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THE SILMARILLION

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THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:12 pm

Since I am now reading The Silmarillion again (I think this is the sixth or seventh time now), I thought it would be prudent to post a topic discussing the various aspects of the book. For those of you who are fans of Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I strongly advise you to purchase The Silmarillion. It is a wonderful work of fantasy-fiction that rises far above much of the poorly-done modern literature of our day. What is even better about it is that it tells of the beginning of the wonderful world of Middle-earth, and lays the foundation for all of Tolkien's other Middle-earth works. From the creation of the world by Eru Iluvatar (who symbolizes God) to the desolation of Morgoth (who symbolizes, as it were, Satan), this work is a work of art and beauty.

I shall give a review of each chapter here or there to help stimulate discussion about this work. I shall begin with the introductory "chapters" entitled Ainulindale and Valaquenta, respectively; but I will discuss Valaquenta later, after there has been some discussion about Ainulindale.

AINULINDALE
"The Music of the Ainur" is the "translated" meaning of Ainulindale; and this introductory account details the creation of Ea, the World, by Eru Iluvatar, Tolkien's fantasy equivalent of God. It also describes the beautiful work of minstrelsy done by the Ainur, angelic beings created by Iluvatar to rule and fashion the world as His viceregents.

Personally, I loved the parallels that could be made between this Tolkienian "religion" and Christianity. A number of quotes (that I have underlined, I might add) show beautiful correlation between Tolkien's world and our own. Although Tolkien made it explicit that he was not trying to make a Christianized mythology, nevertheless I see the beauty of Christianity keenly interwoven in this "chapter"--and frankly also in most of the other chapters of the book. The pride of Melkor and his dissent against Iluvatar obviously resemble the pride and dissention of Satan against God; and the creation of the World by a simple verbal command from Iluvatar resembles the verbal commands of creation given by God in Genesis. Also, consider the following quote from Iluvatar:

"...no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."

This is a beautiful description of how evil and calamity are but tools used by God in the greater good of the world and in glorifying Himself. Although the Devil and evil men may seek to assail God's purposes, they shall see in the end that they are but unwitting tools used in the devising of "things more wonderful, which [they themselves] hath not imagined."

Even though Iluvatar allows certain Ainur to go down into the world and rule/shape it, I love how he nonetheless makes clear that their actions are but part of his plan, so that though they bring into being many things, everything would have "its uttermost source in me." Again this hearkens to a deep principle of Christianity.




Comment on, my friends!
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Tater on Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:21 pm

Ok, first off, wow... 7 times? I've only read it full maybe once or twice but some of my fav stories in there multiple times. 

And yes, I like how Tolkien so wonderfully depicts everything from the creation, the fall and things like that. 

Btw, I love the how Eru gives the two gifts, one to elves and one to men Smile
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:33 pm

I could read the Silmarillion forty times and not tire of it. Razz

I see the influence of Tolkien's attempt to make a non-Christianized mythology in the giving of the two gifts. Whereas Christianity rightly interprets death as a tragic result of the Fall of Man, Tolkien's world sees death as a gift bestowed on mortals. Somewhat of an odd treatment of the subject of death, but hey, it's mythology. Razz  And I do think that Tolkien's positive treatment of death can be rightly interpreted for a Christian, who knows that death is but a pathway to life eternal with Jesus. Wink

More on death for mortals in future reviews, as I love how Tolkien describes it in certain selections. Very Happy
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Tater on Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:31 pm

I'd love to reread it tha tmany times. Its just really hard to Razz 

Ah. I could see Death as a gift in away, being that once you die your rid of the sinful world. I guess the elves almost simbolize as people before sin? I'm not sure.. THat just came to mind.
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by RandomEncounter on Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:10 pm

I think one of my favorite parts of Tolkien's work is that he WASN'T trying to make a Christian parallel. Don't get me wrong, Chronicles of Narnia was awesome, but oftentimes in works of that sort, I feel like I'm being beaten over the head with "THIS IS LIKE THE BIBLE BUT NOT!!!!!!!" Tolkien's style of writing an independent fantasy series while keeping many Christian-influenced elements feels a lot more like I'm reading a wholesome story than like I'm reading a wacky translation of the Bible. xD

As to the story of the creation of Ea, it's definitely my favorite part of the Silmarillion. I don't think anything else in the book felt as glorious and picturesque as that (though the version I have, with several gorgeous illustrations, makes the story of Valinor rival it).

