Tuesday, October 18, 2005

inPrint: the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkein (1977) 4/5

I've had the Silmarillion sitting on my bookshelf since I was a kid - my grandmother gave it to me with the boxed set of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit that I devoured at an early age. Though I peaked into the great tome throughout the years, I was a little confounded that I couldn't find any of the characters that I had loved so much from the Lord of the Rings. However, I finally picked it up recently and, with the help of a couple of websites and some maps, began my journey in earnest.

The Silmarillion is essentially the creation story and history of the world in which the Lord of the Rings is set (though it extends beyond Middle Earth and takes place far before the events in those books). With limited dialog, it is more or less a collection of tales that describe what we would refer to as god, the angels, and the inhabitants (elves, dwarves, humans, etc.) of Tolkein's world, how they came to be, and how their history evolved.

I wasn't kdding when I said I read this book with map in hand, and that doesn't include how I've pretty much worn out the pages flipping to the appendices (which include a dictionary, geneologies, and maps) to keep track of all the different names and places that are mentioned. It is not an easy read! However, it is a highly rewarding read. It may be a bit geeky (okay, a LOT geeky), but it is fascinating to learn more about this world that I found so engaging through my reading of Tolkein's other books and, more recently, watching Peter Jackson's fantastic movies. The story is so rich and feels so real, it was no surprise to learn that the Silmarillion was essentially the first of these books Tolkein started and the last one he worked on before his death (it was collected and published posthumously by his son, Christopher Tolkein).

I was truly amazed at the amount of material available online to anyone interested in delving deeper into Tolkein's work
(e.g. the Encyclopedia of Arda) and, frankly, it is well deserved. I know of no other author who has created such a deeply detailed and compelling world. If this seems at all interesting to you, and you have enjoyed the Lord of the Rings books, then take the next step (although it's a big one) and pick up a copy of the Silmarillion, b/c this one ain't gonna be made into a movie in our lifetime, folks ;-) .

PS: Do yourself a favour and photocopy the appendices before you begin - you won't regret it. The flipping back and forth does get a little tiresome.
Submit to:    submit inPrint: the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkein (1977) 4/5 to digg.comDigg  |   book mark inPrint: the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkein (1977) 4/5 in del.icio.usDel.icio.us  |   submit inPrint: the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkein (1977) 4/5 to slashdot.comSlashdot

10/18/2005 09:49:00 p.m.  


Blogger curious servant said...

Perhaps I should give it a try. I haven't tried in over 20 years and I probablyhave the stamina for that kind of reading now.

Thanks for the tips and genreal reminder.

October 18, 2005 10:21 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

Yes, it certainly takes some stamina, and I definitely would not have gotten as into it if I had been trying it 20 years ago :-) . However, you will be well rewarded!

November 05, 2005 12:04 p.m.  
Blogger onyx said...

Tolkein was very blessed. Perhaps in his writings he truly trod upon what really was the earth before.
i would love to read all histories of mid earth...but I guess it'll take up all the reserve of my patience...
What the min amount of time I can grasp the silmarillion...

November 08, 2005 12:42 p.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home