Thursday, June 11, 2015
After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien's publisher requested a sequel. Tolkien sent them an early draft of The Silmarillion but through a misunderstanding, the publisher rejected the draft without fully reading it. The result was that Tolkien began work on "A Long Expected Party", the first chapter of what he described at the time as "a new story about Hobbits", which became The Lord of the Rings.
The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the "world that is". Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils which gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.
The five parts were initially separate works, but it was the elder Tolkien's express wish that they be published together. Because J. R. R. Tolkien died before he finished revising the various legends, Christopher gathered material from his father's older writings to fill out the book. In a few cases, this meant that he had to devise completely new material in order to resolve gaps and inconsistencies in the narrative.
"The Silmarillion is the history of the War of the Exiled Elves against the Enemy, which all takes place in the North-west of the world (Middle-earth). Several tales of victory and tragedy are caught up in it; but it ends with catastrophe, and the passing of the Ancient World"
― J.R.R. Tolkien in Letter 131 to Milton Waldman
The Silmarillion is a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien, with assistance from fantasy fiction writer Guy Gavriel Kay.
The Silmarillion comprises five parts:
The Ainulindalë - the creation of Eä, Tolkien's universe.
The Valaquenta - a brief description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural beings
The Quenta Silmarillion - the history of the events before and during the First Age, which forms the bulk of the collection.
Of the Beginning of Days
Of Aulë and Yavanna
Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
Of Thingol and Melian
Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië
Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor
Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
Of the Darkening of Valinor
Of the Flight of the Noldor
Of the Sindar
Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
Of the Return of the Noldor
Of Beleriand and its Realms
Of the Noldor in Beleriand
Of the Coming of Men into the West
Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
Of Beren and Lúthien
Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad
Of Túrin Turambar
Of the Ruin of Doriath
Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
The Akallabêth - the history of the Second Age
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
This five-part work is also informally associated by some readers with Bilbo's three-volume Translations from the Elvish, mentioned in The Lord of the Rings.
These five parts were initially separate works, but it was the elder Tolkien's express wish that they be published together. Because J.R.R. Tolkien died before he could complete a full rewrite of the various legends, Christopher scavenged material from his father's older drafts to fill out the book. In a few cases, he completely devised new material.
The Silmarillion, along with other collections of Tolkien's works, such as Unfinished Tales, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and The Road Goes Ever On, form a comprehensive, yet incomplete narrative that describes the universe within which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place. The History of Middle-earth is a twelve-volume examination of the processes which led to the publication of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
The Silmarillion is a complex work that explores a wide array of themes inspired by many ancient, medieval, and modern sources, including the Finnish Kalevala, the Hebrew Bible, Norse sagas, Greek mythology, Celtic mythology, and World War I. For instance, the name of the supreme being, Ilúvatar (Father of All) is clearly borrowed from Norse mythology. The archaic style and gravitas of the Ainulindalë resembles that of the Old Testament. The island civilization of Númenor is reminiscent of Atlantis—one of the names Tolkien gave that land was Atalantë, although he gave it an Elvish etymology.
Among the notable chapters in the book are:
"Of Beren and Lúthien"
"Turin Turambar (closely associated with Narn i Hîn Húrin: The Tale of the Children of Húrin in Unfinished Tales and The Children of Húrin)"
"Of Tuor and The Fall of Gondolin"