A New Turn for Tolkien’s Legacy

I highly recommend reading the very good, informative and interesting article, ‘Tolkien’s Legacy about to Get Bigger’, at the link which follows:
It highlights the importance of the recent withdrawal by Christopher Tolkien from the responsibilities he had until then regarding his father’s literary legacy.
Whether his voluntary absence from the decisive role he had before may have negative, or, hopefully positive consequences on the future adaptations that, like with Amazon already, will be now allowed to take place, remains to be seen… The analysis by the author of the reasons  to  be hopeful is the best, and the best worded, that I know of.
NOW A PERSONAL NOTE FROM MYSELF, BHAGA, AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG.

As a deeply appreciative fan of Tolkien’s Middle-earth world since 1975, and an equally deep fan of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of them to the big screen through the two Trilogies rightly mentioned in the article above as “wildly successful”, I have been sorry, but mostly amazed, that Christopher Tolkien, the son whom he had entrusted with the legacy of his writings, could have such a harsh judgement on those films – and especially on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy to start with. But then, I realized that Christopher probably never saw the Extended Editions of any of those films… and although already in the Theater Editions I found a whole lot to love, it is the Extended Editions that really represent for me what Peter Jackson truly had in his mind and heart when creating those magnificent films.

Given the incredibly huge risk that had been taken by the financing company, entrusting the still rather unknown director that Jackson then was, with the enormous amounts of money necessary for creating the three films at once, it is not surprising that the Theater Versions of them are all treated like ‘action’ films to some extent, in order to insure the massive success they each had, both with the audience at large and the critics.

But to keep the films within the length and duration of 3 hours maximum that could still be endured and accepted by the ordinary public actually sitting in theaters, Peter Jackson had to cut out all the deeper scenes.. but at least he was then free to reinsert them when the time came for putting out the Extended Edition, ‘the Director’s Cut’, for each of them in turn…

This is why these Extended Editions are the ones I always recommend most warmly to the people who don’t know yet those films: for me the Extended Editions are the ones in which can be found more excellent renditions of some of the deepest and most beautiful scenes straight from the books, or closely inspired by them so as to deliver the same meaning and deep inner impact as the original scenes did in the books.

So the first thing I would have advised Christopher if I were his friend, would have been “Do watch rather the Extended Editions, dear Christopher…”

The second thing I would also have told him as a friend would have been how terribly disappointing for me it had been to discover, buried in ‘Morgoth’s Ring’, one volume of his own archival research of his father’s writings (the six volumes he published as the separate collection he called ‘HOME’), an extremely important, late-written text that his father had especially asked him to add to ‘The Silmarillion’ as its very first Appendix.

The text’s title was ‘Athrabeth Finrod a Andreth’: a beautiful additional story between Elves and mortal Men during the First Age, told as a Dialogue between Finrod, a most well-known Elf-Prince, elder brother to Galadriel, and the young and beautiful Wise Woman, Andreth, that his younger brother Aegnor secretly loves.

The contents, intensity and sheer beauty of this Dialogue, the ‘Athrabeth’, and the extremely illuminating and hopeful conclusions reached and expressed by Finrod towards the end of his passionate discussion with Andreth, if presented in ‘The Silmarillion’ as its First Appendix as wished by Tolkien himself, would have indeed effectively altered for the better the whole perspective the readers would have had of the entire sequence of stories from the First Age that compose ‘The Silmarillion’. And further down in Time, this text would have revealed the whole meaning and true usefulness in the Divine Plan, of all those apparently doomed marriages between Elves and Men that kept happening again between Elves and Men in he second and Third Age.

Well, I am immensely grateful to Christopher Tolkien that he did manage, as promised to his father before his death, to do what his father had not been able to do in his old age: to finally publish a rich and impressive ‘Silmarillion’, composed of texts by his father but selected and finalised by himself. But on the other hand I am as immensely regretful that he chose not to include that wonderful ‘Athrabeth’ that was so important to add as the First Appendix!…

In recent years, when Christopher Tolkien was asked by some publishers to select one story out of the ‘Silmarillion’ for separate publication, I had great hopes that this time he would seize this new chance and select the ‘Athrabeth’, fulfilling then at last his father’s wish. But instead he chose ‘The Children of Hurin’, a beautiful indeed but extremely sad story in which Fate keeps hitting at those Children of Hurin as mercilessly as it would at the heroes of some ancient Greek Tragedy of old.

