Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 321
Tolkien's first published fiction in 1937 was The Hobbit, subtitled or There and Back Again. It was written as a freestanding children's story within the world of Middle Earth. It became, however, with significant revisions of the Ring finding episode, the prelude for the whole of Lord of the Rings.
Although J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion was published posthumously in 1977, he was working on it as early as 1917. It is a narrative of the Elder Days, beginning with Eru, the One, Ilúvatar, the creator, and ending with the downfall of Númenor and the changing of the world so that there was no longer a straight passage to the Deathless lands. Unlike The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, it makes little or no use of modern novelistic conventions. Christopher Tolkien writes in the Foreword that the material ‘‘became the vehicle of his profoundest reflections. In his later writing, mythology and poetry sank down behind his theological and philosophical preoccupations: 'from which arose incompatibilities of tone.'’’
Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham published in 1949 includes a gentle send-up of scholarship and ironic observations on the perennial faults of central government in a hilarious tale of a talking dog, a short-sighted giant, a clever but unlucky dragon, and a hero more astute than heroic, but no less effective for it.
Tolkien's ‘‘On Fairy Stories,’’ a revision of his Andre Lang Lecture of 1938 at the University of St. Andrews, was first published in 1947 in ‘‘Essays presented to Charles Williams.’’ It is more generally available in the collections Tree and Leaf or The Tolkien Reader, and is a reflection on his thinking about what he was trying to achieve in Lord of the Rings.
Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, translated by J. S. Stallybrass, (4 volumes, 1882-88) from the original work by the Brothers Grimm of fairytale fame, is a rich collection of the fragments of the lost mythology and legend from the Germanic past.