The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-25-2018, 02:39 PM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
Haunting Spirit
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 78
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
History of Middle Earth What is Needed?

So I have ordered morgoth's ring and I am also getting The War of the Jewels. So my question is this, do these books make the book of lost tales meaningless? it seems to me they do. It seems volumes 1-4 of the history would not really be needed as to the history of the sillmarillion. What do you guys think?


Also Not to say reading them is useless, but what is the point of reading the histories of the LOTR volumes 6-9 if Tolkien held unpublished material so low it seems.


“It will probable work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to rite itself once I get going as if the truth comes out then, only imperfectly simple in the preliminary sketch.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 91


“Every part has been [re]written many times”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 130


Tolkien was a perfectionist in his writings. Nothing hit the press unless revised, reconsidered and then finally published. Even sections that had stayed constant over and over could be drastically changed moments before publication such as the design to minis tirith. C.S Lewis said the inklings had “hoped for a final text of an old work, what they actually got was the first draft of a new one.”


“Whole thing comes out of the wash quite different to any preliminary sketch”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

Last edited by R.R.J Tolkien; 07-25-2018 at 04:21 PM.
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2018, 02:48 AM   #2
Huinesoron
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Huinesoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The Fair City of Nargothrond
Posts: 524
Huinesoron is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
It absolutely depends on what you want to get out of it.
  • The Book of Lost Tales I & II are fascinating, because they comprise a nearly-complete version of Middle-earth which is completely different to the one we know. If you want to read the tale of Beren and Luthien versus a giant cat, this is where you find it. They also have a lot more detail than the later Silmarillion, in particular for the parts before the Elves awoke (Volume 1), and are unique in applying a framing narrative to the legends of the Elder Days.
  • The Lays of Beleriand is a beautiful book, and if you like Tolkien's poetry I'd say it's indispensable. It's the only volume of HoME that I have two copies of.
  • The Shaping of Middle-earth is one to skip, unless you're interested in Tolkien's thought-processes. It contains the first 'Annals' version of the Silm (a condensed form which carried through clear to the final versions), and also the original maps, but there's nothing truly exciting.
  • The Lost Road is mostly another 'works in progress' book, featuring the first Quenta Silmarillion text, plus the first stories of Numenor. Its two big selling points are 'The Lost Road' itself - Tolkien's unfinished Time-Travel-To-Numenor tale - and a whole heap of stuff about the development of his languages.
  • The History of the Lord of the Rings (volumes 6-9) is kind of off being its own thing. It's fascinating stuff, but if you don't want to see Tolkien's drafts, it's mostly skippable. (The same goes for Rateliff's History of the Hobbit, which isn't part of HoME but seems worth a mention.)
  • The exception is book 9, Sauron Defeated, which includes the wonderful Notion Club Papers. This is a nearly-complete story which is part literary criticism, part time travel to Numenor, and part sociological study of a lightly-disguised version of the Inklings.
  • Morgoth's Ring you've ordered, and it's probably my favourite. The Athrabeth is a beautiful text (says the unabashed Finrod fan...), and with 'Laws and Customs...' and 'Myths Transformed', this is the book you want if you're seeking a deeper insight into what Tolkien envisioned the people of the Elder Days actually being like, or if you want to know his very latest thoughts.
  • The War of the Jewels is a bit of an in-between book. It forms part of a pair with Morgoth's Ring - between them they hold the last 'completed' text of the Silmarillion - but its offerings after that are kind of slapdash. A bit of linguistics, a bit of chronology, a bit of puzzling over tricky questions... it's all right.
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth mostly deals with the later Ages. It's presented as the history of the Appendices, but it's not - it's just a book of everything CT didn't fit into the earlier ones. It contains two partial narratives from otherwise unstudied eras - the early Second Age, and the early Fourth - along with the definitive text on dwarves, and... well, bits and pieces. If your primary interest is the Noldor, it does feature a discussion of Feanor's use of language, but it's probably not worth it just for that.

