Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Elvish Fanons and Canon Contradictions (Or, how to get those canatics off your case for stuff you were right about in the first place)

Author: Darth Fingon
Nominator: pandemonium_213
2010 Award Category: Genres: Non-Fiction - First Place

Story Type: Non-Fiction : Length: N/A
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Debunking popular fanons: not everything you've heard about Elves is right.


Reviewed by: Fiondil -- Score: 10

I remember the war that raged across Tolkien fanon (and may still be raging for all I know) in which one group adamantly insisted that “ellleth” and “ellon” were not proper Eldarin words and should not be used in fan writing and the arguments I would have with certain people who refused to acknowledge the documented proof of the existence of these terms in Tolkien’s works. I was always puzzled by this denial on the part of certain so-called “purists” because it was right there for all who had eyes to see. So, reading this short but informative essay by Darth Fingon I was glad to see him approaching the subject from a different angle. As a writer, I personally prefer to use the Eldarin words for “man”, “woman”, etc. when referring to Elves (and I do use the term “elfling” only because the Eldarin words are, to my mind, awkward and pointless) and reserve our English terms for the mortals in my stories. This helps to separate the races, yet it’s not a cut-and-dry thing with me and so I am glad to see that Darth Fingon has taken the time to show where certain “Elves would never (fill in the blank)” concepts are just plain wrong. So now all of us can sit back and relax and just enjoy writing and reading our stories without getting all bent out of shape about it. Right?

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 -- Score: 6

When I first stumbled into the world of Tolkienian fan fiction about three years ago, I came across fannish posits that made me wonder if the readers and writers who perpetuated certain beliefs about Elves had read the same texts I had. Certain fanon conclusions did more than contradict my own cherished interpretations: they contradicted Tolkien's texts. In [Elvish Fanons and Canon Contradictions], Darth systematically addresses the most commonly held misconceptions about Elves, and with his characteristically methodical manner, provides evidence that argues against such notions that Elves never refer to their own kind as [men, women or children], that they never become ill or cannot die from hunger and thirst (among other things). Written succinctly in a direct, highly readable form, Darth's essay comprises a short list, but highlights some popular notions that are in fact not borne out in Tolkien's texts.

Reviewed by: Olorime -- Score: 5

Oh, I am such a Darth Fingon groupie... I couldn't resist to write a review. First of all, his essays are always witty and unpretentious and very informative. Second, I love being able to rub these sort of almost cannon documents on the faces of pretentious canonists that think they know better. I mean, it is Darth Fingon, head Lizard and Tolkien linguist extraordinaire, so who would dare contradict him? *wink* Besides, I have read those books myself, but I am a not nearly as skilled or witty as Mr. Fingon so my views on these prickly topics are better served by directing skeptics to these lovely, piquant and to point opinion pieces written by such an amazing writer.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 5

Okay, I have to say, my favorite thing about this story is the title! LOL! But I did enjoy reading it-- since I am primarily a hobbit reader and writer, I'm not as familiar with the Elvish fanon conventions. The first one is shared by a lot of hobbit folks: not to use "man, woman, boy or child" for hobbits. Most hobbit writers use "lad" or "lass"-- I plead guilty of that myself. When I first began to write fic, a beta told me I should do that, and not use boy or girl. It's a habit now. I'd not thought about them having the same sort of problem for Elves! And I am glad to see this essayist put that particular notion to rest.

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 5

Like with other essays written by Darth Fingon, the first thing that strikes the reader is its logic, backed up by evidence found in Tolkien's own writings. Not just through the interpretation of stories, but in some cases, through analysing the existing vocabulary of the elvish languages, which give a glimpse as to their culture. But this is not a dry, academic linguistic essay, but one that made me smile too! Of course, it is always useful to know elves sneezed too, and it was great to hear the reasons why not using overdoing one's "elleth"s or "ellon"s in a story is actually a good thing! I hope to see a second instalment soon.

