Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Silmarillion

C.S Lewis once wrote to a friend of his about Tolkien. Being close friends for years and meeting every week ( the Inklings) and sharing their latest writing amongst themselves, he knew the professor quite well.
He wrote " When it comes down to criticism with Tolkien he takes it one of two ways. One: he takes it to heart and re-writes the whole chapter. Two: he ignores you and pretends you never said anything"

John Ronald was a perfectionist in every way. He could not hand something in unless it was perfect to him. And the Silmarillion was something, that in his life time, would never be published. It was after his death re-worked and edited by his son Christopher.

The first draft was written in the trenches of the first world war. It was written in a school exercise book.
It was a little lighter and written with humour. The second draft was finished by 1930. It was complete with a beginning and an end. But events would change the state of the book. In 1937 Stanley Unwin would publish The Hobbit. A children's story he had written for his own kids. It became the number 1 best fantasy book of all time. Unwin wanted Tolkien to write a sequel. Of course, he didn't want to. He tried selling the The Silmarillion but Stanley was not interested. He thought the book was too complex and fans would not "get" what the book was about.

After the success of The Lord Of The Rings, Tolkien had to work on the Silmarillion again to tie in all three books. But this proved to hard to do. As the years warn him down, the loss of Edith. Tolkien could not finish it. The vid I'm adding is of Christopher Tolkien talking about this very topic. It's informative.


First one must look at this book as if it's the bible of Middle Earth. It is written in the same way the bible is written. Dry and to the point. It's not novel writing by any means. That being said it's a good read. The first part of the book is about the creation of the Valar (Demi Gods) and the rise of Morgoth. The great trees of light are settled in the undying lands. It's the home of the Valar and the Elven folk.

Morgoth settles in Middle Earth and soon begins to twist things into evil creations. He makes mockery of The main God and the Valar by turning Elves he captured and turning them into evil beings he calls Orcs. Morgoth lives for a long time and plagues the lands with evil for far too long.He attacks the undying lands and destroys the two trees of Valinor with the help of Ungoliant.He also steals the silmarils The three great jewels made by FĂ«anor in Valinor, in which he locked the light of the Two Trees . He curses a family (Turin Turambar) and plays a game with their lives. Turin lives a hard life. He thinks his Mother and sister are dead. He marries a woman and finds out later that she's his sister.In the end, Turin valiantly fights one of Morgoths Dragons called Glaurung and loses his life shortly after.
Eventually the people of Middle Earth rise up against him along with the Valar.This is a long story and I couldn't explain it all here.
The book also focuses of Beren and Luthien. The tale of an Elven princess who gives her love to a mortal man. It also speaks about the five wizards and the overall establishment of Galadriel to Middle Earth. Of the war against Sauron the deceiver and how he convinced the Elves to forge the great rings of power.
This book is vast and covers a wide historical world. It has some hard parts to read. Rather dry and boring parts. It's got it's uses but feels at times that it needed more drive.

I do recommend you try and tackle this book. Its well worth it in the end. Bellow is the famous interview with Christopher Tolkien on the Silmarillion.Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I've had the whole Silmarillion being read to me, so beautiful. I had not seen the video yet, thanks for posting!