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Reviewer: Himring Signed [Report This]
Date: January 05, 2018 - 01:49 am
Title: Elemmírë

That's interesting, Oshun!

I think I remember how the tide turned in fandom on Elemmire's gender. I wrote a fic in March 2012 involving E. as a minor character. At the time, I was travelling without access to the books, so I used online resources, especially Tolkien Gateway, which indicated that E. was male, and my impression at the time was that in fic E. was generally male, too.

By June 2013, when I cross-posted the same fic to AO3, the majority of recent fic had written E. as female and I commented on it. The Tolkien Gateway article had been rewritten in the meantime. Ncfan responded to my comment and confirmed my memory that TG had previously stated that E. was male and also said that she had been writing E. as female for longer than the recent trend, however.

I speculated at the time that maybe Christopher Tolkien had used a default male pronoun somewhere in his comments, but in fact when I looked I couldn't spot any such use, so the earlier assumption of male gender does not seem to be due to him.

Many of the fics featuring female Elemmire are femslash (because obviously for femslash writers it's especially useful to have a minor named female canon character who is not closely related to any of the major named female canon characters), but by no means all; for instance Dawn has written Elemmire as female but heterosexual.

I've seen Elemmire written as non-binary, as well.

Author's Response:

The interesting thing to me is that Tolkien never uses a gender related pronoun with the ambiguous name. It clearly was not as important to him as it is to contemporary fanfic writers.  I prefer to write Nerdanel with red hair also. I don't find the discussion very interesting in terms of canon. I do find it interesting in terms of fanfic writers and changing creative preferences over time. Fanon reflects who we are creatively as fanfic writers at any given moment in time. Canon tells us who Tolkien was. The fact is that despite his lack of female representation and paucity of role models for young women, he did engage our hearts and minds on a human level. I just today ran across a citation by Marion Zimmer Bradley which makes the point that although there are no women in Tolkien (OK some, but not enough!) that "Tolkien's books have an immense emotional power to mobilize these dormant archetypes of the psyche," less so relating to romance and sexual love than any other area. Most readers I know find Maedhros/Fingon a sexier story than Arwen/Aragorn or Beren/Luthien and for a robust femslash love story one must invent one's own out of the whole cloth. So it is no wonder that writers will shape and mold characters to their own needs when making creative use of Tolkien's canon.

Reviewer: Lordnelson100 Signed [Report This]
Date: January 02, 2018 - 07:49 pm
Title: Ancalagon the Black

What a delightful and learned essay upon dragons--and many other things, from eucatastrophe to Tolkien's dismay over allegory as a mode to the insight that in the author's earliest recollection of story-making, a fascination with both dragons, and language, are present.

Author's Response:

What a wonderful comment. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed it. I actually had a lot of fun writing this one. (Some of these are more entertaining for the writer than others.)

Reviewer: IgnobleBard Signed [Report This]
Date: December 03, 2017 - 07:03 pm
Title: Ancalagon the Black

First off, please forgive me for taking so long to read this. I've been dying to do so since my birthday but haven't been able to be on my computer due to an injury. I'm also honored and humbled that you dedicated this to me. I really love dragons, maybe not quite as much as Tolkien but a lot, and this bio is the best information about Ancalagon I've seen yet.

The size question is particularly interesting as people seem fascinated with pinning down the details on these mythical creatures, which makes for a great thought experiment, but also diminishes the magic of the tales, at least in my mind. I can visualize the battle to a point but I can't wrap my head around how Earendil, even with a Silmaril and a host of great eagles, managed to bring down something that big. 

I also liked how you compared and contrasted Ancalagon the Black with Tolkien's other dragons. I thought the flying dragons were the biggest threat, but Glaurung was the worst of all. Tolkien always manages to twist expectations.

I enjoyed this immensely and will be referencing it often so thanks for this one.

Author's Response:

Awww! I was not trying to bully you into reading it! I know you have been injured and in pain! I was only teasing. It also looks a lot like that little baby black dragon you sent Alex! Thank you so much! It was a lot of fun writing it and I was thinking about you so much while I wrote it. I hope you are feeling better every day! I know how it feels, because I had that exact same shoulder injury! Nothing is worse. Everything one tries to do hurts!


Reviewer: Grundy Signed [Report This]
Date: November 02, 2017 - 06:09 am
Title: Ancalagon the Black

Well done!

