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Jul 20
2022/7/20 16:31:14 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Good evening you you as well, Professor Ferré and a warm welcome to the site!

I appreciate your clarifications. For those who do not yet have a copy of the book, I am reproducing one of the pertinent footnotes here:

2 The impulse of this essay was derived from repeated discussions that I have had the pleasure to have with Christopher Tolkien at his home for fifteen years, My gratitude goes to his family, Mrs Baillie Tolkien, Adam Tolkien and Rachel Tolkien; to Richard Ovenden and Catherine McIlwaine, for their invitation and their kind patience; and to Vivien Stocker, John Rateliff and Douglas A. Anderson for their help.
Jul 20
2022/7/20 17:27:07 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Prof. Vincent Ferre wrote:

Good evening to all,
And thank you very much for your interest. I must say that I am surprised to see that an element (GG Kay's role) seems more important to some readers than discussing the core of my essay (CRT's status), the theoretical frame, or the perspective - D. Kane's review, for instance, is entirely missing the point.

Some speculations here could be spared by reading the footnotes of my text: I am aware of the bibliography; it is obvious that ""The essay from Vincent went through editorial review and [...] was seen by the [...] family" ; and this paper has been read beforehand by scholars such as John Rateliff, Douglas A. Anderson & Thomas Honegger, in a volume edited by Catherine McIlwaine.

So, it is not true to say that "information was left out." It is a choice, based on facts. It is not my first text on JRR Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien's books, nor my last.

with my very best wishes to you all,
vincent

Welcome Professor Ferré and thank you for addressing some of our points. I will start by saying that from my own perspective, the inclusion of GG Kay's role is no more important than the core of your essay, it was simply that it came up as the members here were receiving the book. As I said in previous comments, I enjoyed the essay, especially as it led me back to texts that I had maybe neglected.

But, I read the footnote and upon reading it again now it does nothing to allay my questioning of why you left Kay out entirely. My comment at https://www.tolkienguide.com/modules/n ... t_id=40680#forumpost40680 still stands imo. Noads article, 'A Tower in Beleriand' puts Kay in a very important role in a book that you leave out all reference of him in your own article and it leaves me wondering why? If your aims were entirely to paint a picture of 'Christopher the author' then great, you did that. But, if Noads article offers a general truth about Kay's involvement then you not mentioning him seems very odd. For me at least it puts your article and Noad's at odds. If Kay did indeed prepare texts for Christopher to shape then his involvement is very important and his inclusion, even cursory is essential, if you have correspondence with Christopher that disputes that or offers a different explanation of the roles, and leaves you confident to exclude Kay then that is something that surely should have been mentioned in your essay.

Again, welcome and thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Jul 20
2022/7/20 20:39:19 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks for dropping by to respond, Professor Ferré. I think I can answer - from my perspective - quite easily. If I see a red car with a missing headlight, do I comment on the fact that the car is red or that the headlight is missing? Human nature clearly dictates the latter - we focus on situations where what we see or hear does not meet our pre-conceived expectation.

For any reader that was aware of Kay, there would be a pre-conceived expectation that his importance was enough that he would be mentioned. He was like the missing headlight.
Jul 20
2022/7/20 23:15:23 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I see this differently, guys. To use your car analogy, an article has been written about the the winning driver of a Formula 1 race, and you are frustrated that the mechanics in the pits aren't getting mentioned. The article is about the driver. Of course he had a full crew behind him doing lots of important things. His driving skills are the topic of the article. The article isn't about the all the work needed to win the race.
Jul 20
2022/7/20 23:24:18 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

I see this differently, guys. To use your car analogy, an article has been written about the the winning driver of a Formula 1 race, and you are frustrated that the mechanics in the pits aren't getting mentioned. The article is about the driver. Of course he had a full crew behind him doing lots of important things. His driving skills are the topic of the article. The article isn't about the all the work needed to win the race.

The article is making a claim that a person is a creator without mentioning a person who *might* have played a major part in that creative aspect. The mechanic situation isn't at all analogous (unless the mechanic also drove the car).

You don't get a free ride to leave out important facts, just because the piece is primarily about a specific person (or because it doesn't quite fit the narrative you are trying to project or the message you have decided you want to write about).

