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BOLT 2 - Was it difficult to Read ?

ltnjmy

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I found it difficult to read because so many of the characters - definitively set by Professor Tolkien later - are in preliminary form.

Although I enjoyed reading the chapter about the Fall of Gondolin - reading about Beren being conceived initially as an elf - was difficult to relate to​
 

Confusticated

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I did find it difficult because I read and tried to remember all of Christopher's notes. To enjoy the tales most, I found it best to not constantly compare them to The Silmarillion. My favorite parts are when he meets Rumil, Nuin discovers Men, and the entire FoG!
 

Eledhwen

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There are two ways to read BoLT2; Just filter out the notes and concentrate on the main story (though I can't help reading all the plot variations, myself); or stop to take in every last comment by Christopher Tolkien, so that part of the story is visualising the Professor scribbling his notes in pencil, going over them in pen and erasing the original; sometimes getting so 'into' the story that the writing becomes scrawled and some words indecipherable. Both have merits; but to do the latter and still keep track of the tale, you have to have developed the knack of picking up dropped story threads.
 

DurinI

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Eledhwen is right. You really have to take in every comment that Christopher puts into the book. The first time I started with the History books I had give up because of how confusing I thought it was. I really started rereading the basics like Hobbit, Silmarillion, and Lord of the Rings to truly understand everything about the mythology as a whole, than I reread the history books and there is definantly a fine line between the first writings of Tolkien and the final writings that are eventually put into the Silmarillion and so on
 

Alcuin

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ltnjmy, I found it blindingly boring at first. Some sections ran easily; some were just mind-numbing. It has become easier to read as time passes, but I don’t think your reaction to the early versions of the stories is unusual.

I had trouble with the first five volumes of History of Middle-Earth: Book of Lost Tales I, Book of Lost Tales II, Lays of Beleriand, Shaping of Middle-Earth, and Lost Road. The earliest ones are the most difficult for me. Lord of the Rings focused and clarified Tolkien’s vision of Middle-earth, so that characters and stories and became more defined, better-related one to another, and not just a series of loosely-related tales of “ancient days.”

What became The Silmarillion was often deflated by readers whom Tolkien or his publishers recruited. We should remember that what these people were reading – whether Milton Waldman or Rayner Unwin or CS Lewis – is surely similar or identical to what we are reading in BoLT1, BoLT2, LoB, SoME and Lost Road.

The introduction to Letter 19, written in 1937, recalls the reaction of one of the outside readers of publisher Allen & Unwin, “Edward Crankshaw, who reported unfavorably on the [noparse][[/noparse]Silmarillion[noparse]][/noparse], but praised the prose narrative for its ‘brevity and dignity’, though he said he disliked its ‘eye-splitting Celtic names’. His report continued: ‘It has something of that mad, bright-eyed beauty that perplexes all Anglo-Saxons in face of Celtic art.’ These comments were passed on to Tolkien.” And these seem to have been the sorts of comments Tolkien received for the following 15 years about this material until Rayner Unwin committed to publishing Silmarillion in 1952 so that he could also publish Lord of the Rings, which he considered such a work of genius that he was willing to risk the publishing firm he was about to inherit from his father.

It would be interesting to know what Tolkien submitted to Allen & Unwin and Collins Publishing (Milton Waldman’s firm). Does anyone recall that Christopher Tolkien identifies any of this material as that sent to them or their readers?

-|-

Remember Churchill: “Never, Never, Never, Never give up.” Tolkien was no fan of Churchill’s, but the two of them shared that attitude.
 
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