I had wondered before reading how you would manage to get more than a few paragraphs for Ancalagon when he really only 'appears' twice, plus that passing mention by Gandalf in LotR. In fact, I wonder if his lack of characterization isn't more to do with that - he only gets a few sentences in canon, and no conversation. Smaug and Glaurung both had much more 'screen time' to develop personality, and both had actual conversation. Glaurung shows up twice in battle, and gets beaten both times. I find it interesting that he's ultimately brought down by a combination of ainur, elves, and men- the eagles led by Thorondor plus Eärendil with his Silmaril (the work of an elf). Oh, and the line about Ancalagon dropping onto Thangorodrim and exploding like a nuclear bomb is excellent. That's my mental picture now: Ancalagon going up in a mini-mushroom cloud. :)

I love the section on Tolkien and dragons. Such excellent background. And the section on the size of Ancalagon/end of the War of Wrath leads to me thinking about the destruction of Beleriand, which will probably lead in time to more fic...

Thanks for your excellent work here!

Author's Response:

Aww! Thanks! What a wonderful comment!

I actually did a lot of preparatory research for this one, but I wrote it really fast. The more I work on these bios the more I see even rare characters repeated in the legendarium, the details from the Silmarillion and other earlier works running like veins of ore through a wall of rock that is The LotR, for example. He might have forgotten details at times or changed his mind back and forth, but whenever he was writing something new he was carrying that entire back-story along with him. So one, reading the stuff often, enough is going to find many references in LotR or The Hobbit that one did not notice for years.

I do think Tolkien wanted him to be very, very big! But readers and artists often take big too far--like those works of art with Fingolfin confronting a Morgoth who is 10-20 times his size. I figure the physical manifestation in that case would be maybe less than twice Fingolfin's height! That's just me--bigger than that and it is no fun anymore--I like the part that Fingolfin actually hurt him and there was a contest not just giant steps on an ant! Those dragons, on the other hand, could be pretty big--is Ancalagon the size of a large airplane? or the size of small planet? I can't be drawn into that discussion with the scanty amount of information that Tolkien gave us. You are so right that Ancalagon has no personality. Smaug and Glaurung both were able to use subtilty and psychological manipulation, but Ancalagon is more like a giant hammer. But they fought all night to take him out. Again there was a contest.

Reviewer: Lyra Signed [Report This]
Date: September 07, 2017 - 06:51 am
Title: Anárion Son of Elendil

I'm so happy you chose Anárion for this month's bio - for entirely selfish reasons, I have to admit! The whole succession drama has always been a source of confusion to me, since obviously Isildur is the elder son of Elendil, and while I understand that Arnor is not Gondor, the amount of hostility Denethor (and some readers) show for the claim of the line of Isildur to the throne has been puzzling. So thank you for unravelling that particular knot.

Of course, I also have to admit that I tend to overlook Anárion in the shadow of his brother - Isildur gets to do all the interesting/stupid stuff, from stealing a fruit of Nimloth to claiming the One Ring, so Anárion rather pales in comparison! So it's good to have the facts about him put together to show that he's not entirely boring, either. ;)

In conclusion, thank you for another helpful and elucidating bio!

Author's Response:

I cannot believe that I read this comment and did not respond! Thank you so much! I wrote it for exactly the reasons that you say you were happy to read it. I did get a bit of an understanding about dispute when I wrote the character bio of Arvedui. I never have understood and still don't why people wanted to deny Isildur his right, unless it was some punitive reaction to him hanging onto the Ring. (Denethor, of course, had a plausible reason! Not a good one, but an understandable one.) People in the LotR need to read more about Isildur. He was never the black and white villain of Peter Jackson's films. I even heard in suggested it my earliest LotR fandom encounters that Elrond should have murdered him! OOC for Elrond and not Tolkien secret wish either!! Wow! A cursory reading of LotR and multiple viewings of the film triology resulted in a lot of funny positions in fandom back in its heyday. (Not that people do not think my interpretations of the Noldor are odd. At least I can support them from various versions of the legendarium.)

Thanks for reading. Forgive me for forgetting to respond!

Reviewer: just_jenni Signed [Report This]
Date: August 18, 2017 - 06:52 am
Title: Haldad

How interesting!  There is quite a bit I didn't remember about the Haladin although I read both the Silm and Unfinished Tales in their entirety.  But I couldn't remember anything about the Druedain people!  

