I mentioned a while ago on my other blog (the one dealing not with arts and literature but everything else) that I’ve been thinking of reinvesting time into re-reading Tolkien. So said, so done. I began with ‘The Silmarillion’, and that’s what I’ll concentrate this entry on.
I’ve read the Silmarillion before, once (in Estonian), and a few chapters for a second time as well. Therefore, I knew the what and when that would take place so the storyline had no chance of “surprising” me with new developments or something of the kind. Now, this does not mean that reading it in the original language left me emotionless to the plot : more the opposite, I found that the words and language used in many a location (oh the fate of a Master of Fates) were stronger than I’d ever before seen, and that the archaic style played off very well.
Indeed, if for nothing else then for the sheer pleasure of the literary devices used would I suggest a person to read this book. But, that cannot be all!? We’re speaking of the complex summary of the legends of the First Age and times before that (as well as summaries on the Second and Third Age)…
Very true indeed : As mentioned, the storyline was as captivating as any I’ve read and though the relations between everything might be complex to pick up during a first read, then the happenings of people are certainly some that we can relate to (well, perhaps not riding out on your horse with your shield and sword to duel the Dark Lord in person, but the crying out in anger and desperation over the less-than-lucky ending of your best friend who had ever done everything to help you) at least on some level.
Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.
This description of what the most powerful beings meant for Men resounds not only in Tolkien’s legends but also in our lives — we do have the chances of shaping what we are on so many different levels. Starting from whether we excuse ourselves from going out running today with a poor comment on that it is too dark already, to the more serious instance of “Oh, I unfortunately cannot do that today but I’m sure that I’ll manage next week!” as many people (myself included all-too-often) are too apt to do these days.
Aside from the already mentioned tale of Turin (which will be more properly reviewed as part of the ‘Children of Hurin’ in any case) I found that my favourites included the story of Gondolin (as always, there we have the white citadel and its just and righteous king, and a lovely people, and not-the-least a duel between great evil and good), Beren and Luthien (which I do hope will turn into a full book someday much like we’ve now got the ‘Children of Hurin’ available), Unnumbered Tears (oh this chapter, greatest courage and strength of mind against the least and worst of the treacherous), and several others.
Unfortunately, one aspect that I (think I would) like to read of, namely, peace and prosperity, has mostly been excluded and I well understand why for as the author wrote:
But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do the pass into song.
I do have to say that it was a pleasure to read of those men who acted with confidence and power, and did not shirk away from death and destruction. This is quite comparable indeed to the valor presented by the Elven-King, Fingolfin, which has, by the way, been well illustrated by John Howe in his painting ‘Fingolfin’s Challenge’ which is one of my favourites by this great artist. This is the painting here on a reduced scale from Mr Howe’s website:
And this brings me to the close, for this book is better described by the thoughts ranging in one’s head while reading. Just, to finish, alongside Fingolfin a description of the might of the swords of his successors:
The light of the drawing of the swords of the Noldor was like a fire in the field of reeds; and so fell and swift was their onset that almost the designs of Morgoth went astray.