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The Shaping of Middle-earth [Paperback]

By J. R. R. Tolkien (Author) & Christopher Tolkien (Author)
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Item description for The Shaping of Middle-earth by J. R. R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien...

This volume in the history of Middle-earth offers prose, poetry, maps, and chronologies and covers the creation myth through Morgoth's fall; includes a description of the events in Beleriand and the first Silmarillion map.

Publishers Description
Poems and prose, maps and chronologies, detours and diversions along the road to Middle-earth . . . Christopher Tolkien has gathered archival materials that his late father, J. R. R. Tolkien, used to create the world and the history behind his classic stories.
This fourth volume of The History of Middle-earth presents early versions of those first tales, from the creation myth to the fall of Morgoth. Writings include a chronology of the events in Beleriand, the first Silmarillion map, and the only known description of the physical nature of Middle-earth's universe. Detailed annotations highlight changes ranging from the spelling of Elvish names to pivotal emendations whose effects reach even to the war of the ring.
The Shaping of Middle-earth presents a solid framework by which to trace the development of the early lore of Middle-earth. It is a truly indispensable reference work for those familiar with the history of that endlessly beloved land--and fascinating reading for those just entering that world.


Before giving the ‘Sketch of the Mythology', the earliest form of the prose ‘Silmarillion', there are some brief prose texts that can be conventiently collected here.


Among loose papers there is an early piece, soon abandoneed, entitled Turlin and the Exiles of Gondolin. It will be seen that it relates closely to the beginning of the tale of The Fall of Gondolin (II. 149) but at the same time contains much that is new. That it was the beginning of a later version of the tale is clear at once from the name Mithrim, for this only replaced Asgon by emendation in the final text of The Fall of Gondolin (II. 202). This brief text reads as follows. At the first three occurrences of the name Turlin in the narrative (but not in the title ) it was emended to Turgon; at the fourth and fifth Turgon was so written from the first. I give Turgon throughout.

‘Then' said Ilfiniol son of Bronweg }know that Ulmo Lord of Waters forgot never the sorrows of the Elfin kindreds beneath the power of Melko, but he might do little because of the anger of the other Gods who shut their hearts against the race of the Gnomes, and dwelt behind the veiled hills of Valinor heedless of the Outer World, so deep was their ruth and regret for the death of the Two Trees. Nor did any save Ulmo only dread the power of Melko that wrought ruin and sorrow over all the Earth; but Ulmo desired that Valinor should gather all its might to quench his evil ere it be too late, and him seemed that both purposes might perchance be achieved if messengers from the Gnomes should win to Valinor and plead for pardon and for pity upon the Earth; for the love of Palúrien and Oromë her son for those wide realms did slumber still. Yet hard and evil was the road from the Outer Earth to Valinor, and the Gods themselves had meshed the ways with magic and veiled the encircling hills. Thus did Ulmo seek unceasingly to stir the Gnomes to send messengers unto Valinor, but Melko was cunning and very deep in wisdom, and unsleeping was his wariness in all things that touched the Elfin kindreds, and their messengers overcame not the perils and temptations of that longest and most evil of all roads, and many that dared to set forth were lost forever.

Now tells the tale how Ulmo despaired that any of the Elfin race should surpass the dangers of the way, and of the deepest and the latest design that he then fashioned, and of those things which came of it.

In those days the greater part of the kindreds of Men dwelt after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears in that land of the North that has many names, but which the Elves of Kôr have named Hisilómë which is the Twilit Mist, and the Gnomes, who of the Elf-kin know it best, Dor-Lómin the Land of Shadows. A poeople mighty in numbers were there, dwelling about the wide pale waters pf Mithrim the great lake that lies in those regions, and other folk named them Tunglin of folk of the Harp, for their joy was in the wild music and minstrelsy of the fells and woodlands, but they knew not and sang not of the sea. Now this folk came into those places after the dread battle, being too late summoned thither from afar, and they bore no stain of treachery against the Elfin kin; but indeed many among them clung to such friendship with the hidden Gnomes of the mountains and Dark Elves as might be still for the sorrow and mistrust born of those ruinous deeds in the Vale of Niniach. Turgon was a man of that folk, son of Peleg, son of Indor, son of [Ear>] Fengel who was their chief and hearing the summons had marched out of thte deeps of the East with all his folk. But Turgon dwelt not much with his kindred, and loved rather solitude and the friendship of the Elves whose tongues he knew, and he wandered alone about the long shores of Mothrim, now hunting in its woods, now making sudden music ibn the rocks upon his rugged harp of wood strung with the sinews of bears. But he sang not for the ears of Men, and many hearing the power of his rough songs came from afar to hearken to his harping; [?but] Turgon left his singing and departed to lonely places in the mountains.

