Tolkien News

40th Anniversary of the Publication of ‘The Silmarillion’

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, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Published and edited posthumously by Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s collection of stories, titled The Silmarillion, was published on September 15 th, 1977. Yet, long before The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit were written, the earliest tales that later became a part of The Silmarillion can be traced back to 1917 when Tolkien composed the earliest version of the tale of Beren and Luthien. Early drafts of what was to become The Silmarillion existed as early as 1925. Tolkien never stopped working on The Silmarillion and for many years after, Tolkien wrote and re-wrote The Silmarillion, always trying to perfect what he considered his most important work. However, he never managed to complete The Silmarillion.

After his father’s death, Christopher Tolkien took over the difficult task of completing The Silmarillion. In a documentary from 1996, Christopher Tolkien talks about the different versions of The Silmarillion, how The Hobbit and LOTR eventually were linked to the tales within The Silmarillion and the difficulties of publication:

As daunting as The Silmarillion can be to some, it has become the favourite book set in Middle-earth to many readers in the last 40 years. As in the case of many other literary classics, those who immerse themselves into The Silmarillion are rewarded with more than they could’ve anticipated. If you’re curious about reading The Silmarillion, but not sure how to untangle the complex world within, then I’d recommend you to head over to Travelling Geek Show. Earlier this year, I’ve hosted a Silmarillion book club were I discussed chapters, characters, and themes in The Silmarillion. Here are all posts of the book club:

Will you give The Silmarillion a try? In case you’ve read it already, what is your favourite tale in The Silmarillion? Leave a comment down below!

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