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The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, #1)
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Book of Lost Tales I > Book of Lost Tales I: General Discussion

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message 1: by Tripp (new)

Tripp (seanachie) | 7 comments Mod
Feel free to talk about the book as a whole, or the full series of Mythgard sessions on The Book of Lost Tales I.

message 2: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom | 5 comments I'm looking forward to the start of this class, and even more discussion of Middle Earth, here and in class. I read this some years back, but I had not read Tom Shippey's book to which Christopher Tolkien responds in his Foreword. Now of course the second edition of Shippey's book is out, which responds in some degree to CT's response. You have to love the never ending conversation of scholarship.

message 3: by Neil (new)

Neil Ottenstein | 4 comments I never got around to reading this, so I am looking forward to the opportunity.

message 4: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom | 5 comments the link for signing up for the first class was posted about an hour ago on facebook.

message 5: by Tom (last edited May 24, 2014 08:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom | 5 comments

The other night Professor Olsen mentioned that there were some students in the class who remembered what it was like to read The Lord of the Rings before The Silmarillion was published. I do remember those days (it makes me feel like Elrond to say that-- "You remember?" said Frodo, speaking his thought aloud in astonishment) In some ways it was wonderful. When Aragorn sang part of the Lay of Leithian, when Elrond spoke of the War of Wrath, when Faramir spoke of his dream of the great green wave looming over Numenor, endless vistas of a romantic and heroic past opened up before me. They beckoned me onward. Then came the frustrating part: as far as I could tell, and as much as I was craving to learn more, there didn't seem to be any way to do that.

It was, as Professor Olsen suggested, similar to the position Eriol finds himself in when the elves in the Cottage of Lost Play make reference after dizzying reference to tales of which he has no knowledge. But it was not quite the same. Eriol is inundated with information, which is not what happens in The Lord of the Rings. I think there are two reasons for this. One, Tolkien is a better writer and storyteller by the time he gets to The Lord of the Rings. He mixes larger more detailed pieces of story (like Beren and Luthien) with smaller, incidental references (Elrond's mention of the great elf-friends), just as people do in conversation in "real" life. This helps to draw in the reader as well as the hobbits. Two, Eriol is far more a stranger to the stories referred to than even the hobbits are. He is on the outside looking in. He knows nothing. The hobbits at least know a little, and they are part of the story.

I still remember the day someone told me that there was this book called The Silmarillion coming out "in a couple of years." It was very exciting, but not as exciting as the day I rode all the way across town on the bus after school to buy it the moment it was published. As I rode home, reading all the way, and lay in bed reading all that night, I knew what Sam must have felt like when he reached Rivendell and heard the Tale of Beren and Luthien told in full.

message 6: by Ed (new)

Ed (edpowell) | 2 comments Great story, Tom

message 7: by Caitlin (new) - added it

Caitlin | 3 comments I read the History of Middle Earth quite a few years ago, when I was still a relative 'newbie' when it came to the Silmarillion. Mostly I had decided to devour everything Tolkien, even if I didn't understand it.

Rereading this again, I'm amazed at how much clearer I understand it. I enjoyed listening to the first podcast, and even then more things made sense. Isn't it great when every time you read a book, you learn something new?

message 8: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom | 5 comments The other night we mentioned Tennyson's Ulysses in class when we were discussing the end of the last version of the Kortirion poem. Here are the last six lines of Tennyson:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

As Professor Olsen said, Tolkien's lines have something of the same feeling to them. Here's a link to the whole poem in case anyone's interested:


message 9: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Harrow | 2 comments Reading this earlier draft, I see the influence of Norse mythology. The Valar are a bit more, for lack of a better word, immature and remind me of the Aesir. In fact, the story of Melko building the two lamps out of ice and leaving the area just as they start to melt is something Loki would do, and not at all the Mephistolean Melkor we've come to know and love...

message 10: by Caitlin (new) - added it

Caitlin | 3 comments I couldn't help but see Ares and Eris in Makar and Measse. While I know Tolkien was much more inclined towards Norse mythology, I could believe that Greek mythology had it's own influence just because it was such a common theme in intellectual circles.

Then again, maybe *I* am more knowledgeable about Greek than Norse mythology and my own bias has influenced my reading.

message 11: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Harrow | 2 comments I didn't pick up on the ares and Eris angle. Did the Greek pantheon have a Trickster archetype? Melko putting up towers as a subcontractor to the Gods but not telling them that Ice melts has much more of a flavor of Asgard than Olympus. Plus maybe this would be the entry for a movie franchise: "Tulkas:The Dark World" anyone?

message 12: by Caitlin (new) - added it

Caitlin | 3 comments I'll agree with the Melko/Loki angle. Hermes is considered the trickster (see: Hermes versus Apollo), but never as troublesome to the gods as Loki. However, Hermes *was* the conveyor of souls to the underworld.

I do think you're right about Norse mythology being a greater influence. What would you say would be more Norse equivalents of Makar and Measse? I read a little of what the internet at large had to say, and the general suggestion was that their halls were similar to Valhalla, a place for slain warriors. Personally, I just can't get past the Ares and Eris angle, but I'd be interested to see the Norse view.

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