Early Elf Generations

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I found all the schemes for population growth in the earliest elf generations a bit disconcerting. It felt rather mechanical, as if for years the elves were reproducing in sync - I kept thinking of the scene in A Wrinkle In Time when the children in all the front yards are bouncing balls simultaneously. You know, all those couples having sex at the same time so all their children will be conceived together and born in the spring of a certain year. Maybe it was just reading so many possible schemes one after the other.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I found all the schemes for population growth in the earliest elf generations a bit disconcerting. It felt rather mechanical, as if for years the elves were reproducing in sync - I kept thinking of the scene in A Wrinkle In Time when the children in all the front yards are bouncing balls simultaneously. You know, all those couples having sex at the same time so all their children will be conceived together and born in the spring of a certain year. Maybe it was just reading so many possible schemes one after the other.
Animals' mating seasons do not seem very mechanical to me? It is more intune with nature and its seasons. Fit for elves imho.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The difference is nobody thinks animals mating seasons are based on deep love.
Yes, but for humans procreation is disconnected both from love and from natural seasons, in elves both are still deeply connected both to internal and external nature. But even in humans still spring is considered the "season of love".
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I meant animals mating is not based on love.

Tolkien would disagree about humans. There is a wonderful letter to one of his sons about love and sex that shows that without love sex is unrewarding, while with love and for the purpose of procreation it is one of the deepest experiences. It's very much the way he described the kinds of love elves feel in the early chapters, and connects the love of friendship and the love of procreation, thus saying that elves mate for life because when procreation is over the other deep love remains. I think that is very much the way he feels about human marriage. As for the season of love, it is often found that a baby boom happens nine months after a big blizzard, so spring may be the season of love, but not necessarily the only one.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I meant animals mating is not based on love.

Tolkien would disagree about humans. There is a wonderful letter to one of his sons about love and sex that shows that without love sex is unrewarding, while with love and for the purpose of procreation it is one of the deepest experiences. It's very much the way he described the kinds of love elves feel in the early chapters, and connects the love of friendship and the love of procreation, thus saying that elves mate for life because when procreation is over the other deep love remains. I think that is very much the way he feels about human marriage. As for the season of love, it is often found that a baby boom happens nine months after a big blizzard, so spring may be the season of love, but not necessarily the only one.
That is the ideal but not the sad reality of humanity. Both intercourse without love, intercourse without procreation as love without intercourse, love without procreation as procreation without love and nowadays even procreation without intercourse are a thing for humans - as a result of the alienation of the humans from their own nature. Elvish nature - included love and procreation - is not alienated from nature as a whole and only is insomuch "overshadowed" as the whole of nature is - not more. As such it does not surprise me that elvish procreational seasons are in synch with the overall natural seasons. Seems fitting to me.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Tolkien was romantic and Catholic in his idea of marriage; I was not thinking of all the variations we have nowadays. I think his description of elf marriage is very much his ideal for humans too.

But what you are describing as elves being closer to nature is very true of what happened in later generations. I was talking about the descriptions of the very first generations, where the whole purpose was to populate the world, and doesn't seem to conform to that ideal.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Tolkien was romantic and Catholic in his idea of marriage; I was not thinking of all the variations we have nowadays. I think his description of elf marriage is very much his ideal for humans too.
But some of this variation we aleady see in Tolkien's human marriages.

But what you are describing as elves being closer to nature is very true of what happened in later generations. I was talking about the descriptions of the very first generations, where the whole purpose was to populate the world, and doesn't seem to conform to that ideal.
Yes, but I am not convinced elves would step out of the natural order and the natural seasonal frame of reproduction even then just to achieve greater efficiency. This would be a human thing to do imho.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Plenty of other creatures beside humans don’t have mating seasons. Some do and others don’t. I think it helps delineate elves as a seller are species. It’s certainly odd to humans but only because it’s not our norm. Doesn’t mean it can’t be borne of love, just that elves are a different kind of being with different customs, drives and emotional responses.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I don't think the synchronization of generations in all those 1959 tables should be taken too seriously.

I'm sure that 'generations' for the whole population of Elves would soon blur, overlap, and become indistinguishable, as they do for Men.

JRRT is just assuming synchronization for his tables to estimate whether the Elf population would grow to the size he wants it in the time he wants to give it. It is an artificial assumption to aid rough calculation, I think, not a feature of Elvish nature.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I don't think the synchronization of generations in all those 1959 tables should be taken too seriously.

I'm sure that 'generations' for the whole population of Elves would soon blur, overlap, and become indistinguishable, as they do for Men.

JRRT is just assuming synchronization for his tables to estimate whether the Elf population would grow to the size he wants it in the time he wants to give it. It is an artificial assumption to aid rough calculation, I think, not a feature of Elvish nature.
I know. I think that's what I was responding to - it's all so different from how I think of Elvish nature. And I still think it's weird that he can detach himself enough to know which generation which elves belonged to. It helped when Corey talked about Tolkien enjoying himself doing all the figuring in the tables - for Tolkien at least it was far from mechanical.
 
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