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Topic: The History of Middle-Earth.. help needed

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Feb 7, 2013
The History of Middle-Earth.. help needed

Hi to all, I'm new to the forum. I've just finished acquiring the collection of books which are included in the History of Middle Earth from The Lost Tales to the Journeys of Frodo. I also have The Children of Hurin, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. I would like to know where these books fit into the story? Which order should the books follow and where do The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings fit in?

thanks for any help at all



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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are right at the end of the histories of Middle-earth.

If I was you I'd read The Silmarillion next. The Silmarillion tells you about the creation of the world, the early histories and the history of the First Age. The second part of it - 'The Akallabeth' - gives you the history of the Second Age.

The Unfinished Tales are a collection of stories that don't make it into the books I mention above. It's worth reading UT after The Silmarillion. It contains stories from across the Ages of Middle-earth.

The 12 History of Middle-earth books I would read last, in the appropriate order. They contain all sorts of stuff, mostly versions of the stories Tolkien later decided against or re-wrote etc.

Welcome by the way!

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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If you've already read the Hobbit and LOTR, I'd agree with Glorfindel. If you haven't read those first. They are much easier and are a way to wade into ME instead of jumping right into the deep end. My opinion, not gospel.

Welcome to the forums!

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Welcome to the forums Illuvatar,

You mentioned the Journeys of Frodo! That's interesting. I'll have to get a hold of that one.
I echo Glorfindel and Laurelin about the order in which to read this rich library you have amassed. And welcome to the forums. Hope to see you out there in the threads...

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Thanks for your replies, I will definitely follow your advice. I bought LOTR + The Hobbit around 10 years ago and have read through them 3 times till now. I'm currently half-way through The Lost Tales part 1, which I figure is the basis and ideas which go to structure the whole mythical world of Tolkien, maybe the very first draft with a full on going structure and story. I'm fascinated by how all this lead then onto the LOTR and it is very interesting and captivating the curiousity of Eriol in the whole story of the Fairies, Gods, Gnomes and the Eldar. Just one last question, where does The Children of Hurin fit in?

thanks again to everyone!

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Here's an easy way to answer that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Children_of_H%C3%BArin

I think Wiki can explain it better than I can. But, maybe our fellow members will add some more...

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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The Children of Hurin is a tale within The Silmarillion that also has been expanded into a seperate book. It is worth reading The Silmarillion before The Children of Hurin otherwise you won't understand the time, setting or context The Children of Hurin takes place in.

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Ok, I read or heard somewhere that JRRT started writng The Children of Hurin in 1910. If that's the case, doesn't it come before any of his other work? Maybe not in terms of publishing date, but in the order of how he wrote. Does anyone know if that's true?



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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Laurelin wrote:

Ok, I read or heard somewhere that JRRT started writng The Children of Hurin in 1910. If that's the case, doesn't it come before any of his other work? Maybe not in terms of publishing date, but in the order of how he wrote. Does anyone know if that's true?


 The Tolkien Gateway says this:

"The Children of Húrin, begun in 1918, was one of three "Great Tales" J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realized his ambition to see it published."

Which was my understanding. Wikipedia also says it was begun in the 'late 1910s', is this what you're getting confused with Laurelin? This is something Galin would know about but he hasn't been around in a while. Tolkien would have only been 18 in 1910 so I'm not sure he would have been old enough.

 

 



-- Edited by Bilbo Baggins on Wednesday 20th of February 2013 11:47:58 PM

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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In 1914 Tolkien began to write (in prose and verse) his version of The Story of Kullervo (from the Kalevala), several elements of which would become part of Turin's tale. Tolkien made an entry as early as 1915 in Qenyaqetsa: 'Fentor -- the great worm slain by Ingilmo or Turambar'...

... which preceded the first account of The Tale of Turambar, dated '(?1918)' according to Tolkien experts Hammond and Scull -- the first account was in pencil but erased when overwritten by a revision, apparently in the Summer of 1919.

