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Old 06-17-2021, 08:50 AM   #1
William Cloud Hicklin
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William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Are there any pre-1977 readers here?

Just a thought that came to me a few days ago: the difference of experience between people who read The Lord of the Rings before the Silmarillion came out, and those a bit younger. The experience, I suppose, of trying to piece together something, anything, about the Elder Days from the tantalizing scraps in print, and which was about as accurate as myths of Hy Brasil were before the discovery of the New World.
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The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings could be said to turn on what Sauron didnít know, and when he didnít know it.
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Old 06-17-2021, 05:05 PM   #2
Mithadan
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Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I first read The Hobbit in 1971 0r 72, quickly followed by LoTR, with several quick rereads of both. Around 1975, I read LoTR carefully with a notebook at the ready, and wrote down every single "work" referred to in the story and in the appendices. Then, I went to a bookstore and sat down with a very patient clerk and went through Books in Print in the hope that I could order a copy of "books" like The Fall of Gondolin that clearly had to exist. I, of course, learned that the only books by JRRT in print at that time were The Hobbit, LoTR, The Tolkien Reader and (my memory is less than clear about this and I do not have patience to research it) possibly The Road Goes Ever On (which I tracked down a few years later), The Monsters and the Critics, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The lack of more stories of the history of Middle Earth really depressed me for a bit, particularly since I knew the Professor had died.
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Old 06-17-2021, 05:15 PM   #3
Mithadan
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Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
... and then I was born, twenty years later, in 1995....
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Old 06-17-2021, 07:01 PM   #4
Morthoron
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
That's the thing about Tolkien -- or at least in the early 70s when I first started reading his works as an adolescent -- he sends you down rabbit holes (or perhaps hobbit holes would be more appropriate), and you willingly go without hesitation.

I started with The Hobbit, and after reading it, you started asking questions. Who is this Necromancer down south? And where did Gandalf come from? And why is that half-elven guy the leader of actual elves? Shapeshifters? Vampire bats? Goblins? Where did they come from, what is the history beyond Bag-end?

Then you get to The Lord of the Rings, but reading the trilogy only makes matters worse, because you find out there are literally tens of thousands of years unaccounted for, or given mention in a short sentence snippet in an appendix. Gah!

I still have my first edition Silmarillion (actually two now, one an American copy and the other an original British edition). I think I savored that read in 1977 more so than The Hobbit or LotR. It was very biblical. Very otherworldly, like when I first got a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology for Christmas in 6th grade. Of course, The Sil didn't answer everything either. So you kept going down the hobbit holes, and bought the Unfinished Tales, the Letters, and then each of the 12 books of the HoMe series, and all the rest.

And confound Tolkien! There is still the unanswered, still the unfathomable, still the enigmas.
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:34 AM   #5
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
I first read Hobbit and LotR in 1973 and was very disappointed to hear that Tolkien died just a few months later. In the fall of the same year I moved to Germany, had my Ballantine's box and reread them without knowing when a German translation was published and without contact with other Tolkien readers. This forum was instrumental in introducing me to his other works, including the Silmarillion.
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Old 06-18-2021, 10:35 AM   #6
Galin
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Galin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Galin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I pre-ordered my Silmarillion and ate it up when it came out.

I also own the (to me) very interesting A Guide To Middle Earth by Robert Foster -- first printing 1974, cover art Tim Kirk (Galadriel is of the House of Finarphir) -- includes an ad for a boxed set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for five dollars.

To order by mail, send one dollar and fifty cents per book plus twenty five cents per order for handling.

I'm ordering today
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Old 06-19-2021, 10:02 PM   #7
Snowdog
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Pipe

It was Summer of 1975 and I was walking about with my neighbor one night. As we shared some pipeweed all rolled up in a ZigZag, he told me about this book he just read and enjoyed very much called The Hobbit. I asked what a Hobbit was, and he told me they were a fantasy care-free folk who like eating, drinking, & smoking! He loaned me the paperback while he started on the Fellowship.

