I have finally read the Athrabeth!
Now, I already know that I'm going to have to go back over it with a highlighter and pen to soak up as much as I can from it, but there was one passage that I wanted to comment on now.
Mainly* because it was something that just really surprised me? I just, would feel the exact opposite to this.
Anyway, it's part of Finrod's explanation of why Aegnor has opted to not be in a relationship with Andreth.
For context, Andreth has just said that she wouldn't have trouble Aegnor once she was elderly "I would not have hobbled as a hag after his bright feet, when I could no longer run beside him!". Finrod then points out that Aegnor would hardly abandon her once she was elderly, but he would end up pitying her and that he'd rather not shame her like that.
He then continues:
"Andreth, adaneth, the life and love of the Eldar dwells much in memory; and we (if not ye) would rather have a memory that is fair but unfinished than one that goes on to a grievous end. Now he will ever remember thee in the sun of morning, and that last evening with a star caught in thy hair - ever, until the North-wind brings night to his flame. Yea, and after that, sitting in the House of Mandos in the Halls of Awaiting until the end of Arda."
Essentially, it's better for him to have memories of what she looked like when she was young and pretty than to have memories of a whole (human) life together because then some of those memories would involve her being elderly and potentially frail or ill? There's just something that strikes me as so oddly shallow? The 'good' memories are literally just what she looks like? And this is better than memories of spending time with her?? Spending time making more and more memories???
There is a bit not much earlier, where Finrod explains that the Eldar don't marry or have children during war time or uncertain times. As a reason for Aegnor not to want to go ahead and actually be with Andreth, this seems fairly sound. We're just looking at a case of cultural differences. But the reason in the paragraph above? Doesn't make a lot of sense... 'Elves love memories, so naturally he chose to have less memories of you'.
As a side note, I feel there's something to be said here for how the Elves (in various bits and pieces that I've read) keep brushing off Men's worries and dislike of growing old and dying as some kind of sign of a Darkness within them, yet here we have Elves who, when confronted with someone they love growing old and dying, their solution is to turn away from it. They won't face it head on. It's a natural part of life that should bring no fear or sadness! ...until they have to experience it themselves... "would rather have a memory that is fair but unfinished than one that goes on to a grievous end"
(To be fair, this is not the only time in Tolkien's writing where I've seen women's beauty being their main stated-in-the-text value... so it may be that this is related to that. There's a smack of it alright....)
Anyway, I'll need to have another read to properly grasp what was being said. Parts were getting a bit philosophical for my little brain!
Actually! Another side note before I go! Fingolphin and Finarphin are deeply cursed spellings that I wish I have never had to see with mine own eyeballs...
*I got as far as writing 'Mai' and my hands automatically typed 'Mairon'. There really is no hope for me XD And now I sound like Andreth!
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