Back to Tolkien

2015-01-10 20.48.46

[SPOILER ALERT]

Right after school ended I thought about reading some fantasy material in the hope it might take me far away from Malcolm Hall. As things panned out, I left my LotR trilogy in Cebu but luckily I happened to have two copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion at home. They were from different publishers but the Del Rey copy included a long letter from Tolkien to a Mr. Waldman in 1951 where the Tolkien basically makes a sketch of the first two ages of Middle-Earth. Written in the author’s words, I couldn’t help but admire how the entire story fits in this big picture: good vs evil. It was not any kind of allegory though (he wrote in the letter that he did not like allegories!). In the same letter Tolkien also mentions one of my favorite themes: art vs technology. On Elven magic, for example, he writes, “Their ‘magic’ is Art, delivered from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed correspondence). And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation.” Nobody’s too old for a little magic.

I was surprised how engrossed I was in the whole thing even to the point of re-reading chapters in the same sitting and buying The Children of Húrin after finishing the book. In 300 or so pages, Tolkien killed off more people than in A Song of Ice and Fire. Ok, that was not fair. There was hardly any dialogue in the Silmarillion but the characters draw you in: their hubris, their dreams, and even their virtues and vices. The glory of their cities and banners pulls you into their world – how cities were hewn out of the mountain or dug underground in a thousand caves. There is also the bad guy: Melkor (a.k.a. Morgoth). You just can’t help to hate this guy! Every page I hoped that he would be defeated but no. His strength only grows and much also due to the weaknesses of his opponents: hubris, treachery, dissent within the ranks. At the end of it all, it is actually he who wins while the good guys have to call on some deus ex machina to throw Melkor into the Void.

All I could think about after reading it is that I wish I had read it sooner! Before seeing the LotR movies at least. It was a jewel of a novel (or novels since it actually contains four books inside). Well, there it is.

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