It's also probably worth mentioning the 'allied texts' - The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and the upcoming Fall of Gondolin. Between them, they pretty much negate the need for The Book of Lost Tales II - the 'Tale of Turambar' isn't all that different from the final version, and B&L and (presumably) FoG include accounts of the earlier stories. They are also beautiful books in their own right.

hS
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2018, 05:29 AM   #3
R.R.J Tolkien
Haunting Spirit
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 78
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
It absolutely depends on what you want to get out of it.
  • The Book of Lost Tales I & II are fascinating, because they comprise a nearly-complete version of Middle-earth which is completely different to the one we know. If you want to read the tale of Beren and Luthien versus a giant cat, this is where you find it. They also have a lot more detail than the later Silmarillion, in particular for the parts before the Elves awoke (Volume 1), and are unique in applying a framing narrative to the legends of the Elder Days.
  • The Lays of Beleriand is a beautiful book, and if you like Tolkien's poetry I'd say it's indispensable. It's the only volume of HoME that I have two copies of.
  • The Shaping of Middle-earth is one to skip, unless you're interested in Tolkien's thought-processes. It contains the first 'Annals' version of the Silm (a condensed form which carried through clear to the final versions), and also the original maps, but there's nothing truly exciting.
  • The Lost Road is mostly another 'works in progress' book, featuring the first Quenta Silmarillion text, plus the first stories of Numenor. Its two big selling points are 'The Lost Road' itself - Tolkien's unfinished Time-Travel-To-Numenor tale - and a whole heap of stuff about the development of his languages.
  • The History of the Lord of the Rings (volumes 6-9) is kind of off being its own thing. It's fascinating stuff, but if you don't want to see Tolkien's drafts, it's mostly skippable. (The same goes for Rateliff's History of the Hobbit, which isn't part of HoME but seems worth a mention.)
  • The exception is book 9, Sauron Defeated, which includes the wonderful Notion Club Papers. This is a nearly-complete story which is part literary criticism, part time travel to Numenor, and part sociological study of a lightly-disguised version of the Inklings.
  • Morgoth's Ring you've ordered, and it's probably my favourite. The Athrabeth is a beautiful text (says the unabashed Finrod fan...), and with 'Laws and Customs...' and 'Myths Transformed', this is the book you want if you're seeking a deeper insight into what Tolkien envisioned the people of the Elder Days actually being like, or if you want to know his very latest thoughts.
  • The War of the Jewels is a bit of an in-between book. It forms part of a pair with Morgoth's Ring - between them they hold the last 'completed' text of the Silmarillion - but its offerings after that are kind of slapdash. A bit of linguistics, a bit of chronology, a bit of puzzling over tricky questions... it's all right.
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth mostly deals with the later Ages. It's presented as the history of the Appendices, but it's not - it's just a book of everything CT didn't fit into the earlier ones. It contains two partial narratives from otherwise unstudied eras - the early Second Age, and the early Fourth - along with the definitive text on dwarves, and... well, bits and pieces. If your primary interest is the Noldor, it does feature a discussion of Feanor's use of language, but it's probably not worth it just for that.

It's also probably worth mentioning the 'allied texts' - The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and the upcoming Fall of Gondolin. Between them, they pretty much negate the need for The Book of Lost Tales II - the 'Tale of Turambar' isn't all that different from the final version, and B&L and (presumably) FoG include accounts of the earlier stories. They are also beautiful books in their own right.

hS

Great post and thank you very much sir. You have given me much to consider.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2018, 06:10 AM   #4
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 2,943
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Tolkien

Huinesoron's overview of the books is generally accurate, and his main point that it comes down to what you want is spot-on.

Personally, I think The Book of Lost Tales volumes are the most essential from a literary standpoint. Where the other Silmarillion-centric volumes offer a wealth of information, but are essentially similar to the published Silmarillion in terms of story content, The Book of Lost Tales is like reading the Grimm fairy-tales when you're familiar with the Disney versions.

