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Jul 7
2022/7/7 16:27:21 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
The essay from Vincent went through editorial review and likely was seen by the Estate/family. I think it more than likely that the current state of the essay is intentional, but cannot guess as to who decided that Kay was not mentioned.

Guy Kay does not bring up his work on The Silmarillion in general - he was not really willing to discuss it with me when I met him (a long time ago, probably 20 years at this point). Assistants help authors doing research all the time. Editors have ideas/feedback on works during the writing/publishing process. Spouses and friends might have input during draft readings or conversations. None of them get authorial credit or are considered partial authors of a work.

I don't think Kay worked "in secret", where does that come from? It was public knowledge that the book was being worked on, and Kay is publicly acknowledged in the book itself.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 16:36:01 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
All good points. Thanks. It was said in the Guardian article where he was interviewed that he worked in a barn in secret, sometimes with Christopher, and one occasion Carpenter was there.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting Kay was or should be regarded as anything more than an apprentice/help to CT, but his time was obviously appreciated by CT and any major piece of writing should at least acknowledge his presence in the process. And there are others here who had personal interaction with CT who know better than I what he may have said about Kay, if anything at all, including Ferre, but the general reader, who I count myself among, may wonder why his name is not mentioned in this piece.
Jul 7 (edited)
2022/7/7 18:06:56 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I do think it would be fascinating to learn much more about Kay's year in France Oxford, definitely.

I don't think that a essay that is focused on Christopher's work needs to sidetrack and mention everyone else's input to that work - it just weakens the thread of the essay to do so. Rayner and Edith and Baille and numerous others all had some part to play in Christopher's Middle-earth oeuvre, as well. Should the paper lay out all of their contributions as well? Would that make the argument that Christopher's work deserves recognition a stronger one, or a weaker one? Their (theorized) input in no way reduces what Christopher accomplished, nor does Kay's, is my position - and I think that is what Ferré is arguing.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 19:16:14 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
For those of you who haven't read it already, I'd recommend you read Charles Noad's A Tower In Beleriand (Amon Hen #91, 1988). To my knowledge Kay has never stated (this was 1987) anything else publically of any real significance beyond what Noad relates in his article. If anyone has read or knows anything else of significance, I'd be very interested in hearing it...

The Guardian piece (I'm guessing the interview one with Kay from 2014) adds only one other piece of real detail (as mentioned), and something that Kay didn't mention in 1987, namely that Kay also met Carpenter at this time. Carpenter met Christopher in late 1974 and started working on Biography in January 1975. Kay was in Oxford, working on the "Silmarillion" material with Christopher, from October 1974 to June 1975; not really the full year that's sometimes/usually implied when Kay's involvement is written about. The Tolkien letters, that both of them would reference, were all in "the barn" (West Hanney, Oxford) at this point. So they would definitely have met each other around this time.

Kay's account (from a journal that he kept; and presumably still has) of his role and contribution is not insignificant. None of this has anything to do with the article here being discussed, I hasten to add.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 20:52:35 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Well, I just know what Kay says about it, that is he was only there to help Christopher Tolkien

OK, so he helped, then. That's important to mention in the essay, given the essay is quite speculative. I'm sure one or two sentences could have been spared, given it is actually important to the discussion of CT acting as a content creator, rather than editor.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 21:41:46 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Stu wrote:

Well, I just know what Kay says about it, that is he was only there to help Christopher Tolkien

OK, so he helped, then. That's important to mention in the essay, given the essay is quite speculative. I'm sure one or two sentences could have been spared, given it is actually important to the discussion of CT acting as a content creator, rather than editor.

Why is it important to mention in this essay? The essay is focused on Christopher's actions. Those actions are impressive and worthy of celebration, and the focus of the essay. Was Christopher not a content creator, because he had some help? Tolkien had help all his life from his family and friends. Should every essay about Tolkien's creation of the legendarium give "one or two sentences" to Christopher's contributions because we know he helped JRRT with feedback and ideas and so much else? Not at all.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 21:50:25 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

Stu wrote:

Well, I just know what Kay says about it, that is he was only there to help Christopher Tolkien

OK, so he helped, then. That's important to mention in the essay, given the essay is quite speculative. I'm sure one or two sentences could have been spared, given it is actually important to the discussion of CT acting as a content creator, rather than editor.

Why is it important to mention in this essay? The essay is focused on Christopher's actions. Those actions are impressive and worthy of celebration, and the focus of the essay. Was Christopher not a content creator, because he had some help? Tolkien had help all his life from his family and friends. Should every essay about Tolkien's creation of the legendarium give "one or two sentences" to Christopher's contributions because we know he helped JRRT with feedback and ideas and so much else? Not at all.


