Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
The Silmarillion is not a traditional, single-text novel, but a collection of five separately titled texts, the “Ainulindale,” “Valaquenta,” “Quenta Silmarillion,” “Akallabeth,” and “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.” These texts are the distillation of decades of imaginative work and mountains of notes accumulated by J. R. R. Tolkien in a fantasy which stretches from the birth of a universe through its mythical age and the departure from the created world of its visible supernatural and immortal denizens. The work which the reader sees is the result of Tolkien’s and his son Christopher’s efforts to give form to a much longer and more diffuse text. Even so, it is extremely complex, with an index of names, tables of genealogies, maps, and scholarly apparatus on pronunciation and formation of names of places and characters. The “Ainulindale” (music of the Ainur) and the “Valaquenta” (account of the Valar) establish a creation myth, in which Iluvatar sings the universe into being. A choir of Ainur attend Him, each a separate theme of His thought in the universal harmony. Melkor, along with Manwe the most powerful of the Ainur, revolts, singing an individual, discordant theme, choosing cold, darkness, and evil. The other Ainur remain faithful. Even Melkor’s discords are absorbed into the creation of Arda, or Ee, “the World that Is.” The “Quenta Silmarillion” follows with its tales of how fourteen of the Ainur, led by...
(The entire section is 3007 words.)
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