Ælfwine from England

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Ælfwine from England ( English Ælfwine of England ), which was also called Eriol , is a short story by the writer JRR Tolkien , which was first written as a sketch and later in two different versions in more detail around the year 1920. Ælfwine represents a link between the mythology of Middle-earth and the story planned by Tolkien as an independent work entitled The Lost Road , which should tell of a journey through time to Númenor and connect the real world with the legends of Middle-earth.


Tolkien's original idea was to compile a collection of legends and myths for his native England. He himself wrote:

“But there was a time (since then I have long since become more meek) when I planned to create a collection of more or less coherent legends that would range from the great cosmogonic to the romantic fairy tale - […] a work that I could simply dedicate to my country, England. "

- JRR Tolkien

Ælfwine is first described as an Anglo-Saxon who lived in Britain in the 10th century. His name is made up of "Alf" = 'Elb, Elf' and "wine" = 'Freund' ( English Elf-friend ) in Old English . During this time Ælfwine was a common name and the protagonist of the tale is reported to be a descendant of Eearendil the Navigator . In addition to the story, there is also a poem entitled The Song of Eriol, the first version of which was written in 1916 as The Wanderer's Allegiance .

Like all of Earendil's descendants, he had a passion for seafaring in his blood. He was the only one who managed to reach the Lonely Island (Elvish "Tol Eressea", or Avallon ). There he was told the unknown legends that were summarized in the first two parts of the History of Middle-earth as The Book of Lost Tales . The story of the fall of Númenor connects these works, because the journey through time should lead there, to the time shortly before the fall. When Ælfwine returned from his trip, he told the people in his English homeland about this event and his experiences and performed them as ballads. Most recently he sang about the "Nameless Land" ( English The Nameless Land ), which was also called The Song of Ælfwine . Tolkien wrote two different versions of the umlfwine legend.

Original sketch

Eriol actually had its origin on Heligoland , so his name can also be called "someone from the iron coast" ("ere" = one [from] "ollo" = the iron coast [Er-i-ollo, Er-i-ôl]) be interpreted, which relates to the color of the rocks of Heligoland. He had a son named Heorrenda from Hægwudu (see also the mention in The Lament of Deor ), who was from Great Haywood in Staffordshire . This direct connection to the real world (Tolkien lived in this place in 1917) was later changed, so the equations of Kortirion (view of Kor) = Warwick and Taruithorn or Taruktarna (Ochsenfurt) = Oxford disappeared. Eriol is initially referred to as Ottor Wǽfre (the restless), son of Eoh (horse), who lived on Heligoland. After his father was slain by his brother Beorn, he married Cwén, who gave birth to sons Horsa and Hengest . After the death of his wife, he left his children and set out to find Tol Eressea, since he himself was born under the star Earendels (the morning star).

“But initially his role within the work should be much more important than (what it then became) simply that of a man from later days who came to the» land of the fairies «and there acquired lost or hidden knowledge […]: To At the beginning, Eriol should have an important place in fairy history - namely as a witness to the sinking of the Elven island of Tol Eressea. [...] The Eriol story is indeed one of the most difficult and puzzling complexes in all of history. Middle-earth and Amans [...]. "

- Christopher Tolkien : Commentary on Eriol's conception and his planned role in the history of Middle-earth.

Version 1

The first version depicts him as a resident of Wessex and states that Warwick was originally built by Elves in memory of Kortirion on Tol Eressea (there is a 1915 poem entitled Kortirion among the Trees ) . Ælfwine lived in Warwick in Luthany (England) and came from the family of Ing . His father was Deor, a minstrel, and his mother Eadgifu . In the days of his youth, Warwick was attacked by Vikings from the north, his parents were killed and the boy had to serve as a servant to the Viking Orm. Years later he managed to escape to the west coast of England. There he learned to sail and often went far out to sea. Once he saw islands far to the west, but the wind always drove him back home. Finally he and seven companions set out to look for these islands. They got caught in a storm, the ship shattered and Ælfwine woke up in the morning alone on the beach of one of the portless islands. Here he met an ancient shipwrecked man who called himself the "man of the sea". During his stay he learned a lot from the old man. One morning the Viking Orm's ship was washed ashore without a crew. Ælfwine and the Man of the Sea boarded the ship and headed west. On an island, Ælfwine found his seven companions unharmed with the Ythlingen, a seafaring people. The man of the sea had a new ship built for them and blessed it on the day of their departure before jumping off a high cliff into the sea and disappearing. After many days the island of Tol Eressea came into view from the fog, but it soon disappeared again and the wind drove the ship to the east. Ælfwine jumped into the water and swam west. The first version ends here.