Many strange things he learned there, broken tidings of far off things, and longing came upon him for deeper lore, but as yet his heart turned not from the long shores, and the pale waters of Mithrim in the mists. Yet he was not fated to dwell for ever in those places, for 'tis said that magic and destiny led him on a day to a cavernous opening in the rocks down which a hidden river flowed from Mithrim. And Turgon entered that cavern seeking to learn its secret, but having entered the waters of Mithrim drave him forward into the heart of the rock vand he might not win back into the light. This men said was not without the will of Ulmo, at whose prompting may be the Gnomes had fashioned that deep and hidden way. Then came the Gnomes to Turgon and guided him along the dark passages amid the mountains until he came out once more into the light.

The text ends here (though manuscript pages written at the same time continue on another subject, see (iii) below).

Turlin must have been a passing shift from Tuor (cf. The form Tûr that appears in texts of The Fall of Gondolin, II. 147), and Turgon likewise; in the Tale Turgon is of course the name of the King of Gondolin. This curious passing reference of a primary name in the legends may be compared with the brief substitution of Celegorm for Thingol and Maglor for Beren in the Lay of Leithian (III. 159).

Particularly interesting is the account here of the origins of Tuor's people; they came out of the East to the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, but they came too late. This can hardly be wholly unconnected with the coming of the Easterlings before the battle in the later story. The geneology of Tuor (Turlin, Turgon) is here ‘son of Peleg, son of Indor son of Fengel'. In The Fall of Gondolin he is ‘son of Peleg son of Indor' (II. 160); in the fragment of the Lay of the Fall of Gondolin he is the son of Fengel, and in associated notes Tuor is himself called Fengel (III. 145). His people are here the Tunglin, the folks of the Harp, whereas in The Fall of Gondolin (ibid.) he belongs to ‘the house of the Swan of the sons of the Men of the North'.

Also noteworthy is the opening of the present text where Ulmo's desires and devisings are described: his unceasing attempts to persuade the Gnomes to send messengers to Valinor, his isolation from the other Valar, his wish that the power of Valinor should go against Melko in time. There does not appear to be any other mention of Ulmo's attempting to arouse the Gnomes to send messages to Valinor; and though his isolation in his pity for the Gnomes in the Great Lands appears strongly at the beginning of the talke of The Hiding of Valinor (I. 209), there Manwë and Varda beside Ulmo were opposed to the withdrawal of Valinor from the fate of ‘the world'.

Lastly, ‘the Vale of Niniach' must be the site of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears; cf. ‘the Vale (Valley) of Weeping Waters' in the outlines for Gilfanon's Tale (I. 238—40). Niniach never occurs again in this application, though the way by which Tuor went down to the sea came to be called Cirith Ninniach, the Rainbow Cleft.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Del Rey
Pages   471
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.97" Width: 4.14" Height: 1.12"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 30, 1995
Publisher   Del Rey
ISBN  0345400437  
ISBN13  9780345400437  

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More About J. R. R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After serving in World War I, he embarked upon a distinguished academic career and was recognized as one of the finest philologists in the world. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. He is, however, beloved throughout the world as the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic works as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He died on September 2, 1973, at the age of eighty-one.

J. R. R. Tolkien was born in 1892 and died in 1973.

J. R. R. Tolkien has published or released items in the following series...
  1. History of Middle-Earth (Paperback)
  2. Lord of the Rings
  3. Lord of the Rings (Hardcover)

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Shaping of Middle-earth?

good  May 18, 2007
I purchased this for my grandaughter for her birthday, and since she is really into Tolkein, I'm very pleased with the purchase, tho I have not opened the package, and will just send it on to her. Service was good.
The Early Silmarillion . . .  Feb 4, 2007
. . . continues in this, the fourth volume of "The History of Middle-Earth" series.

Christopher Tolkien, in his 12-volume "History of Middle-Earth" series presents the notes, stories, fragments, and legends of what was to eventually become "The Silmarillion" in two stages. This book is the final stage of what scholars would consider "The Early Silmarillion"; continuing on the work presented in the two volumes of "The Book of Lost Tales".

