Friday, September 4, 2009

10 Books A Day: #136

The Silmarillion (1977)...J. R. R. Tolkien...Houghton Mifflin Company

The Silmarillion...J. R. R. Tolkien...Ballantine Books

The Silmarillion...J. R. R. Tolkien...Unwin Paperbacks

The Silmarillion...J. R. R. Tolkien, Illustrated By Ted Nasmith...Houghton Mifflin Company

The Silmarillion, Second Edition...J. R. R. Tolkien...Houghton Mifflin Company

Unfinished Tales...J. R. R. Tolkien...Houghton Mifflin Company

Unfinished Tales ...J. R. R. Tolkien...Ballantine Books

Unfinished Tales...J. R. R. Tolkien...Del Rey

Tolkien And The Silmarillion...Clyde S. Kilby...Harold Shaw Publishers

Tolkien And The Silmarils...Randel Helms...Houghton Mifflin Company

There were fans who had waited decades for The Silmarillion. From the moment I heard about it, I waited maybe two years, tops. But it seemed like a long, long time. My mother bought it for me and inscribed the inside cover with my name and the date: Nov. 9, 1977. Good Lord, I was fourteen. I remember I had fun deciphering the Elvish inscription on the inside. Three years later I got Unfinished Tales on Nov. 29, 1980.

From Tolkien's death to the publication of The Silmarillion was four years. Christopher Tolkien, who edited his father's work with the help of Guy Gavriel Kay (who went on to be a fantasy author himself), now admits it was something of a rush job, done under tremendous pressure from the publishers and lacking access to some important manuscripts. As it turns out there were whole swathes of narrative that had to be fabricated out of the scantiest hints; this has led to some questions about the "canonicity" of the book. The Second Edition corrected some of these shortcomings. Unfinished Tales is, if made up of rough narratives and speculative essays, at least more undoubtedly authentically Tolkien.

Tolkien and the Silmarillion was published by Clyde S. Kilby one year before The Silmarillion's publication: it was basically a summation of all that was known about the work at the time, supplemented by Kilby's personal acquaintance with Tolkien and his remembrance of the discussions they had on the work. Tolkien and the Silmarils was published by Randel Helms (who had previously written Tolkien's World) in 1980. Perhaps now is the time (thirty years on) for a new work focusing on a critical assessment of this unique book.

Book Count: 1616.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Silmarillion is probably the best book written in the English language in my opinion. If it was not strictly canonical, tough...If it was a rush job, my God, even more amazing. This one has it all...