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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:40 pm 
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I am most interested in substantial material from the First and Second Ages that didn't make it into The Silmarillion/Unfinished Tales (like The Wanderings of Húrin, which I have read once). Not so much in the Third Age, since the final version of LotR is settled canon, or in versions of the Elder Days stories that were clearly discarded or replaced.

I have The Book of Lost Tales 1 and 2, which is so early and so different in style from the later Tolkien that I find it hard to read - any particularly good sections there? I know it has the only detailed version of Fall of Gondolin, though, so maybe I'll read that at least. I also have The Shaping of Middle Earth, which doesn't seem to have much that I won't find in The Silmarillion.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:28 pm 
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I would say, read all of HoMe, outside of volumes 6-9, which make up the history of LOTR, and the Notion Club Papers, which to my mind are also very worth reading, but separate from your purposes. That is the only way to really get a sense of the development of the legendarium.

It is true that Volumes 1 and 2, The Book of Lost Tales are written in a very different style, and can be difficult, but they are ultimately very rewarding to persevere through. I would strongly recommend reading all of it, and not just the Fall of Gondolin

Volume 3, The Lays of Beleriand, is perhaps the most difficult, if you not are not accustomed to reading long verse stories, but they are also very rewarding.

Volume 4, The Shaping of Middle-earth, which you say you have, is crucial because it contains the first prose attempts at converting the previous material into what would become The Silmarillion. But while the Qenta Noldorinwa sets the form for what would become the final book, and some of the material in it does make it into the final form, much is very different.

Volume 5, The Lost Road and Other Writings, contains the first actual version of the Quenta Silmarillion. While there is a higher percentage of that version that survives into the final form than the Qenta Noldorinwa, it is still fascinating to see the transition taking place. And, of course, the book contains The Lost Road itself, which is crucial understanding the history of Númenor, as well the earlier forms of the downfall of Númenor.

Volumes 10 and 11, Morgoth's Ring and The War of the Jewels, contain the latest work on the First Age stories and are thus critical to understanding what was and was not included in the published version. They included much additional fascinating material, including in addition to the Wanderings of Húrin, The Athrabeth and the Laws and Customs of the Eldar, which are among the most important works that Tolkien wrote, in my opinion.

Finally, Volume 12, The People of Middle-earth, includes in addition to material related to the appendices of LOTR (not included in Vols. 6-9), some of Tolkien's latest writings about Arda, and some of his most profound.

So perhaps I am biased, but I really think you should bear down and read all of it. It can be slog, at times, but it is ultimately very rewarding.

And, of course, you should read Arda Reconstructed in order to understand better how Christopher (and Guy Kay) used this material to create the published work we know as The Silmarillion. ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:42 am 
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I can't add much, except to say that Volume 3 is by far my favorite to read and re-read. I read it and skip the commentary now, but for an initial read, you should go through the notes.


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 Post subject: Volumes 3 and 10
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:14 pm 
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I agree with CosmicBob about Volume 3, loving as I do the poetry. I recommend in particular the 'Lay of Leithian' with C. S. Lewis' remarks. 8)

My other favourite is Volume 10, particularly these pieces:

*'Laws and Customs among the Eldar': Information about the Elves, including their marriage and naming customs.
*'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth': A moving look at the differences between Elves and Men, through a dialogue between two characters, one being a woman in love with an male elf, rather than the other way around. :(
*'Myths Transformed': I particularly liked the discussion there about the difference between Morgoth and Sauron.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:54 pm 
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Wow, it's been awhile...anyway, I decided that volumes 10-12 sounded like they had the most material that interested me. So I ordered all three!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:29 am 
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I hope you enjoy them. Let us know.

Sent from my LG G3 using tapatalk

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:39 pm 
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Well, I received War of the Jewels and People of Middle-earth (Morgoth's Ring will hopefully be coming very soon) and read The Shibboleth of Fëanor (well, at lesat the more narrative section - I'll probably read the rest later) and Of Dwarves and Men. Some interesting stuff, and a good reminder of just how important and foundational the linguistic stuff actually is. And I'm always happy to find out more about the Second Age, since we don't know much about it outside of Númenor and the really big events, and even Númenor is limited. I thought the Dunlending hostility having its roots in Númenórean imperialism was fascinating. Tolkien's attitude toward Númenórean superiority is pretty ambiguous, isn't it?

Which of the texts in volumes 10 and 11 that were used to compose the published Silmarillion have the most significant material that didn't get in? That is, the ones that correspond directly to parts of the Sil, not things like the Athrabeth or Wanderings of Húrin which I will definitely read. I know some would say I should just read through everything - maybe someday, but I'm not prepared to invest that much time right now!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:46 pm 
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Well, that is a difficult question to answer, because the material in published Silmarillion consists of a compilation of material taken from both the later Annals and the later Quenta. The best way to answer that question probably would be to read Arda Reconstructed. ;) But if I were to say one thing, it would be material in Morgoth's Ring on Finwë and Míriel, including the related material in "The Laws and Customs of the Eldar".