If the Tolkien fan is interested in seeing how the mind of the Master developed and progressed his stories, this volume is absolutely indispensable. It is especially interesting to compare "The Shaping of Middle-Earth" with "Morgoth's Ring" and the other volumes of what Christopher calls "The Later Silmarillion".

Once again, thanks is due to Christopher for his labor of love so that we can delve more deeply into Middle-Earth.
The earliest of the shortened styled writings that tolkien intended to come out before the lord of the rings.   Mar 12, 2006
I feel like giving this a four for the maps and explaining of the shaping of the earth. I guess I didn't really care much about that cause I liked the evolution of the characters a lot more, but did always like to look at the maps just too get a quick visual to help picture the world that I love. The reason I did give it five stars is because I know most people like this aspect of the whole history, and you will get PLENTY OF INFO on how this world was created.

Now the part that I really liked was all of the globe type drawings, and even more I liked all of the early compressed writings in this. It's kind of funny to watch the evolution of these writings because tolkien would always start out very compessed, then when he rewrote it, it ALWAYS became longer. Then if he did manage to compress it, he would always add something new to the story, or make the tale go from stationery to grim. Then when he tried to add his new idea in like his third rewriting, it never got compressed. So what this means is that he could never completely finish these writings, but on the posotive side we could have anywhere from 3-8 versions of a single writing.

Once again, thank you christopher tolkien for taking the time to publish all of your father's writings, and equal thanks for taking the time to explain these and leave notes.
Early Notes for The Silmarillion, plus MAPS! Better than Vol III  Jul 30, 2005
`The Shaping of Middle-Earth' is the fourth volume of Christopher Tolkien's exegesis of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien's unpublished writings which were done before, during, and after the writing of `The Hobbit' and `The Lord of the Rings'. It is important to realize that beginning with Volume III, `The Lays of Beleriand', these volumes are prepared according to the date on which the elder Tolkien wrote the documents. That this `real world' chronology is roughly parallel to the great ages of middle earth is simply a happy coincidence.

One little niggle I have about the emphasis of `Middle Earth' in the title of both this volume and the series as a whole is that the land, middle earth, is just one part of the whole world in which this mythology is played out. It is basically a great continent, roughly similar to Eurasia in size, surrounded by a single great ocean which is, in turn, bounded by the undying lands. This fact is eminantly clear in the crude maps by Tolkien senior presented in this volume.

What is also eminantly clear in most of these fragments is the great difference in both geography and physics between our world and the world in which middle earth is embedded. There is no sun and no stars, until the stars are created by some of the `gods', the Valar, who are in turn created by `the one', Iluvatar.

The fragments in this volume are mostly early versions of the mythology which was to become the postumously published `The Silmarillion'. As such, it deals with my very favorite character outside of `The Lord of the Rings', the elven lord Feanor who, in a rough parallel to both Adam and Prometheus, disobeys the Valar based on the promptings of the ultimate bad guy in these stories, Morgoth.

Even if one buys the unique physics, cosmology, and pantheon of gods and demigods, the hardest part of this and similar writings is how to deal with Tolkien's handling of evil. How, one wonders, are eight `good' Valar duped by the ninth evil one, who is left to subvert the Valar's most favored creations, the elves, and create all sorts of mayhem in Middle Earth. Even if one introduces the arguments about `free will', one wonders how, if you posit a very real supreme being, Iluvatar (Eru), plus eight comparably powerful beings, such beings would let Morgoth get away with being the cause of all this suffering.

On a ligher note, I find this book an amazing source of poetic inspiration, even more poetic, sometimes than the overtly poetic `The Lays of Beleriand'. There are phrases and paragraphs here and there which sound like they are straight out of a song by Donoven Leitch or The Incredible String Band.

Like almost all the twelve volumes in this series, this is much more a study of fragments than a complete work. Many of the fragments rework the same material, so you find yourself reading the same story over again, in slightly different words. And yet, the power of the created world holds up through the scholarly framework. As with other volumes, there is an excellent index of names at the end of the book and the aforementioned maps are invaluable in understanding the very odd geography of this invented world.
Literally, the "Shaping" of Middle-Earth  Jan 4, 2002
The Shaping of Middle-Earth concentrates some part of it to actually physically describing the layout of Arda (the World) with some interesting maps drawn by Tolkien in the middle of the book. The book also includes information behind the fall of Morgoth at the end of the First Age.

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