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Comments For Character of the Month Biographies
Glad you answered my question!!!
But don't you think that "seldom less" and "no less" would actually mean a minimum rather than an average, I mean how can their woman be seldom less than 6 feet but at the same time be considered an average.
I honestly don't think at all about women being "seldom less than 6 feet tall." It strains my imagination in a way that distracts me from the other parts of the story. I don't Elves scampering across snow drifts either. There were often discussion years ago, that maybe Elves had hollow bones like birds--the problem as I noted in my earlier reply is dissecting stuff to this level raises as many questions as it answers for me--if so, then how can an Elf and Man sexual encounter result in viable offspring? They would have to be closer genetically for that to work. I realize extreme height is different, but still is uncomfortable for me to consider and not very interesting. I know that is not the scholarly/nit-picking response you are seeking.
Here's a discussion link to people eager to pursuit these questions: The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit: Elves and Dwarves. Some of these same references you are raising are mentioned here.They should be many more online.
Hey I read that you mentioned a passage wich distinguished the Eldar from Avari but I couldn't leave the chance to ask if you think that this both latest quotes about Eldar height seem harmonious to you?
'The Quendi were in origin a tall people. The Eldar (...) they were in general the stronger and taller members of the Elvish folk at that time. In Eldarin tradition it was said that even their women were seldom less than six feet in height; their full-grown elfmen no less than six and a half feet, while some of the great kings and leaders were taller.'
They were called “halflings”; but this refers to the normal height of men of Númenórean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Ñoldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.’
I have a tendency to consider these details of exaggerated height and/or specific feet and inches as not very interesting in and of themselves, but only in the effect they produce upon the reader. Halfing to me means notably smaller--not using a tape measure to produce an exact average number.
I would rather read such passages as examples of hyperbole in storytelling which is not intended to be strictly literal but used for effect or to show that in the case of the Elves they are different from you and me. Halfings = small of statue, but simple in taste and low of rank, lacking in petentiousness--the seemingly humble of are in reality great of heart and encourage--these are the important points his making not the number of inches.
In relation to Elves and/or Numenoreans, these creatures of JRRT's very detailed fantasy world felt human emotions, bred, bled, suffered birth and death like us, but they were not just like us. They not only were quasi-immortal in the case of the Eldar, but larger than life, more skilled, capable of reaching higher and falling lower--heroes and villains larger than we can easily imagine. That for me is the point--not six foot six inches vs. seven feet.
I do not doubt one could do a study of inconsistencies within these kinds of details in Tolkien's notes and find many of them. Tolkien did not go back and meticulously search to eliminate such variances in most of the material we have available to us today.
If you want to discuss these physical traits and parse and finely dice the texts referring to them, I'm probably the wrong person to come to. I don't have a lot of patience with thinking about those constructs except in the broadest of senses. I find they break down when I try to logically extend them--giant Numenoreans would require giant horses, right? And giant horses require more hay, etc., etc,. ad infinitum. I lose patience quickly with this line of reasoning. Very tall is good enough for me.
I know there are people on forums like maybe Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza or even One Ring who love such discussions. The problem often is they raise and respond to the questions without exact citations or without any reference to the literary forms or contexts which might have influenced Tolkien and actually be more important in understanding his intent.
I love how you used Gildor as a trigger to discuss the nature of the Elves and the difference between those in the Silm and those in LotR. That different approach in the Silm is one of the main reasons why I value the Silm over the LotR and always will. Thank you for your insightful essay.
Thanks so much, Binka. I am so happy you enjoyed it.
Ah, oshun this was beautiful. Reading it has reminded me of the first time I read LOTR when I was around 15, and of the joy of falling in love with the magic of the elves, as though I was also a hobbit. It's a powerful spell Tolkien cast, because it still lasts and does not seem to be about to fade.
I like the way you have taken the opportunity to weave into this essay the discussion about the nature/origin of Tolkein's elves. I am sure that he drew heavily from the Celtic tradition and was aware of the resemblance of the Noldor with the Tuatha De Danann, but it's strange that he seems to be readier to accept other influences than this one.
As I say, you have made me go back many years to my first meeting with Gildor Inglorion and the beginning of my obsession passion for all things elvish. Thank you!
I fell madly in love with the elves the first time I read LotR and then it was decades before I read the Silm. So my love affair began with Gildor, although I admit to fancying Glorfindel and Elrond so much also, and can't forget
Galadriel and Celeborn. Legolas, of course. LotR elves rock, especially if that is all one knows. So happy you enjoyed it.