I’ve been thinking a lot lately about death of the author w/r/t Tolkien, and how much I deeply, if unconsciously, rely on the concept in the creation of my own stories. Because I do strive, still, to create fic that is (mostly) canon-compliant, even if in many respects I’m going in with the specific agenda to subvert and undermine said canon. And I love the freedom to do that within the Tolkien legendarium, because all the texts we have are established in-universe as being secondary sources of a sort. And as any seasoned history major will tell you, secondary sources are imperfect, and fallible, and thus any inherent “rules” of this mythology are open to vast interpretation.
I find this incredibly freeing. I love the notion of wiggling through the cracks Tolkien left and wedging out a more powerful, fulfilling world in which the women of Middle-Earth are named, powerful, and diverse beings. ALL women, ordinary women, not just the queens and the warriors and the ‘man-hearted.’
But then, of course, no matter howe we choose to interpret the texts, it remains an entire legendarium created by a conservative old man, and the texts reflect that in so many cases that you couldn’t list them on two, much less twenty hands. So I’m also reluctant to fully declare death of the author, because it’s too easy. It lets Tolkien off the hook, and that’s not something that I want to do. He was sexist, he was racist, and that needs to be acknowledged when grappling with the grosser aspects of his legendarium. I don’t want to ignore or discount that even as I’m striving to undermine it and wedge myself between the cracks.
So, I suppose, take both of those contradicting thoughts I’m having into account as I roll out this Dúnedain Matriarchy Manifesto. I recognize that this is hardly the first time these conversations have been had, and I owe a great debt to the fabulous people who have discussed these issues in many forums before me. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it discussed with regard to the women of the Dúnedain specifically, and I do want to bring that front and center here. ( Aaand the rest of this goes behind a cut. )