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Paperback The Silmarillion Book

ISBN: 0261102737

ISBN13: 9780261102736

The Silmarillion

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. The Silmarillion is J.R.R. Tolkien's tragic, operatic history of the First Age of Middle-Earth, essential background material for serious readers of the classic Lord of the Rings saga. Tolkien's work...

Customer Reviews

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Tolkien's true life work, ultimately unfinished though it is

In the Tolkien canon, THE SILMARILLION is the most highly contested of all his works. Constructed as a prehistoric history of the Universe, the book has the cultural significance of the Bible in Tolkien's universe. It is Tolkien's primary work, but it's also his most troublesome, in more ways than one. One thing you need to know. In Tolkien scholarship, there are two primary ways to refer to the "Silmarillion". One is the Silmarillion, the legendarium proper, and then the 1977 SILMARILLION, which may or may not be what Tolkien envisioned. THE SILMARILLION, the book Tolkien spent all of his adult life writing, was, sadly, incomplete when Tolkien died at the age of eighty one in 1973. Naturally, this begs the question why did it take him decades to write the book, and it still be unfinished after all that time? Well, to understand that, you need to understand two things: the scope of the project, and how Tolkien worked. The scope of the book was a complete imaginary history, a totally self-contained mythology, all written and developed for his home country, England (my home country as well). Imagine the Greek and Roman mythologies, all those myths and gods, developed by one man. Imagine Homer completely inventing all the gods for his stories. Imagine how hard that would be to come up with your own mythological traditions as such. No wonder Tolkien had such a hard time completing the work. Now, the scope (which is extremely ambitious for any artist) was compounded by how Tolkien worked. First, he was a philologist first and foremost, and so before the stories he invented languages. All of these languages (which would have taken a life-time to develop on their own) had their own history, and are so interlocked with the mythology that you cannot remove them. He developed the main body of legends around these languages. Many features of the central body of legends changed relatively little over the years, but he wrote different versions of them at different times and in different styles. Some of the legends were set in poetry, those in annalistic histories, others in condensed summaries, and others in the more traditional (at least, for modern readers) novel format. A lot of these writings are also unfinished, due to Tolkien's perfectionist tendencies. Christopher Tolkien said that for most of his father's writing there existed a stable tradition from which Tolkien worked from, but there was no such thing as a stable text for the primary legends. All this is tied to how Tolkien worked. C. S. Lewis famously stated that you did not influence Tolkien, you may as well as try to influence a bandersnatch. Tolkien would either take no notice of your criticism, or else he would start all over from the beginning. And so he did. A lot. Tolkien would reach a certain portion of the draft, be unsatisfied, and began the whole thing over again, while never reaching the end. Or Tolkien would have two copies of the same manuscript, one to be

A fantasy classic, but not for everyone

"The Silmarillion" is perhaps the most unique and difficult-to-explain book I have read. It is among the books I love the most, but this might not be the case if I had not read it in a bizarre way that I can hardly recommend to anyone else, and yet may be the best way to read it. For ten or twelve years I skimmed through "The Silmarillion," "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings," and many of Tolkien's posthumous books (many of which present the stories of "The Silmarillion" in different forms which Tolkien wrote at various times in his life) without reading the books verbatim. Only in the last twelve months have I read these books all the way through.This was a wise way of approaching Tolkien's most famous works because of the odd nature of "The Silmarillion," which must be understood by anyone desiring to enjoy it. "The Silmarillion" is not a "novel," as are "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" (Tolkien preferred the word "romance" to "novel" for LotR). "The Silmarillion" is well described by the subtitle on the front of the jacket of the Ted Nasmith-illustrated edition: "The Myths and Legends of Middle-earth". "The Silmarillion" is the equivalent, for the imaginary world in which "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" take place, of a work like Hamilton's or Bulfinch's "Mythology". It does not tell one single story; rather it tells many stories in a briefer form, almost as though the stories are being synopsized rather than told. In a real sense "The Silmarillion" is a greater work than even "The Lord of the Rings" could ever be, since it contains not one but several stories with as much power and grandeur as that of LotR.However, much of the book is written in the style of a tome of history, setting out the vast historical framework within which these unforgettable stories unfold, and thus seems dry and soporific to many readers. Moreover, large numbers of characters, often with similar names (seven important Elven characters have names starting with F, and six of them start with the letters "Fin"), are presented without space for them to be strongly characterized, so that the reader may be unable to become as engaged with them as with Frodo, Sam or Gandalf. This is where my bizarre manner of reading the book came in handy: I became familiar with all the characters over my years of skimming, and knew precisely who they were and how they were connected to each other when I finally read the whole book. Moreover, since I had often skimmed "The Silmarillion" before reading "The Lord of the Rings," I could appreciate the many references back to the former work in the latter. Although "The Silmarillion" was not published until many years after LotR, Tolkien had written all the stories that make up "The Silmarillion" before writing LotR. Many of LotR's references to past events, which contribute greatly to the impression it gives of taking place in a real world, are references to events told in "The Silmarillion". (No Hobbits app

The Epic Tales of Middle Earth - On CD !

The Silmarillion is a epic tale of the first three ages of Middle Earth, before the domination of men. It lays the groundwork for the Lord of the Rings trilogy with an intricate series of tales of love, betrayal, and magic. Chief among these stories is the rise and fall of Melkor and curse of the Silmarils, the priceless jewels that cause nothing but woe to all who wish to possess them. However, the most memorable story is probably the love story of Beren and Luthian, in which love tries to conquer insurmountable odds to survive.The CD version is an excellent way to become acquainted with the Silmarillion. The Silmarillion is not an easy book to read; the prose is sometimes terse, the names of characters confusing, and the story occasionally at odds with itself. The narrator, Martin Shaw, does an admirable job pronouncing all of the names of beings and places consistently. If you you've enjoyed the other Tolkien tales, and craved more about the worlds hinted about in the songs of their heros, the Silmarillion is the place to begin. If you've already read the Silmarillion, and want another approach, the CD version is a viable option.


The story of "The lord of the Rings" is spectacular,because it took me to a whole other world where I felt I was in the adventure myself.I believe this is one of the best books I have ever read.

Both Tolkien and Martin Shaw shine in this audio edition

A long-time Tolkien fan, I have always enjoyed The Silmarillion, though it's never been my favourite. Martin Shaw's reading may just change that! Hearing Mr Shaw's rendering of Tolkien's prose is a truly magical experience. I enjoyed his reading of The Hobbit, but this text is much more moving. Mr Shaw manages both the high linguistic style and the Elvish words with dignity and makes the text come alive in a way that is simply amazing. (We can only hope that Mr Shaw has plans for The Lord of the Rings.) The decision of the publisher to release the text unabridged is also very welcome -- the mythic style and scope of the book demand that every story in it be told, and it is well worth the cumulative price of the volumes.

The Silmarillion Mentions in Our Blog

The Silmarillion in Are You Afraid of Big Bad Books?
Are You Afraid of Big Bad Books?
Published by Bianca Smith • March 26, 2018

Big books have fabulous stories, but are intimidating to start. Here are some tips to help you read big books.

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