I feel like we are going in circles, though. I think onthetrail covered it pretty well, to be honest.
Jul 21
2022/7/21 0:15:52 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

I see this differently, guys. To use your car analogy, an article has been written about the the winning driver of a Formula 1 race, and you are frustrated that the mechanics in the pits aren't getting mentioned. The article is about the driver. Of course he had a full crew behind him doing lots of important things. His driving skills are the topic of the article. The article isn't about the all the work needed to win the race.

OK, sticking with the car analogy for a moment. Lewis Hamilton when he wins a race thanks the people who worked on the car, he always does this. Because he knows that if they didn't build the engine right then he would not have won the race. If Lewis came out after the race and congratulated himself, saying that he won the race and no one else was involved, he would be factually incorrect.

This is no different.

I am assuming that we are all in agreement that Noad's article is correct, it certainly has not been called into question publicly by Christopher Tolkien or anybody connected to the Tolkien Estate and it is still available to download from the TS website. If that article is regarded as correct, then the essay presented by Professor Ferré can not be taken as such. I must return again to Noad where he says the following:

The initial idea had been to produce a scholarly text rather than a single narrative. Such a book would have been some 1300 pages long, and would have consisted of chapters which had as their main text the latest version of the passage concerned, followed by appendices giving variant readings from other, earlier versions, complete with an editorial apparatus of footnotes and comments on dates and inconsistencies, and so on. The first two chapters had already been drafted in this academic style by Christopher Tolkien when Kay started work. However, Kay felt strongly that such an approach was the wrong one. Tolkien had regarded himself primarily as a storyteller, and what was needed was a real story, a continuous narrative; and, eventually, the decision was made to attempt to edit a chapter as this type of straightforward narrative. This was done with "Of the Coming of the Elves", where it proved to be a catalyst. It was seen to work so well that the narrative approach was thenceforward adopted. Kay would proceed one chapter ahead of Christopher Tolkien, proposing solutions to various textual problems and the like. The latter would then go over the result critically and change it as he thought fit, and then type the initial draft of the chapter.

and Ferré says:

My hypothesis is that his 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, for two main reasons. The first is his style and the choices he made in ‘constructing’ The Silmarillion as a narrative

If what Kay, through Noad says is true, then Ferré's aims within the essay are proven incorrect within the opening of it and by making no mentions at all of these fundamental statements renders Professor Ferré's argument incredibly weak.

But as Stu says, we are going around in circles on this one. I am glad I spent some time with Christophers words after some time skipping forewords so my thanks still go to Professor Ferré.
Jul 21
2022/7/21 2:09:46 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
We are 100% in agreement that Kay's contributions are fundamental and important.

Kay states in 1987 that he had a structural idea (fully Kay's) that Christopher evidently thought worked so well after trying, that structure was fully adopted. Kay then goes on, in this report, to state that he was "proposing solutions" for the next chapters. Nowhere in that account does it say that Kay wrote those chapters. Kay proposed ideas to problems in the source materials, Christopher mulled them over, and then Christopher typed up the final draft of the resulting chapters. That's what Noad's recounting states to my eye. I fully realize that you are interpreting it the opposite way.

Editors (and assistants) propose ideas to authors all the time. Some of them are hugely critical changes in tone and structure. Nowhere are they considered co-authors of the resulting books, that I am aware of. I've spoken with Guy Kay (a long time ago, about 15-20 years). Prof. Ferré has spoken at length with Christopher (at the least, perhaps Kay as well as they do know each other). Kay has always (to my knowledge) declined to be considered anything other than an assistant to Christopher in Christopher's efforts to write/edit/compile The Silmarillion.
Jul 21
2022/7/21 2:52:40 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

...Nowhere are they considered co-authors of the resulting books....

And no one is claiming that here. They are claiming that the specific level and type of Kay's input is fundamental to the argument that Ferré makes about Christopher Tolkien, and to ignore it entirely is academically irresponsible (my words, not onthetrail's).

I almost feel like there is a wilful choice to miss the nuance of this specific (and slightly unusual) situation here.

I enjoyed the piece very much, but does it pass the test of being a work that presents and proves a hypothesis? For me the answer is that it clearly falls short and perhaps wilfully so.
Jul 21
2022/7/21 3:58:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
The first is his style and the choices he made in ‘constructing’ The Silmarillion as a narrative

Where, in the above, do you think Ferré is wrong here? The Noad article clearly says that Christopher made the final choices and did the final constructing. He had a ton of input from Kay, definitely, But Kay, Noad, and Christopher all back Ferré's claims as written above to my eye.

