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TCG Letter #400 / Carpenter Letter #211

J.R.R. Tolkien
Rhona Beare
14 October 1958
Autograph Letter Signed
Covering more than six pages, Tolkien replied to several questions asked by Rhona Beare. A draft of this letter was included as Letter 212.

Sam chanted O Elbereth Gilthoniel in "The Choices of Master Samwise", whilst the rest of the book used A Elbereth Gilthoniel.

Miss Beare enquired about the meaning of A Elbereth Gilthoniel and the other phrase, Aiya Eärendil elenion ancalima!. Tolkien translated both phrases.

Despite the earlier enquiries, this was only dubbed "Question 1", and involved Glorfindel's horse, Asfaloth. Question 2 concerns the One Ring. If Sauron had the Ring, how could Ar-Pharazôn have defeated him? Tolkien explained most of it would be mentioned in the unpublished Downfall of Númenor, and could not yet fully answer it.

Question 3 concerns the two wizards of the order that had not been mentioned yet.

Question 4 was about the clothing of Middle-earth, and especially the crown of Gondor. Beare wanted to know whether it was like a classic Gaulish or Viking helmet as portrayed in popular culture.

Still as part of Question 4, Miss Beare asked what the difference was between El ("Elf") and El ("Star"), and whether inhabitants of Middle-earth would have known the difference.

Also as part of Question 4, Tolkien gave the translation of Legolas as "Green foliage".
Miss Beare asked about the winged steed of the Witch-king, and whether it was like a pterodactyl.

Question 5 concerned the mention of the "Elder King"; was he the One? Tolkien told her that it was a nickname of Manwë, and most Valar were addressed by such nicknames. Eru himself did not inhabit any part of Eä.

Tolkien ended the letter saying that he intended to write a mythical story, not some sort of new religion or vision.

A photocopy and complete transcript of the complete letter is held at the Marquette archives.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 277-84, p. 448 (Carpenter notes)
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 407-14, p. 639 (notas de Carpenter)
Error in hardcover and Kindle editions: or piercing a dazzling > a piercing or dazzling p. 398

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