Tolkien Collector's Guide
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May 20
2020/5/20 23:40:41 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks Aelfwine, your ability to read Tolkien's handwriting is always appreciated!
May 21
2020/5/21 10:24:10 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
@Ugo Truffelli "Line 2 «his golden crown did brightly blaze» (as in A) is written above a different version that started differently."

I don't think this an alteration but rather overwriting poor inking. If Tolkien had altered a single word then he would have done like any other instance and added above or to the left/right. Looking at this image as a negative we can see that he writes slightly to the right over the original text but replicates it.
May 21
2020/5/21 11:02:48 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Aelfwine wrote:


"Line 12 of A «no fairer maiden found could be.» I believe to be «no purer maiden found could be» in the Gawain-text."

• No, I think it is "fairer".

I also believe this is "purer", I think the line reads "No purer maiden and friend could be"
May 21
2020/5/21 14:37:39 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Have any of you reconstructed the various versions of the GEST by the way?

I have been working on it on and off for a little while and must admit that at times Christopher leaves my head swirling with how complex he made that chapter of Lays. Somebody really should have pointed out to him that most of us are ordinary, not the upper extremes of the insanely intelligent
May 21
2020/5/21 16:13:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Before I start let me thank Aelfwine for your renowed and respected expertise! And thanks to onthetrail too!


onthetrail wrote:
@Ugo Truffelli "Line 2 «his golden crown did brightly blaze» (as in A) is written above a different version that started differently."

I don't think this an alteration but rather overwriting poor inking. If Tolkien had altered a single word then he would have done like any other instance and added above or to the left/right. Looking at this image as a negative we can see that he writes slightly to the right over the original text but replicates it.

I agree that it's an overwriting. I think Tolkien wrote the first two lines with a pencil (like Gawain's Leave-Taking?), and then with a pen he wrote above the pencil and continued.

However I do believe that originally the first word (or words) wasn't "his": it starts with a different letter and the original text is wider- spacially - than "his" while the rest of the line starting from "golden" is slighty to the right

By the way, what about the words on the right margin? «of --l-ts»?


Aelfwine wrote:
• "Wingilot"

Wow even if it has been striked out probably as soon as he wrote it, it's quite a surprise to find this name.


onthetrail wrote:

Aelfwine wrote:

"Line 12 of A «no fairer maiden found could be.» I believe to be «no purer maiden found could be» in the Gawain-text."

• No, I think it is "fairer".

I also believe this is "purer", I think the line reads "No purer maiden and friend could be"
Yeah I agree, I think "pu" to be more plausible than "fai" although "fairer" makes more sense. About the rest of the line while I believe there's "found" and not "friend" (see "found" in line 6 in Gawain's Leave-Taking), it's true that there's something in between and I maybe there's too much spacing between the d and the e in maiden?
Could it be something like "[no fairer maid ever found could be]"? I don't know.
This line needs more attention.


Aelfwine wrote:
• That's not "fold"; it may be "folk".

Yes of course, i made a mistake typing the editor's note and than a simple copy/paste.

I put online a transcription and a comparison between the Gawain-text, A, B1 and B2.

Some additional random thoughts:

1) Could it be that the absence of «there» in the first line in A while it's present in the Gawain-text in B1 and B2 is due to a scribal (or typographical) error and it's not absent in the original manuscript?

2) 3 line survives in B2 exactly as they were written here

3)

@Ugo Truffelli wrote:
I think it is remarkable to note that this line is more closer to B1 «A king there was in olden days:» than A «A King was in the dawn of days:».

Again it is remarkable that line 13 in B1 (retained as line 25 in B2) «so fair a maid no more shall be» it's, well, identical to the first tentative version of the line <So fair a maid>

4)
I believe that we can reasonably say that in this manuscript Tolkien wrote the first lines of what became the Lay of Leithian. The very first two lines were written in pencil probably as soon as he finished the translation of Gawain’s Leave Taking, and then he returned to it and expanded with a pen.

5)
Could it be that the translation of Gawain’s Leave Taking was an inspiration? The metre is not the same and probably this is only a speculation, but to my hears (I’m not an expert) some lines of the translation do evoke the Gest…

6)

@Ugo Truffelli wrote:
There’s a question that still needs to be answered: is this the same “earlier draft” refereed to in III:157? I think it is fair to assume that is, but I guess we won’t have a definitive answer now as probably only Christopher knew that.

Is it? Probably the answer is still yes probably it is.
However as Christopher mentioned couplet 13-14 but neither the fact that the following couplet in the text survived in A at a later point, nor the quite frankly surprising fact that his father originally wrote Wingilot make me wonder if he was talking about a different draft.


onthetrail wrote:
Have any of you reconstructed the various versions of the GEST by the way?

I have been working on it on and off for a little while and must admit that at times Christopher leaves my head swirling with how complex he made that chapter of Lays. Somebody really should have pointed out to him that most of us are ordinary, not the upper extremes of the insanely intelligent

the first lines
May 21
2020/5/21 16:43:20 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
That is not how Tolkien makes an initial "p". It's "fairer", which provides the alliteration in the line, with "found".
May 21
2020/5/21 16:47:12 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I also believe this is "purer", I think the line reads "No purer maiden and friend could be"

This reading would result in a line that 1) does not alliterate, and 2) is unmetrical.

It's "No fairer maiden found could be".
May 21
2020/5/21 17:07:06 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Aelfwine wrote:
I also believe this is "purer", I think the line reads "No purer maiden and friend could be"

This reading would result in a line that 1) does not alliterate, and 2) is unmetrical.

It's "No fairer maiden found could be".

"So say we all" (cit.)
May 21
2020/5/21 23:06:27 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

@Ugo Truffelli wrote:
the first lines

Thank you, I will take a look and see how we compare.
May 21
2020/5/21 23:22:34 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Aelfwine wrote:
I also believe this is "purer", I think the line reads "No purer maiden and friend could be"

This reading would result in a line that 1) does not alliterate, and 2) is unmetrical.

It's "No fairer maiden found could be".

I appreciate the points and agree but this reading would not be a final example.

Do you maybe have any examples of 'fairer' looking like that in other writings? Looking at letters I genuinely do not see it. I see 'purer' and examples of letters from the 20s are similar too.
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