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Forum:Canonicity and Canon

Tolkien Gateway > Council > Canonicity and Canon


I'm relatively new here. I have been rewriting the Gandalf article to make it more understandable and streamlined as well as 'encyclopedic' in nature.

I have noticed that the 'canon' issue seems to crop up all over this site. I don't like the 'canon scale'-- it is clear though that many of you have done much work on it. The problem is: I don't think the scale clearly communicates anything useful to the casual reader. It takes some time to figure out what it denotes. I think it is confusing and sort of meaningless.

Is there in place a system or template of how this M.E. information ought to be presented? Is there any agreement on what exactly is 'Middle-Earth' and what is not?

I propose that articles on this site follow the following template: the published 'novels' (Hobbit, LOTR, Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Children of Hurin) contain CANONICAL information regarding M.E. and most articles should start out deliniating information from these sources.

The Essays, Letters, and Lost Tales that do not contradict the 'canonical' materials ought to be used to SUPPLEMENT the canon in a second section (where appropriate). Examples: details of the fight between Gothmog and Ecthelion in Gondolin; what happened to the Ent wives.

Lastly, Essays, Letters, and Lost Tales that contradict canon and/or supplementary material should me MENTIONED as indicative of possible future revisions et cet. by the author. Examples: that Galadriel left M.E. separately from the Feanorians and fought against them in Aqualonde; that Turin will return someday and fight against Morgoth in the last battle.

Articles on this site should conform to this system; that way there will be consistency here, which is lacking in my opinion. Thoughts? Glorfindel Mk. II 15:16, 15 August 2007 (EDT)

Hello Glorfindel, you've been doing a great job on Gandalf, thanks! The canon scale is something we are just testing around with but is not final, thanks for your input. This is just me but when referring to Tolkien's legendarium I usually use the term "Arda" or "Eä" instead of "Middle-earth" as Middle-earth doesn't include the entire world. Unfortunately saying The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and Unfinished Tales are all canon is simply not possible as they all contain inconsistencies with one another. It is definitely important however that no matter how non-canon material is, that it be mentioned and listed under "Other versions of the legendarium" so that the reader can make their own decision on what to believe and what not to believe. In general your opinion is valid though, and it's what we generally attempt to do, while taking into consideration conflicting views on an individual basis. Canon is a big issue however, we should probably write an entire article on how to handle canon on the wiki. Keep up the great work. --Hyarion 15:35, 15 August 2007 (EDT)
Yes, canonicty is an issue and i agree largely (if not entirely) with Hyarion on this matter. I strongly dissagree that we should take the 'novels' as canon over other writings since in many places, concepts are only fully explored and explained in publications like 'The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien' and 'History of Middle-earth'. Also, as in the case of Orodreth and Gil-galad, information contradictary to said 'novels' can sometimes be clearly identified as Tolkien's intent, misrepresented until the oppertunity arose to rectify the matter. The only way not to misrepresent Tolkien is to treat each case individually, presenting the most likely case in the main article but clearly spelling out all other alternatives in the "other versions..." section. As Hyarion has been talking about recently however, it is important that we focus on adding sources to articles identifying where each piece of information comes from which will aid people intereseted in the exact nature of canon in determining it from the primary source rather than taking it "from us" that X course was the most likely way Tolkien intended it. I do salute your efforts to make the Gandalf article more encyclopedic though, since conjecture has limited place in the main articles and many would benefit from 'cutting the crap' as it were and presenting the facts rather than telling a story. Dr Death 04:56, 16 August 2007 (EDT)