Tolkien Gateway

Tolkien Gateway:Canon

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'''Canon''' is a concept which cannot be uniformly applied to [[J.R.R. Tolkien]]'s [[legendarium]]. As [[Wayne G. Hammond]] put it,
==Canon and Tolkien Gateway==
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{{Blockquote|[...] there are Tolkien's latest thoughts, his best thoughts, and his published thoughts and these are not necessarily the same.|[[Wayne G. Hammond]] in ''[[Tolkien's Legendarium|Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth]]''<ref>[[Wayne G. Hammond]], "A Continuing and Evolving Creation", in ''[[Tolkien's Legendarium]]'', ed. by [[Verlyn Flieger]] and [[Carl F. Hostetter]] (New York: Greenwood Press, 2000)</ref>}}
For the sake of consistency, in this encyclopedia ''The Hobbit'' and ''The Lord of the Rings'' are considered fully canon, but the status of ''The Silmarillion'' and other posthumous writings is more complex. In general, ''The Silmarillion'' and ''Unfinished Tales'' are treated as canon, but corrections published in ''The History of Middle-earth'' generally take precedence. Late writings by Tolkien published in ''The History of Middle-earth'' that do not contradict more established texts are also generally treated as canon.
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This choice of canon means that this encyclopedia includes a number of corrections to the information in ''The Silmarillion'' as published. For example, the article on Gil-galad states that he is the son of Orodreth, the article on [[Amras]] mentions his death in the burning of the ships of the Teleri, and [[Argon]], [[Findis]] and [[Irimë]] have articles of their own. Details of the history of the [[Nauglamír]] and the fall of [[Doriath]] are treated as uncertain, and the story of the ''[[Wanderings of Húrin]]'' is accepted as accurate. Information on earlier or alternate versions of the stories is provided when possible.
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A consistent Tolkien "[[canon]]" could only exist if a group or an individual decided what should be considered "canon" and what should not. For [[Tolkien Gateway]] editors to make such judgements would be for them to portray their own views on such matters, thus violating the principles of an encylopedia. The search of objectivity can only reveal that Tolkien's thoughts on particular concepts changed over the course time for various reasons.
===On Canon and Mythology===
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[[Image:Catherine Chmiel - Boromir Lothiriel Imrahil.jpg|thumb|right|220px| ''Boromir, Lothiriel, and Imrahil'' by [[Catherine Chmiel]]]]In treating Tolkien's work as a derived mythology, it must be taken into account that the material presented is done so in such a manner that it represents only one possible telling of a story. While the readers of Tolkien often take all of the material as being a "factual" accounting of what transpired in the various ages of Middle-earth, it must be remembered that he himself knew that he was constructing a mythology. As such, different versions of a story could be held as true by various peoples or tellers of those myths.
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Thus, Bilbo's account of ''The Hobbit'' may be coloured by his perceptions and personality; while Frodo, Sam, and the other hobbits' accounts in ''The Lord of the Rings'' will have a completely different feel and quality to them. Tolkien may not have been completely conscious of this at the time of the earliest conceptions of his writings. But later in life, when he had begun to explore the more distant and remote past of Middle-earth and the various themes that run through it, he was almost certainly aware of this.  
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There are many famous inconsistencies in Tolkien's personal writings. For instance, while working on his legendarium Tolkien considered two very different accounts of the origins of [[Celeborn]]. In one version he was a [[Sindar|kinsman]] of [[Thingol]] living in [[Doriath]], where he met [[Galadriel]].<ref>{{S|Return}}; {{UT|Concerning}}</ref> In another writing Celeborn was a [[Falmari|Teler]] of [[Alqualondë]], where he met Galadriel.<ref>{{UT|Concerning}}</ref> Since neither of those versions was established in his published works during Tolkien's lifetime, Tolkien Gateway should favour neither version of events and both should be presented and explained to the reader.
  
When looked at in this light, it is quite easy to reconcile the various versions of the stories and canon of Tolkien's work as being simply the cultural variations of the peoples of Middle-earth in their retelling of these stories.
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It should be noted that the Tolkien Gateway's old policy was to attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in order to produce a consistent canon.<ref>{{webcite|articleurl=http://tolkiengateway.net/w/index.php?title=Tolkien_Gateway:Canon&oldid=173953|articlename=Tolkien Gateway:Canon|dated=4-Nov-2011|website=[http://tolkiengateway.net/ Tolkien Gateway]|accessed=8-Aug-2012}}</ref> The content of many articles will still reflect this old policy whilst they await a [[:Category:Articles to be rewritten|rewrite]].
  
