My Bookshelf


Of course you will find it no surprise that the first book I'm going to list here will be The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Originally published in 1953, LoTR was broken into three books by the publishers. There was such a paper shortage at that time, that to print the single epic novel in its entirity would have been so cost prohibitive that the publishers would have had to retail it beyond what anyone might be willing to spend for it. There was some controversy over the naming of the final three parts. The Professor was happy with the The Fellowship of the Ring, but thoroughly disliked calling the third book Return of the King as he felt this told you how it ended, and might take away some of the suspense. The most interesting trivia to come from the naming of the three books is the title of the second book, The Two Towers. The Professor never does commit to which of the many significant towers in Middle Earth are the the two referenced in the title. It could be the White Tower at Minas Tirith, the seat of good and justice, opposing the Black Tower of Bara'dur in Mordor...or perhaps the tower of Orthanc at Isengard, and Sauron's tower at Bara'dur, as is suggested in Sir Peter Jackson's film adaptation. However, the Professor himself has left us without any inkling of his intent in this matter.

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During World War I, Tolkien wrote in a small notebook in the trenches between battles. Eventually this material was gathered together and polished up by his son Christopher, after the Professor's death. This became a slender volume, slightly narrower than the Hobbit, called The Silmarillion. This book contains several tales, most of which predate the material in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the chronology of Middle Earth. The Silmarillion contains the story of the creation of Middle Earth by the Valar, and the origins of that land's races. It also tells of the fall of Numenor, and the coming of Earendil to Middle Earth, which is the line of Men from which Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the king who returns in the Lord of the Rings, descends.
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To complete this group of books I've enjoyed, I offerThe Hobbit. First of Tolkien's published works, the manuscript was presented to Allan and Unwin publishers. As was Mr. Unwin's practice at the time, the manuscript was given to his son, Raynor to critique. Young Raynor was given, in addition to his pocket money, a schilling for every children's manuscript he reviewed. Raynor declared the novel good, and that with the maps included in the manuscript, would need no illustrations. In those days of innocence, no other opinion was needed. Thusly The Hobbit was published, and the world became acquainted with Middle Earth.

Content, unless otherwise noted, (c) Christine A. Smith 2011

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