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The Silmarillion

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by HotRodSteve, Nov 20, 2020.

  1. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    I understand that the Silmarillion is a reference work not a novel, but I seriously doubt Tolkien would have left it as unworked and 'raw' as Christopher Tolkien's effort. JRR was after all an academic, he knew how to write histories and reference works.

    JRR gave an outline manuscript to his publisher, Allen & Unwin, when they asked for a sequel to The Hobbit. Sir Stanley Unwin rejected it as 'too obscure and without appeal to the general readership'. That was in the late 30s.

    He went away and began work on what would become The Lord of the Rings, the best fantasy novel ever.

    The Silmarillion as published does no favours to Tolkien's greater body of published work. It smacks of the family cashing in, and I find that a little distasteful.

    Those that suggest the ignorant among us consult Wiki would do well to read Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien. Most of the above is contained within it :)
     
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  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Loved the previous books, but the Silmarillion was a jumble of nonsense words to me. I guess it was notes put together posthumously?
     
  3. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Friend of Leo's

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    It provided a foundation for cohesiveness in the LOTR books. For people who love Tolkien, and are interested, its a great reference. Definitely not intended as a fantasy novel in and of itself.
     
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  4. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Marillion? They were named after the Greenwich Marillion Line. Seriously, does no-one here pay attention to Philomena Cunk?

    How about "never"? Does "never" work for you?

    Seriously, if you are satisfied with LotR as it is and are ready to pick up a different book to read, you can skip The Silmarillion. But if you also read through the Appendixes and wondered if there was more, then S is a place to go... or you might instead try Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle-Earth.

    The Silmarillion was, perhaps, rushed, and did not benefit as much from Christopher's editing as the later offerings did. But I don't think the stuff that was in there was really intended for publication; J R R T was revising and rewriting pretty constantly. The longer series of books (about a dozen?) in the "History(ies) of Middle-Earth" series show (among other things) how LotR developed and was revised (Strider as what became of Bilbo, etc.)

    Also, The Letters of J R R Tolkien
     
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  5. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I just ordered a copy of The Atlas of Middle-earth. Thanks!
     
  6. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    I’ve read the Hobbit 3 or 4 times. LotR trilogy double that. Bored of the Rings an equal number

    When the Silmarillian hit the library, I was first in line. I could not read it. It left me flat After 50 pages or so I hung it up.

    I can watch the LotR movies trilogy all day long. They matched exactly the images I had formed in my mind. I cannot watch the spin-offs.
     
  7. clayville

    clayville Tele-Meister

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    True story: I was the Tolkien Project Director for Houghton Mifflin - the US publisher of Tolkien - starting around the time the first rumors of Peter Jackson's movies began to surface. I loved his work as a kid, had been a Marketing guy at Houghton for many years and stepped into the role to try and protect (and promote) the work in the face of whatever was to come. At that point, no one had any idea whether the films would be "true" to the books or debase them. Keep in mind that HM is the longest contiguous publisher of Tolkien in the world - since The Hobbit in 1938, through the very long wait for LotR, and on through The Silmarillion (not long before my time there) and Christopher's monumental and very scholarly History of Middle-earth series and beyond. And Tolkien was even then, before PJ's movies, a very valuable part of the publishing company's heritage. It was all very tricksy.

    My strategy was to try and insure that LotR would still be considered one of the greatest adventures ever written when we came out the other end; to "immunize" the audience by getting as many people as we could to read LotR before the films arrived, and to protect the Tolkien legacy as best I could from my perch no matter what. If the films were terrible, those readers could say "The books were better" for us. If the first film was well received by folks new to Tolkien, those readers could then say "Go read the books to find out what happens next".

    Sounds simple in retrospect. It wasn't. But it was a heck of a wild ride from where I sat, and resulted in literally millions of new and renewed readers for Tolkien in the US alone. I was working with HarperCollins UK (who controls the rest of the world in English, plus all translations), with The Tolkien Estate (then ultimately controlled by the late Christopher Tolkien), and with our licensee Ballantine Books who paid handsomely for the right to publish the smaller paperbacks. To a lesser extent, I worked with New Line Cinema since during all this I bought the rights to books about the films - as much to protect the underlying novels and consolidate the 'message' to our bookstore customers as to cash-in or profit. I thought of these as a defensive acquisition first - but tried my best to make them sell too. We were all sort of triangulating strategy off each other - angling to protect "our" interests as we saw them, and those were sometimes in conflict.

