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Old 09-15-2021, 06:52 AM   #7
mhagain
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My first time reading order was the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings. I accept that this is very unusual, but it does give me a different perspective on approaching the Silmarillion.

I'll contend that the Silmarillion actually doesn't need to be simplified, dumbed down, have other works presented as a gateway, or anything like that. It's perfectly approachable as it is.

The primary problem with approaching the Silmarillion is expectation vs reality. Although it does have an overarching story, it's not a story like the others. It has characters but you typically don't see them up close. It lacks plot development and it lacks character development. So if you go into it expecting something like the others, that's not what you're going to get.

A secondary problem is it's reputation as a difficult read. If you go into it expecting it to be difficult, and you get stuck at the start, then you'll quite naturally give up. This is compounded by a modern tendency to need things explained up-front, which you won't always get, and you'll just need to accept that and move on if so.

The way to approach the Silmarillion is as a compendium of mythology, because that's exactly what it is. A real world analogy might be if you're interested in Greek mythology, you might like to read a well-written and well-edited compendium of the main Greek myths. And so with the Silmarillion.

So some of the myths are told from a distance, some from a closer perspective. Some in scant detail, some in more detail. Some are even told in longer forms in other works, but the Silmarillion is the compendium that contains them all.

And that's the nub of it; just go into the book with the correct understanding and expectation of what you're getting, and I'll contend that you'll do just fine with it.
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