So, alas, again the ‘Athrabeth’ remained helplessly and uselessly buried in the little known volumes of HOME… where it still lies to the date of this writing of mine.

As a specialist also myself of those ancient mythologies Tolkien and that third son of his knew so well, I have been very happy to see that the father, JRRT, somehow distanced himself gradually from the terribly tragic overall mood and outlook on life that most of those ancient epic stories, such as the ‘Kalevala’, were steeply reflecting, inflicting them as well, I felt, on their readers.

Well, luckily, besides his acute sense of the tragic, JRRT happened to have also a solid sense of humour, and an even more solid faith in God as well as in the Virgin Mary (he, like his late mother, was a staunch Catholic), that totally prevented him from ever falling entirely into any abyss of despair.

Moreover, one of his greatest heroes in his own Mythology, Aragorn son of Arathorn, embodied in the Third Age and the War of the Ring the sense of Hope still burning in the hearts of Mortal Men, just as he was their living Hope too: the actual Heir of Isildur, last living direct descendant of the ancient lineage of High Kings of Numenor when still allied to the Elves in the Blessed Days of their shared reverence for Eru, the Supreme God and Source of All.

To Galadriel, the Lady of Light, the most powerful High Elf still present in Middle-earth and protecting it with her inner power, this is still the beautiful future she sees in Aragorn, to be one day crowned the High King, if he proves himself worthy of that destiny, and of the name she whispers softly to him, her previous sternness melting into the tenderness of a mother, the name that would then be given to him: “Elessar …”

galadriel1

It is precisely this whole atmosphere of Hope, of Faith in the Divine Grace and Help, that for me makes the whole difference between Tolkien’s Mythology and all the older ones. It is exactly the reason why I have included it in my own life of conscious spiritual evolution the moment I discovered it in 1975. It was so wonderfully echoing the Faith and Hope that are now born of the new Evolutive Step that is, thanks to the decisive inner Action accomplished by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, starting to take place upon this earth he called ‘Middle-earth’…

But at this point, although the second Professor, the son, Christopher, is no doubt immensely learned too, I am not sure whether he really perceived in his father’s writings that deep difference with other epics, so clearly. And if he perceived it indeed, whether he cherished it as much as I personally do. If he did, how could he ever make those choices he made, that I just described above, and that are still so wrong in my eyes?

I find them wrong, not because I am not aware of “the beauty and seriousness of the work”, but on the contrary because I happen to be so acutely aware and appreciative of the even deeper, the actually divine “beauty and seriousness” (but that shouldn’t mean intrinsic sadness) “of the work”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rick Lipschutz
    Feb 21, 2018 @ 15:55:49

    Dear Bhaga, Am remiss not replying earlier. It is a terrible thing the Athrabeth was suppressed, but so is it wonderful you have alerted us to the situation now that Christopher Tolkien has stepped down. His father JRR Tolkien should have his wishes followed! Amazing to see a Western writer (Tolkien) suggest through his characters that we humans were never originally born to die; that soul and adhar were originally in harmony; that the restoration will not merely be that, but by some “law” (?) of divine grace, on reset the frame of oneness will somehow be far stronger. The original plan not being followed, will birth a yet more wonderful plan (Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe”). This is very reminiscent of many wonderful matters divulged by the Mother whose birthday is today, and by Sri Aurobindo—did Tolkien read Sanskrit, was he familiar with ancient or less ancient Indian teachings regarding immortality even in body? Your readers may be interested in this file if they want to read the work in question online ( https://thainsbook.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/athrabeth.pdf ) I think this recent turn of events represents a real bridge to bring these ideas to the West, and I’m glad the work is (more?) available now. Immortality is not only breathing beyond the grave. Thank you so much!

    Rick Lipschutz

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    • Bhaga
      Feb 25, 2018 @ 11:59:29

      I am quite grateful to you, dear Rick, for such an excellent comment on my article and the main points it touched! You are adding information to it, and a link that I’ll be happy to go to as soon as this yearly ‘Special Week’ we are having here in Auroville at this time of the year will be over and I get again some extra time for reading…! The fact that this year Auroville’s Birthday on the 28th will be its Fiftieth Birthday, or ‘Golden Jubilee’, with all the many various celebrations you can imagine, doesn’t make things any easier… 😀

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