Thanks for such a thorough and compelling account of these people.  You are right that Haleth's meeting with Caranthir is one of the heart-throbbing stories that a lot of fans fell in love with. (Including me.)

Author's Response:

Oh, wow! Thank for the lovely comment. I missed this somehow, because I always get notifications for comments from the SWG.

I kind of slid over the Druedain in past readings. Don't know why because they are really interesting.

Haleth's meeting with Caranthir is one of the heart-throbbing stories that a lot of fans fell in love with. (Including me.)

Same here! One of the initial Silm stories that pulled me into reading Silm fic (after Fingon and Maedhros).

Reviewer: Robinka Signed [Report This]
Date: August 11, 2017 - 06:03 am
Title: Haldad

Well, while it's nice to see a daughter more famous than her father for a change, Haldad is a hero in his own right. Thank you for this great bio and bringing up a somewhat forgotten character up to the front row :)

Greatly done!

Author's Response:

Thank you, Binka. So happy you were able to read it and left a comment. I enjoyed working on it. I've been writing Haleth this past two months--two short stories, one for last month's challenge and finishing the other today. I couldn't bear to pry myself out of the history of the Haladin, so I chose Haldad. He was rewarding and a help with the second story as background. I hoped other readers and writers would find it useful.

Thanks again for the comment!

Reviewer: Grundy Signed [Report This]
Date: August 06, 2017 - 04:52 pm
Title: Haldad

Nice character biography. Well done, Oshun!

(I never noticed before that we could leave comments on character biographies. Now that I know...)

Author's Response:

Thanks!! I love to know that people read them. For a long while a comment here was rare indeed. But in more recently years less rare (I others discovered one could review), but they are always gratefully accepted! It's a fair amount of work under a tightish deadline--not that I don't push it until it screams every month.

Reviewer: Hrymfaxe Signed [Report This]
Date: August 06, 2017 - 11:19 am
Title: Haldad

I have a Haleth bug these days, so this bio was very interesting! :D Thank you again for your continued effort in these.

Author's Response:

Awww! Thanks! Yes, me too. Writing the second part of a Haleth story right now (they are one-shots, but dovetail one another).

Reviewer: Himring Signed [Report This]
Date: August 06, 2017 - 12:47 am
Title: Haldad

He is quite a hero himself, Haldad, isn't he? Organizing that retreat and getting the stockade up under those circumstances must have been quite a feat.

The bit where they throw themselves into the river in despair always makes me really sad when I come across it.

Author's Response:

Thanks! Although I am making a lot of assumptions. I can't imagine what Tolkien is visualizing when he says "retreated to the angle of land between Ascar and Gelion [rivers], and in the utmost corner he built a stockade across from water to water." They really stumped me when I got to it. I actually spent hours looking at pictures of wooden so-called stockades and defensive structures on rivers--they varied from log forts which seemed almost like small villages to one-sided barricades of standing logs. I'm glad if it sounded like I knew what Tolkien meant, but I don't even now!!

I thought it was a lot of fun to observe that Haleth was the "big name" and her father and brother were the ones mentioned in passing. That was typical-Tolkien flipped on his head! There is something about this people which is reminiscent of certain cultures among indigenous peoples of the Americas. As usual, I get to the deadline for publication and wish I had a month or two!

Reviewer: Robinka Signed [Report This]
Date: July 18, 2017 - 10:12 am
Title: Erellont

Gotta say I don't think I've ever really registered this character's name. Bad me ;) But, the bio by you brings Erellont out of the shadows, so he can poke me in the shoulder and say, now, Binka, you should really do your homework. Those 'one-sentence' characters can be pesky like that ;)

Excellent job, Oshun!

Author's Response:

Thanks so much, Binka! Enjoyed thinking about that one sentence and trying to figure out how it went with the whole story.

Reviewer: Lyra Signed [Report This]
Date: July 05, 2017 - 10:21 am
Title: Erellont

I didn't know there was any controversy about Erellont's ethnicity! Somehow I've always assumed that Eärendil's companions would be mortal, since such a point is made of Eärendil going alone to spare the others the wrath of the Valar (which, one presumes, would fall less heavily on Elves, even Noldorin Elves, since Idril seems to have been let in without a fuss earlier)! You learn something new every day. Anyway, thank you for another enlightening bio of a character so minor that it's hard to find any information on them! It must be such a thankless task to do the research on them, but they're serious life-savers when for some reason, one suddenly needs to know more about them. ^^

Author's Response:

Awww! Thanks so much! I have to admit I tackled this one with minimal curiosity and then got interested when I started collecting the facts. It only seems thankless when no one reads or reviews. (Although people do over time! Read them anyway!)