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:45 pm 
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Well, just read The Wanderings of Húrin. I had read it (or maybe just skimmed) once before, but it had been so long. Really good stuff. Yet another sad bit of uncompleteness, but I'm glad we have what's there. It should have been at least an appendix in Children of Húrin.

I think Wanderings shows just how much of a genius Tolkien was. It's a story of the most banal human evil, with angry mobs and bitter vengeance and political skulduggery - unlike anything else he ever wrote. And yet it fits seamlessly into the same mythology that contains creation stories, epic battles, a story of a failed marriage, a reimagined version of Atlantis, simple midget country folk saving the world, and much more.

It would make a great stage play if it weren't for the problem of establishing the setting and explaining all the backstory.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:44 pm 
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I really wanted the Wanderings to be part of CoH, though I do understand why Christopher chose not to include it.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:35 am 
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I loved the Wanderings, and was very disappointed to see Christopher omit them from CoH.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:36 pm 
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Read some parts of "Myths Transformed." The essay on Sauron and Morgoth's motivations is really fascinating stuff. Dropping the sun-and-moon story might be the worst idea Tolkien ever had, though.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:39 pm 
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Yes indeed, although curiously he didn't seem to also want to drop the story of the Two Trees, which has never made sense to me. I'm very glad that Christopher didn't try to remove the sun and moon story from the published Silmarillion.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:11 pm 
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What about the two trees doesn't make sense to you? It's such a wondrous part of the mythology, IMO.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Yes, Telperion and Laurelin are wondrous, but the changes Tolkien was considering to the sun and moon don't fit very well with them. If the sun and moon were always around, that really undercuts the significance of the trees (and the Silmarils!), even if Morgoth temporarily darkens the world some other way. Even the dating with the "Year of the Lamps, Year of the Trees, Year of the Sun" loses its elegance. It really would be a change with huge repercussions, almost all bad.

An unusual misjudgment by the professor, IMO. But who knows, with the way the orcs and Galadriel kept changing, maybe he would have eventually come back around to keeping it had he lived longer.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:04 am 
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Passdagas the Brown wrote:
What about the two trees doesn't make sense to you? It's such a wondrous part of the mythology, IMO.


No, what didn't make sense to me was why Tolkien would consider dropping the story of the Sun and the Moon, which is derivative of the story of the Two Trees, without also dropping the latter. I love, love, love the whole idea of the Two Trees and the Light before the Sun, but it doesn't make sense to me that Tolkien would think that the story of the Sun and the Moon is too unbelievable, but that the story of the Two Trees is not. Sorry I wasn't clear.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:24 am 
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Oh, right. Yes, that is confusing. Especially as the sun and moon derive from the fruit of the trees...

Did he have a plan for replacing the sun and moon story with something else to explain their origin?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:16 am 
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Well, it's kind of unclear, because we just have essays where he's thinking about ideas and he never wrote the story down definitively. And so far I've only skimmed the relevant texts - Voronwë can correct me if I've missed anything or gotten it wrong.

But it seems like he was bothered that the sun-and-moon story was too radical a departure from our world and that it would imply that the Valar lied to the elves (a strange concern). He said they should be created as celestial bodies similar to the stars after the lamps were destroyed. Morgoth would taint them in some way, and the trees would preserve the light of the original sun and moon before Morgoth got to them. And this part is especially hazy, but it seems like he wanted Morgoth to find some way to temporarily block the sun and moon out when he destroys the trees.

It's kind of an unnecessary complication to some of the most beautiful parts of the mythology, and the new version is still a big difference from our world anyway! But at this phase he was going through so many different ideas over various things that it's possible he wouldn't have stuck with it.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:21 pm 
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So I finally read the Athrabeth - great stuff. Putting the reveal about Aegnor at the end rather than explaining Andreth's bitterness right away was a smart narrative move. It's a pretty modern storytelling device considering the text's subject matter.

I'm on the fence about whether it should have been included in the published Sil. I can certainly understand Chris leaving it out, but it might have been nice to have. It is kind of a pity that you have to dig so deep for stuff like the Athrabeth and Wanderings of Húrin. Only top-level Tolkien nerds are even aware that they exist, and most people don't even make to Unfinished Tales! But then, the published Sil is already difficult for a lot of people.

So will the elves be completely obliterated when Arda is remade or not? Is this something the mythology isn't clear about?


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