It is indeed one of the saddest things to hear that on 16 Jan 2020, one of the legends of our generation has passed away. He is the man who worked with his father to set up the Tokiens Middle Earth Legendarium and give it to us as we know it today.
I am sure I speak this for more than 150 Million people in the world when I say this that Tolkien’s stories has shaped our childhood. I still remember the first time I watched the whole trilogy of Lord of the Rings with my little sister back in 2004. Then I made my whole family watch which then extended to my cousins and so on. When my other two sisters came of age, I watched with them also and they loved the series. It is like every time I watch the movies, I feel that I am watching it for the first time. I mean the emotion is still the same and it never fades.
I must admit that the movies were the reason I started reading the books. I started with Lord of the rings trilogy. My cousins would then take the book from me and read them. Then we would meet up every weekend to discuss the tales. Those were really good old days. Although Harry Potter book series were more popular those days, I still gravitated more towards Lord of the Rings. I am not comparing the two franchises. It is just that the LOTR series is more aligned to my personality even though I find Potter Series fun as well.
The reason I brought up Harry Potter series here is because at that time J.K Rowling was alive (and is still alive as of now, may Allah give her long life). I had read all about her at that time. So when I was done with LOTR series (which I did 4 years after reading Potter series), I felt like knowing more about the author. So impressed I was with LOTR series that I started reading the Hobbit after which I started reading Silmarillion.
To my amazement at that time, I found that J.R.R Tolkien died way back in 2 September 1973. However I was relieved to know that his son C.R.R Tolkien had taken up the flag and was continuing his father’s work. His father J. R. R. Tolkien wrote a great deal of material connected to the Middle-earth legendarium that was not published in his lifetime. He had originally intended to publish The Silmarillion along with The Lord of the Rings, and parts of it were in a finished state when he died in 1973, but the project was incomplete. Tolkien once referred to his son as his “chief critic and collaborator”, and named him his literary executor in his will. Tolkien organized the masses of his father’s unpublished writings, some of them written on odd scraps of paper a half-century earlier. Much of the material was handwritten; frequently a fair draft was written over a half-erased first draft, and names of characters routinely changed between the beginning and end of the same draft. In the years following, Tolkien worked on the manuscripts and was able to produce an edition of The Silmarillion for publication in 1977.
The Silmarillion was followed by Unfinished Tales in 1980, and The History of Middle-earth in 12 volumes between 1983 and 1996. Most of the original source-texts have been made public from which the Silmarillion was constructed. In April 2007, Tolkien published The Children of Húrin, whose story his father had brought to a relatively complete stage between 1951 and 1957 before abandoning it. This was one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s earliest stories, its first version dating back to 1918; several versions are published in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth. The Children of Húrin is a synthesis of these and other sources. Beren and Lúthien is an editorial work and was published as a stand-alone book in 2017.
The next year, The Fall of Gondolin was published, also as an editorial work. The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin make up the three “Great Tales” of the Elder Days which J.R.R. Tolkien considered to be the biggest stories of the First Age. Harper Collins published other J. R. R. Tolkien work edited by Tolkien which is not connected to the Middle-earth legendarium. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún appeared in May 2009, a verse retelling of the Norse Völsung cycle, followed by The Fall of Arthur in May 2013, and by Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary in May 2014.
Tolkien served as chairman of the Tolkien Estate, Ltd., the entity formed to handle the business side of his father’s literary legacy, and as a trustee of the Tolkien Charitable Trust. He resigned as director of the estate in 2017.
Well, I am still contended to know that there are a lot of books still remaining to read. I haven’t completed the history of middle earth series yet so I guess now I have to take things a bit slowly. I want to savour everything till my old age.
The story of the lives of both Tolkien Sr. and Jr. are amazing. Both, father and son, have served in the military and have studied from one of the most prestigious institutions in the world i.e. Oxford. They both had an amazing personality, thorough research, observation, vast experience and an eye for detail. The Tolkien Legendarium has inspired so many writers including G.R.R Martin, the writer of Game of Thrones series, is himself a Tolkien fan. The Tolkiens have shaped the modern day fantasy story writing. They have introduced the concept of world building stories in today’s world and have gone so far so as to create new languages to fill in the stories with. Not only they wanted to make stories, they wanted to make England’s Mythology which shows that they had a vision beyond any other writer.
Tolkien’s archetypal stories are inspirational and have a great impact on our personalities. I still associate myself with the characters of the book in different situations of my life whether consciously or subconsciously. They teach about valour, courage, commitment, loyalty, honesty, honour and determination. They teach us to be firm in tough times because “oft hope is born when all is forlorn”. They teach us that no matter where you are from or who you are, you can always make a difference. If you falter somewhere, you can always make things right because “not all that glisters is gold and not all those who are waylaid are lost”.
It really feels bad to see sometimes people considering these stories as Patriarchal or gender discriminant. I feel that these people never really understood Tolkien if they think that Tolkien was gender discriminant of sorts. The stories depict a lot of our human history and Tolkien has actually shown how sometimes those who do not apparently have super powers or have strong family background can make a difference. The time he lived in, if we see things in that point of view, I think he has shown that even women can do what men can and sometimes even more. I think these people need to read more on Beren & Luthien, Galadriel, and defeat of Nazgul by Eowyn and so on.
My prayers are with Christopher Tolkien and may he be happy in afterlife. Just like other great legends of our generation like Michael Jackson, Chester Bennington and others, this one has also passed away. That is life. Death is inevitable and we all have to face it. As the Legendarium says, it is the gift of “Iluvitar”.
This is KHAN signing off. Peace be on you all! Take care.