Interested in The Notion Club Papers?

Oct125

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I have never heard of this, but am interested to take a look at it. Especially as it apparently has a previously unpublished epilogue to LOTR.
 

River Boy

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I enjoyed the concept of the Notion Club Papers but the work was abandoned too early to make it a good read.

I think I'm right in saying Tolkien worked on them simultaneously as CS Lewis worked on his sci-fi trilogy. Lewis, at least, seemed to see out what work he started a lot more often and Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are well worth reading
 

Onyx

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I went to that link, and I guess I'm confused as to whether the "Notion club papers" are a story, or the commentary on all the Lost Tales. The website author seems to alternate between them.
 

Extollager

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The NCP is an unfinished novel that begins as records of informal meetings, a bit like the Inklings, of men who meet for conversation. The setting is the university about 40 years in the future from when Tolkien was writing, i.e. about 1984. They get onto the topic of science fiction, and dreams, etc. It's like quite a few classic stories from the late Victorian-Edwardian period that start out with men in conversation, and this moves into someone telling a story of the extraordinary, strange, marvelous, or weird.
 

Onyx

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I understand - I looked up the NCP. I'm saying that the website seems to use the term to describe other things outside of the book "NCP". As a guide, the website is confusing.
 

Extollager

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Onyx, I see that the link I posted takes you to whatever the current posting at Dr. Charlton's "NCP" website is, which does, in fact, feature a lot of commentary on various Tolkien- or Inklings-related topics.

This link might be more useful:

Bruce Charlton's Notions: A Companion to The Notion Club Papers

The main thing, of course, is just to read Tolkien's marvelous unfinished work, in the History of Middle-earth volume called Sauron Defeated.
 

Extollager

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Nope, Dask -- only Vol. 9 of The History of Middle-earth: Sauron Defeated.
 

dask

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Nine volumes? What's been going on besides all that ring stuff? Anyway, sounds like it could have been a ripping good yarn.
 

pyan

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Nine volumes? What's been going on besides all that ring stuff?
Sauron Defeated is volume 9 of 12 in The History of Middle-earth, dask - it chronicles just about everything written by JRRT from the conception of The Hobbit to the end of LotR in volumes 6-9, plus all the other stuff that JRRT wrote about his creation, including all the drafts, blind alleys, changes in names and history of the characters - for example, one of the early versions has Bingo Bolger-Baggins meeting up with Trotter, the Ranger, who is a hobbit with wooden feet...
 

Extollager

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Nine volumes? What's been going on besides all that ring stuff? Anyway, sounds like it could have been a ripping good yarn.
Most of The History of Middle-earth's 12 volumes deals with Tolkien's wrestlings with his First Age materials. Three of the volumes chronicle the composition of The Lord of the Rings. Two unfinished novels, the Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers, are provided. Late volumes in the set have some interesting musings by Tolkien on LotRian matters such as the origin of the Orcs.

Christopher Tolkien had mixed feelings about the book published as The Silmarillion, which was his effort of prepare a readable presentation of his father's First Age stories, and, many of us would say, a successful effort. However, Christopher soon released Unfinished Tales, which helped us to see better the complexity of Tolkien's imaginative work; and then we were given the HoME. These are a noble monument of filial and scholarly dedication, and I am sorry for people who say they think they are cynical efforts to milk the Tolkienian cow.

I recommend a look at the early essays in this book

Tolkien's Legendarium - Tolkien Gateway

as something of a guide to the HoME volumes. But better for many will be just to read materials of interest. For me two of the highlights are The Notion Club Papers in Vol. 9 (Sauron Defeated) and Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth in Vol. 10 (Morgoth's Ring). The latter is probably the great "unknown gem" by Tolkien.

Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth - Tolkien Gateway

Tolkien's brief attempt at a sequel to LotR in Vol. 12 (The Peoples of Middle-earth) is at least an interesting curiosity.

The New Shadow - Tolkien Gateway

Well worth reading is The Lost Road, an unfinished novel in Vol. 5 (The Lost Road and Other Writings).

The Lost Road - Tolkien Gateway
 

dask

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Thank you for all the info. Lots of stuff to think about but your earlier description of NCP makes it sound worth checking out.
 

Extollager

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I think the NCP starts out interesting and becomes pretty compelling. However, it's a good thing that -- given that a choice had to be made -- Tolkien dropped it & went back to writing LotR. You see, he started the NCP several years after he'd started LotR & gotten bogged down (as I recall). I think there's something on that in the Bruce Charlton commentary, FWIW.
 

Hugh

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Many thanks @Extollager for the link to Bruce Charlton's blog. In my limited reading to date, there has been very little mention of "The Notion Club Papers". ( I have not read anything by Verlyn Flieger, for instance, who may write about them). Bruce's enthusiasm was very helpful in generating more concentration in myself when I was losing focus on the prose. As I said a few minutes ago in the August reading thread, there has to be a surprising amount of Tolkien in the text (though how much exactly?), and much raw material for extrapolating further on his beliefs and use of creative imagination.
I'm glad he dropped this to return to writing the LOTR, but who knows?....if he'd persevered with this there could have been the possibility of a thousand page masterpiece after several years of rewriting and evolution.
 
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