Read through it and loved it, then read Fellowship as he had finished it. I then read Two Towers as he had finished it. By this time I was eating the tale up, and I finished Two Towers while he had stalled a third of the way into Return of the King. After a couple weeks of bugging him about whether he finished it yet and he getting annoyed at me, I checked out an old 1957 copyright hardback out of the library and read on through. Loved that big fold-out map that was in the back of that hardback edition, so when I returned it I checked out Fellowship and Two Towers hardbacks and started reading the Trilogy all over again! When I checked out Return of the King the second time and finished it, I delved into the appendices and all they had to offer.

It was early 1976 when I started teaching myself the Tengwar from the Appendex. I was a senior in high school and I was doodling on my notebook in study hall when the girl sitting next to me saw it. I met a Tolkien geek babe! We would hang out and practice our scripting and pass notes to each other, and would sit by the flag pole at lunch telling Middle earth tales to each other. Later that year not long before graduation, they started doing some renovation work on the bus-loading zone near the flag pole. We saw they had just poured fresh cement curbing, so we decided to cut the class after lunch and imprint 'Friends' in Tengwar into the curb. We made a couple mistakes, but it remained in that curb until 2005 when they totally renovated the school and dug up all the curbs and the flagpole.

So yeah, I was a Tolkien geek since the summer of 1975. When word got out that the Silmarillion was going to be published, we geeks were overjoyed! Went to a book release line party in 1977 and got my copy! Tried to read it, and couldn't get into it at all. I finally skipped the biblic creation beginning and got into the meat of the book. It never did that much for me other than give a rich history of Middle Earth.

In 1982 I found The Unfinished Tales paperback on a book-rack by the checkout at a grocery store and I bought it. It was a great background and filled in some gaps in Lord of the Rings. Loved that book.
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Old 07-22-2021, 11:18 AM   #8
William Cloud Hicklin
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William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post

To order by mail, send one dollar and fifty cents per book plus twenty five cents per order for handling.
Inflation! My Ballantines ca. 1971 were 95 cents each.
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The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings could be said to turn on what Sauron didnít know, and when he didnít know it.
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Old 08-07-2021, 06:37 PM   #9
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Ring

I discovered LOTR in 1977.

I wondered about a lot of the references to (what was in fact) the Sil, and accepted them as part of the feigned history of that world. Reading the Sil was a definite bonus, which certainly added to LOTR, much as restoring a familiar painting adds to the painting. But just as a painting need not be restored to be appreciated, I never felt the lack of the Sil while it was still unpublished, while reading LOTR. LOTR was sufficiently complete and self-contained to be enjoyed on its own, without knowledge of The Hobbit, except for what is said of TH in LOTR. The references to the ancient past were mysterious, but they were not distracting, and they did not make themselves felt as things which one had to know about in order to enjoy the book that one was reading. In other words, one could take them, or leave them.

Now that I have read the Sil, I think it is in some respects even better than LOTR. It adds, not so much to LOTR, as to knowledge of the past from which the events in LOTR flow. In that indirect way, it adds greater depth and weight to the events told of in LOTR.
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Old 08-15-2021, 11:09 PM   #10
Marileangorifurnimaluim
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Close. I was reading the LOTR in 1979-80. My father noticed I was reading fantasy and sci-fi, reached over and handed me a boxed set of paperbacks from his bookshelf: "Here, try this." My seventh grade teachers would've cursed his name if they'd known, because I couldn't put them down, not even for class. Spellbound.

The Silmarillion, I appreciated the sections with a clear arc, especially the early biblical section, but it faltered and became disjointed. I was disappointed, it obviously an unfinished work--and not just a little bit unfinished, but radically so.
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Old 08-16-2021, 04:08 AM   #11
littlemanpoet
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littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
To this day I remember back in about 1975, my brother, eight years my senior, making an educated guess that Sauron had been Feanor. Not a bad guess, considering, but no.
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Old 09-22-2021, 09:41 PM   #12
CSteefel
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I read LOTR back in 1965. Discovered the books somehow and then disappeared into my grandfather's bomb shelter (which he built in the nuclear war scare in the earliest 1960s, despite being located in southern Minnesota) for 2-3 days for non-stop reading.

Beyond that, the legend of the Elder Days only came through in the stories from Gandalf, the song of Luthien and Beren on the approach to Weathertop, and then in Rivendell. But I cannot say I remember absorbing all of the Legendarium there. Most of the additional information came from the Appendices of course...
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