Have you read other Tolkien books....

Discussion in 'Middle Earth' started by Asmiley, Jan 19, 2007.

  1.  
    Asmiley

    Asmiley lost in Time

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    Have you read other Tolkien books that enhanced your readingor viewing of The Lord of the Rings later? Like learning more of the elves from books like the Smill, The Books of lost Tales, the Unfinished Tales, etc. It makes me wonder if Tolkien would have ever gone on to go into more detail on the Dwarves or even the Hobbits.

    So anyways tell me what gave you a different vantage point over reading or viewing the Lord of the Rings after reading the other books connected to the story. Or even if it had any effect at all.
  2.  
    manephelien

    manephelien Transmural Feline

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    I'd like to read Silmarillion, but somehow never seem to find the time.
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    ras'matroi

    ras'matroi New Member

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    I've read the Silmarillion and theUnfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. The Silmarillion
    is mostly about the elves and humans. I think in the Hobbit he wrote a bit more about dwarves.

    After reading those two books I had to go through the Lord of the Rings again and I had a better
    understanding of a lot of things.
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    Lenny

    Lenny Edit Ninja In Training

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    I've only read The Hobbit and LoTR. I got the Silmarillion out of the Library a few years ago, but I didn't start it.

    I've read the parodies (Soddit, Bored of the Rings, Sellamillion), if those count? :p
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Well... I've read The Hobbit, LotR, The Silmarillion, each several times. Have also read The Unfinished Tales, though it's been some years since I read it as a whole (rather than bits and pieces), and have read The History of Middle-earth, as well as the things published (in America) as The Tolkien Reader (several times for that, as well, once for the 12-volume HoME). Have enjoyed them all, found each fascinating for differing reasons, and found the HoME at times very challenging, and full of surprises as well. Read the Letters a looong time ago (due for a reread as soon as my replacement copy shows up -- my original disappeared some years ago).

    Answer -- yes, they all add to my understanding and appreciation of his world, his work, and the concerns that drove them, and my appreciation of his artistry. While I've always enjoyed LotR more than The Hobbit (which had a bit too much of a "speaking-down-to" tone for my taste), I enjoy both, and the other works have added tremendously to the levels which I can enjoy them on. The HoME also answers some questions I'd long had about, for example, the history of Old Man Willow, while posing new questions; it also creates several new frames within which to see LotR and The Hobbit, both artistically and philosophically.

    As for what made differences... oooph! That's a tall order! Too much to go into at one go. Suffice to say that it makes it much clearer that what may appear a flaw in the book that we had originally often is actually there because that book was a part of a much, much larger whole, that I appreciate (even when I disagree with) so many things about his world that I either didn't particularly care for, missed, or felt disappointed in before, and have a much higher regard for Tolkien as a writer and artist than I had before (and I had a fairly good opinion of his work to begin with).
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    I agree - I've read the entire Middle-Earth canon as well, and the thing that struck me most about HoME is the sheer amount of writing, re-writing, alterations and re-setting of the story that was discarded to make the books into what we read today as a finished work.
    There are great chunks of narrative that were abandoned, re-starts galore,and the amount of working at the plot that never made it into the final story is amazing. I think the reason I like the books so much is that they hang together so well - here you can see why. I doubt very much that there is a writer of fantasy working today who puts as much time and effort into their work. I must say, however that the best revision he made was to change, (apparently at the last minute, too!) the name of one of the chief characters - I'm much happier with "Strider" than I ever would have been with "Trotter"!

    Tolkien said himself, in the "Foreword" to the LotR, that the book was too short, and I always think that it is a shame, in these days of the doorstop, multi-1000+page 10-volume series, that he had to cut the book for publication. But the length of LotR was practically unprecedented at that time.
    But the sheer chutzpah of the man, inventing a complete and believable world, and providing a historical framework from the Creation to seven thousand years later - plus a complete lingustical setting for so many different races: like or loathe the book, there's never been anything else to touch it!
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    The Ace

    The Ace Aye fur Alba

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    I read "Tree and Leaf," didn't like it much.:eek:
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    Triceratops

    Triceratops Triceratops

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    I read the Hobbit and the other LOTR tales. I'm sorry I never got around to the rest. It was the first epic road-quest fantasy I'd ever read. The Hobbit stood out as my favorite, since I fell in love with Bilbo from the start. Rich in atomospher, mood ambience, they were hard to beat.

