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  1. 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.

  2. Saranna's Avatar
    Lúthien
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    #2
    Yes, you're right LotR - those and others I've seen are deeply Norse in tone, I've spotted some amazing one-liners during my recent read through several sagas.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

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    But great achievements raise a monument
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    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  3. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #3
    I found the 'Book of Lost Tales' Beren and L'uthien story quite humourous when I read it for the first time. Just the way it was written; I don't think Tolkien intended humour but it comes across that way.

    LOTR: That second passage you mention cracked me up :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  4. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
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    #4
    'Eru is bountiful,’ she said. 'Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.’

    'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,’ said Aule, and he went on with his smith-work.

    I found Yavanna's 'I haz children too' here very funny in a hammy way, and picturing Aule giving a short witty comeback, clearly focused on stuff like hammering a hammer that is used to hammer more hammers in existence. The chapter on the creation of Dwarves and Ents ended up as one of the more lighthearted moments in the Silmarillion.

    EDIT: add in Yavanna's backhanded insult to Aule when she talks about dwarves to the humor list. "They will love first the things made by their own hands, as doth their father."
    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 06/Dec/2016 at 03:46 AM.


  5. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #5
    The only passage I find humourous in 'The Sil' (1977) is when Beren returns to Thingol, the quest fulfilled, and says 'Even now a Silmaril is in my hand.' Lol! He totally trolls Thingol, but still is telling the truth :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  6. Saranna's Avatar
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    #6
    That's also very Norse to me - what you call mordant wit!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

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