Defeated, Christopher Tolkien concludes his penetrating analysis
of the evolution of The Lord of the Rings. Part One of
Sauron Defeated treats the history of Book VI, detailing
Frodo's journey into Mordor, arrival at Orodruin, and the destruction
of the Ring; Aragorn's ascendance to the crown; the hobbits' return
to the Shire; and Frodo's departure from Middle-earth. In addition,
Christopher Tolkien presents for the first time an abandoned epilogue,
along with a letter from King Elessar to Samwise.
the drafts of Book VI are not vastly dissimilar to the published
chapters; however, there are a few differences worth noting. The
details of the Ring's destruction, for instance, offer some alternative
glimpses. Though Tolkien devised the essential plan for the scene
at Sammath Naur as early as 1939, he contemplated having Sam sacrifice
himself, pushing Gollum into the Cracks of Doom. He also
pondered having Gollum repent; however, he discarded this as counter
to the Ring's wholly corruptive power. Tolkien also considered
staging a final face-to-face confrontation between Frodo and the
Lord of the Nazgûl to bookend their previous encounter at
Weathertop (obviously drafted before Tolkien conceived of his
end at the hand of Éowyn).
numerous variations in names and dates, there are other, more
salient divergences in the drafts of the closing chapters. For
one, Gandalf accompanies the hobbits all the way to the Brandywine
Bridge. For another, in The Scouring of the Shire, Frodo
plays a more active, aggressive role in combating the ruffians
and Saruman. And indeed, while sketching out the chapter, Tolkien
vacillated over just who Sharkey waswhether the leader of
the ruffians; or the "Boss", Lotho Sackville-Baggins;
or finally, Saruman himself. During the chapter's development,
these questions found their ultimate answers. Sharkey became the
last embodiment of the petty and wasted Saruman, and Frodo receded
to a more secondary role, making good his claim in The Land
of Shadow that, "I do not think it will be my part to
strike any blow again."
of Tolkien's magnum opus reaches its final dénouement with
the hitherto unknown epilogue. Christopher Tolkien presents two
versions, along with three drafts of Aragorn's letter to Sam.
But apart from a sentimental peek at the Gamgees' home life, the
epilogue failed to retain the mood of The Grey Havens,
and Tolkien finally abandoned it. As he wrote to Naomi Mitchison
in April 1954, "An epilogue giving a further glimpse
has been so universally condemned that I shall not insert it."
two parts of Sauron Defeated are concerned with an earlier
overthrow of Sauron. Reaching far back into the Second Age, they
deal with Sauron's corruption of Ar-Pharazôn and with the
ensuing cataclysm that swallowed Númenor forever.
presents a new work, The Notion Club Papers, with which
Tolkien distracted himself while writing The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien evidently began it in 1945-1946 while struggling with
the transition from The Two Towers to The Return of
the King; however, instead of the remote past, Tolkien set
this new work many years in his own future. Yet at the same time,
it taps into the Númenórean legend in quite a novel
Club Papers began as an avenue for Tolkien's ruminations on
the works of his fellow Inklings, particularly Lewis, and caricatures
of the Inklings and their meetings and mannerisms. Christopher
Tolkien offers loose correlations between actual Inklings and
the fictitious Notion Club members, but one should remember that
these were very loose indeed, with traits often redistributed
among the characters, or changed from draft to draft.
insofar as it was developed, consists of two parts, following
the form of secretarial reportage on successive meetings of the
Club. In the first part, members of the Club argue about whether
time and space travel is more or less believable in fiction than
fairies and fantasy. In the second, discussion turns to the topic
of true dreamsthe notion that one can tap into the
distant past (or future) through a kind of extraordinarily deep
dreaming. As Tolkien expounded these ideas, the legend of Númenor
continued to resurface until it essentially took over the narrative,
dragging it away from simple caricature into more serious territory.
In the second
part, two characters emerge as linked to this remote legend. Arundel
Lowdham and Wilfrid Jeremy are revealed to be distant relatives
and contemporary parallels of the pseudo-historical characters
of Ælfwine and his companion, Tréowine, who themselves
are descendents of the Númenóreans Elendil and Voronwë.
And both pairs of companions experience a sort of echo of the
events surrounding the Fall of Númenor-just as the narrative
of The Notion Club Papers itself becomes an echo of another,
earlier work, The Lost Road.
of Sauron Defeated presents additional variations on the
Númenórean legend. First, Christopher Tolkien offers
another version of "The Fall of Númenor," previously
discussed in The Lost Road and Other Writings. Next, he
introduces a parallel story, "The Drowning of Anadûnê,"
written contemporaneously with The Notion Club Papers.
This story represents the Númenórean perspective,
where "The Fall of Númenor" captured the elvish
tradition of the same tale. It also contains striking departures
from the legend's original conception, including confusion between
Aman and Tol Eressëa and ambiguity between the Eldar and
Valar. But rather than a lapse, such disparities between the mannish
and elvish legends, and indeed between drafts of the same legend,
are best construed as a deliberate statement about how such traditions
evolve over time, wearing down to their essentials, the details
erodingin much the same way that words of ancient languages
wear down and erode into present-day forms.
us to "Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language," which
concerns the Númenórean language. Sadly incomplete,
the essay goes little further than a description of phonology
and morphology. Apart from noun declension, the grammar and syntax
are, unfortunately, omitted. Even so, the essay reveals many Adunaic
words and touches on the relationship between Adunaic, Avallonian
(that is to say, Quenya), and Khazadian (Dwarvish).
J.R.R. Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: A Selection. Carpenter,
Humphrey and Christopher Tolkien, Editors. London: George Allen
& Unwin, 1981.
Lord of the Rings. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954-1955.
Lost Road and Other Writings: Language and Legend before 'The
Lord of the Rings'. Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London:
Unwin Hyman, 1987.
Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part
One. Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.
Defeated: The End of the Third Age: (The History of The Lord of
the Rings, Part Four); The Notion Club Papers and The Drowning
of Anadûnê. Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London:
Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Silmarillion. Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London: George
Allen & Unwin, 1977.
Treason of Isengard: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part
Two. Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.
War of the Ring: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three.
Tolkien, Christopher, Editor. London: Unwin Hyman, 1990.
Ælfwine; Eärendil; Saruman; Sauron; Lewis, C.S.; Inklings;
Middle-earth: Men; Valar; Saint Brendan; Mordor; Tol Eressëa;
History, Anglo-Saxon; Mythology for England; Sacrifice; Time Travel;
Dreams; Fall of Man; The Lost Road; The Return of the Shadow;
The War of the Ring; The Treason of Isengard; The Letters of J.R.R.
Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings; The Silmarillion; History
of Middle-earth; Publications, Posthumous; Return of the King.
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