Summary of this Essay:
What I am trying to do is to compare several versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's version of the Atlantis legend. J.R.R. Tolkien called his Atlantis island, Numenor, although it had several other names as well in the various versions he did.
The versions I have are mostly unfinished
and published in the History of Middle-Earth with one exception, The
Alkallabeth in The Silmarillion. The others are The Lost Road, which
is in Volume five of the History of Middle-Earth, called The Lost Road,
The Drowning of Anadune, The Notion Club Papers (especially part two),
in Volume nine of the History of Middle-Earth, called Sauron Defeated
and the Fall of Numenor, also in The Lost Road .
The Notion Club Papers Version of The Downfall of Numenor:
One of Tolkien's unfinished tales was a new twist on both the Atlantis legend and his tale in the Silmarillion, called The Alkallabeth, which is his version of the legend of Atlantis. He called this tale The Notion Club Papers.
What is happening in the tale, is that
at the beginning, two of the members (later a third joins them in the
phenomenon, though not as strongly) of the Notion Club are finding memories
of a past intruding on their lives, especially in dreams. In Alwin Lowdham,
the dreams are characterized by words in a strange language, while in
Jeremy, the dreams were more in the type of silent images. Sometimes
the words and images would intrude upon the two in waking hours, especially
when eagle-like clouds would float up over the horizon, western horizon
especially, or during storms.
Second, Alwin's father's ship was called the Earendel. From hints and parallels like this, I get the feeling that Alwin's father, found the "Straight Road", that some voyagers were lucky enough to find, though mostly only elves were allowed to find the "Straight Road" and depart Middle-Earth forever.
After his father disappeared, Alwin began to get the first fragments of the first of the three languages he was receiving. This language, he later found to be Anglo-Saxon. The other two languages were earlier languages from which Anglo-Saxon was descended.
I feel that as in the The Lord of the
Rings it was said by Gandalf that when the blood of Numenor runs almost
pure, or pure in somebody, that by strong use of will he or she could
bend his/her sight wherever he or she chooses, often including the future
or the past. The last two were easier done with some aid such as the
palantir of Gondor. Gandalf himself admits to the temptation to use
the palantir of Orthanc while it was in his possession (The Two Towers).
As such was said, It seems to me that by some chance, Jeremy and Lowdham
(possibly Ramer too) had almost straight decent from the Dunedain (meaning
Men of the West) that had survived the downfall of Numenor. Over a period
of time as they were discussing things such as dream training, these
minor irruptions of Numenor were starting to make an appearance. One
example would be on page 231 of Sauron Defeated, where Alwin, standing
at a window cries, "Behold the Eagles of the Lords of the West! They
are coming over Numenor!" . When others went to the window, there
was a row of eagle-like clouds coming in from the west.
Tolkien also had links to the usual name of Atlantis for the island in both this story and in the story the Lost Road. As I should have mentioned before, the other languages that Alwin was receiving, were later (I am not sure of the actual sequence of writing, did the Notion Club Papers precede the Alkallabeth or was it the other way around?) used in the Silmarillion. Alwin called them Avallonian, which in the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings was Quenya, the language of the High Elves. In Avallonian the name for Numenor was Atalante, which according to Alwin meant "She that has fallen down".
Tolkien's setting for the Downfall of Numenor was a massive storm, with regiment after regiment of eagle-like clouds blowing over the city of London, reminiscent of the storm in which the Downfall actually happened.
The actual downfall (as portrayed in
the Alkallabeth) had a single long line of the cloud eagles floating
in from the West, while Eru ( also known as Iluvitar, the One) removes
Valinor (the dwelling place of the Valar) from Middle-Earth, creating
a giant chasm into which Numenor slid. At the same time, the Meneltarma,
never a volcano before, erupted with smoke and fire. There are several
differences between the Alkallabeth, The Lost Road, The Fall of Numenor
and The Notion Club Papers, as all but the Alkallabeth are still in
The storm Tolkien used to portray the downfall of Numenor started in the middle of the Atlantic, and continued eastward diminishing in strength like a tidal wave. This is reminiscent of how the storm cause by the Valar as part of the Downfall would probably have acted along with the changes caused by bending the world from a flat plain into a sphere, while simultaneously removing a portion of it.
