Years the countless.

Whenever we meet Elves in Tolkien’s tales, their age is often very hard to discern. To mortal eyes they may appear as middle-aged individuals in full vigour, but in reality they can be thousands years old. Having a different life-span to that of Men, Elves grow older much more slowly, but grow older they do. Even though their ageing may not always be visible to mortal eyes, Elves feel it most acutely.

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Are you friend or foe?

It was often the case that in his writings J. R. R. Tolkien used unusual words either in their older meanings changed today, or the ones no longer in active use. It is such words that create a very special old-fashioned atmosphere of most of the Professor’s tales, tone them down to the stories of the past and give lovers of words a chance to dig out a new lexical treasure. One of such interesting choices was the noun unfriend that does not appear in Tolkien’s works very often.

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Down in the valley.

…and the house of Elrond was a refuge for the

weary and the oppressed, and a treasury of

good counsel and wise lore.

(Silmarillion, p. 357)

There are many places in Middle-earth, and all of them have their own special atmosphere. Rivendell is one of the quietest and cosiest spots: its ability to provide repose and much-needed rest alongside good advice and safety is as amazing as it is vital.

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Forever young I want to be.

The matter of mortality vs immortality is very prominent in Tolkien’s tales. The Professor makes it absolutely clear that Men are mortal and they must not in any way crave or try to achieve immortality. Otherwise, the consequences might be most unpredictable and far from good. There are many examples in the world of Arda demonstrating what human aspirations for immortality can lead to, and in the present essay I would like to discuss the Númenóreans and their destiny.

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Deep into the woods.

Sam Gamgee famously said that there are “Elves and Elves”. Indeed, he was right. While the Elves are considered among the noblest in Middle-earth, there are Elves of various kinds. They differ from each other in personal qualities, just like all individuals do, as well as in a collective attitude to life inherent to some clans. The Silvan Elves occupy a seemingly lower place in the Elvish hierarchy, but they are just different: their lifestyle and philosophy set them apart from most of the other Elves.

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Beauty the preserved.

The Elves of Arda are often envied by mortals because of their immortality. However, having different fate, the Men cannot possibly understand all the possible disadvantages of continual living until the end of time. The Elves have their own sorrows which only intensify as the years go by — the fact which has a considerable influence on the Elvish attitude to life. 

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Fëanor the linguist.

In his tales J. R. R. Tolkien stated that Fëanor was the greatest of the Noldor in all features of his personality: body, mind, hands. Even though tainted by his arrogant, proud, fierce character and evil deeds, Fëanor’s talents were undeniable, and he made a great contribution to various aspects of Elvish culture. One of the fields which Fëanor was especially gifted in was languages.

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The weavers of words.

J. R. R. Tolkien was a gifted philologist: not only did he know his subject exceedingly well, but he also had an innate ability to understand and perceive tongues. Language matters are tightly interwoven into Tolkien’s tales, and they, as the Professor himself stated, were “fundamentally linguistic in inspiration” (Letters, № 165). Thus, it is only natural that Arda had its own talented linguists, and they were the Elves.

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