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Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth

— Cami D. Agan, Professor of Language and Literature, Oklahoma Christian University

Paper given 3 July 2021 at Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021: Saturday session № 2

The First Age philosophical dialogue between Finrod Felagund and Bëoran Andreth offers a brief glimpse into ways the diverse Peoples of Middle-earth may speak to one another across difference. Through Finrod and Andreth, we see how the inhabitants of Arda can bridge the gap of experience, knowledge, and difference to achieve not only personal connection but indeed visionary potential.

While the text reflects Tolkien’s concern for the immortality (and death) of the Elves; … the Fall of Men and the length of their early history” (Morgoth’s Ring viii), the dialogue also reflects the struggle of two people, who although they may long for connection and understanding, frequently talk at cross-purposes, feel belittled, or refuse the claims of their partner. Both Finrod and Andreth must take the words of the other on faith,” must respect the lore of the other as valid and indeed inspiring, and finally must see one another in new and at times revelatory ways. Significantly, it is the knowledge or lore of Andreth who teaches” or enlightens Finrod about the possibilities for a transformed, healing future not only for Men and Elves but indeed for all Arda.

As the conversation moves, Finrod contemplates the foundational subjects from the viewpoint of Andreth. Though he corrects Andreth’s at times nearly blasphemous claims, Finrod’s empathy brings him the vision of the ways in which humans may be the healers of Arda and the salvation of the Eldar. Like the brief moments of peace and cooperation Finrod Felagund has facilitated elsewhere in the Great Tales, this discussion emphasizes the Elf-lord valuing difference, the voice of the Other: a woman, a human, a mortal, as he embraces their lore above even his own.

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date recorded 📅2021-08-13
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