The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion

By: J. R. R. Tolkien
Edited by: Christopher Tolkien
Foreword by: Christopher Tolkien
Published by: George Allen and Unwin
Publication Date: 1977

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The Silmarillion is the central stock of J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginative writing, a work that he could not publish in his lifetime because it grew with him. Its origins stretch back sixty years, long before The Hobbit, which was independently conceived but was caught up into what he called the 'branching acquisitive theme' from which finally emerged The Lord of the Rings.

The Silmarillion, though published last and posthumously, has the primacy, both in terms of the author's life and in terms of its content. It is the story of the First Age in Tolkien's world, the ancient drama to which characters in The Lord of the Rings look back, and in whose events some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part.

The three Silmarils were jewels created by Feanor, most gifted of the Elves. Within them was imprisoned the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor before the Trees themselves were destroyed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. Thereafter the unsullied Light of Valinor lived on only in the Silmarils; but they were seized by Morgoth and set in his crown, guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth. The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Feanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism, against the great Enemy.

The book includes several other shorter works besides The Simarillion proper. Preceeding it are the Ainulindale or Music of the Ainur, a myth of the Creation, and the Valaquenta, in which the nature and powers of each of the gods are set forth. After The Silmarillion is the Akallabeth, in which is recounted the downfall of the great island kingdom of Numenor at the end of the Second Age; and at the end is the tale Of The Rings of Power, in which the matter of the Lord of the Rings is treated in the manner of The Silmarillion.

The Silmarillion is not a romance, not a fairy story, not a fictitious history contrived for its own sake. It is a work of unparalleled and sustained imagination, a sombre vision in the mode of myth and legend of the conflict between the desire to dominate the world and other wills and the creative power that proceeds from the development of inherent inner talents. The corruption of Feanor, the creator of supreme beauty, by the deceits of Morgoth and by his own possessive passion for the things of his own making, and the fruits of that corruption, is one of its central themes.

The Silmarillion has been edited and prepared for publication from many manuscripts by the author's son, Christopher Tolkien.

From the dust jacket
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