Reviewer: Lyra Signed [Report This]
Date: July 05, 2017 - 10:17 am
Title: Amárië of the Vanyar

I wonder which kind of bio is harder to write - those where there are incredible amounts of information on a character (like, say, Galadriel) but at least it's well-documented, or those where there is next to nothing. I'm particularly grateful for the latter sort, like this one, for the most selfish reasons: If you've already done the research, I don't have to! It must be particularly gruelling when there are only one or two throwaway lines about a character, like Amárië, and you have to be doubly careful to find them. Much gratitude, therefore, for having done that work! And thank you for unearthing Darth Fingon's observations about the name; these linguistic tidbits give me so much joy!

Author's Response:

Thanks so much!

I think the ones with very few references are the scariest ones. Because I am afraid I will miss one of three or four mentions. When a character is referenced in the Silm, LotR, and all over HoMe, I am not worried if I do not catch every single mention and I even tell the readers at times that I do not plan to addess every single dispute or preference. But with the short ones, missing any makes one look like a lazy creature.

Reviewer: hennethgalad Signed [Report This]
Date: June 24, 2017 - 01:54 am
Title: Erellont

eloquently expresses 'who knows ?'

seriously though, i use these biographies all the time when i'm writing, they are clear, concise, trustworthy, well-documented and kindly. both intelligible and intelligent.

i mean, who in arda is Erellont ?

but putting him into the context of his life gives a much better understanding of his likely point of view and allegiances, and now i'm really curious to know 'the truth' and 'what really happened' and i'd never heard of him before aargh this is all your fault

Author's Response:

Thanks! I know--Erellont! You never know when you might across a need for him. I get a kick out of dredging up characters that I struggle to find something to say about. They can't all be the chatacter that ate three months of my life. I am so happy you find these useful. I learn a lot writing them.

Reviewer: Tomour Signed [Report This]
Date: June 21, 2017 - 04:49 pm
Title: Tuor

Thank you to Oshun for this excellent biography.  It is as complete as possible and insightful.  One question I wonder about is why Tolkien contrasted Huor with Hurin, Tuor with Turin, and what it meant that Tuor saw Turin in that one sad moment.  

I have always been amazed that Tuor got to see one of the gods, and yet still had to live on in fear and doubt and struggle.  It is a fine point that destiny, the dooms of Mandos, have cracks but we must wor t follow our call through them.  This biography holds up these themes without overly speculating on them.  

It was because of a lack of a bography of Tuor like this one that I began writing about his life. I wanted to put the whole arc of his story in one place.  Instead, I got caught in the details of the first part of his life.

This biography will help me in furture writing.  Good job.

Peace to You.

Author's Response:

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I enjoyed writing that bio tremendously. I learned an enormous amount about Tuor and about his how beautifully it fits into the board fabric of The Silmarillion.

I've always thought, which I think I hinted at in the bio, that Tolkien liked the balance of the stories of the two families and the links between them, the ways in which they were similar and then ways in which they were different, without explicity connecting all the dots. I think the sighting of Turin by Tuor is intended as a strong and emotional moment for the reader--deepening of both stories by its inclusion. In that scene the reader is the observer while the two cousins do not realize how close they come to actually meeting one another. I am not trying to make something out of it that is not there. As Tolkien has said he dislikes allegorical interpretations of his work. His desire is to tell a moving tale, which the reader may inhabit and fill with meaning. He wants us to immerse ourselves into the world within which these tales occur. The more successful he is at that, the more he has accomplished his purpose.

He answered a lot of readers questions about his work, but the spirit in the writing of it was that not all questions have an answer, nor does he want them to--all worlds are filled with unanswered questions and lost answers as well.

In On Fairy Stories Tolkien says:

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost.

I'm no fun at all. I like to give each reader the space for his own imagination and needs, while providing him with more small details to use to fill out that world. I don't try very hard to hide my own opinions, quite the opposite, in general I hope they are transparent.