Iluvatar, you are going to meet an early version of this story in The Book of Lost Tales part II (if you haven't already).

 

That said, this is very different from The Children of Hurin recently published by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee. After writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien once again decided to write (and revise) the long version of this tale in prose. He never finished this, but he wrote enough in the early and late 1950s (generally speaking) for Christopher Tolkien to construct the version recently published. The (also constructed by Christopher Tolkien) short prose version is found in The Silmarillion, but Tolkien planned to have long prose (and long poetic) versions of some of the tales.

 

So when someone says that Tolkien began this tale way back in 1918 they are correct in a general sense, but we still have a progression: early long prose version (The Book of Lost Tales II), early poetic versions (see The Lays of Beleriand), shorter versions that became part of 'The Silmarillion' or Annalistic traditions, up to the late 1930s -- gap for writing The Lord of the Rings and other stuff (took a longish time) -- later long prose version updated in the 1950s in general [with some updated stuff from The Grey Annals too for example], but ultimately never finished by JRRT himself... many years later, posthumously constructed into a tale by Christopher Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee.

Which is, of course, a very simplified outline! smile



-- Edited by Galin on Thursday 21st of February 2013 08:10:19 PM

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Thank you to both of you. It's possible that I had read 1918 as 1910. It's what I get for not wearing my glasses.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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This is all very interesting indeed. Sadly I don't have that much time for reading and it usually happens between popping into bed and falling asleep. So I'm currently reading the end of The book of lost tales part 1 (which is very much confusing and hard to follow) the bits and pieces of a fantastic story that was never finished, of which Christopher has tried to place in a logical sense and array of time and events.
I have noticed that there is a lot of disapproval of Christophers finalising and placing together the enormous jigsaw puzzle that his father left unfinished, I do indeed envy him, but as of now I do not understand the disapproval. Maybe I don't know the whole story behind Christophers efforts to gather every single notepad and every single scribble that his father had done since the late 10's, and carry out what his father had wished to do. Ofcourse it would be impossible to replicate or continue tales that his father had never finished up, but I do not see any wish to do so on behalf of Christopher.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Iluvatar,

Your post ;

" ...  Of course it would be impossible to replicate or continue tales that his father had never finished upbut I do not see any wish to do so on behalf of Christopher."

How about $$$? And appreciation of his father's talent?

Christopher released the Silmarillion first ... it is in much better shape as an actual manuscript ... other released publications like The Book of Lost Tales is more of a book that describes the bits and pieces and literary processes that Tolkien was using to develope some of the other stories published in his (J.R.R. Tolkien) lifetime (Hobbit & The Lord of The Rings trilogy, etc)
Christopher Tolkien released the Simarillion which was closer to publication ready than others.

Try this site; "A Chronological Bibliography of the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien" ~ compiled by Ake Bertenstam ~ (http://www.forodrim.org/arda/tbchron.html)

and this site; "A J.R.R. Tolkien Booklist" ~ (http://home.earthlink.net/~dbratman/tolkien_bib.html)

 and from this site;    ( "J. R. R. Tolkien bibliography" from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien_bibliography)

Here is a short list of stories published before Tolkien's death (it does not include his academic publications or his poetry.)

 

 

(from the Wikipedia site)

So much has been about Tolkien and his works both artistic and scholastic that it maybe easier to understand by going to these recommended sites.

Iluvatar,
Welcome to the Tolkien Forums.

I think you will find it a place where you will be welcome with ANY questions or ANY comments. You will be welcome, period, no matter what.  I love Tolkien in big bites (when I have time to read) and small (when I don't have time to read) We just love Tolkien.
As you have seen, folks try to help in anyway they can.  I am only a member here, but if I can help in anyway, please just ask!

Again, Welcome!

