TLOTR has been consistently voted the best book of the 20th Century. It is loved by many. How many of its readers have ever read 'The Silmarillion'?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Yes, That is the one page summary of the First Age that I mentioned, which is a totally incomplete summary of the 221 page history of The First Age in 'The Silmarillion'.

This skim of the tales of the First Age, creates a numinous, vague, and legendary backdrop to TLOTR. Very effective in adding to the sense of the story being set in the vast depths of time. Almost essential to a story that, in part, is contrasting immortal creatures to Men.

They are part of the art of the work of art. The fact that they are vague and incomplete and numinous is part of the art of the work of art. Having more detail about them is, if anything, detracting from, rather than enhancing the work of art. See JRRTs parable in 'Beowulf - the Monsters and the Critics', if you want a more authoritative source than me to explain this!

The work of art references JRRTs mythology, but does not incorporate 'The Silmarillion'. It uses very small, incomplete, and deliberately mysterious, references to JRRTs early versions of The Silmarillion to add luster and mystery and a sense of deep time to itself. That sense of deep time is useful in a story that, in part, is contrasting immortals to Men.

It is similar to scattered references in The Song of Roland to The Matter of Troy, except that much of the audience for The Song of Roland knew of The Matter of Troy, but none of the readers of TLOTR knew of The Silmarillion.

One must also remember that what ever parts of JRRTs First Age that we get brief glimpses of in TLOTR, they are not the same as the story of the First Age that Christopher Tolkien published as 'The Silmarillion'.

We know that Christopher drew mainly from JRRT writings after publication of TLOTR to construct his version of The Silmarillion.

Like I have said before, using 'The Silmarillion' to try to interpret and understand TLOTR is a dubious and problematic practice. JRRT was unable to construct a 'Silmarillion' which he thought worked with TLOTR. Better to read TLOTR as its own work of art, and The Silmarillion and Legendarium as something else.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Yes, That is the one page summary of the First Age that I mentioned, which is a totally incomplete summary of the 221 page history of The First Age in 'The Silmarillion'.

This skim of the tales of the First Age, creates a numinous, vague, and legendary backdrop to TLOTR. Very effective in adding to the sense of the story being set in the vast depths of time. Almost essential to a story that, in part, is contrasting immortal creatures to Men.

They are part of the art of the work of art. The fact that they are vague and incomplete and numinous is part of the art of the work of art. Having more detail about them is, if anything, detracting from, rather than enhancing the work of art. See JRRTs parable in 'Beowulf - the Monsters and the Critics', if you want a more authoritative source than me to explain this!

The work of art references JRRTs mythology, but does not incorporate 'The Silmarillion'. It uses very small, incomplete, and deliberately mysterious, references to JRRTs early versions of The Silmarillion to add luster and mystery and a sense of deep time to itself. That sense of deep time is useful in a story that, in part, is contrasting immortals to Men.

It is similar to scattered references in The Song of Roland to The Matter of Troy, except that much of the audience for The Song of Roland knew of The Matter of Troy, but none of the readers of TLOTR knew of The Silmarillion.

One must also remember that what ever parts of JRRTs First Age that we get brief glimpses of in TLOTR, they are not the same as the story of the First Age that Christopher Tolkien published as 'The Silmarillion'.

We know that Christopher drew mainly from JRRT writings after publication of TLOTR to construct his version of The Silmarillion.

Like I have said before, using 'The Silmarillion' to try to interpret and understand TLOTR is a dubious and problematic practice. JRRT was unable to construct a 'Silmarillion' which he thought worked with TLOTR. Better to read TLOTR as its own work of art, and The Silmarillion and Legendarium as something else.
This is not a random reference to the stone giants in The Hobbit just to add some "cheap mystery".

This is a remark in the Appendices - which Appendices give the LOTR the appearance of a scientific excamination = a critical edition of a historical text so to speak.

In scientific literature when you reference [your] other work on the subject, you do want the reader to check it out.
And the summary provided is brief but correct. It does summarize the Silmarillion pretty well.

The Silmarillion - as it became after LOTR - is imho pointless without LOTR, as it gets no own resolution without LOTR - this passage here is the connection which actually does make the current Silmarillion make sense. In its current form the SIL is not a completely independant work.
As such it cannot be "cut off" from LOTR. They are both part of the same fictitious scientific project.
 
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Ennikan

Member
I was astounded as a teenager when I found about The Silmarillion. I'd already been through multiple reads of LOTR, and I read it right away. Part of me doesn't understand how one could be carried away by LOTR and not want to at least explore SIL. To me it has always provided even more depth to Middle Earth and the stories, and I have re-read SIL a number of times. I do get why some people struggle with it. My son-in-law brought up the oft-heard trouble "I got lost in all the names early on and couldn't take it." When people realize it's not the same sort of epic story, I guess they see it as non-essential to LOTR (which I suppose it is).
 
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