Friday 23 December 2016

My favourite posthumously-published work by Tolkien was intended by the author to serve as the central part of The Silmarillion - but was excluded

(Edited from an article by Bradley J Birzer:)

In his account of the writing of The Silmarillion, Kilby focused on a discussion between an Elf and a human wise woman. The conversation deals with the possible Incarnation of Eru (God the Father) in the world. How could an author enter into his book without exploding it? How could God enter into His creation without destroying it?

Tolkien had written a note on the manuscript of the conversation stating that—in no uncertain terms—this must serve as a central part of the final, published version of The Silmarillion.

I can state without exaggeration that this conversation explains and describes the Incarnation more expertly and with more beauty than anything I’ve ever read with the important exception of T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding.”

And, yet, pick up your copy of The Silmarillion, thumb through it, and you’ll see no such conversation. As literary heir, Christopher chose to exclude all explicit theological and philosophical discussions, focusing instead on the mythological narrative of the story.


The discussion between and elf and a human wise woman was eventually published in 1993 as part of (and rather inconspicuous-within) Volume Ten of the History of Middle Earth ('Morgoth's Ring') where it is given various descriptive titles in Sindarin and English - In a 2008 essay on the piece I deployed the more user-friendly name of The Marring of Men:

I find The Marring of Men to be the most beautiful and moving of all Tolkien's writings which emerged after his death - and it played a very important role in my conversion to Christianity, shortly after writing the above essay.

The fact that Tolkien at one point intended this to become the centre of The Silmarillion, and the fact that it did not, is yet another clarification of my personal antipathy of the 1977 version Silmarillion - and my belief that a new version (or several versions) is needed; drawn from the History of Middle Earth volumes (unavailable in 1977) and including the Marring of Men and the 'second prophecy' of Mandos -

and preferably with much less emphasis of Turin Turambar!

1 comment:

Nicholas Fulford said...

Thanks for sharing this Bruce. I very much look forward to reading it.

I always loved the creation story at the beginning of the Silmarillion, and will I am sure appreciate Tolkien's most intimate reflections in the previously excluded passages.