A Description of the Island of Númenor

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:23 am

I won't IM, serinde, since maybe others may find this info useful: Tolkien and C. S. Lewis (I picture them sitting in a pub!) were bemoaning the fact that no one was writing the kind of books that they liked to read, and so they made a deal (or so the story goes) that Lewis would write a story about space travel and Tolkien would write a story about time travel. CSL's so called 'space trilogy' (Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet and I can't remember the third one) was the result, and the Tolkien mythology is set in the Earth's past.

Not sure when this deal was supposed to have been struck, but it must be the case the Tolkien was working on his stories long before he and Lewis even met, right?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

serinde
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Post by serinde » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:25 pm

But have the chapters been written, published?

So typical of Tolkien -- Middle Earth & all its history is, of course, in Earth's past & so eligible for a 'time travel' story. I guess we should consider those possibilities when asked "If you could travel back in time, who in history would you like to meet?"

Serinde

Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:50 pm

I think LOTR is meant to be Tolkien's side of the deal although, strictly speaking, it's not time travel, right?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:27 pm

No - Tolkien's Time Travel book never got past the first few Chapters. It's called The Lost Road and Christopher Tolkien published what we have of it in The Lost Road and Other Writings as part of the History of Middle Earth. Bear with me - this is horribly complicated but really interesting! (At least to me :oops: ).

He creates his 'time-travel' through the means of reincarnation (which is, in itself, fairly amazing given his beliefs). Briefly and from memory (it really is very complicated) Albion (a philologist like Tolkien) keeps having strange dreams, visions and flashes of a lost language and people. Eventually it reaches a crisis where he is told by a vision of Elendil that he can have his great desire: to step back into the past, but only if his son goes with him. He and his son (who also has dreams) choose to go back and after falling into a stupor he wakes AS Elendil himself and his son is Elendil's son. As this is very early in his writing, at this time Elendil only has one.

In the next chapter we are with Elendil (Albion) who is also having strange feelings that he is seeing his life through someone else's eyes. Everything he looks at seems new, as though he is seeing it for the first time. He is a very troubled man - Sauron is leading the King and all Numenor astray and Elendil intends to stop him. He is, in fact, a secret rebel who sees Sauron as evil. His young son, though, admires Sauron and is a keen follower of him. He likes the changes he makes, the new temple and the new songs that the young people are now singing. Elendil, believing he can bring his son around, tells him what he really believes Sauron to be and what must be done.

Tolkien never wrote any more, but his intention was for the son, Herendil, to ultimately betray his father to the king.

There were also to be other chapters featuring other incarnations of the Elendil/Albion figure. One was to be Aelfwine, living in Anglo-Saxon England, and also a possible Lombard story. All these would tie Elendil, through time and many descendents, to Albion in a direct line and also tie Numenor through to Tolkien's beloved England. I think, in the end, the idea was just too complex and too hard to fit into the rest of his mythology which was just on the verge of completely changing direction - abandoning forever his early idea that Tol-Eressea (the Isle of the elves) was actually now England. Aelfwine (originally called Eriol the Mariner) was always a figure in Tolkien's earliest writings who would receive all the history of the elves from them (after finding their land at the end of a voyage) and bringing their stories back to men. He was the original Elf Friend (that is what his name actually means) like Elendil, Tuor, Bilbo and Frodo. Aelfwine was a known Anglo-saxon name, found in many other varients across Europe at the time, and the meaning fascinated him. But I think things got a lot easier (story wise) for Tolkien when he abandoned him!

All this complexity is actually a vastly simplified summary of all the ins and outs of this story :lol: .

The Lost Road and Other Writings also contains fragments of another story: The Fall of Numenor in two versions. This is also part of his whole time-travel thing and was to have formed the end of the book:
We (Lewis and Tolkien) agreed that he should try 'space-travel' and I should try 'time-travel'. His result is well known. My effort, after a few promising chapters, ran dry: it was too long a way round to what I really wanted to make, a new version of the Atlantis legend. The final scene survives as The Downfall of Numenor.
The whole thing is a hard to pin down as the great waves tossing Numenor into the depths :roll: .
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Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by Merry » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:32 pm

Oh! I never knew that he tried this more direct interim attempt, but I'm glad he abandoned it! Thanks, Iolanthe.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:06 pm

It was his only attempt, he never picked up the time-travel theme again and I don't think anything else he wrote is touched by the idea. Probably just as well! I wonder what he would have done if he'd been the one who ended up with space-travel. An adult version of Roverandom :lol: ?
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:42 am

Yikes! :shock: I should admit that I've never been able to finish Roverandom--just can't get into it!

For those who haven't read Lewis' space trilogy, they might be worth a read. One reading will do, in my estimation (as opposed to Tolkien, where a couple dozen readings will do!). It's widely accepted that the main character, Ransom, who is also a philologist, is modeled after Tolkien.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:18 am

I first read them a very long time ago when I was reading a lot of Lewis and came to the conclusion that they were very strange. I think I'd understand them a lot better now, with some sort of context to put them in! I wish I'd kept them, but unfortunately they all went to the Charity Shop when I moved house :lol: .
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:14 pm

:lol: They are strange, Iolanthe! You're right. I'm not sure the context helps. But there are also some lovely thoughts, etc., in them.

I've read somewhere that Tolkien thought Lewis' work was too obviously allegorical and that it was written too quickly. You can see both flaws in the space trilogy. The slow, detailed work of subcreation that makes Middle-earth such a real place in our imaginations was not done by CSL, in my opinion.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:28 pm

Nor mine. I don't think he cared for all that detail, as long as he got his messages across. But he certainly liked reading it in Tolkien.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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