The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

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solicitr
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Post by solicitr »

CT did not use Beren A; that text has never been published. I can't find HME V at the moment, but IIRC he describes Beren A as taking pages and pages just to reach some rather early point in the narrative. CT used QS I, a compression and reduction of Beren A, and then followed it with the conclusion of QS II. I can't disagree: while QS II actually was a better scale for Quenta Silmarillion as it stood in 1937, QS I has a focus more in keeping with the LQ/Annals text that makes up most of the published book up to that point. The later (QS II) part of the chapter, with the actual penetration of Angband, the theft of the Silmaril, and the Hunting of the Wolf, all feel to me a little squeezed; but the effect would be even worse if the first part of the chapter were as prolix and detailed as the Lay.

I don't disagree about Tuor; but I think the extreme compression is necessary *if* it leads, as it does, into the very, very abbreviated QN version of the city's fall. Any longer account of Tuor's journey would have made the rest of the chapter seem even more sketchy than it does. Yes, in a perfect world CT would have somehow modified the old FG to fit, and used Long Tuor at a commensurate scale- but then in a perfect world JRRT would have finished the thing himself.

I'm still mystified by the decision to use the clearly superseded account of the Darkening, rather than the LQ II version. I don't understand why.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Yes, you are right; I mispoke. A was the first prose version of the tale, and it reached "some two and a half thousand words" when it stopped at the point where "the woods of Doriath fell silent."

But "QS I" was also judged by Tolkien to be too long (according to Christopher) and was abandoned at more than 4000 words at the departure of Beren and Finrod from Nargothrond. He then replaced it with a version less than half as long (QS II), yet Christopher used most of QS I as far as it goes.

At least we agree about the Darkening of Valinor. My secret fantasy (which I guess is not longer secret) is that the publication of my book will inspire Christopher to explain why he made decisions such as that one.
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Post by solicitr »

I think both father and son were right, given the respective times and contexts. QS I was too long and detailed for the Quenta Silmarillion of 1937 (and evidence that 'too long and detailed' was an authorial concern). But given the considerably more voluble rewriting of the Fifties, it was QS II whose focus was not to scale, and QS I which fit.

I do think that more detail concerning Finwë, Míriel, Indis, and even Nerwen and Mahtan would have been welcome. But the 'court case' I don't think could have been made to work- either abridged to the point of inscrutability, or a lengthy discursion which would have brought the narrative momentum to a dead stop. (Remember, most of the reading public aren't lawyers! ;))
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

By the "court case" are you referring to Húrin in Brethil? If so, I do agree.
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Post by solicitr »

Well, actually I was talking about the case of Míriel before the Valar. But a similar argument applies to the Folkmoot.
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Post by solicitr »

At the time of the Athrabeth commentary, which postdates virtually all Tolkien's narrative writing on the First Age, T felt so strongly that the End was *not* prophesied in any specific sense that he repeated himself:
He wrote:The Elvish conception of the End was in fact catastrophic. They did not think that Arda (or at any rate Imbar) would just run down into lifeless inanition. But this conception was not embodied by them in any myth or legend.
and again, as given upthread by scirocco
Tolkien wrote:The Elves expected the End of Arda to be catastrophic. They thought that it would be brought about by the dissolution of the structure of Imbar at least, if not of the whole system. The End of Arda is not, of course, the same thing as the end of Eä. About this they held that nothing could be known, except that Eä was ultimately finite. It is noteworthy that the Elves had no myths or legends dealing with the end of the world.
These two passages reflect Tolkien's last statements on the matter. I don't see how in that light the Second Prophecy could have survived (except of course for Arda Healed, but *only* that small part, which really is an independent concept). The rest of it had become as superseded as the idea that Túrin and Nienor would be joined to "the children of the gods."

There is also the problem (fatal, to my mind) that the 2PM, which was never really modified from its 1930 form, takes no account of the Catastrophe of the end of the Second Age; it assumes a word still flat at the End.

There is the "Mannish tradition" dodge. But that's an alternative 'framing device' which Tolkien really never even began to work out. It's clearly not the same as the Eriol/Aelfwine story, since that always assumed a direct relation of the lore of Eressëa to a Man of historical times. Nor can it be squared with the "Bilbo frame," since Mr Baggins also learned directly from the Elves (and perhaps Gandalf).

