The Silmarillion

I was a Tolkien addict back in the 1970s. Like many people of my generation, I have a greyish coloured paperback copy of ‘The Hobbit’ and the yellow paper back ‘combined volume’ of Lord of the Rings. When The Silmarillion was published (after J R R Tolkien’s death) in 1977 I had to have a copy.

I had no real idea as to what I was in for and as I look at my bookshelf now it is no surprise that whilst The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings both look old and battered, The Silmarillion looks just about pristine.

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Perhaps that is a good thing for my Silmarillion is a first edition hardback copy. Maybe it will have some value in a couple of hundred years!

I suspect I was like many other eager buyers in expecting well-constructed tales such as we had been used to in the earlier Tolkien books. I hadn’t realised that what I was getting was background information about the various ages in Tolkien’s imagined world. The book is rather like others which try to build a raison d’etre for a belief system. The Old Testament of the bible comes to mind.

I read it once and my mind swam. This could have been because my first child was born in 1977 and we went through that awful stage of sleepless nights.  If anyone asked me what it was about my only reply was that I really hadn’t a clue.

It made more sense on a second reading. No doubt it would be even more meaningful if I read it again. But I doubt I will. I have long escaped the need to live in a total fantasy world and if I do feel a need for fiction I’d much rather go for something lighter which I’d actually enjoy reading.

By the way, I have little time for the films of the Tolkien books. They ruin what I hold in my own imagination, foisting somebody else’s interpretation on me in graphic detail, and noisily. The books, as read by me and not mediated by others suit me far better.

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4 Responses to “The Silmarillion”

  1. Janet Says:

    Reblogged this on Janet’s thread.

  2. Su Leslie Says:

    I was given a copy of the Silmarillion for my birthday in 1978 (when like you I was a Tolkien addict). I read about 40 pages, once, and gave up. I guess my copy is still pristine and tucked away somewhere with the stuff I will never need again.

    • locksands Says:

      I think your response to the book was normal – and one I have given to many classics that people say we ‘should’ read.

      • Su Leslie Says:

        When I went back and tried to read The Lord of the Rings again (about 15 years ago, just before the first movie was released), I found it misogynous and tedious. I guess I’d moved on too.

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