1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

A Study of Tolkien

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by thedarknessrising, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. Recently, I have begun a sort of “Tolkien Study”, where I’m basically reading everything JRR Tolkien has ever written. It’s my goal to really delve into these works, as Tolkien is the most significant influence on my writing, and doing this will really help me better understand his process and hopefully better my own. I’m starting with the core books: The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion. After that, I’ll be diving into his expanded works: Unfinished Tales, Book it Lost Tales parr’s 1 and 2, etc. I’ll also be reading the books that detail his drafts of The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, and the Silmarillion, as well as his biography and his compiled letters by Humphrey Carpenter.

    I’ve never done anything of this sort before. I’ve only ever read the core books, and even then, I only read the Silmarillion for the first time last year and found it very difficult to get through, though I enjoyed it immensely. I was wondering if there was an edition with notes or annotations that would help me better understand the story in the Silmarillion, or any websites I could visit as I read (yes I know google is a thing. I mean specific sites). I already have a podcast I’ll be listening to in order to help, but I’d like more material if anyone has any recommendations.
  2. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    An all-around good idea.

    I’ve read everything you mentioned, save the early drafts of The Hobbit. Most of it I read about 15-20 years ago, or so, so my memory is not exactly fresh. However, I have a couple of recommendations for you.

    First, be sure to read ‘On Fairy Stories’, if you haven’t already. It is from a lecture he gave in the late 30’s, I think. It can be found online in PDF formats for free. There is some wonderful stuff in there, though I don’t agree with 100% of it. But I especially like his views on people’s misconceptions regarding ‘escapism’, as well as his defense of the fantasy genre in general.

    A book I would recommend is Tom Shippey’s ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century’. This guy held the same post Tolkien did at Oxford, and has fabulous insights into Tolkien and his works. I found his stuff on The Silmarillion very helpful indeed. It gave me a far greater appreciation for it. I had a very difficult time with The Silmarillion when I first encountered it as a teenager, mostly because I think I was expecting something else.

    By the way, be prepared: The Lost Tales 1&2 books are going to be even tougher to get through than The Silmarillion. The Lost Tales are written in an extremely antiquated tone that is probably off-putting for most casual readers.

    Good Luck, and have fun!
  3. Thank you very much for your recommendation! I went ahead and ordered that book, as well as another he wrote called “The Road to Middle Earth”. They both look very promising and pretty much exactly what I’m looking for during this study!
  4. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    Excellent! I sincerely hope it helps out.

    Yes, I've read The Road to Middle-earth as well, and enjoyed it. That one is a bit more dense and scholarly, so I didn't want to recommend it first.

    Be prepared to go DEEP-----
  5. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    Well, I don't know about any specific sites, but a resource that has helped me dig into Tolkien's writing is The Languages of Middle Earth book. In the back, it references all of the names mentioned in his works (especially the Silmarillion) and what dialect they are put in. It's been helpful because the Silmarillion throws names all over the place. Having a handle on what they mean allows you to tap into the deeper message. Therefore, it makes the writing easier to follow.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. Silvahkir

    Silvahkir Dreamer

    There is a paper back book called A Tolkien Reader that has his famous essay "On Fairy Stories" and a short story called "Leaf by Niggle" I found that both of these things gave me a glimpse into how he conceived "sub-creation" or what is often referred to as world building. You may already know about these works by Tolkien but I wanted to mention them for anyone else interested in making his works a subject of study.

Share This Page