It was on 15 September 1977 when that J.R.R. Tolkien’s (possible) magnum opus was released. Christopher Tolkien’s laborious and successful attempts to bring his father’s complex and vast array of writings into a cohesive and readable format were achieved.
Difficult as it is to decide between his Middle-earth works, I’ve always had a kind of soft spot for The Silmarillion. The backstory behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with its intricate structure, chronicle-spanning-millenia narrative, endless characters, intrigues and, above all, such high and sophisticated use of the English language, is an unprecedented feat.
Today we celebrate this mammoth achievement in writing and editing and, in honour of this occasion, I would like to share with you a quote (one of many) that strikes a deep, resounding cord in me. To those not yet enthralled by the pages of The Silmarillion, and those who are just about to delve into its dense and detailed stories, this is but a taste, a fragment of the flexibility and mastery with which Tolkien wielded language.
“Shall we mourn here deedless for ever, a shadow-folk, mist-haunting, dropping vain tears in the thankless sea? Or shall we return to our home? In Cuiviénen sweet ran the waters under unclouded stars, and wide lands lay about, where a free people might walk.”
Chapter 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor
Concise, powerful and poetic. This is the author at his most intimate and near-perfection of the writing craft. These words were spoken by Fëanor, “mightiest” of the Elves and (aptly) a “master of words”, before the exile of the Noldor from the Undying Lands.
My love towards the writing and scope of this book is immesurable. Which is why I have often wondered why we have never had the opportunity of owning a pocket edition of The Silmarillion. We’ve recently seen the release of a few other works in that tiny, compact and cheeky hardback format.
Is it perhaps time to consider bestowing The Silmarillion with the same honour?
I think it is.
Share with us your favourite quotes, book editions and which chapter from the book you’re currently reading 🙂
Until next time!