Bear an Elf-Friend

 



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Slaves of udun
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This is just the order I read them and it worked well: LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Histories of Middle Earth



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Hi to all I'm back after a long absence, I've just finished reading the Unfinished Tales. I startd off with the 2 Lost Tales editions, the nthe Silmarillion (which I have read twice) and then UT. Which would be the next one? The Children of Hurin or ?

thanks

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Do you mean you started off with The Book of Lost Tales, volumes I and II [or 'BOLT'], and then went to Unfinished Tales [assuming you read the 1977 Silmarillion before either of these, although I'm not certain that was the progression]?

 

If so, again it depends upon what you are looking for. The next book [after BOLT I and II] in the progression of The History of Middle-Earth twelve volume series is the Lays of Beleriand, as Tolkien essentially abandoned BOLT to start writing long poetic accounts of the Great Tales. But if you don't like poetry you would skip to The Shaping of Middle-Earth, where 'the Silmarillion' truly begins to take shape.

And these volumes, as you have seen from BLT I and II, are scholarly presentations of the external evolution of Tolkien as a writer and World Builder. I mean the tales are incomplete, abandoned early versions, texts that often include a series of conflicting notes, with plenty of notes and explanation from Christopher Tolkien himself...

... so not a 'book experience' like reading an author-finished, author-published tale.

 

If you want the book experience rather, even though we can't have that from Tolkien himself now with respect to all his intended stories, then you would want The Children of Hurin. Actually by reading Unfinished Tales you have also read segments of The Children of Hurin, the unfinished attempt at updating the long prose version of this tale...

... so reading Christopher Tolkien's Childen of Hurin is going to be reading the same tale from UT again, although this time it has been compiled into a single narrative [using some texts in addition to those which appear in Unfinished Tales]. As I say, the book experience, as, generally speaking at least, Tolkien intended, as opposed to the more scholarly presentation in Unfinished Tales, if not the ultimate tale Tolkien 'intended' in all details...  sadly that we can never have.

But the impact of reading the story 'as a story' is very different from reading the presentation in Unfinished Tales -- well in my opinion anyway, even though in UT you get some sections that are complete enough to hint at the full book experience.

Plus you get nice illustrations too smile

 

Of course if you choose The Children of Hurin you will be reading the longer prose version of the same story within the Silmarillion too. But from early on the Silmarillion was intended to be a 'brief' version of the account of the Elder Days; I mean it covers a sweeping connected history, so it contained abbreviated versions of The Fall of Gondolin, The Tale of Beren and Luthien, The Children of Hurin.

In other words, this was on purpose, but the long prose and poetic versions go into far more detail and characterization in some places, as expected. You can get a sense of just how long the updated Fall of Gondolin was likely going to be in UT, as the story left off just after Tuor and Voronwe entered the Gates!



-- Edited by Galin on Monday 17th of March 2014 03:24:14 PM

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Yes I did start with the BOLT I & II, then I read the Silmarillion and then UT. So I think I will skip to The Shaping of ME and maybe after reading them all, get back to the Lays of Beleriand and the Children of Hurin.

thanks



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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Welcome back, Illuvatar


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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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I would think reading Children of Hurin after UT not such a bad idea. It would be somewhat repetitive but quite easy to read at this point (although maybe you are not like hobbits who liked 'books filled with things that they already knew'). And after reading it you might proceed strait to The Wanderings of Hurin, which is part three in The War of the Jewels (Vol. XI); it is pretty stand-alone in that book but is a continuation of the story from COH. Unless you are very much not into poetry, Lays of Beleriand (with a poetic version of the Story of Hurin's children once again, although unfinished) would be quite nice to read. The Shaping of Middle-earth is also a jewel, no question about that, with those early ideas like [spoiler alert] Maedhros breaking a Silmaril...

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Lórellinë

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Hi I'm back again :) I've read the shaping of middle earth and the children of hurin which I quite enjoyed.. so other than going to volume XI what would come next?

thanks

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Tom Bombadil
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You could read some of the supporting works that stimulated Tolkien to write some of the books. Like "The Magic Ring" written by Baron de la Motte Fouqué. Just a thought.

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