I think we will have to simply agree to disagree. The answer to your questions seem completely obvious to me (and you are bordering on strawman with "Was Christopher not a content creator, because he had some help?")....
Jul 7
2022/7/7 22:25:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Stu wrote:

I think we will have to simply agree to disagree. The answer to your questions seem completely obvious to me (and you are bordering on strawman with "Was Christopher not a content creator, because he had some help?")....

Yeah it was flippant and meant to be rhetorical (not ascribing the question to you), sorry.

Phrasing differently (and willing to drop if you aren't interested in continuing) - I think your desire to have it mentioned is a valid argument to make for a scholarly essay published anywhere else - but this is a celebratory collection in honor of Christopher. The focus of this essay appears to me to be intentionally on just Christopher.
Jul 7
2022/7/7 23:31:51 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

Yeah it was flippant and meant to be rhetorical (not ascribing the question to you), sorry.

Phrasing differently (and willing to drop if you aren't interested in continuing) - I think your desire to have it mentioned is a valid argument to make for a scholarly essay published anywhere else - but this is a celebratory collection in honor of Christopher. The focus of this essay appears to me to be intentionally on just Christopher.

The essay opens by giving it's aim, to consider "Christopher Tolkien’s achievement as a writer in his own right". Ferré's "hypothesis is that his [CT's] own texts in the History of Middle-earth series, in The Silmarillion and in his last published volumes (The Fall of Gondolin, Beren and Lùthien) qualify as literature". If this is simply a celebration then fair enough, but Ferré opens with a pretty impressive aim that sits much larger than a simple celebratory piece. Especially as later he disregards Christopher's own words and argues against them.

He quotes Christopher as follows regarding The Children of Húrin.

while I have had to introduce bridging passages here and there in the piecing together of different drafts, there is no element of extraneous “invention” of any kind, however slight.

He says that "the conclusion of the sentence contradicts the rest, since to ‘introduce bridging passages’ (even if they are not ‘extraneous’) means modifying the plot, hence writing fiction.". There was an obvious conclusion here, and one that CT explains in the very passage Ferré quotes from. Christopher says the following (taken from his preface to The Children of Húrin). It did not require Ferré to argue against what CT himself says, especially when there is no confusion over what CT means, unless it doesn't support the argument set out.

In the result, while I have had to introduce bridging passages here and there in the piecing together of different drafts, there is no element of extraneous ‘invention’ of any kind, however slight, in the longer text here presented. The text is nonetheless artificial, as it could not be otherwise: the more especially since this great body of manuscript represents a continual evolution in the actual story. Drafts that are essential to the formation of an uninterrupted narrative may in fact belong to an earlier stage. Thus, to give an example from an earlier point, a primary text for the story of the coming of Túrin’s band to the hill of Amon Rûdh, the dwelling place that they found upon it and their life there, and the ephemeral success of the land of Dor-Cúarthol, was written before there was any suggestion of the Petty-dwarves; and indeed a fullydeveloped description of Mîm’s house beneath the summit appears before Mîm himself

But Ferré closes that paragraph (p. 67) as follows, "A further investigation might try to explain to what extent ‘The text [published in The Children of Hûrin] is nonetheless artificial’ in the original and strongest sense: made by art... constructed and contrived."

The answer is right there, and Ferré didn't miss this, he is too clever a Tolkien scholar to have. CT means quite literally that to construct a single narrative text, liberties had to be taken as to whcih texts were used. So the single text is by nature, 'artificial'.

So the fact that GGK has been left out is no surprise when Ferré went as far to leave out key and obvioius details said by CT because they didn't support his argument.

And I get it, he was writing a celebratory article. But the conclusions are speculative at best and bordering on distortion and for that I find the article hard to gel with.
Jul 8 (edited)
2022/7/8 0:45:32 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
All valid critiques, I cannot speak to all of Ferré's choices (perhaps I can get him to talk with us at some point).

My personal position is that Ferré is saying that the act of taking a fragment from here, and a bit from there, and stitching it into a story is an act of creation in this case, not editing. It is creating a coherent plot line that JRRT did not ever write, Christopher did (using Tolkien's raw materials). It is a narrow distinction, and clearly Christopher felt differently (in his published statements) than Ferré does.

Unless Guy Kay did 100% of the plot stitching for The Silmarillion - no-one is arguing that, I acknowledge - then Christopher did some of it, and thus Christopher (by this line of argument) is an author of (some of) the book - and it doesn't matter if Kay was 0% or 5% or 50% - Christopher is a non-zero percent, and that's the point Ferré is making - thus no mention of Kay is necessary for Ferré's argument to stand (if it stands on other grounds).

[edit to add] I’m not trying to say I’m right and you are wrong, at this point - just trying to clarify my thinking process here.
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