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Was re-reading this today for my current character bio--neither the first re-read nor will it be the last one I am certain. I seriously cannot believe that I never posted a comment here on this essay! So, here is a copy of a long and rambling one that I originally posted at the 2008 MEFAs:
Oh, Angelica, this is a perfectly wonderful piece and a terrific resource, and one that I definitely will go back and read and refer to again and again. It is absolutely the best of the non-fiction entries of this year. I feel I ought apologize to others who have worked hard on exploring elements of canon and enriched our resources greatly (and I entered one of own pieces as well, so I consider myself within that grouping), but this one stands completely apart and alone in the depth of thought it reflects.
My favorite section is the one exploration the original separation of the Eldar and Avari, and its consideration not just of the separation itself but the attitudes of the self-conception of those groups and their definition of the other. The article raised so many questions I had considered and not completely worked out: small things like the degree to which such terms as Moriquendi, or even the Sindarin word lachen ('flame-eyed') used to refer to the returned Noldor, were simply words or had a distinctive pejorative connotation (always or sometimes?). Very fascinating also is to consider the attitudes of the Noldor to the Sindar: like us but not really equal or more like the Avari? I intend to read your piece again more carefully and think about these questions further. I very much appreciated the point that while the Eldar looked down upon the Avari, that the Avari, of course, considered themselves the True Elves--the authentic ones--and that they would consider that it was the Eldar who had severed themselves from who and what they were. Love it! Priceless and so reflective of real world history.
I am reminded of the attitude about self and other reflected--not just in imperialist arrogance--but in native American culture and mythology and of each groups placement of their particular ethnicity or nation within the world as they perceived it. For example, the Inca name Cuzco for their great capital, which can be translated from the Incan language as ombligo or navel, meant for them quite literally that they considered their capital (and themselves, of course) indisputably the center of the universe. There is a parallel in that self-concept of North American indigenous groups who referred to themselves simply as "the people" and other surrounding tribes as the others, i.e., somewhat less than human. I have not read the book you list in your bibliography, [La Conquista de America: El problema del Otro] but after reading your article, I do plan to try to find and purchase the book and read it. [Still haven't. Still want to!]
Thank you so much for your review! It seems like centuries ago! - when I had time to writie essays - not any more :( I hope soon to be able to spend some more time doing fun stuff and not grading papers and papers and papers! (like I'm doing now) Seeing your review made me really happy!
This is a fascinating view on a very interesting subject.
From what I could see, the original article has a strong POV of the Noldor, probably passed by their ancient loremasters.
You know how they say, that history is written by the winners? This is my feeling here. That the Avari are viewed through the eyes of the Eldar here.
Just using the term Avari, is a telling.
But the essay itself, is flowing like some mystery or adventure story. So unlike what one would expect from a linguistic paper.
You made a difficult subject easy and interesting, and you won me.
Thank you so much for this essay Angelica, even if so late after published.
It deserves the honor it got in that year's MEFA.
Very interesting. There is so much stratification in Tolkien's societies, just like there was in his time. Have you noticed almost (if not all) the enemies were dark, had slanted eyes, or came from the East?