Tolkien Gateway

Gnomes

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Revision as of 00:52, 7 March 2011

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"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
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The term Gnomes was briefly used in J.R.R. Tolkien's's early work The Book of Lost Tales to describe the race of Elves that would become the Noldor. In those works he borrowed several folkloric names to describe his original creations, like Fae, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres and Goblins.

Contents

Etymology

The word likely comes from genomos "earth-dweller". It has a similarity with Greek γνώσις gnosis "knowledge" which is why Tolkien used it for the wise clan of his Elves (Quenya Ñoldo "the Wise")

Inspiration

A Gnome is a dwarf-like creature of European folklore, often associated with Dwarves and Goblins. Traditional Gnomes however were unlike his depiction of his High Elves, they were imagined as deformed, underground and by the 19th century were depicted dwarf-like.

For that reason Tolkien dropped the term since that would confuse the readers. However other folkloric names would persist, although Tolkien would be unsure for the usage of "Elves" and "Dwarves" (he did replace "Goblin" with "Orcs" after the publication of The Hobbit").

Other versions

At one time, "Gnomes" also referred to the Valar.

References