Reviewed by: elfscribe -- Score: 5

There are quite a few "facts" that some fans state with vehemence that can be readily disproved just by looking at Tolkien's actual works. And that is exactly what Darth does in this short essay. He addresses the notion that the terms "man" or "woman" should not be used to represent elves; that elves cannot become sick, or die from hunger or thirst, or that all elves are ambidextrous. I always appreciate Darth's clear, concise language, his logic, and his wit. I would enjoy more essays along these lines addressing such fanon ideas as all elves are vegetarians or that they never use saddles and bridles. Maybe in the next newsletter.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 5

This essay wrangles with four frequently stated beliefs about what Elves would never do and shows that, in fact, they would. Or at least how a writer can plausibly argue that they would in his/her fanfiction. (On a side note, I was surprised to see others had leaped on man-woman thing, which was something I'd avoided doing with my own Elves. I didn't realize that it perturbed others did as well, or that it had actively been used as a critique of people's stories.) One can argue with Darth Fingon's points - I have no problem with saying that Tolkien was silly when the occasion warrants it - but one cannot say they aren't well made. My only criticism of this essay is that it is too short. Seriously.

Reviewed by: Cairistiona -- Score: 5

At last! I can write now write with confidence the story idea I had wherein Legolas catches a cold while wandering dehydrated in the desert and has to learn how to wield his sword with his left hand because he sprained his right wrist leaning his chin on it too much while daydreaming about the woman he had met in Mirkwood with whom he wants to have children! Seriously, Darth Fingon, without sounding pompous or condescending, has produced an excellent essay debunking some of the common bits of fanon regarding Elves. Kudos especially for using [canatics] in favor of the more disagreeable "canon nazi". This is definitely an essay I'll keep on hand for future reference.

Reviewed by: Jael -- Score: 4

I really wish I'd had this essay available to me when I first started writing and had to fight against well-meaning but preposterous advice. My only suggestion would be that Darth seriously consider writing a second chapter, or perhaps a sequel. There are many burning questions still to be answered, such as, are their eyes ALL grey? And do Elves have built-in virginity detectors like it says in the Laws and Customs? Enquiring minds want to know.

Reviewed by: Aeärwen -- Score: 4

I love the way Darth Fingon goes about exploding all the little bits of fanon that have wormed their way into our community. He does so clearly, without truly ridiculing those who hold to the not-supported-by-facts ideas. This is a concise essay that doesn't over-dramatize the situation even while debunking favorite beliefs. It is, in my opinion, a must-read for all who might wish to try to write about the elves in Middle-earth. Bravo, Darth!

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 3

Oh, I do agree! Actually, I find the use of "ellon" and "elleth" a rather irritating mannerism that can make me give up on an otherwise interesting text. I see Tolkien using "Elf" and "Elf woman" or "Elf maiden" in the trilogy, and I don't see why that should not suffice for fanfic writers.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 3

In a short essay, the author manages to use Tolkien's own words to prove several fanon misconceptions wrong - and does so with dry humor, to boot. An entertaining and informative essay!

Reviewed by: Nath -- Score: 3

This essay addresses several points that Elf writers would do well to keep in mind (and one a particular pet peeve of mine as well). Of course, your mileage may differ on how you interpret various parts of Tolkien's writings, but I found myself nodding in agreement more than once.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 3

Ah, but we do love the canatics, don't we? I enjoyed this brief look at Elvish canon vs. fanon (if you accept the Book of Lost Tales as canon, at least for several of them), and am glad to see that not only LOTR writers get this kind of feedback! But the title is almost as long as the article! Heh!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 3

An incisive look at some fanfictional conventions of Elvish language and behavior. Darth Fingon makes good points and backs them up decisively. Very informative, and useful for any fanfic writer of Tolkien's elves!

Reviewed by: Ellynn -- Score: 2

This is a very good educational essay from which I learned some new things. I think it is useful for all fanfiction writers. I only regret that it is so short.

Reviewed by: Anna Wing -- Score: 2

A short essay usefully citing various bits of HoME in support of, essentially, common sense when writing Elves.