Humour in 'The Silmarillion'
'The Silmarillion' isn't exactly renowned for being one of the twentieth-century's comedic gems, but as I re-read 'The Later Silmarillion' I keep coming across little phrases that strike me as examples of a sort of dry, often grim humour. The two that I can remember both come from The Grey Annals, a text that's technically outside the Quenta tradition proper, but kept on approaching it in style. The first comes from the entry for the Year of the Sun 1, when Fingolfin comes down from the Ice and knocks on the doors of Angband:
Now Fingolfin ... withdrew from Dor-Daedeloth [Morgoth's land] and turned towards Mithrim... for he had seen the strength of Angband and deemed not that it would fall to the sound of trumpets only. (XI.31)
That's clearly an intentional litotes, worthy of a Norse saga. I'm not sure if the other example is intentional or not, but it works as a sort-of dark pun:
Thereafter escaping from the Orcs Beren dwelt still in [Dorthonion] as a solitary outlaw for four years, and did such deeds of single-handed daring that Morgoth put a price on his head no less than upon the head of Fingon King of the Noldor. (XI. 59)
This is from the start of Beren's story, so he's not yet literally one-handed, but I can't help but take this play on the idiom 'single-handed' and Erchamion.
A few more of these, and we'll have to move The Silmarillion to the comedy section of Waterstones.
It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.