Edits to female characters

A forum for discussion of Voronwë's book, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion
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Voronwë the Faithful
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Have I "often" made statements like that? I'm not sure that I have. Generally speaking, I do tend to go to the source whenever I can (one reason why I quote Tolkien's letters so often, as well as interviews with Jackson, Boyens, etc.). In any event, I do think that there is a difference between speculating about the symbolic meaning that Jackson et al. intended for the golden statue in DoS, and asserting that Christopher Tolkien intentionally reduced the role of women in The Silmarillion.
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Post by Alatar »

I would say often, yes; and quite forcefully on occasion. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to go searching for examples, but its is certainly my memory that you have often made statements of that kind, and frequently state those opinions categorically, brooking no argument.

I have no problem with opinions strongly held (as I'm sure you're all familiar with me by now!) but I don't understand the need to pretend that those opinions are not held or expressed?
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

It's probably not productive to go back and forth on this, but I would say (again) that it must cases if I stated that I believe that Tolkien, Jackson, et al. believed something, it was based on something that they actually said.
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Post by Passdagas the Brown »

I believe it is possible that CRRT may have exercised a certain level of misogyny while developing the published Sil, though it is equally possible that the reduction of certain female characters was not done deliberately or with misogynist intent.

That's very different than an accusation that CRRT is a misogynist. However, it is still a very provocative statement to make.

Publicly implying even the possibility of misogyny is going to lead to heated debate.
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Post by SirDennis »

axordil wrote:A quick aside: it is entirely possible for an author or editor to do any number of things systematically *and* unconsciously. Any number of times I have looked back at my own work and noticed glaringly obvious trends I was oblivious to while writing and revising.

The result can be more revealing than any consciously inserted notion. And in that light, the vast majority of male (and for that matter, female) writers throughout history have some degree of misogyny lurking in their work, because the cultures in which they were inculcated had it baked into them, not because they consciously chose to wrong their female characters (though that happens too).

So yeah, CJRT, like his dad, like MY dad, had some misogynistic tendencies. This is not a profound observation for someone who grew up in a Western country before, well, now. Whether those tendencies unconsciously shaped the approach taken in culling material for the Sil et al is, as V-man notes, impossible to prove...but why should the Tolkiens be any different in this regard than other mid-century British writers?
This put me in mind of something I wrote about a year ago, elsewhere, on the topic of Tolkien and antisemitism:
It is a bit of stink to single out a person of that time who was careless enough to write for a living, and therefore leave artifacts that more than anything, seem to prove the insidiousness of cultural contamination on the intellect. Such artifacts though, exist as ugly traces more so than they do as evidence of malicious intent. (typos corrected today)
To the topic at hand, in the 5 years I've been reading Sir V I have found that he says precisely what he means to say; he leaves little or no room for misinterpretation... he does not do grey areas. He does not "imply", he either says it or he does not. I am satisfied that he did not suggest CT was misogynist while editing the Sil, or at any other time.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Thank you, Dennis. That means a lot to me!
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Post by Galin »

However, I do maintain that some of the edits that I point to do not fit in the pattern of a systematic reduction of the role of minor characters. For instance, the two removals of the description of Galadriel as "valiant." Or substituting the Quenta passage in which only Ossë teaches the Teleri sea-lore for the Annals text in which both he and Uinen do so, despite the fact that the Annals is the main source for the that portion of that chapter (Chapter 5).
I don't think I've asked this before. If I have sorry, but I seem to recall wanting to and not asking due to the Barrow Downs discussion [by the way I assume you would have been okay with, or much more okay with, more of a 'one shot' response at Barrow Downs, if [possibly very] long, but that still looked at each example raised in AR. Arguably how I should have gone about it then, or maybe I should have just done some gardening rather].

Anyway I was just wondering, and since the thread revived once again: as these examples are for instances can you list all the examples of the some [of the edits] that you refer to here?

I'm not going to comment on any added examples here, if you add any or explain any, and I hope you don't think I'm hounding you again by asking. I'm not looking for an argument [cue Monty Python lines] but I did wonder about the examples, 'in full', that you felt could not fit, or not easily fit, into a minor character reduction.

I really hope I haven't asked before :D
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Hi Galin. :)

I'm not sure if I understand correctly what you are asking. I think what you might be asking is if I could list all of the examples of reductions of the female characters that I give in my book that I don't think would easily fit into a pattern of systematic reduction of minor characters (irregardless of gender). Would that be an accurate description of what you are asking?

If so, I'm not really sure that I could. I never identified a systematic reduction of minor characters; this was a point first brought up by Aelfwine, and then by you. One way to look at it, I suppose, is to look at the specific female characters that I identify and make some kind of subjective determination as to whether they are "minor". My opinion would be that of Uinen, Galadriel, Míriel, Nerdanel, Indis, Ungoliant, Arien, and Nellas only Nellas would be characterized as a minor character (and I'm not sure about her), plus the daughters of Finwë and Indis, and Baragund and Belegund's older sister, Beleth. But even beyond that, I just don't see that as the issue. As I say in the conclusion, while some of these things can be explained otherwise, it is the net result that appears to me to be a significant reduction in the female presence in the book. I do not believe that it is explained by a uniform reduction in minor characters. There was a discussion earlier in the thread about conducting some kind of statistical analysis to see if this could be proven. Statistics are beyond my expertise, and I am doubtful of the efficacy of such an effort, but I suppose it would be possible for someone to take it on.
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Post by Galin »

Yes you understood my question correctly, and thanks for the answer...

... Bronweg :)
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Thank you ... Nalindo. ;)
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Post by Galin »

Heheh, I expected Nalindo... but I still enjoyed it :D
'... and thus said Littleheart the Gongwarden once upon a time: 'Gnome-speech,' said he, 'is enough for me — did not that one Earendel and Tuor and Bronweg my father (that mincingly ye miscall Voronwë) speak it and no other?'

Yet he had to learn the Elfin in the end, or be doomed either to silence or to leave Mar Vanwa Tyalieva — and neither fate would his heart suffer. Lo! now he is chirping Eldar like a lady of the Inwir, even Meril-i- Turinqi our queen herself — Manwë care for her.'

JRRT, The Book of Lost Tales
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Mincingly!
"Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from his halls; and their eyes could see to the depths of the seas, and pierce the hidden caverns beneath the world."
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