Order of Reading

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Matt Thrower

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Apr 9, 2001, 4:05:58 AM4/9/01
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Hi,
I've been a longtime Tolkien fan and I've merrily digested the silmarillion,
the hobbit, the lord of the rings, the two books of lost tales and another
volume, the title of which escapes me but which contains a very detailed
account of Turin and Glaurung (amongst other things) but I've never read
them in any kind of coherant order, something that I've always felt would
add a great deal to the experience. In undertaking this, I'd like to add in
some of the various volumes of middle-earth that I've not read (the other
histories of middle earth, unfinished tales etc) making for quite a mammoth
reading list. So, I ask you your opinion on the following:

1) As someone interested primarily in the stories and the peoples of middle
earth (and not so interested in the languages and neverending lineages) are
there any volumes that can be left out?
2) What's the best order to read them in? It seems evident to me that the
last two would have to be the hobbit and LotR but what about the rest?
Silmarillion first? Lost Tales first? I'd like to approach it from the point
of view of one book giving an increased appretiation of the next rather than
choosing an order based on, say, date of writing or publication.


Steuard Jensen

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Apr 9, 2001, 10:11:52 AM4/9/01
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Quoth "Matt Thrower"
<REMOVETHISSPAMPROTE...@cramersystems.com> in article
<3ad16d36$0$12243$ed9e...@reading.news.pipex.net>:
> another volume, the title of which escapes me but which contains a
> very detailed account of Turin and Glaurung (amongst other things)

_Unfinished Tales_ has a much longer version of Turin's story, though
it doesn't actually contain any of the story dealing with Turin in
Nargothrond (that was one of the unfinished bits). It does tell of
their final confrontation, though, so that may be what you're thinking
of.

> I've never read them in any kind of coherant order, something that
> I've always felt would add a great deal to the experience.

I'm not quite sure what you're looking for in a "coherent order",
despite your guidance below. My usual recommended reading order
follows publication order fairly closely until skipping HoMe I-IX,
while a "story internal chronological order" reading is almost
impossible to even define, let alone specify. If you're interested,
my own "recommended reading order" suggestions and comments are on the
web at http://home.uchicago.edu/~sbjensen/Tolkien/BookList.html

> 1) As someone interested primarily in the stories and the peoples of
> middle earth (and not so interested in the languages and neverending
> lineages) are there any volumes that can be left out?

I'm afraid not, though large portions of quite a few volumes can be
skimmed or skipped. It sounds like your interests are fairly similar
to mine, so my suggested order may actually work well for you.

> 2) What's the best order to read them in? It seems evident to me
> that the last two would have to be the hobbit and LotR but what
> about the rest? Silmarillion first? Lost Tales first? I'd like to
> approach it from the point of view of one book giving an increased
> appretiation of the next rather than choosing an order based on,
> say, date of writing or publication.

This is what confuses me a little about the approach that you're
looking for. For a _first_ reading, I'm pretty sure that almost
everyone would do best to _start_ with _The Hobbit_ or LotR. They're
the books that really bring you into Middle-earth, and some of their
beauty comes from the glimpses of untold histories that they contain.
Once you've read the histories themselves, those glimpses are less
distant and wonderful, though they still add a lot to the strength of
the books.

I think I see what you're looking for, though, in that you want to
reread LotR with full knowledge of the history leading up to it in
mind. Given that, you probably _aren't_ interested in the story
external textual history at this point, so you can skip most of HoMe
I-IX entirely. It would probably be best for you to avoid the first
parts of Silm. almost entirely, too, and instead read the actual
source texts on which it is based, but compiling that list is more of
a project that I can handle just now. So, I'll leave you with
Silm. as the basis for the early ages of your reading. Here's my
suggestion:

1. Start by reading the essays in HoMe X-XII, including the section
"Laws and Customs among the Eldar" in HoMe X (in Part 3.II), the
Athrabeth, and the Myths Transformed essays (both also in HoMe X),
Quendi and Eldar (in HoMe XI, but this may be too linguistic for
your taste, so don't force it), and all of Parts 2 and 3 of HoMe
XII. Keep in mind, though, that much of the material in these
essays was either rejected later or was written close enough to the
end of Tolkien's life that he didn't have much chance to reconsider
his conclusions.