    Chris
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm inclined to agree... and changing him from a hobbit to a man, for multiple reasons.

    Nor (for good or ill) is there likely to be again. I also found his playing around with the ideas of time, and of connections with different ages via dreams, visions, etc., and their implications, quite fascinating. And the complexity of the linguistic level, the equivalence of language and history so that each genuinely reflects the other within the work (and in such a way that it does actually work as a language, as opposed to so many other created languages).... Even if you don't find it interesting on a narrative level, those books are so rich in thought that extend far beyond the Middle-earth framework (yet which nonetheless bring so many added joys to those well-known works).... I've no doubt I'll be rereading it in the (relatively) near future, huge TBY stack or not....
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    Asmiley

    Asmiley lost in Time

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    I would give my second and third souls to get a hand on the Letters.>.> No I mean it. I'm in the middle of reading the Unfinished Tales now for the first time. I'd have finished reading it a while ago actually if R life didn't keep interupting.:rolleyes:

    I must say I almost didn't finish the Sillmarillion on the point that it was written so much like a history book. but I did finish it.:) and it gave me a very deeper understanding of The Trilogy as a whole ant least in my mind. and I've read books 1 and 2 of the Lost Tales wich is really a much better interpretation of the Sillmarillion in my opinion. More story like than text book writing. I guess that's why I enjoy Lord of the rings so much because it's written as a story. OF course that's what it is anyways but I'm glad it is the way it is.

    lol! As for Bored of the Rings. I have read that too. I wouldn't say it changed my outlook on LOTR much though. That has affected your view on the lord of the rings? *blinks* how so?

    The Trilogy and the Hobbit are still hard to beat. They are the top of my list of favorite books. Before the HArry Potter and Pern series.;)
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    Frontierzone

    Frontierzone Author, poet, playwright.

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    I've read The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, The Silmarillion, much of, but not yet every part of, The Unfinished Tales Of Numinor And Middle-Earth. I've also skimmed through The Atlas Of Middle-Earth, by Karen Wynn Fonstad, though I don't have a copy to read thoroughly. I've got a copy of Robert Foster's A Complete Guide To Middle-Earth, which I often use as a reference. (I forgot that one, when i was on line earlier, discussing things with j.d.) I have also read The Lord of The Rings Weapons and Warfare by Chris Smith (Forgot that one, too.) You may also want to check some of the old I.C.E. MERP/Rolemaster game supplements. While mainly RPG reference works, they're still fun for a look. This is especially true of the Middle-Earth Campaign Guide, as well as the Northwestern Middle-Earth Gazetteer. The LOTR RPG Map series is also good.
  12.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Asmiley: You can find copies of the Letters online (even hardbound) for very reasonable prices... I just got a replacement of the first American edition (later printing) for about $5, in very nice shape. And, as Nesa was mentioning elsewhere, I'd also recommend the Father Christmas Letters, both as enjoyable in themselves, and because it can also give insights to how he was working things through with these topics, from a different angle.

    Frontierzone: Yes, the Foster is a good quick reference guide to a lot of things, though it doesn't cover much of the material published later on; still, a handy and fascinating book. There's also The Tolkien Companion, by J. E. A. Tyler, which has some interesting aspects, and A Tolkien Bestiary by David Day, which is also interesting as a reference work in its own right (not to mention for some beautiful artwork). You might also be interested in some of the things in Carpenter's biography of Tolkien (I can't recall whether you've mentioned that one or not) as well as his book on The Inklings.
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    Frontierzone

    Frontierzone Author, poet, playwright.

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    I leafed through A Tolkien Bestiary at one of the bookstores a while back, but haven't, as of yet, purchased it. I may have also seen The Tolkien Companion, but it's been a while. When my budget gets less tight, I'll expand my Tolkien library. Until then, perhaps I'll check them out from the public library on my next day off. Thanks.
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    kythe

    kythe Member

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    I have read the Silmarillion several times as well as several other books in the HoME series. I also love the depth of Tolkien's world. Even the inconsistencies in the writings over time add to the feel of "realism" - there is much in our history that is uncertain or full of varying accounts.