I'm sorry, but if the guideline is "Tolkien's final intent (consistent with coherence)", then the 2PM is gone, obsolete as Tevildo Prince of Cats.

While it can be objected that the old tale of the Sun and Moon also was dispensed with I would agree but refer again to "consistent with coherence:" the overhaul of the astronomical myth was never undertaken, there was no replacement for the old version; and the overhaul would have wiped out the idea of Eärendil's Silmaril as the Evening Star among other brutal wounds.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Sorry, soli, but I am not at all convinced. In the very passage from the Athrabeth commentary that you quote, Tolkien says"The myth that appears at the end of the Silmarillion is of Númenórean origin; it is clearly made by Men, though Men acquainted with Elvish tradition." That clearly shows that his intention at that point (which I agree postdates virtually all Tolkien's narrative writing on the First Age) was to retain that myth as the end of the Silmarillion. Almost every other piece of evidence suggests that that was his intention. And the work is a lesser work without it.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I reread Unfinished Tales recently for the first time in a while, and I was reminded of another reference to the Second Prophecy that seems to support my belief that it was not in fact abandoned by Tolkien as Christopher indicated, but which I failed to note in this discussion, in my subsequent discussion of the topic in Arda Reconstructed, or in my Mythcon paper on the subject.

In one of the writings in the "Istari" section, Tolkien is addressing the question of whether Gandalf was actually Manwë himself. He writes "I think it was not so. Manwë will not descend from the Mountain until the Dagor Dagorath, and the coming of the End, when Melkor returns." Then Christopher notes in a footnote "This is a reference to 'the Second Prophecy of Mandos', which does not appear in The Silmarillion; its elucidation cannot be attempted here, since it would require some account of the history of the mythology in relation to the published version."

Christopher says that it is impossible to date these materials other than that they were obviously written after LOTR was completed. Still, this seems to be pretty firm evidence that the idea of the Second Prophecy was firmly entrenched in Tolkien's mind (particularly when combined with all of the other pieces of evidence that I have noted.
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Post by Holbytla »

I may be crazy, but I thought there was another reference to 'the Second Prophecy of Mandos' written somewhere other than UT.

Was it spoken of in Letters at all?
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

It appears in a number of places in HoME, of course, but I presume you mean other than that.

There is no specific reference in Letters to the Second Prophecy, but Letter 131, the famous letter to Milton Waldman, does contain this statement that I have quoted before in this discussion:
This legendarium ends with a vision of the end of the world, its breaking and remaking, and the recovery of the Silmarilli and the 'light before the Sun' – after a final battle which owes, I suppose, more to the Norse vision of Ragnarök than to anything else, though it is not much like it.
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Post by Holbytla »

I guess that was what I was thinking of, but I could have sworn there was some oblique or thin reference to the Second Prophecy somewhere in the Sil.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

You may be thinking of the reference to Men joining in the Second Music of the Ainur, which appears at the end of the Chapter One (but which is really taken from the Ainulindalë).
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I just reread this thread in its entirety for the first time in a long time. Wow, a lot to think about!
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by scirocco »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Thu Jul 21, 2022 7:10 pm I just reread this thread in its entirety for the first time in a long time. Wow, a lot to think about!
Me too. Very interesting. But I think we could explore further into how Tolkien's own Christian beliefs influenced what he considered "fit to publish", you might say, and how much if anything of the Second Prophecy would have made it into print on his watch.

JRRT chose to constrain himself by a number of what you might call "design choices" in his portrayal of Middle-earth:

Choice 1. The wish not to explicitly include elements of the Christian religion;
Choice 2. The wish to avoid portraying anything that might be seen as an "alternative" to Christian beliefs, avoiding any hint of parody or setting his works up as a competitor to traditional Christian theology, "playing God", you might say. And this applies even if those alternatives are broadly complementary in ethos and intent to Christianity;
Choice 3. The wish to avoid presenting as "good" or "true", any religious intent or symbology that conflicts with Christianity.

