Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

Synopsis

When J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, he left behind a vast body of unpublished material related to the imaginary world of his fiction. Now arranged edited and published as The History of Middle-earth by his son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien, these 12 volumes offer an unparalleled insight into the growth of Tolkien's mythology over five decades. This book is the first comprehensive critical examination of The History of Middle-earth. An opening easy by Rayner Unwin, Tolkien's publisher for many years, discusses the publication history of the material, while essays by expert contributors examine a broad range of topics related to the work.

Excerpt

In 1996 Christopher Tolkien published The Peoples of Middle-earth, the twelfth and final volume of his History of Middle-earth. Begun in 1983 with The Book of Lost Tales, this series gives a coherent picture, filled out by Mr. Tolkien's extensive notes and commentary on his father's work, of the growth and development of J. R. R. Tolkien's invented mythology, left unorganized and unpublished at the time of his death in 1973. Including two preliminary volumes, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, the total amount of material required to be quarried out of competing and overlapping drafts, sequentially organized, chronologically arranged, and edited comprises well over six thousand pages. The whole offers Tolkien's reading audience an unprecedented chance to be as it were in at the creation, as well as the opportunity to trace the development of a remarkable work of art. The genesis of the present collection of essays was a desire of the editors to give The History of Middle-earth the critical assessment it deserves, and that has perforce been kept in abeyance until the entirety of the project was available for consideration.

The publication in 1977 of The Silmarillion deepened readers' perception of Tolkien's world. This volume amplified and extended material in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, which for thirty years had tantalized readers with glimpses of a wider cosmology, and showed us all that the story of Frodo and the Ring was in fact only one story (albeit an important one) in a wider collection of mythological and heroic tales. The publication three years later of Unfinished Tales expanded the vision still further and whetted appetites for more. The successive publication in the ensuing years of the twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth not only satisfied those appetites but showed the immense breadth, depth, and height of Tolkien legendarium. As Tolkien himself once described it, the whole was to be "a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story." With the appearance of each new volume in the series we learned with ever-increasing interest that the elements of this "more or less connected legend," when laid out for our contemplation, did a number of things. They gave a picture of a world at once richer and darker than the one we thought we knew. They showed the growth of that picture as, like that of the painter Niggle in Tolkien's own short story Leaf by Niggle, it changed and shifted, develop-

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