    I find Tolkien's mythology much more interesting and complete than some of the "real" mythology of many cultures on earth. I never tire of reading it.

    As for spoofs, I always loved the "Very Secret Diaries". I read them a long time ago online, and I don't know if they are still around.
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    paranoid marvin

    paranoid marvin Run VT Erroll!

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    It's amazing to think that Tolkein created a history spanning many centuries , even creating languages , and inclinations of speech before writing his stories . The way the stories are wriiten, particularly the LOTR trilogy almost assumes that the reader is fully cognisation with all that has occured during the past 3 ages of Middle Earth.

    In fact , one could almost say that the books were written for the benefit of the author more than anyone else - and certainly not soley for monetary gain

    It is a real shame that the trilogy was shortened from the author's original vision - and even more of a pity when the author acknowledges this himself
    You can certainly see parts of the story that could have been expanded upon (the flight from The Shire and the battle at Helm's Deep for example)

    Even so , what we were given is pure gold , and is a joy to read over again
    for many generations to come
  16.  
    areader

    areader Butterfly gal

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    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight/unfinished tales/and so on...fascinated by the Inklings and biographies on Tolkien's life. Even enough to go into they mythical origins of things that were borrowed. Once you go into that the maps become so much more interesting...places that are still on our maps...the sheer magnitude of it all is amazing.
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    Naryaló S dú

    Naryaló S dú Lord of Science

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    I would never read books other then the lord of the rings, the hobbit and the simirillian. This si because Tolkiens son released them out of his fathers many secret works, even though before he died Tolkien asked his son not to release any more of his books.
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    Can you quote any references to support this sweeping statement?

    For a start, if you belive this, you shouldn't have read the Silmarillion, because that was put into shape, edited, and published by Christopher Tolkien, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, after his father's death - and it was his express wish that this should be done, as JRRT had always wanted it to be published.

    Secondly, what "secret works"?
    Most of the notes and drafts of Tolkiens work were sold, not donated, to Marquette University by JRRT himself, for their use. They are freely available for study on application to the University, and are accessible to their students.

    Thirdly, the History of Middle Earth series, published by CJRT is not a story as such - it is an account of the writing of the story of the LotR.

    May I respectfully suggest that you read the Letters of JRRT, and some of the biographies - Carpenter's is a good one to start with.
  19.  
    paranoid marvin

    paranoid marvin Run VT Erroll!

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    It's just a shame that The Silmarillion and Children Of Hurin couldn't have been presented in an easy-reading style like LOTR or The Hobbit

    They may be informative and interesting to those requiring further knowledge of Middle Earth , but I cannot say that they are ENJOYABLE to read - which , let's face it , is the main reason people read novels

    If The LOTR or The Hobbit had been written in a similar style to The Silmarillion or The Children Of Hurin , it is unlikely that either would have been as well-read , and well-loved , as they still are today
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I must say that I disagree where The Silmarillion is concerned. It's in more of the "high style", if you will, but I find it thoroughly enjoyable; it remains one of my favorites, not just of Tolkien, but in general.... I've not yet read The Children of Hurin, as I'm swamped with other reading for a good while to come, I'm afraid... but I'm glad to have it, and the little I've browsed through it, I don't think I'd agree with you there, either.

    Perhaps it's just that I've read so many of the older fantasies, which used a more "distanced" style -- William Morris, E. R. Eddison, James Branch Cabell, etc. -- and therefore I've no complaints about such an approach. But, then, even when I first began reading fantasy, there were authors who used such, and I found (and still find) them to be eminently entertaining, as well as much more textually complex, allowing for new layers in repeated readings, so that they seldom grow old or stale... they simply continue to grow better with each reading.

    On The History of Middle Earth, however... that one can be a bit of a pain at times, if you're looking for enjoyable reading as far as story is concerned. Parts of it are indeed just that, and there are many passages that are among Tolkien's most beautifully written and moving; but other sections you have to really have a love of the concepts and ideas he's playing with -- not simply the "secondary world" he's building, but the philosophical concepts underlying everything -- in order to truly enjoy them...

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