    All that said, even for me, I think of The Silmarillion as sort of the Old Testament of Middle-earth - episodic creation stories in an archaic, somewhat difficult form. Rewarding, but, um, a bit of a slog. The manuscript was never really finished by JRRT, but was compiled and readied for publication by Christopher after JRRT's death as a labor of love (not to cash in: they haven't wanted for cash since the late 1950s). The task was a difficult one, and he did not wish to take liberties with the fragmented and often revised manuscript his father left behind. All that is explained in minute detail in the 12-volume History of Middle-earth series. Now THOSE are the deepest of rabbit holes, and best left to folks steeped very deep in the legendarium - they're scholarly volumes, as much about the textual evolution as they are about story - maybe even more so.

    Anyway... I left Houghton about a decade ago, but those "film years" were the most rewarding and exhausting of my professional life. The Shire was saved... but not for me in the end. - Clay Harper
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  8. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    I'm going to get it now. My brother always said this was his favorite. Not sure if you get a lot of Tom Bombadil in this one, but I think he was very into this character. Anyway, just what I needed for my library. Thanks
     
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  9. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I read all the Tolkein books over and over again when I was 13-14. The Silmarillian was great, much more interesting to me than LOTR. It's the Elves Bible. I loved the stories of Hurin and Turin, and of course the story of Luthien and Beren.

    I can't remember whether the story of Turin was in the Silmarillian or Unfinished Tales though. Both essential to the die hard Tolkien fan.
     
  10. Tele-beeb

    Tele-beeb Friend of Leo's

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  11. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    That sums it up quite well.
     
  12. General_Specific

    General_Specific TDPRI Member

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    The Silmarillion has my favorite creation mythos.
     
  13. dswo

    dswo Tele-Holic

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  14. lmjmitchell

    lmjmitchell Tele-Meister

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    I've never read it or LOTR.

    The Hobbit was pretty good though.
     
  15. b2187101

    b2187101 Tele-Meister

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    I read the Hobbit and LOTR... but the Silmarillion is sort of like the Bible, you get points for trying.
     
  16. ForgeHound

    ForgeHound TDPRI Member

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    I had just recently heard a friend speak about how he enjoyed listening to the obscure "Dungeon Synth" music genre while reading the Salmonbillion

    I read The Hobbit when I was a teenager and really enjoyed it, I got one and a half books into LotR but found it too convoluted, though I should give it another try now over a decade later I may really enjoy it
     
  17. Linkslover

    Linkslover Tele-Meister

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    Sorry, but I think reading S first is a horrible idea . The Hobbit is a children's story and written at a grade school level. The LOTR books are written at High school level. S is written at a college level and though it contains a series of short stories, it is really somewhat of a reference book.

    When my son was in grade school I told him about Tolkien and the chronology of the books. Without my knowing it, he thought he should read them in chronological order and tried to read S first and never could get through it. It almost soured him on the whole Tolkien experience.

    LL
     
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  18. Linkslover

    Linkslover Tele-Meister

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    I enjoyed the films immensely and have watched each several times over the years.

    I think PJ did a pretty good job of bringing the books to life and adding a bit of S here and there to add historical perspective.

    If I have any complaints on the films it would be that PJ left out Tom Bombadil from the first movie and omitted the scouring of the shire from the third film.

    Peace and stay safe,

    LL
     
  19. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't forget that Peter Jackson changed the story drastically and had Faramir attempt to take Frodo and Sam as prisoners to Minas Tirith. "The Ring will go to Gondor." Tolkien would have poked Jackson in the eye with his pipe for that and I would agree. It took me years to get the pictures from the movies out of my head.

     
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  20. Spats Davenport

    Spats Davenport TDPRI Member

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    I love it. Read it when I was about 15.
     
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