Authorship and editors of the Red Book - re Findegil

ChrisLoves

New Member
Hi Corey et al,

Long time, first time here. Hoping to get clarity on something in relation to the authorship of the Red Book and its subsequent amendments and additions.

I often hear and read Findegil credited with amendments and additions (e.g. "so it was that Frodo saw her...") to the text originally written by the assorted hobbits. I cannot square this with the passage where Findegil's appended note is reported, as follows:

"It [the most important copy of the Red Book] is an exact copy in all details of the Thain's Book in Minas Tirith." [italics mine]

If Findegil's work is an exact copy in all details of another book, then surely his hand can't be credited with any additions?

Following that thread, the Thain's Book "was a copy, made at the request of King Elessar, of the Red Book of the Periannath ...In Minas Tirith it [the Thain's Book] received much annotation, and many corrections..."

So it seems to me that additions of the type attributed to Findegil should properly to be credited to the unnamed scribes in Minas Tirith (or possibly Barahir, who is credited with The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen?) who annotated and corrected the Red Book to create the Thain's Book?

Am I missing, or misinterpreting something, or is Findegil getting a bit of unearned credit?
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
I suggest that Findegil is being used as a representative of all of the southern scribes, and that you are correct to say that the additions and amendments are more appropriately credited to unnamed scribes. The closest we get to a proper attribution is Barahir, and even that is uncertain.

It is also somewhat incorrect to conflate the Thain's Book with the Red Book (of Westmarch, or of the Perriannath, but even these might not be identical), but it is easy to think of them as being much the same given that the latter is the source of the former. Copies of the Red Book made for Sam's descendants might also have had other amendments or additions made, but they don't seem to have been used for this work unless it was for the Appendices; It is unclear when the fifth volume was added in Westmarch with a window of about 30 years between the founding of the Westmarch and the departure of Pippin and Merry from the Shire, so the material for the Appendices could have been included in the Thain's Book before delivery to Gondor.

I find it interesting that the provenance of the work seems to be:
- Red Book written by various Hobbits in the years immediately before and after the War of the Ring: at least Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam; Merry and Pippin may have also been authors rather than simply consultants, especially for the material for the Appendices.
- Thain's Book transcribed from Red Book by unknown scribe(s) (presumably Hobbit(s)) at the request of King Elessar shortly after the departure of Sam and delivered to Minas Tirith by Pippin (IV 64).
- Approximately 90 years of amendments and additions performed by Gondorian scribes before Findegil made a clean(?) copy.
- Delivery of this copy to the Shire where it was kept at the Great Smials (presumably unchanged) for an undisclosed period of time.
- Translation by Tolkien (an undetermined number of Ages later) from predominantly Westron to predominantly English.

This means that the original left by Sam forms the basis of the work done in Gondor, with Findegil signing off on the finished product that Tolkien translates. It also means that a number of generations in the Shire had only the original version to inform their understanding, prior to the arrival of the Gondorian version after nearly a century.

I wonder how the Hobbits would have received the corrected version of the stories from away south.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
“Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate; they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.”

Or were the younger generations more flexible?
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
“Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate; they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.”

Or were the younger generations more flexible?
emphasis added

I think this indicates that the new versions of the stories from the south might have met with resistance, where they contradicted what they already 'knew'.
 
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