My favourite volumes tend to be the ones you've already bought--the post-LotR Silmarillion-centric volumes. They are drier though, not least because the texts that are original to them tend to be philosophical or speculative, whereas the narrative is basically the same as the published Silmarillion. That's not a bad thing--I personally really enjoy Tolkien's "non-fiction" take on Middle-earth (what nerd doesn't?), but it's not the same aesthetic, immersive experience.

And I'd personally plug The Peoples of Middle-earth. Like Sauron Defeated it's kind of a hybrid volume. The first half, dealing with the history of texts we already have (namely the Appendices and the Akallabęth) isn't required reading, though we do get some details not seen elsewhere, like the family tree of the House of Dol Amroth. The back half of the book is totally worth it, though--personally, I'd buy the book for "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" alone. The back half of the book is basically Unfinished Tales, Part II. While it is certainly a valid argument to say that Unfinished Tales as a project makes the whole History of Middle-earth series a big incomplete, because CT changed his process, it's still a personal favourite and I like that we get more texts in that vein. Besides the Shibboleth, I think Tal-Elmar and the New Shadow are each worth the price of admission.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2018, 04:50 AM   #5
R.R.J Tolkien
Haunting Spirit
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 78
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Huinesoron's overview of the books is generally accurate, and his main point that it comes down to what you want is spot-on.

Personally, I think The Book of Lost Tales volumes are the most essential from a literary standpoint. Where the other Silmarillion-centric volumes offer a wealth of information, but are essentially similar to the published Silmarillion in terms of story content, The Book of Lost Tales is like reading the Grimm fairy-tales when you're familiar with the Disney versions.

My favourite volumes tend to be the ones you've already bought--the post-LotR Silmarillion-centric volumes. They are drier though, not least because the texts that are original to them tend to be philosophical or speculative, whereas the narrative is basically the same as the published Silmarillion. That's not a bad thing--I personally really enjoy Tolkien's "non-fiction" take on Middle-earth (what nerd doesn't?), but it's not the same aesthetic, immersive experience.

And I'd personally plug The Peoples of Middle-earth. Like Sauron Defeated it's kind of a hybrid volume. The first half, dealing with the history of texts we already have (namely the Appendices and the Akallabęth) isn't required reading, though we do get some details not seen elsewhere, like the family tree of the House of Dol Amroth. The back half of the book is totally worth it, though--personally, I'd buy the book for "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" alone. The back half of the book is basically Unfinished Tales, Part II. While it is certainly a valid argument to say that Unfinished Tales as a project makes the whole History of Middle-earth series a big incomplete, because CT changed his process, it's still a personal favourite and I like that we get more texts in that vein. Besides the Shibboleth, I think Tal-Elmar and the New Shadow are each worth the price of admission.


So than much of the published sil comes from Tolkiens later writings post 1937?
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2018, 10:16 AM   #6
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 2,943
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
So than much of the published sil comes from Tolkiens later writings post 1937?
There are good chunks that date back before 1937--and, certainly, the overall structure of the "Quenta Silmarillion" is basically the 1937 text, but Tolkien expanded quite a bit (especially from before "the Great Tales") after writing The Lord of the Rings.

Actually, most of what Morgoth's Ring and The War of the Jewels are about, where they deal directly with Silmarillion texts, is showing what parts of the Silm are pre-1937 and what are post-LotR, because Tolkien didn't start over after the LotR--he took his pre-1937 drafts and expanded on them--directly on them, in some cases.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2018, 02:27 PM   #7
R.R.J Tolkien
Haunting Spirit
 
R.R.J Tolkien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 78
R.R.J Tolkien has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
There are good chunks that date back before 1937--and, certainly, the overall structure of the "Quenta Silmarillion" is basically the 1937 text, but Tolkien expanded quite a bit (especially from before "the Great Tales") after writing The Lord of the Rings.

Actually, most of what Morgoth's Ring and The War of the Jewels are about, where they deal directly with Silmarillion texts, is showing what parts of the Silm are pre-1937 and what are post-LotR, because Tolkien didn't start over after the LotR--he took his pre-1937 drafts and expanded on them--directly on them, in some cases.

Thanks for your knowledge and help.
__________________
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
R.R.J Tolkien is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:32 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.