Version 2

The second version begins with the words:

“Once upon a time there was a land called England, and it was an island of the west, and before it was broken in the war of the gods, it was the most westerly of all the northern lands, facing the great sea which the people called one Garsecg; but the part that broke off was called Ireland and has many more names, and its inhabitants have no part in these stories [...] "

- JRR Tolkien

Here Ælfwine was a sailor and minstrel in the service of King Eadweard Thegn Odda. He was called "Wídlást" ( English Fartraveled 'the far-traveled ' ). His father was Eadwine, the son of Oswine. He is said to have been born around the year 869 AD. When the boy was nine years old (around AD 878), his father sailed away on his ship, Earendel, and never returned. The attacks by the Danes forced Ælfwine and his mother to flee Somerset for west Wales . There he learned the arts of seafaring and returned to Somerset to go to war in the service of the king. During his voyages out to sea he heard the Irish legends of Maelduin and Saint Brendan , who had both gone far out to sea and told of wondrous enchanted islands. So he heard of the great country in the west that had perished and of the survivors who had settled in Ireland. The descendants of those men all had a longing for seafaring in their blood. Around the year 915 AD, Ælfwine set out one morning with his companions Treowine, Ceola and Geraint, possibly to find the land of the legendary King Sceaf in the west . After many days, they were struck by a "dream-like death" as they entered the straight path. When Ælfwine came to, he was lying on the beach of an island and a group of elves pulled his ship ashore. He had reached Tol Eressea. The Noldor gave him the name Eriol, which consists of "ere" = one (alone, individually), "i" = der and "olo" = dream together and means "someone who dreams alone". He learned the Noldorin and met Pengolodh (an elf from Gondolin) in the village of Tavrobel , who gave him the Ainulindale , the Lhammas , the Quenta Silmarillion , the stories from the Golden Book, the Narn I Chîn Húrin and the annals of Aman and Beleriand told. He learned the stories by heart and wrote them down in Old English for posterity on his return to England. The notes of Bilbo Baggins also go back to the stories of Pengolodh.

Differences between the versions

The essential courses of action are identical, the Elves leave Kôr (in Eldamar, Valinor) and march into the Great Lands (Middle-earth), there it comes to war with humans. Now the sequence changes, in the first version the Elves withdrew directly to Tol Eressea (here equated with England), in the second version it is initially a retreat to Luthania (England) and from there the departure to Tol Eressea, to the lonely island off the coast of Aman (land of the Valar, promised land, blessing). (1) Eriol reaches Tol Eressea, hear the stories there, the island is drawn back to the great lands and so Tol Eressea finally becomes England. (2) Ælfwine sails from England to Tol Eressea, here no longer equated with England, anchored far in the west and actually inaccessible to humans.


  • JRR Tolkien: The Book of Lost Stories. Part 1. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93061-0 , (Eriol [Ælfwine] the lost stories are told on Tol Eressea, which he is said to have written down later, translated by Hans J. Schütz).
  • JRR Tolkien: Ælfwine of England In: The Book of Lost Tales. Part 2. Grafton, London 1992, ISBN 0-261-10214-1 , p. 312 ff.
  • JRR Tolkien: Ælfwine from England. In: The Book of Lost Stories. Part 2. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93062-7 , pp. 320-341 (translated by Hans J. Schütz).
  • Verlyn Flieger: Do the Atlantis story and abandon Eriol saga . In: Tolkien Studies . tape 1 , no. 1 , 2004, p. 43–68 , doi : 10.1353 / tks.2004.0007 (English, jhu.edu - background information on Eriol, Ælfwine and the idea of ​​creating a mythology for England).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The interpretation of the world in the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien: An investigation into the functionality and ethical principles of the text in the context of Tolkien's work with reference to the Old Norse myths . epubli, 2014, ISBN 978-3-7375-1009-7 , pp. 9-10 ( books.google.de ).
  2. The Song of Eriol. Tolkien Gateway, accessed June 19, 2018 .
  3. Ælfwine's song on swanrad.ch (PDF).
  4. a b Verlyn Flieger : A Question of Time. JRR Tolkien's Road to Faërie . Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio 2001, ISBN 0-87338-699-X , pp. 163 ff . ( books.google.de ).
  5. Guido Schwarz: Virgins in Nightgowns, Blonde Warriors from the West: a motivational-psychological-critical analysis of JRR Tolkien's mythology and worldview . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-8260-2619-5 , p. 24-25 ( books.google.de ).
  6. ^ JRR Tolkien: VI. The story of Eriol or Ælfwine and the end of the stories . In: Christopher Tolkien (Ed.): Die Geschichte Mittelerdes […] 13th edition. The book of lost stories part 2. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93062-7 , p. 292-319 , here p. 302 ff .
  7. JRR Tolkien: The Hut of the Forgotten Game . In: Christopher Tolkien (ed.): The story of Middle Earth. [...] The book of lost stories. Part 1. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93061-0 , p. 28 ff . ( books.google.de - in the comment, translated by Hans J. Schütz).
  8. Lee W. Lundin: The Book of Lost Tales - The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales. In: Tolkien Read Through - wordpress.com .
  9. ^ A b The Chroniclers of Middle-earth. tolkienonline.de, accessed on June 19, 2018 .
  10. JRR Tolkien: Ælfwine from England . In: Christopher Tolkien (Ed.): Die Geschichte Mittelerdes […] 13th edition. The book of lost stories part 2. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93062-7 , p. 320 .
  11. Verlyn Flieger: A Question of Time. JRR Tolkien's Road to Faërie . Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio 2001, ISBN 0-87338-699-X , pp. 146 ( books.google.de ).
  12. ^ JRR Tolkien: VI. The story of Eriol or Ælfwine and the end of the stories . In: Christopher Tolkien (Ed.): Die Geschichte Mittelerdes […] 13th edition. The book of lost stories part 2. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93062-7 , p. 292–319 , here p. 312 ff. ( Books.google.de - restricted view).