One theme that recurs in both the Notion
Club Papers and in the Return of the King, is that of a dream of a great
green wave overtaking the land. (Tolkien himself is said to have had
this dream several times) In the Lord of the Rings this dream is given
to Faramir, and shows up at the moment the Ring goes into the flames
in the Cracks of Doom. He is telling it to Eowyn. In the Notion Club
Papers the theme occurred several times in the first part as they were
talking of dreams.
With some other clues during the storm,
I think that somehow Ramer, Alwin and Jeremy were descended from the
Numenoreans that escaped the downfall. From the tone of what was said,
it is possible that Alwin and Jeremy were descended from Elendil and
that the view of what was happening was from Elendil (Alwin's point
of view) and either Isildur, Anarion or whoever was Elendil's son at
the time of writing The Notion Club Papers (Jeremy). I don't think that
Ramer had the pure blood of Numenor, though he probably had a good share,
because he wasn't reliving the downfall, though he did have some understanding
of what was happening and he was affected by what was happening. I do
not think that any of the other members of the club were of Numenorean
descent at all as they had no understanding of the events or any feeling
for what was happening.
When they arrive back in Oxford, for the next meeting, Alwin and Jeremy start to tell of the events since the storm. At this point there is an amazing similarity to The Lost Road.
Earlier I told of my theory that Alwin's
father took the "Straight Road", well the first of their dream "hosts"
(see part one of the Notion Club Papers for an explanation of this)
was a man who's father had been a sailor and with a ship called the
Earendel that had also disappeared without a trace. The dream "host"
had lived in the time of the Danish invasion of England Taken from Christopher
Tolkien's notes, this Eadwine was about 45 years old at the time. Christopher
Tolkien got this information from historical references in the manuscript.
Alwin was about 48 during the eventful meetings of the Notion Club in
the story, so there were several similarities between the two men. Possibly
Eadwine was an ancestor of Alwin. Another similarity that goes with
the voyages is that, Earendil took ship with the last of the Silmarils
with three crew and never returned to Middle-Earth, Alwin's father possibly
found the "Straight Road" again with three crew, in a ship called the
Earendel, Alwin's dream "host's" father disappeared in a ship called
the Earendel though there is no mention of the number of crew, and Elendil's
father Amandil took ship into the west with three crew. Now if there
is somehow a connection with Elendil in Alwin's mind, perhaps his father
had the same connection with Amandil, and Eadwine had the same connection
Later in Sauron Defeated there are earlier versions of the manuscript in which the two languages are not Quenya and Adunaic, but Quenya and Sindarin.
The Lost Road Version of the Downfall of Numenor:
This has the same general theme as the Notion Club Papers and is also unfinished. This time instead of Numenor intruding in dreams, the main character travels back in time with his son, in steps, much like where The Notion Club Papers manuscript breaks off.
The beginning of the Lost Road is very similar to that of the Notion Club Papers, with fragmentary "echoes" of the Elvish and Adunaic tongues entering through dreams. The main character's name has links with the name Aelfwine, much the same as in the Notion Club Papers. According to Tolkien the name Aelfwine means Elf-Friend.
In the Lost Road, there are two languages coming through. One of which the main character calls Berilandic (which later in the Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion becomes Sindarin) and one which though no names are given, I think to be Quenya. The name it is given in the Lost Road is Eressean, which should say something as in the Silmarillion, Tol Eressea is the island on which many of the elves (with the people of the Vanyar being a notable exception) dwell, including a majority of the Teleri that heeded the Valars' request (with the others becoming the Dark Elves) and the High Elves or the Noldor. The name for the Elves that returned from the Undying Lands with Feanor, against the will of the Valar, was also High Elves or the Light Elves, having seen the light of the Two Trees. The Noldor made up a large portion of the elves that left and the language of the Noldor was Quenya, so the language of the high Elves was Quenya.
One of the themes in both the Notion
Club Papers and The Lost Road is that of the "Straight Road", that exists
to the Undying lands that are no longer a part of Middle-Earth. As all
of Middle-Earth is now bent in the form of a globe, the "Straight Road"
is the only way to reach the Undying Lands, and normally only the special
ships of the Elves can navigate it. There are exceptions, which Tolkien
admits to at the end of the Alkallabeth, in the Silmarillion.
