The Peoples of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 12)

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In this volume series, Christopher catalogs and comments upon various drafts, outlines, notes, correspondence, and other materials that all went into producing the finished and often unfinished stories of J.

Below is a list of the volumes in the History of Middle-earth series. Join me in an in-depth study of the History of Middle-earth! For the last several years, I have been working my way through the entire series as part of the free Mythgard Academy series. Dozens of people join each week to discuss the current volume with me, and all of the sessions are recorded for those who want to catch up later. Printed between and , the History of Middle-earth is nothing less than an incredible feat of scholarship.

Few, if any, other authors have received such a careful and caring! The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. Would you like to support The Tolkien Professor? She is aided in this by a very large, somewhat taciturn, talking hound. Though he has the strength and courage of a super hero, he has been cursed by Morgoth.

The Peoples of Middle-earth - Wikipedia

Because of the curse, he is a Jonah — everyone he tries to help is annihilated. He also has no introspection. He possesses a magic talking sword, Gurtholfin, that loves to drink blood. They are also the products of a society that values community ties over individual achievement. Bilbo, Frodo, and the other characters also share a vast cultural inheritance, and their mastery of ancient lore is an essential and often demonstrated part of their personas. Isaacs and Rose A.

Tolkien's History of Middle-earth Hardback Comparison (Collected Editions)

Zimbardo, eds. I would gladly trade a thousand Niphrondels for a single stark, gory border ballad. Alliterative verse, however, forced Tolkien to write with greater vividness and economy. It is also less sing-songy than the poetry we usually associate with Tolkien. Occasionally Tolkien achieves some powerful effects, as in his description of the death of the oath-breaker Blodrin who is struck in the throat by an orc arrow and impaled to a tree.

Tolkien did not, as I first imagined, write the prose versions of the mythology first and then put them into verse. Instead, the prose and poetic versions evolved together. He would shift from one to the other depending on the mood he was in, and much of the mythology was developed and refined in the verse versions of the stories. Tolkien used poetic devices throughout his work.


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These patterning tricks have been used in ballads and sagas for millennia to fix words firmly in the mind. Frodo, Aragorn and the other members of the Fellowship are able to create poetry extemporaneously because they are all products of a culture that provides them with the rules and framework for creation and performance. How I long to take her to a session in Plockton, Scotland, where people compose extemporaneous songs in both English and Gaelic! These are written both in modern English and in an Old English version that purports to be the translations made by Eriol a.

The final section of the book that is, Volume I in the new HarperCollins edition contains an appendix, genealogies, a list of names, and a second Silmarillion map. These are rather sparsely distributed throughout the series. I would have welcomed more illustrations, since Tolkien, who was an excellent amateur artist, used his drawings and paintings as another way of bringing his imagined world into sharper focus. Why read this compendium of first drafts, false starts and abandoned plot lines?

His Middle-earth is full of tantalizing glimpses of a history and a whole universe beyond his novels, a vast world with little breadcrumb trails of story that branch off from the main plot, together with massive appendices that give teasing bare-bones outlines of a rich body of lore. Finally, and most importantly, this series provides more evidence that Tolkien had one of the most strange and wonderful imaginations that ever was. Even in his earliest, clunkiest writings, his infinite inventiveness shines forth.

The Peoples of Middle-earth

A person who could imagine a world created by a choral performance, where light was a liquid just imagine what a blizzard of light would look like! A note on the new HarperCollins edition: as I mentioned earlier, HarperCollins has consolidated the original twelve volumes into a three-volume hardcover set. I initially had trepidation about the set. Each book is very large Volume I is over pages, and the set takes up about seven inches of shelf space — this is not a book you can tote around in your purse.

The paper it is printed on seems insubstantial, slightly thicker than onionskin. Volume II, however, passed the endurance test when the book and I were the victims of a sneak attack by a large, affectionate and very wet setter. I also managed carry Volume III through a long airplane trip without developing a hernia. It covers the period from the creation of the story up to the Mines of Moria and explains the three major rewrites of the story Tolkien did during this period. There are seven illustrations, mainly maps and manuscript pages that depict the story from the Shire to Moria.

Tolkien saved everything he wrote in his year writing career, but he never got around to organizing his papers. A smattering of early maps and drawings are included. There is no fireworks display and no disappearance. Instead, he and his wife, Primula Took, go off on a long journey and never return. His madcap humor and love of practical jokes would have mortified the ever-polite Frodo Baggins. The farmer beats young Bingo, but adult Bingo uses the ring to get even.

He makes himself invisible and knocks Maggot down and trashes his home. Middle-earth seemed to be shaping itself as Tolkien wrote of it, and this caused him problems of chronology and geography. When a character off-handedly mentioned that the White Council had successfully driven Sauron out of Mirkwood and back to Mordor, his ancient fortress in the South East, Tolkien had to invent a geography and a backstory for Mordor and the lands that separated it from Rivendell.

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The personalities of the hobbits seemed as changeable as the land they traversed. Tolkien soon found that he had more hobbits than he could handle —- and Tooks at that. Drogo quietly vanished. Meriadoc was the most stable of all the characters, keeping his personality and most of his speeches through the three major revisions that marked this early phase of the work. The personalities of Frodo and Odo Took were less clear-cut. Stubborn Odo, meanwhile, began to disagree with the other hobbits and to long for home and hot meals.

Then, at Bree, they were joined by a hobbit who affected the most amazing transformation of all. How he managed the stealthy and often perilous life of a ranger while clomping about on wooden shoes, I cannot imagine. Peregrin was one of the young Shire hobbits who ran off to follow Gandalf. While helping Gandalf track Gollum, Peregrin had been captured, imprisoned and tortured in Mordor but finally had managed to escape. At one point his wooden shoes are described as prostheses.


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As he got deeper into his narrative, Tolkien had a growing awareness that the jokey, overbearing and often ridiculous Bingo was not the right hobbit for this story. Perhaps the stabbing made Tolkien realize that Bingo was too lightweight a character to be the hero of the novel.

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Sam Gamgee is also first mentioned at this time and quickly managed to carve out a leading role for himself at the expense of Odo Took. With the coming of Sam, Tolkien decided that he had one hobbit too many and resolved to get rid of Odo. Christopher Tolkien, however, was fond of Odo and begged for a reprieve. Tolkien spent a great deal of time waffling between his desire to rub out Odo and his need to please his son.

He tried to solve his Odo problem by alternately giving Odo a bewildering assortment of new names and personalities, and by failed attempts to kill him off. And, in classic Tolkien fashion, the attempt to write one character out of the story led to the invention of a whole army of hobbit clones. Finally, Tolkien decided to blend the character of Odo with that of Frodo Took, the abstracted, dreamy hobbit.

Frodo Took slowly began to morph through many name changes into Peregrin Took. Thus, Odo provided the nucleus for two characters, Pippin and Fatty Bolger.

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An air of loss seems to cling to him. While most writers will prepare for big surprises by foreshadowing and larding the text with subtle clues as to what is to come, Tolkien often will spring his surprises on an unprepared reader. Only later as the text unfolds does he explain the surprise in a way that makes it seem inevitable, organic to the plot and right.

The information has to be pieced together the way we process information in real life — retrospectively. This is more difficult than just following where the clues seem to lead. It increases the buy-in for many readers because they have to work a bit for their pay-off.

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