Reviewer: Himring Signed [Report This]
Date: June 03, 2017 - 03:58 am
Title: Erellont


I suppose the three mariners could have been each of different origin--that would sort of match the logic by which Earendil is supposed to be able to represent everyone to the Valar due to his mixed heritage.

Thank you for this bio!

Author's Response:

Thank you for reading, Himring! I was speaking to a old discussion actually I stumbled upon which debates whether the companions were Elves or Men. Just entertaining myself! The idea that they are Elves of three disparate people's united in exile is a very appealing one indeed. (Reminds me of Keiliss's wonderful stories with Gil-galad, et al., set in Sirion and on Balar before the War of Wrath. Which, of course, reminds a little of living in Brooklyn.)

Reviewer: Dawn Felagund Signed [Report This]
Date: June 02, 2017 - 06:30 pm
Title: Erellont

I want to thank you again for this. It is really well written and covers all the essentials that someone would need to know about this obscure character. (On a personal note, I think this was the easiest one in years to edit/code! I realized while making the PDF that that is because it only has ten references!) I feel like characters like this are deceptively simple: There's not a lot about them in the texts, but that means that the context in which they exist is all the more important, and you always do a really great job of deciding what is important to include to locate that character in the story for a newcomer to the Silm or a writer tackling a character for the first time. Again ... awesome job. I am so thankful for all you do for us!

Author's Response:

Thanks! That is really nice of you to say. I am grateful that you give me a bully pulpit. I try to make the bios just a little "extra"--one can look up the basic facts up in a lot of random places, including the indice at the end of the HoMe books! But I like to give them a context. Also, being the busy-body that I am, I like to try to respond to ongoing discussions I stumble across. Even this guy--one of those you'd call perfect for a Tolkien trivia game--has stirred up differences of opinion.

On the number of references: I think the least footnotes I've had in one of these is around 10 and the longest ones have had between 60 to 70 footnotes.

I know I whine a lot to my friends, but I do like doing these. It's satisfying to unsnarl one. I wish I could allow myself more time on them, but I need the whip of the deadline to make me work.

And thank you again!

Reviewer: just_jenni Signed [Report This]
Date: May 08, 2017 - 10:01 am
Title: Barahir

Great essay as usual.  I particularly like the Beorians although the people of Haleth remain my favourites from the world of Men. (These are few because I love the Elves best.)  But Beor's people saved Finrod, and I love them for that.

You have a wonderful way of making the characters in your biographies seem so real - they just jump off the page.

Author's Response:

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I have to give Tolkien credit for making them "jump of the page." The Silmarillion has a lot of great character portraits while lacking the novelist tone that would call one's attention to it more strongly. But it is there! It has been a constant surprise to me to find how clearly he paints a lot of characters--others not so much!

Reviewer: mithrial Signed [Report This]
Date: May 07, 2017 - 08:12 am
Title: Barahir

Dear Oshun, Such a well researched and written biography of Barahir.

Certainly it will be my go to bookmarks for future ref.

I didn't remember that Aragorn gave his ring to Arwen - it's such a long time since I read the book.

A story of bravery and a hero in the most horrific of times.

Many thanks for doing this.

Tia (Mithrial) XX

Author's Response:

That you so much for reading and giving me a comment! I am so happy you enjoyed it.

Reviewer: Robinka Signed [Report This]
Date: May 05, 2017 - 01:13 pm
Title: Barahir

Actually, what do you think might have happened to the ring in the end?

Author's Response:

No idea from the texts! Since it was Arwen's "engagement ring" so she could have felt justified in wearing it when she left Minas Tirith and went to Lothlorien to die. On the other hand, as her father's daughter she would doubtless have enormous respect for the history and lore it represented, so I would vote that she would have left it with her children as an heirloom of their house rather than disappear it.

Reviewer: Robinka Signed [Report This]
Date: May 05, 2017 - 12:35 pm
Title: Barahir

If I were to create Silm trivia Q&As, I'd put "Who was less famous than his ring, and why?" there ;)

But, your bio proves me wrong, because it shows that Barahir was a hero in his own right, not only the father of Beren and an original owner of the famous ring. Your bio brings all these details together and beautifully composes them into a tale of life, death and legacy.

Great job, Oshun!