Tolkien has used almost the same verse in both the Lost Road and the Notion Club papers. The verse is (copied from The Lost Road):
ar sauron tule nahamna turkildi
unuhunine tarkalion ohtakare valannar
herunumen ilu terhante iluvitaren eari
ullier kilyanna numenore ataltane
Then there is a gap and the second part is a lament
malle tera lende numenna ilya si maller
raikar turkildi romenna huruhuine men-lumna
vahay sin atalante
The Lost Road translation
and ? came ? they-fell ?
under-Shadow ? war-made on-Powers
Lord-of-West world broke of Iluvitar
seas Poured in-Chasm Numenor down-fell
Road Straight went Westward all now roads
bent ? eastward Death-shadow us-is-heavy
far-away now ?
My translation will have italics for the names otherwise it is in plain text:
and Sauron came? they-fell lordly-men
Road Straight went Westward all now
In The Lost Road as in The Notion Club Papers, references to Numenor and to the Eagles of the Lords of the West slip through, though neither Alboin or Alwin really understand them or remember that they were saying them. Again in the Lost Road as in The Notion Club Papers there is one person who sees the silent scenes and one who hears the words with no pictures associated. In this story the person who sees the pictures is Alboin's son Audoin, while in The Notion Club Papers, Jeremy and Alwin are totally unrelated.
In both the Lost Road and The Notion
Club Papers, Tolkien has used many historical references, though it
is especially apparent in the Lost Road as far as it gets.
The manuscripts leading up to the Alkallabeth which is the only finished Numenor story and any comparisons between them and the previous two (The Notion Club papers and the Lost Road) are in this section.
Apparently the final scene in the Lost
Road is what survived in the Alkallabeth as the Downfall of Numenor.
The Fall of Numenor is earlier than
the Lost Road as can be told by the names Tolkien used, In the earlier
stories, Sauron was named Sur and Tarkalion was Angor. Though the Fall
of Numenor is earlier it is probably only very slightly earlier than
The Lost Road, as Tolkien was still developing the name "Numenor".
In the Fall of Numenor and the Drowning
of Anadune, the long life of the Numenoreans is given to the fact that
they were allowed to sail to Tol Eressea, though this is very clearly
not so in the Alkallabeth. In both the Fall of Numenor and the Drowning
of Anadune the ban is to go farther west than Tol Eressea while in the
Alkallabeth it is to go more than a day's sailing west of Numenor.
At the time he was writing the Fall of Numenor, Tolkien had only one son of Earendil, not the twins as in the Silmarillion and the Alkallabeth.
In the Fall of Numenor, as in the Alkallabeth, Tolkien had the Numenoreans become more like the elves, eg. taking on their language. In the third version of the Fall of Numenor, the part about the kings being able to land once each lifetime in Valinor was removed, but the ban still extended to allow the Numenoreans to land on Tol Eressea.
At first Tolkien was using the end of the Fall of Numenor for part of the Council of Elrond as it was told in the Treason of Isengard which is the 7th book of the history of Middle-Earth series.
The part about the last King of Numenor
sending his servants to fetch Sauron is almost the same as in the Alkallabeth.
The beginning of the Drowning of Anadune
starts with a brief history of Middle-Earth, whereas both the Fall of
Numenor and the Alkallabeth start at the end of the wars over the Silmarils,
with the Men who had helped the Valar overthrow Morgoth sailing to the
island that was their reward.
The Alkallabeth: I skipped the last version of the Drowning of Anadune as there is almost no difference from the Alkallabeth except for the following:
2. The fact that in the Drowning of Anadune there is no real distinction between the Valar and the Eldar.
3. Some place names are different from the Alkallabeth.
In the last version of the Drowning of Anadune, Earendel gains the name used in the Alkallabeth, Bright Earendel.
In the Alkallabeth though not in any
other of the stories used here, Elrond, has a twin brother Elros, who
is the first king of the Numenoreans, not Elrond as is in the other
versions. Also while Elrond chooses to have the life of the Eldar, Elros
chooses the life of the Edain, though he was granted a life span many
times greater than any other of the Edain.
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