I have more to say but I really don't feel like talking extensively about metaphors and philosophy and theology right now. Razz
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:45 pm

@Zyph:
I've wondered at times if the Elves almost symbolized Man before the Fall...although some of them did many wicked deeds (I speak almost entirely of the Noldor, particularly Feanor and his wicked sons) they were, for the most part, a fundamentally good people. Furthermore, it is as though Elves are not held as accountable for their iniquities as Men are. For example, the Elves, when they die, do not go to an Elvish purgatory if they did evil. Instead, they go to the halls of Mandos, where after a time of waiting they are actually reincarnated again to walk the world in life. Of course, in Tolkien's mythology, Men didn't necessarily go to a purgatory either (it was not known to the Elves or to the Valar where Men would go after death), but still. Razz

@Supe:
I agree to some extent about enjoying the Silmarillion because it was NOT an exact parallel to the Bible, but I don't exactly like to say so because it borders on the edge of sounding irreverent. The Bible, being (for the Christian) the absolute standard of truth, ought to in some way form the backdrop for a Christian's writing; but I don't think it is in any way irreverent or unholy to pattern one's writing after ancient legends (Tolkien derived much of his inspiration from old European myths) while blending in timeless Christian truth. For example, while Tolkien never quoted Proverbs' warning against pride going before destruction, he nonetheless made it beautifully obvious in his stories (especially in the Silmarillion) that pride ruins people (cf. Feanor, the sons of Feanor, Morgoth, Turgon, Turin, etc.).

And I heartily agree that the Ainulindale is one of the most beautiful parts of the entire work. Its beauty is timeless. Very Happy
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by RandomEncounter on Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:26 pm

It doesn't bother me to say so because you know as well as I that I don't mean it to be irreverent. Razz Sure, the Bible is the best thing of all the things, but I still enjoy hearing a more independent tale, which is probably why I enjoyed the Wheel of Time series so much even though it was spattered with a bit more content than LoTR.

Also, I would say that the thing about the Silmarillion that fascinates me more than any other part is the singing, and how all the "magic" that took place in that age took place through song. I find it interesting that in the Third Age, there doesn't seem to be any singing going on as far as magic goes, just for fun; and yet in the First Age, and even the Ainulindale, song apparently holds a great amount of power. Luthien used song to put Morgoth's entire court to sleep, at one point.
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:29 pm

Am I totally sending the conversation off by screaming, "Aure entuluva!" at the top of my lungs and jumping up and down over the Fifth Battle?
Yes? Okay, I'll wait. Razz 

By yes, the singing is epicness. Cheezy Grin

Come on, Scare, move on to the next part!  My favourite sections are further in. Very Happy

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Tater on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:40 pm

Scare: Wait.... The elves were reincarnated? I wasn't aware of this

And yes, the Noldor. Twas really interesting how that was all portrayed. 

Kayla: What was your faviort parts of the Silmarillion?
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:01 pm

@Supe:
Yeah, I really like how Tolkien expressed the power of music in this book. Music really does have power spiritually, and Tolkien super-magnified this truth, it seems, by making Music be, as it were, the means by which even the World was created.
I wonder if songs had more power when sung by Elves? When Mortals sing, even in the Silmarillion, nothing seems to happen; but when a Elf of special powers sings, then magic is unleashed.

@Zyph:
Yeppers, tis a fact about reincarnation. It was mentioned briefly in the chapter entited "Of the Beginning of Days"; and after talking about the place where Finrod Felagund was buried, Tolkien ends with "but Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar." Tolkien seems to imply, however, that not all Elves who died necessarily are reincarnated. Some are, and some are not, is almost the impression I get. I also seem to infer that when/if an Elf is reincarnated can be traced to the Elf's deeds in life. For example, the dark-hearted Feanor is prophesied to be reincarnated, but only near the end of the world. He probably had to wait that long because of all his evil words/deeds in life.

---

Since the discussion on the Ainulindale seems to have ceased, let us move on to the second introductory "chapter," the Valaquenta, which discusses the nature of the Valar, the Maiar, and the Enemies.

Personally, I really like this selection because it gives a decent overview of all the divine beings one encounters in the Silmarillion; and it gives the origins of three characters seen in LOTR: Gandalf (Olorin), Sauron, and the Balrogs. In LOTR, one does not exactly know where Gandalf came from (save that he admits in the Two Towers that he came from the West) or who he was or what he was; and the same with Sauron and the Balrogs. To find out that Gandalf is actually an incarnated Olorin, a Maia of great wisdom, gives you even greater respect for his character. To find out that Sauron is actually only a Maia (not a Vala) and that he was the pupil of the FIRST dark lord Morgoth enlightens you to his true beginnings. As for the Balrogs (aka Valaraukar), Tolkien clearly implies that these also were Maia, though apparently not as powerful as Sauron. However, just as Olorin's powers were more restrained when he was incarnated as Gandalf, and just as Melian's powers were more restrained when she incarnated herself to become the wife of Thingol, so it may be that the Balrogs' true powers were greater but were restrained by their taking physical form.