2. Read Silm., but with some modifications:
a. Consider reading the poems in HoMe III along with "Of Beren and
Luthien" and "Of Turin Turambar".
b. Instead of "Of Turin Turambar", read the "Narn i Hin Hurin" in
_Unfinished Tales_, jumping back to Silm. only when it says
that is necessary. After finishing, read "The Wanderings of
Hurin" in HoMe XI.
c. Read "Of the Ruin of Doriath" with a substantial grain of salt,
since JRRT never actually decided how that story should go at
all (the chapter was written by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay).
d. Read "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" in UT before reading "Of
Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" in Silm, and read the "Fall of
Gondolin" story in HoMe II (Lost Tales II) along with the
corresponding story in Silm.

3. Read UT Parts 2.I-III (possibly skipping 2.III), followed by the
Akalabeth in Silm.

(Consider moving my #6 to this point, _possibly_ preceded by my #5.)

4. Read UT Part 2.IV, 3.I, 3.II, and all of Part 4.

5. Read "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in Silm.

6. Read UT Part 3.III, followed by _The Hobbit_.

7. Read UT Parts 3.IV-V, followed by LotR.

That should do it. :)
Steuard Jensen

Matt Thrower

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Apr 9, 2001, 10:24:42 AM4/9/01
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You've misunderstood *slightly* in that i've read the silmarillion and
unfinished tales in their entirity before, but I can tell from the way
you've presented your reading list that you've understood what I'm after in
my re-reading. Thanks for taking the time to consider this and replying.
From what I know of HoMe, your suggestions are just what i'm looking for.
Cheers,
Matt

"Steuard Jensen" <sbje...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote in message
news:IqjA6.291$C4.14548@uchinews...

Steuard Jensen

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Apr 9, 2001, 2:08:16 PM4/9/01
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Quoth "Matt Thrower"
<REMOVETHISSPAMPROTE...@cramersystems.com> in article
<3ad1c5fb$0$12247$ed9e...@reading.news.pipex.net>:
> You've misunderstood *slightly* in that i've read the silmarillion
> and unfinished tales in their entirity before, but I can tell from
> the way you've presented your reading list that you've understood
> what I'm after in my re-reading.

Oh, I knew that you'd read Silm. before (I wasn't sure about UT), but
I also knew that you wanted to reread LotR and _The Hobbit_ as well,
so I just suggested the whole thing at once.
Steuard Jensen

Skylar Thompson

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Apr 9, 2001, 12:07:02 PM4/9/01
to
Matt Thrower wrote:
>
> Hi,
> I've been a longtime Tolkien fan and I've merrily digested the silmarillion,
> the hobbit, the lord of the rings, the two books of lost tales and another
> volume, the title of which escapes me but which contains a very detailed
> account of Turin and Glaurung (amongst other things) but I've never read
> them in any kind of coherant order, something that I've always felt would
> add a great deal to the experience. In undertaking this, I'd like to add in
> some of the various volumes of middle-earth that I've not read (the other
> histories of middle earth, unfinished tales etc) making for quite a mammoth
> reading list. So, I ask you your opinion on the following:
>
> 1) As someone interested primarily in the stories and the peoples of middle
> earth (and not so interested in the languages and neverending lineages) are
> there any volumes that can be left out?

You can skip whole sections of the volumes of HoME (or entire volumes, if versions
of stories do not interest you).

> 2) What's the best order to read them in? It seems evident to me that the
> last two would have to be the hobbit and LotR but what about the rest?
> Silmarillion first? Lost Tales first? I'd like to approach it from the point
> of view of one book giving an increased appretiation of the next rather than
> choosing an order based on, say, date of writing or publication.

IMHO, I would go Silmarillion, Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings,
but one could make a case for Hobbit, LoTR, Sil, LT, UT, too.

--
--Skylar Thompson (sky...@attglobal.net)

`All that is gold does not glitter/Not all who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither/Deep roots are not reached by the frost
From the ashes a fire shall be woken/A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be blade that was broken/The crownless again shall be king.'

Another Ded Dzhen

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Apr 10, 2001, 12:53:29 AM4/10/01
to
/ I'm not quite sure what you're looking for in a "coherent order",
/ despite your guidance below. My usual recommended reading order
/ follows publication order fairly closely until skipping HoMe I-IX,
/ while a "story internal chronological order" reading is almost
/ impossible to even define, let alone specify. If you're interested,
/ my own "recommended reading order" suggestions and comments are on the
/ web at http://home.uchicago.edu/~sbjensen/Tolkien/BookList.html

Where angels fear tread...

