:33 pm
Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 2:56 pmYou don't happen to have an archived copy of that review, do you, Eldy? When the original Plaza went down, I lost access to it and I have not been able to locate it since.
Here you go, V. :)
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Voronmirdil wrote: Wed Jul 06, 2022 11:10 pmMore seriously, it's interesting that Melian just vanishes off the stage in this version once (and if) she removes the Girdle. It's "fugitives from Doriath" not Melian herself that takes the news to Beren and Lúthien (at least not explicitly; I suppose she could have just been lumped into "fugitives" but that doesn't seem to fit with Tolkien's style). That kind of logically fits with the idea that she removed the Girdle, but that's utter speculation.
I think your interpretation, about the problem being violence caused by a dragon-curse, makes sense. Though I find Melian's disappearance a point of difficulty in this manuscript's account one way or another. In the Christopher/Guy Kay version, Melian leaving after Thingol's death makes sense to me, especially if (like me) you're inclined to interpret her as a sovereignty goddess of sorts, whose significance to Doriath lay largely in the conferring of authority upon the now-former King. Though I admit to a degree of motivated reasoning here, in that I prefer there to be some sort of explanation in the rules of "magic" or natural theology or whatever that means Melian couldn't do much for Doriath after Thingol's death, since otherwise her abandoning the realm to its fate sits poorly with me. On the other hand, if the significance of the dragon's curse really was that great, it could provide an alternative explanation.
I love that you call it the "Christopher/Guy Kay version." Charles Noad's comments in that review that you kindly found the archived version of really influenced my thoughts on that.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Eldy »

In my defense (perhaps unnecessary since geordie isn't here to defend Christopher's honor!) I was thinking solely of the "Ruin of Doriath" chapter when I used that turn of phrase, not the entire 1977 Silmarillion. :P Though based on your comment, I suspect Noad's review is worth a reread. I don't think I've read it since the first time, back when I was fifteen.

(Incidentally, I believe the comments thread to that review was the first time I ever saw you post anywhere, Voronwë, though I did not participate in it myself.)
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Yes, of course, that is how I took it! But I'm glad you clarified.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Ah, yes, geordie and his ten foot pole. How "fondly" I recall it!
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Eldy »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 5:53 pmAh, yes, geordie and his ten foot pole. How "fondly" I recall it!
:rofl:
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 3:53 am Voronmirdil, I certainly can't argue with your conclusion that Wayne and Christina (well, Christina, really, since apparently she was the one who reviewed the manuscript) misread something in concluding that Thingol was killed outside of Menegroth. That seems pretty clear to me. It almost makes me wonder whether she actually reviewed some different manuscript. It seems an odd mistake for someone as precise as Christina is to have made.

Has anyone else commented on this seeming anomaly, to your knowledge?
Not to my knowledge. I just happened to spot it while looking at the article about this manuscript at Tolkien Gateway. But I think that what Eldy says about the passage of time probably is the most likely explanation.
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Re: "Concerning the Hoard" and the Ruin of Doriath

Post by Voronmirdil »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Thu Jul 07, 2022 12:33 am in the middle of a Continuing Legal Education training
Having retired from the practice of law, I don't miss CLE one little bit.
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