===Canon status of various writings===
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==Policy==
While readers often differ in their opinions of which writings to treat as canon, this encyclopedia uses the following choices:
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A new canon policy was agreed at [[Tolkien Gateway]]'s [[Tolkien Gateway:Meetings/1 July 2012|July 2012 meeting]].
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*Tolkien Gateway editors should not judge what is canon and what is not.
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*Where there are inconsistencies, this should be explained in the content of the article. This discussion should be placed in a "canonicity" section.
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*Only concepts not created by Tolkien (i.e. those made up in adaptations) should be considered "non-canon". [[Template:Adaptation]] should be applied to these articles.
  
*''[[The Hobbit]]'' (third edition &#8212; canon, author's final intent)
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{{References}}
*''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'' (second edition &#8212; canon, author's final intent)
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*''[[The Adventures of Tom Bombadil]]'' (preface is canon, poems are treated as Hobbit folklore)
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*''[[The Road Goes Ever On (book)|The Road Goes Ever On]]'' (poems, thus irrelevant to the canon question)
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*''[[Bilbo's Last Song]]'' (poems, thus irrelevant to the canon question)
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*''[[The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien]]'' (canon when not in conflict with later writings)
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*''[[The Silmarillion]]'':
 
**''[[Ainulindalë (chapter)|Ainulindalë]]'' (canon, author's final intent)
 
**''[[Valaquenta]]'' (canon, author's final intent)
 
**''[[Quenta Silmarillion]]'' (mostly canon, except for editing errors and where contradicted by later writings)
 
**''[[Akallabêth]]'' (canon, author's final intent; note that Christopher Tolkien has removed references to [[Ælfwine]])
 
**''[[Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age]]'' (canon, author's final intent)
 
*''[[Unfinished Tales]]'' (mostly canon, except where specifically contradicted by later writings or noted as contradictory in the text)
 
*''[[The History of Middle-earth]]'' (some parts are canon, especially late writings &mdash; but see individual parts)
 
 
Grey points are concepts such as [[Enerdhil]], [[Pengolodh]] or [[Ælfwine]]; the latter was a joint point between real history with Tolkien's legendarium, and existed for the most part of Tolkien's conceptual progress until even in Tolkien's late works and personal writings; Christopher Tolkien removed all references to him in the published ''[[The Silmarillion|Silmarillion]]'' and for this reason he is considered non-canon by some readers although it's debatable whether Tolkien also dropped him.
 
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[[Category:Tolkien Gateway]]

Latest revision as of 10:00, 9 August 2012

Canon is a concept which cannot be uniformly applied to J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. As Wayne G. Hammond put it,

[...] there are Tolkien's latest thoughts, his best thoughts, and his published thoughts and these are not necessarily the same.
Wayne G. Hammond in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth[1]

A consistent Tolkien "canon" could only exist if a group or an individual decided what should be considered "canon" and what should not. For Tolkien Gateway editors to make such judgements would be for them to portray their own views on such matters, thus violating the principles of an encylopedia. The search of objectivity can only reveal that Tolkien's thoughts on particular concepts changed over the course time for various reasons.

There are many famous inconsistencies in Tolkien's personal writings. For instance, while working on his legendarium Tolkien considered two very different accounts of the origins of Celeborn. In one version he was a kinsman of Thingol living in Doriath, where he met Galadriel.[2] In another writing Celeborn was a Teler of Alqualondë, where he met Galadriel.[3] Since neither of those versions was established in his published works during Tolkien's lifetime, Tolkien Gateway should favour neither version of events and both should be presented and explained to the reader.

It should be noted that the Tolkien Gateway's old policy was to attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in order to produce a consistent canon.[4] The content of many articles will still reflect this old policy whilst they await a rewrite.

[edit] Policy

A new canon policy was agreed at Tolkien Gateway's July 2012 meeting.

  • Tolkien Gateway editors should not judge what is canon and what is not.
  • Where there are inconsistencies, this should be explained in the content of the article. This discussion should be placed in a "canonicity" section.
  • Only concepts not created by Tolkien (i.e. those made up in adaptations) should be considered "non-canon". Template:Adaptation should be applied to these articles.

[edit] References

  1. Wayne G. Hammond, "A Continuing and Evolving Creation", in Tolkien's Legendarium, ed. by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter (New York: Greenwood Press, 2000)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  4. "Tolkien Gateway:Canon" dated 04 November 2011, Tolkien Gateway (accessed 08 August 2012)