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History of Middle Earth What is Needed?

1stvermont

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So I have ordered morgoth's ring and I am also getting The War of the Jewels. So my question is this, do these books make the book of lost tales meaningless? it seems to me they do. It seems volumes 1-4 of the history would not really be needed as to the history of the sillmarillion. What do you guys think?



Also what is the point in 6-9 the histories of LOTR if Tolkien held unpublished writings so low it seems.

It will probable work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to rite itself once I get going as if the truth comes out then, only imperfectly simple in the preliminary sketch.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 91


Every part has been [re]written many times”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 130


Tolkien was a perfectionist in his writings. Nothing hit the press unless revised, reconsidered and then finally published. Even sections that had stayed constant over and over could be drastically changed moments before publication such as the design to minis tirith. C.S Lewis said the inklings had “hoped for a final text of an old work, what they actually got was the first draft of a new one.”

Whole thing comes out of the wash quite different to any preliminary sketch”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien
 
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Squint-eyed Southerner

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I can sort of see your point, but in that case, I think it would be volumes IV and V you'd want to forgo. Volume III, "The Lays of Beleriand", contains Tolkien's efforts to cast First Age stories into verse. They are not found elsewhere, IIRC. Of course, if you're allergic to poetry, you might find that one superfluous, too! :p

Similar with the "Lost Tales": much there is not available in any other form -- "The Fall of Gondolin", for example, which Tolkien considered the central story in the whole legendarium.

Speaking of central, that is what LOTR is for me, so the HLOTR volumes are the ones I reread and refer to most.

But I wouldn't want to do without the others.
 
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1stvermont

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Thank you much sir. Let me ask you this than. Not to say reading them is useless, but what is the point of reading the histories of the LOTR volumes 6-9 if Tolkien held unpublished material so low it seems.


It will probable work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to rite itself once I get going as if the truth comes out then, only imperfectly simple in the preliminary sketch.”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 91



Every part has been [re]written many times”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien 130



Tolkien was a perfectionist in his writings. Nothing hit the press unless revised, reconsidered and then finally published. Even sections that had stayed constant over and over could be drastically changed moments before publication such as the design to minis tirith. C.S Lewis said the inklings had “hoped for a final text of an old work, what they actually got was the first draft of a new one.”


Whole thing comes out of the wash quite different to any preliminary sketch”
-Letters of J.R.R Tolkien
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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The point for me at least is the opportunity to watch the writing process at work, to see how the various elements of the story developed, and, at the time of the publication of the volumes, to learn about the errors and omissions that had crept into the published work. Remember, it was Christopher Tolkien's work on this material which formed the basis for the new "corrected" edition we now have.

That last reason may legitimately be considered no longer in effect, but not by me; I put "corrected" in quotation marks for a reason: among the omissions I mentioned is the magnificent description of the doors of Meduseld. This I feel was inadvertent; it should be there, and I find the editors' justifications for leaving it out particularly lame.

However, every reader has his own area of interest. This simply happens to be mine.
 

Ithilethiel

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For me it is a question of depth and breadth of engagement to his life's work. For some, the purely narrative books are enough. For others there is a desire to read every word written by JRRT or CT about JRRT's writings.

Though the HoME books may seem repetitive, confusing, dense and incomplete by some readers (which is a fair assessment) many others, myself included, find every offering even the earliest and fragmentary ones beneficial to understanding the whole. In addition, it's Tolkien for Eru's sake! We are simply compelled to lap up every ink drop from Tolkien's pen. (Excuse the melodrama.)

And as SES touched upon, as an amateur writer I love watching over Tolkien's shoulder as he writes, edits, re-writes, scratches out, makes additions, changes his mind, makes up his mind endlessly. He was so brilliant it is impossible for me to ignore his own commitment to his craft. I only wish there was more.
 

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