These choices are documented by comments he made in Letters 131 and 142, and in commentary on the Athrabeth. They form a kind of Venn diagram, with a small intersection of "acceptable" in the middle. In this light we can ask "how could Tolkien have presented or framed the Second Prophecy in a way that would not compromise any of the Choices?"

Firstly, I believe we can rule out Túrin as the central figure of the Second Prophecy. How could a devout Christian present anyone other than Christ as the saviour of the world? It's one thing to have pre-Christian creation legends which might not concur exactly with the Old Testament, but to present Túrin in the Christ the Saviour role, the central pillar of the Christian faith?

No, such a thing would not wash. Middle-earth may be pre-Christian, but the end of the world is by definition still in the future; Middle-earth's future is our future, and in Tolkien's world that is Christian. And since it's Christian, Choice 1 means it must be excluded, and Choice 2 means that even if it was included, it must be Christ. And if it's Christ, Choice 1 rules the whole thing out again.

So much for Túrin. What of the other aspects of the end of the world that have been suggested in this thread? The healing of Arda? The recovery of the Silmarils? How do these chime with Christian beliefs?

Well, they may not be incompatible. But I think we could do a lot worse than look at the Nicene Creed for a quick summary of traditional Christian beliefs concerning the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. What are some of the key points? To paraphrase:

1. Judgement of moral behaviour: "He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead."
2. Resurrection of the dead: "We look for the resurrection of the dead."
3: Eternal life thereafter: "and the life of the world to come" (can be paraphrased as "to life in the world to come")

Really, none of these have anything to do with recovering Silmarils or healing Arda. How could JRRT have presented anything other than those points from the Creed as "true" or "what will really happen"?

Again, the Venn diagram of the three Choices closes in to a mighty small intersection, almost to zero. So, better to say nothing at all. This is why, when I think of JRRT reviewing what he'd written, ready for publication of the Silmarillion, I imagine him realising that it doesn't stack up, and would have left out all reference to the Second Prophecy.
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

And now there is more to think about! I will consider and then be back.

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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by kzer_za »

scirocco wrote: Mon Jun 26, 2023 12:42 pm 1. Judgement of moral behaviour: "He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead."
2. Resurrection of the dead: "We look for the resurrection of the dead."
3: Eternal life thereafter: "and the life of the world to come" (can be paraphrased as "to life in the world to come")

Really, none of these have anything to do with recovering Silmarils or healing Arda. How could JRRT have presented anything other than those points from the Creed as "true" or "what will really happen"?

Again, the Venn diagram of the three Choices closes in to a mighty small intersection, almost to zero. So, better to say nothing at all. This is why, when I think of JRRT reviewing what he'd written, ready for publication of the Silmarillion, I imagine him realising that it doesn't stack up, and would have left out all reference to the Second Prophecy.
"Resurrection of the dead" means bodily resurrection into a physical world. "The life of the world to come" means a perfected transformed physical world one day joined with heaven, not (well not only) going to heaven after you die. The Catholic Church believes this and Tolkien would have too.

While also influenced by Norse mythology, Arda healed and the trees remade (but even better this time) is definitely Christian. The trees are partly meant to evoke the Garden of Eden, though not in a strict allegorical way of course.

Anyway I do agree the Second Prophecy should been included at the end in one form or another. Perhaps without Túrin's revenge, perhaps with the more pessimistic ending still in Valaquenta or elsewhere.
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Well, on this point, we are completely aligned, so that is good. :)
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by kzer_za »

The Túrin part feels odd to me because he wasn't exactly a great guy. It's one thing to say he's still not beyond redemption, it's another thing to give him that central and heroic a role in the final battle (maybe even becoming a Valar in some versions?). Maybe if you regard him as a completely helpless victim of the curse it makes more sense, but I read Túrin as making a lot (though not all) of his own fate. But Tolkien does keep it as tentative speculation.
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Have you read the piece on Túrin that I had published in Tolkien Studies a couple of years ago (I don't remember if we ever discussed it)? If not, and you are interested but don't have access to Project Muse or want to purchase the expensive volume, let me know and I'll shoot you a copy via email.
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Re: The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Post by kzer_za »

I haven't but yeah I'd be interested.
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