Zeroth Age

1. Silm: Ainulindale (pretty much as far back as you can go).
2. Silm: Vala Quenta

First Age

3. Quenta Silmarillion, etc
3a. Silm: Chap 1
3b. Shaping: Ambarkanta
3c. Silm: Chap 2-3
3d. People: Chap 13 Cirdan
3e. War Jewel: Part 3, Chap 4
3f. Lost Road: Part 2, Chap 5
3g. Morg Ring: Part 2, Sect 2, Finwe and Miriel, etc, pp 205-271
3h. Silm: Chap 4-6
3i. People: Chap 11
3j. Silm: Chap 7-9
3k. Lays Bel: Part 2(i)
3l. Silm: Chap 10-11
3m. Lost Tales 1: Chap 8
3n. Silm: Chap 12-15
3o. Morg Ring: Part 4
3p. Silm: Chap 16-19
3q. People: Chap 10
3r. Silm: Chap 17-19
3s. Lays Bel: Part 3-4
3t. Silm: Chap 20-21
3u. War Jewel: Part 3, Chap 2
3v. UT: Part 1, Chap 2
3w. Lays Bel: Part 1
3x. War Jewel: Part 3, Chap 1
3y. Silm: Chap 22-23
3z. War Jewel: Part 3, Chap 3
3aa. UT: Part 1, Chap 1
3bb. Lost Tales 2: Chap 3
3cc. Lays Bel: Part 2(iii)
3dd. Shaping: The Horns of Ylmir
3ee. Lays Bel: 2(ii)
3ff. Silm: Chap 24

Second Age

4. UT: Part 4, Chap 1, Chap 3
5. UT: Part 2
6. People: Chap 13 Glorfindel
7. People: Chap 17
8. Silm: Of the Rings of Power
9. Akallabeth
9a. Silm: Akallabeth
9b. Lost Road: Part 1
9c. Sauron: Part 2-3

Third Age

10. UT: Part 3, Chap 1
11. UT: Part 4, Chap 2
12. People: Chap 13 Istari
13. UT: Part 3, Chap 2
14. There and Back Again
14a. Hobbit
14b. UT: Part 3, chap 3
15. War of the Rings
15a. FotR
15b. UT: Part 3, Chap 4-5
15c. People: Chap 15
15d. TT
15e. RotK
16. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Fourth Age

17. People: Chap 16

Modern

18. Homecoming of Beorhtnoth
19. Farmer Giles of Ham
20. Imran
21. Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
22. Smith of Wootton Major
23. Leaf by Niggle
24. Roverandom

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Aris Katsaris

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Apr 14, 2001, 2:24:28 PM4/14/01
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Skylar Thompson <sky...@starfleet.attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3AD1DE26...@starfleet.attglobal.net...

> > 2) What's the best order to read them in? It seems evident to me that
the
> > last two would have to be the hobbit and LotR but what about the rest?
> > Silmarillion first? Lost Tales first? I'd like to approach it from the
point
> > of view of one book giving an increased appretiation of the next rather
than
> > choosing an order based on, say, date of writing or publication.
>
> IMHO, I would go Silmarillion, Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, Hobbit, Lord
of the Rings,

Akk! Sorry for being rude, but are you insane or something? Unfinished Tales
before
Lord of the Rings?!?

Aris Katsar

Skylar Thompson

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Apr 14, 2001, 9:51:25 PM4/14/01
to

Whoops, not thinking there. The first parts (up through the events of the LoTR)
can be read before the LoTR. This would reduce confusion, but also reduce the
sense of wonder in the LoTR. Regardless, all of the UT should be read after LoTR.

Conrad Dunkerson

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May 13, 2001, 6:00:21 AM5/13/01
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"Another Ded Dzhen" <mlin...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:mlindanne-090...@c54.ppp.tsoft.com...

> Where angels fear tread...
<snip 'by chapter' chronological order>

I've been meaning to find time to analyze this fully, but before I
forget about it entirely just wanted to say... 'wow'. Very
thorough breakdown.

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