Thoughts, anyone? Razz
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Captain Pie on Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:29 pm

I think that most spirits, such as the Maiar and Valar, are definitely constrained by their transformation into a physical form, or hröa as it were. Its heavily implied that the fëa of a mortal or immortal entity reaches higher potency than the capabilities of their corporal bodies (especially seen in Melkor's frequent transformations that strain his power and he ends up being confined to his terrible form due to wasting his spirit's power on the physical reality).

So yes, I  definitely agree that the physical forms of most every being in middle earth constrains the fëa's true power. I think its a very interesting concept, because while in most circumstances a person's fëa can't be fully tapped into, many characters channel their spiritual potency in many things (such as Sauron and the Ring, Melian and the Girdle, Galadriel and the timeless effect of Lothlorien).
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Tater on Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:35 am

Scare: 

Feanor reincarnated? Man. That'd be a bad time xD 

And yes, that chapter by far one of my favs. I love how the Valar are discribed. 

I actaully don't recall where and when the Balrogs are said to be Maia, anyone know where that is? Cause I didn't actaully know that till like last year *facepalm* Razz
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:45 pm

Kayla:
   Mah handy-dandy Index showed me where. Very Happy 
Here's from the Valaquenta:


J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:"For of the Maiar many were drawn to [Melkor's] splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness....Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs..."

Captain,
   I agree, too.
  Also, you're going to have to explain your signature, before seeing Thranduil as Galadriel freaks me out entirely. LOL

Anyway!

I'm in the slow process of reading the Silmarillion for the third time (only the third, LOL).  Not much time to read, but I'll definitely have more comments as I go on! Very Happy

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:29 pm

@Cap'nPie:

I agree. Tolkien did a good job with the spiritual-physical contrasts and interactions. It made the world somewhat unique, and in addition it further highlighted both the gap and the bridge between the natural and the supernatural.

And I concur with Dalu, your new signature is terribly unnerving. Razz


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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Bone-Appeteet on Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:25 pm

I JUST CLICKED CUZ I LOVE CHOCOLATE AND SILMARILLION SOUNDED SHINY.

*rolls away on a tuna-cycle eating a tasty muffin*
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:14 pm

Oh, wait, I want to point out something I guess I didn't catch the first two times I read the book.
 I thought it was so cool that Iluvatar made snow out of Melkor's ice and clouds and rain out of his fire, and so, through Melkor's evil designs, made water more beautiful than anyone had imagined.  

Bone,
  We have chocolate truffles every Wednesday in this book club.

BUT

You have to read the book to get them. Suspect

Oh, and I know this is a quote about LOTR, but I found it funny and applicable to the Silmarillion:


Tolkien wrote:"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:57 pm

I love that Tolkien quote! Razz
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:22 pm

C'mon, move us on, Scare! Very Happy  I think we're ready for more stuff to discuss. Very Happy

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Bone-Appeteet on Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:38 pm

Like like your sister's addiction to glitter.
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by George the Fedora on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:19 pm

I've barely read any, so I'm not really qualified to even be in this topic. Razz

I finished maybe the first section... I should read more when iI get home. It's pretty interesting so far, though.
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:53 pm

What's your favourite part of the first section?

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by George the Fedora on Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:55 am

It would definitely have to be Ilúvatar creating everything through music. I love that imagery.

Also, that bit when the other Ainur keep taking the evil things Melkor creates and turning them back into beautiful things.
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Lone-Star on Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:48 am

IT'S SPACEDUDE!!!!!

Welcome to the discussion, old friend! Very Happy

^^
Ditto to your comments on the first section. Tolkien was a genius for using beautiful imagery and symbolism. Wink I have a number of quotes underlined in the first section, I like it so well.

Have you read the selection on the various beings encountered in the Silmarillion?
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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by Dalu on Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:46 pm

Scare:
  Don't forget to take us to the next chapter!

*is waiting eagerly to get to the creation of the Dwarves*

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Re: THE SILMARILLION

Post by George the Fedora on Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:22 am

I'm halfway done the book, now. As soon as I'm finished, I'm going to re-read it a little more thoroughly. I tend to speed-read things somewhat- I read most of the book in like two hours. Razz
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