I'm really not trying to be obtuse here. Am I completely misreading the Noad recounting? I don't see anywhere that it states that Kay made choices and did constructing - just proposed solutions that Christopher then decided and wrote drafts from.

Am I misunderstanding your argument? Perhaps you are saying that my sentence above beginning "The Noad article clearly..." is correct, but ethically because Christopher had Kay's input Ferré is obligated to point that out?

I'm really confused as this whole discussion reads (in my sleep deprived brain) as "yes everything you said is correct but you are flat wrong." I'm not trying to strawman here, but it feels like I am completely misunderstanding you and arguing against a construct in my head that isn't your position.
Jul 21
2022/7/21 12:24:31 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

The first is his style and the choices he made in ‘constructing’ The Silmarillion as a narrative

Where, in the above, do you think Ferré is wrong here? The Noad article clearly says that Christopher made the final choices and did the final constructing. He had a ton of input from Kay, definitely, But Kay, Noad, and Christopher all back Ferré's claims as written above to my eye.

I'm really not trying to be obtuse here. Am I completely misreading the Noad recounting? I don't see anywhere that it states that Kay made choices and did constructing - just proposed solutions that Christopher then decided and wrote drafts from.

Am I misunderstanding your argument? Perhaps you are saying that my sentence above beginning "The Noad article clearly..." is correct, but ethically because Christopher had Kay's input Ferré is obligated to point that out?

I'm really confused as this whole discussion reads (in my sleep deprived brain) as "yes everything you said is correct but you are flat wrong." I'm not trying to strawman here, but it feels like I am completely misunderstanding you and arguing against a construct in my head that isn't your position.

In that case let's shift this for a moment from what Ferré wrote to how it is received by those who have maybe read Christopher's foreword only once, have not read Noad's article, and are coming to Ferré's piece with minimal knowledge. Many will read it and accept it as gospel, partly because of the style of publication and partly for the praise and support the book is receiving. What Ferré's essay has done is to set in stone a set of events that do not reflect the reality of the process taken to 'construct' the Silmarillion. Maybe accidentally, but it will affect how some people perceive the process of the birthing of The Silmarillion as published.

Ferré's opening points about his aims fail immediately in my opinion because Christopher Tolkien may not have constructed the narrative alone, it is only assumed so. It was not a direction that he alone would have taken, supported by the fact that his original process had advanced through the first two chapters. Kay then suggests the change in scope and it must be assumed that he had a strong argument for it. Christopher would not shift his entire focus on a whim. So I assume that Kay demonstrated how it could work. A chapter is produced and Christopher is convinced that such a direction will work. Kay then works ahead on each chapter and Christopher would indeed sharpen that work into what he saw as a favourable first draft. Did that first draft then go through further work? By who? Did Kay read it and make further suggestions? Did he argue changes that Christopher adopted? We don't know, and if Professor Ferré does know then we should have had that information made available, if the essay in question is to be trusted.

Ferré says that the "first is his style and the choices he made in ‘constructing’ The Silmarillion as a narrative" but Noad says that "Kay would proceed one chapter ahead of Christopher Tolkien, proposing solutions to various textual problems". So is Christopher constructing the narrative or are they constructing the narrative? Kay is present for this process and it is that process that brings The Silmarillion into shape. To make no mention of this important editorial process leaves me questioning the entire piece.

If the answer is simple, that Kay only provided minor editorial support then that would surely be easy to address, but to not address it at all introduces doubt, in this readers mind at least because Kay's role appears somewhat larger than his non-existence suggests.

To put it simply, the essay sought to present Christopher as an author in his own right, but it instead left more questions than it gave answers. But to others it will introduce a version of the creative process that misleads, and they won't know that they are being mislead. That to me at least is problematic.

I will close by saying that I am not in any way suggesting Professor Ferré is intentionally misleading readers, rather that the result is misleading. There is no questioning of credibility, only the result.

With that I don't believe I have anything more to add to this subject and am happy to let it rest. I am very appreciative for the time and efforts of Professor Ferré and all the opinions laid out here.
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