Author's Response:

Thank you so much! Yes he was certainly a super hero by their standards of chilvalry and honor wherein Finrod had protected his people and in turn Barahir defended his liege lord with his life. Barahir and his men came into the battle with the purpose of saving Finrod when they "made a wall of spears about him; and they cut their way out of the battle." The reader should be glad he did that, as he contributed to the ultimate victory over darkness four Ages later by that act.

Reviewer: IgnobleBard Signed [Report This]
Date: April 10, 2017 - 09:52 pm
Title: Arwen Undómiel

This may be one of your best essays yet. You did a marvelous job of fleshing out the largely overlooked and misunderstood character of Arwen. despite Tolkien expanding the story of Arwen and Aragron in the Appendicies. You managed to bring out a lot of the aspects of her character I never considered, from her Valkyrie-like inspiration to what it really meant for Aragorn to marry someone of her standing. This is also one of the best essays on women in Tolkien I've read. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a work of nonfiction more. You outdid yourself here.

Reviewer: just_jenni Signed [Report This]
Date: April 09, 2017 - 11:00 am
Title: Aegnor

It seemed to me that there were quite a number of women in the Silm but I'd like to know the ratio of women to men because for sure there are many more men than women.  I mean just look at the Finwians: Feanor - seven sons, no daughters!  Fingolfin - two sons, one daughter, and Finarfin - three sons, one daughter!  That's 12:3 just for the Finwians!  Hardly true to life, is it?

I love that Tolkien's genius as a writer carried him beyond his personal beliefs and prejudices, but I adknowledge that he is still hampered by them.

I also love the idea of exploring the material for essay material.  There is certainly no lack of fodder.

You're very welcome and oh gosh, please don't rush to read anything!  Look at me!  I'm gradually catching up on things I have to read - I haven't even finished The Princess and the Horse Lord for Eru's sake.  And there were so many awesome-sounding recs from B2MEM last month that it's going to take me awhile to read all of those too!

Reviewer: just_jenni Signed [Report This]
Date: April 08, 2017 - 03:39 pm
Title: Arwen Undómiel

Damn it, this better go in!


I commend you for poring through a huge amount of material in order to write such a thoughtful and informative, as well as thought-provoking bio!

This is so interesting!

<i>An important thing to realize about the narrative of the Aragorn and Arwen story is that neither of them existed in Tolkien's mind before he started writing the requested sequel to The Hobbit. Their tale was a late addition. </i>

I've always thought that Tolkien wanted to bring back the Beren & Luthien tale but in a more modern, less high-fantasy way.

Actually, Tolkien has surprised me many times with some of his writing. Since he was a strict Roman Catholic I admire him for his non-judgemental way of dealing with the odd behaviour of some of his characters, i.e. Melian and Thingol meeting in the woods, same for Aredhel and Eol, and living together without a mention of conventional marriage. Or as you wrote, this:

<i> There is no asking daddy in the book version; they simply return to Rivendell after spending a nice little interlude of time together in Lothlórien.</i>

But then I think he didn't want to impose his mid twentieth-century R.C. conventions on his characters from ancient times and in that way I think he had both great hindsight and foresight.

I love this too:

<i>Leslie Donovan in "The Valkyrie Reflex" refers to this quality when she notes that "Arwen is not only radiant in her person, but she also partakes of the courtly attributes of Germanic valkyrie figures by bestowing gifts of inspiration and reward with illuminative properties to heroes." </i>

Most of Tolkien's women were, I believe, "the women behind the men" except the argument could be made against that convention for some of his 'wilder' women, i.e. Luthien, Eowyn, Nerdanel, Aredhel and a few more I've probably forgotten, who did what they wanted and not what they were told. I just wish more of his female characters could have been fleshed out much more than they were in his books although to be fair he passed away before he could finish the Silm and it many stories.

Here's something else I found of great interest:

<i>The Evenstar of her people symbolizes the withdrawal of the Elves from direct intervention into the lives of Men and the fate of Middle-earth.</i>

When I was writing about Melian's choices for the Strength & Beauty challenge and was struggling with her reasons for not doing more to ease the situation between Thingol and the Sons of Feanor, I came to realize that her wisdom and that of the Valar existed in leaving things alone so that the ultimate Fate of the world could come to pass - which I believe was the Coming of Men - that they will be the Elves' 'replacements' and because of their relatively short lives would not be able to effect such massive screw-ups as the Elves made. Therefore Melian had to refrain from interfering and let all those Elves die and let the Doom of the Noldor run its course and come to its eventual end. I don't know why but this had never entered my mind in quite this way before and yet it's quite obvious. The story of the Elves - all of them including those like Luthien and Arwen who chose to die like Men - is so beautifully tragic yet they certainly had their heroes and heroines and Arwen was clearly one of those.

