Gandalfs Death in Moria

Letter #156 is often considered to indicate a direct interference of Eru.

    "He was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or
    govenors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at
    the moment of its failure.  `Naked I was sent back- for a brief
    time, until my task is done'. Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by
    the `gods' whose business is only with this embodied world and its
    time; for he passed `out of thought and time'."

However Tolkien refers to it as a "defect in the story" in the same breath (Lett. #156):

    "I think the way in which Gandalf's return is presented is a defect, 
    and one other critic, as much under the spell as yourself, curiously 
    used the same expression: 'cheating'."

and the passage right after quotation 1) goes (ibid.):

     "'I am G. the White, who has returned from death'. 'I am G. the White, 
     who has returned from death'. Probably he should rather have said to 
     Wormtongue: 'I have not passed through death (not 'fire and flood') to 
      bandy crooked words with a serving-man'."

From the drafts presented in HoMe VII we learn that Tolkien hadn't made his mind in this issue by that time:

     "Gandalf  to  reappear  again. How did he escape? This might never
     be fully explained. He passed through  fire - and became the White

and in the earlier versions of "The White Rider" Gandalf doesn't die in Moria and is clothed in white by Galadriel in Lórien. I wonder if Gandalf's death and resurrection was not an afterthought of the Prof....

ToDo: Make this an essay or FAQ

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