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Prose Fragments Following the Lost Tales

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Revision as of 09:29, 22 October 2021 by Quentandil (talk | contribs) (→‎Third fragment: Added link)
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The Shaping of Middle-earth chapters
  1. Prose Fragments
  2. The Earliest 'Silmarillion'
  3. The Quenta
  4. The First 'Silmarillion' Map
  5. The Ambarkanta
  6. The Earliest Annals of Valinor
  7. The Earliest Annals of Beleriand

Prose Fragments Following the Lost Tales is the first chapter of The Shaping of Middle-earth. The fragments were written in unknown dates, in the time between the composition of The Book of Lost Tales and The Earliest 'Silmarillion'.


First fragment

Entitled Turlin and the Exiles of Gondolin, this fragment is narrated by Ilfiniol. This version differs from The Fall of Gondolin in some points: Ulmo wished to help the Gnomes against Melko, but he despaired with them, as all their messengers fail to reach Valinor, so he decides a new plan. After the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, there were kindreds of Men living in Dor-Lómin. There was a kindred called Tunglin or "Folk of the Harp", and Turgon (here Tuor) son of Peleg was one of them. But he liked to dwell alone and the friendship of the Elves. So he departed from his people and dwelt wildly in the mountains, singing in the mists of Mithrim. In one of his wanderings, destiny led him to a hidden cave in the rocks created by the Gnomes, and some of them guided him along the dark passages until he came out into the light.

Tolkien first used the name Turlin, but changed it to Turgon. Christopher is interested in the origins of Tuor's people: they were summoned to the Battle, but too late, which must be connected with the coming of the Easterlings in later versions. This Battle must be in the 'Vale of Ninniach', whose name was later applied to the Cirith Ninniach. The kindred of Tuor is the Folk of the Harp, whereas in the previous and later versions he belonged to the House of the Swan.[1]

Second fragment

The previous fragment finishes there, but the next one continues directly in the same manuscript. This develops the story of the Exile of the Noldoli, that only had been outline in Gilfanon's Tale.

The text begins with Gelmir (here Finwë) speaking to the exiled Gnomes when they arrive to the Great Lands, saying that they do not know what is going to come thereafter, but that even their torments until then will be remembered by all the Elves and even the other Children of Ior. Then the Gnomes dwelt in the northwestern shores for a long time, resting of their anguish. Some of them explored the lands, trying to find Melko and the stolen treasures. Thereafter all the folk moved inland with the armies of Gonfin and Delin ahead. Then the ice of the Earth melted and the Elves began to sing and play harps and pipes, and trees and flowers grew with the sound of their music. Of all those hosts, the most eager was Fëanor's and his Seven Sons.

Then the Gnomes arrived into a land where they discovered nothing, as it was a land covered in mist, so they called it Dor-Lómin. There they rest in the waters of Lake Mithrim, building dwellings in its shores. King Gelmir had three armies under his command: one of swordsmen led by his son Golfin, a second of spears by his son (of another woman) Delin, and a third of bowmen by Lúthien (not the other Lúthien). All banners of the Gnomes were gold and white in memory of the Two Trees, and were wrought by the sons of Fëanor, so with sewed jewels they shone even in the dark: Gelmir's was a crown of gold upon a silver field, Golfin's a silver sword upon gold, Delin's a green beech leaf upon silver diapered with golden flowers, and Lúthien's a golden swallow upon azure field.

However, Fëanor left once with a small company and three of his sons, and they went beyond the hills of Dor-Lómin, beyond north Artanor, and they found a great valley with a red light afar off. While they explored the valley, they found an armed company camped around a fire, and Fëanor yelled at them, asking if they were Elves. Then the clamour of the camped folk broke forth in the vale, and Fëanor knew they were not Elves and ran back swiftly with his men.

The text was abruptly abandoned at this point. Christopher highlights the apparition of the Elven houses, although unrelated with Fëanor and his sons. The relation of Gelmir and the later Finwë is clear: the names are formally related, as Finwë Nóleme had been previously called Fingolma;[2] also, the name of his son Golfin will evolve to Fingolfin, name that will appear for first time also as the son of a Gelmir.[3] Of the other sons of Gelmir (Delin and Lúthien) there is no trace elsewhere.

It is certainly clear that Golfin here is the first appearance of Fingolfin in the legendarium. On the other hand, the obscure matter of the death of Fëanor seems here clarified, as Christopher assumes that the text would continue with the death of Fëanor against the Orcs they found in the vale. Here also appear for first time the ideas of the Gnomes bringing arms from Valinor and the flowers springing beneath the marching hosts.[4]

Third fragment

The third fragment is from an isolated slip of paper, an sketch rethinking the Lost Tale of the Flight of the Noldoli, given here in full:

The Trees stand dark. The Plain is full of trouble. The Gnomes gather by torchlight in Tûn or Côr; Fëanor laments Bruithwir (Felegron) [emended to (Feleor)] his father, bids Gnomes depart & seek Melko and their treasures —he longs for the Silmarils— Finweg & Fingolfin speak against him. The Gnomes shout and prepare to depart. The Solosimpi refuse: the wise words of Ethlon (Dimlint). Foamriders [?beaches]. The threats of Fëanor to march to Cú nan Eilch. The arch, the lamplit quays; they seize the boats. One Gilfanon sees his mighty swanwinged swan-feather boat with red oars [?going] & he & his sons run to the arch and threaten the Gnomes. The fight on the arch & Gilfanon's [?curse] ere they throw him to the waves. The Gnomes reach Fangros & repent — burn the boats.

Like in the Lost Tale, Bruithwir is still the father of Fëanor, but Finweg and Fingolfin appear now in the scene. There are some narratives features that never appear before or after this fragment and Christopher ignores what lay behind them: 'the wise words of Ethlon (Dimlint)' and 'the threats of Fëanor to march to Cú nan Eilch'. The name Fangros appears once elsewhere in The Lay of the Children of Húrin,[5] but there is no clue of what would happen in Fangros. There is also no previous or later trace of the burning of the boats coming from repentance. Here Gilfanon is an Elf of Alqualondë, but Christopher is certain that he cannot be the Gilfanon of Tavrobel.[6]