<i>The accusation that The Lord of the Rings demonstrates a "boys' book of adventure" type of story implies that it is literarily based in a world in which women are not yet necessary. (Ahem! This reader is not arguing this is true, but simply playing devil's advocate here.) The aesthetic of the boys' world is based around the assumption that everything that is needed can be found in the company of men.</i>

Now the above is really interesting but I'm not sure it's entirely fair. I know it's a popular belief that women were not considered necessary in the past but even back in the early part of the 20th century and before (!) women had their say and of course were totally necessary! I am thinking about both my grandmothers who were born in the late 1800's. One went to university (as did a lot of women at the time!) and became a schoolteacher, traveled a lot and was a wise and intelligent woman. The other grandmother married young and emigrated to Canada during WWI but was always outspoken and made her beliefs and wishes known always! I don't think anyone ever tried to shush her up or put her in her place (wherever that is or was!). If they had she would have beaten them down! I know that during those times there were men's clubs to which women were not invited, and women weren't able to vote until the early 1900's and a host of other unfair practices but women eventually went to work to set those things right.

<i>Arwen's absence in the books is significant to Tolkien, since it mirrors a pattern from his own life: the early death of his mother, the enforced 3-year separation from his beloved Edith before their marriage, the categorization of his life into private and public spheres. For Tolkien, women's absence is an essential part of their natures—or rather, their presence is best behind the scenes.</i>

I'm not sure I agree with that either, at least I don't think he would have written his stories that way consciously. I mean, he placed Eowyn in an <i>army, among fighting men</i> which must have been very avant garde for the time! Even he could not have envisioned that in the early 2000's there would be women fighting alongside the men!

<i> "All the Kisses Tolkien Wrote" by Amy Fortuna, 52 actually counts them.</i>

Very interesting about the kisses! I must read this. Are they kisses between men and women or does it include those between men (i.e. Aragorn kisses Boromir) and possibly between two women? (I can't think of any but it doesn't mean they aren't there in the text.)

Well, I've run out of things to say, except that I loved this bio! You did some great work here. :) You must be mentally exhausted though!

Author's Response:

Thanks for so a long and wonderful and thought-provoking review. I really like a lot of Tolkien's women characters and thing that they were far from simplistic. But there are not enough and I did not spend the bio giving chapter and verse of evidence in his work and biographical details of Tolkien's somewhat (cough, cough) antiquated, even for his time(!) or certainly for his time, attitudes about women.

Like you I come from a line of strong, intellectual, and socially and politically active women. My mother and father were an excellent example to me growing up of having a very strong intellectual partnership--he was trade union leader and his was a Democratic Party activist, who worked on every election campaign, despite having seven children. But she did have seven kids! And she did do the lion's share of the homemaking and cooking. He worked hard too, but outside of the home. While my father was a local hero or villain depending upon who was expressing an opinion and everyone knew his name--it was an interesting bit of trivia locally for those in-the-know that my mother playing an active role in everything he did also.

The Kisses link is worth following. I am very appreciative of it. She does touch on m/m kisses when they are explicit in the text and comments on them.

I think Tolkien's genius as a writer carries him beyond his personal beliefs and prejudices at times. On the other hand, he is limited by those at times also. There is material for many more essays in the material I barely touched upon or only in generalizations. So happy that people have raised various points that are not covered definitively in this bio. I thought I was pressing by luck a bit with what I did touch upon!

Thank you again.

I am so behind--largely writing this bio--on the B2MeM stories. I will definitely read and review your Melian story here (and there are others of yours I haven't read also! But I will very soon.).


Reviewer: just_jenni Signed [Report This]
Date: April 08, 2017 - 02:23 pm
Title: Arwen Undómiel

Gahhh!  I just lost a HUGE review I was leaving on your biography!  I could cry.  I will try to remember what I wrote and come back to post it again.  THIS time I'm going to type it in Word and then copy & paste.  Really, by now I should know better.


Author's Response:

I am so sorry. I do that all the time, but I never learn. Thanks for trying and do come back. I live for reviews!

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