Very interesting is that supplementing the text of Arda Reconstructed there are 25 detailed tables. The first table provides the dates that each of the source texts that were used in the creation of the published Silmarillion were written. The last table provides the different versions of names of people, places and things that were used in the source texts.
In between, the other 23 tables trace paragraph by paragraph the source material used to create the published texts, showing both the primary source for each paragraph, and the secondary sources used to merge material into the primary sources for each paragraph. These tables provide a key resource for anyone interested in tracing in detail how the published Silmarillion was created.
When you read what the book is all about you should by now be convinced to buy a copy and read it, for sure I have already ordered mine. Here follows an interview with the author Douglas C. Kane (DK) on this fabulous new book.
TL: Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
TL: Some might know you under the name "Voronwe_the_Faithful", why did you choose this nickname?
DK: When I first joined a Tolkien discussion board, I wanted to choose a nickname that I felt reflected my personality. Service to others has always been very important to me, and I felt that that was well represented by the
way that Voronwë faithfully guided Tuor to Gondolin in the tale "Tuor and
his Coming to Gondolin," printed in _Unfinished Tales_. Also, Voronwë's
descriptions of the bright stars "upon the margin of the world, when at
times the clouds about the West were drawn aside," and of the willows of
Nan-tathren, have long been among my favorite passages in tolkien's works.
TL: You are the author of 'Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion' could you tell us what this book is about?
DK: It is an attempt to trace how Christopher Tolkien created the published
_Silmarillion_ (with the help of Guy Kay), from the unfinished works left
behind by his father. Christopher himself made this effort possible by
publishing the bulk of those unfinished works. I went through _The Silmarillion_ paragraph by
paragraph, comparing the text with the constituent source texts printed in
_The History of Middle-earth_, as well as in _Unfinished Tales_, _The Children of Húrin_, and in one case, Tolkien’s letters. I then made an
effort to explore how the editorial decisions influenced the final product.
I can honestly say that some of the results were quite surprising.
TL: What surprises me is that this book originally started as a thread on a Tolkien board, when and why did the idea come of making it into a book?
DK: Yes, that is quite true; it started at as a discussion at thehalloffire.net,
the Tolkien board that I run. Someone asked the question "who actually
wrote _The Silmarillion_" and we came up with the idea of systematically
comparing the book to the source materials that were available. But when push came to shove, I was the only one who followed through.. Over time, as I persisted through the project, more and more people began telling me that they felt that the information that I was gathering was valuable, and
should be shared with a wider audience. When I finished going through the
text, I decided to go ahead and prepare a manuscript to submit to
publishers. Eventually, the Lehigh University Press agreed to publish it.
TL: Did you have any access to unpublished documents?
DK: I did not. Any relevant unpublished documents are either housed in the
Bodleian Library at Oxford, or are still in Christopher tolkien's
possession. Being an attorney in California with a busy practice, I would
not have been able to take the time to travel to England or France to review
these documents, even in the unlikely event that I had been granted
permission to do so. And truthfully doing so would mostly have involved
duplicating the extensive work that Christopher has already done so
admirably. The fact that I was able to trace so much of the published text
to the source materials available to me shows that to be true. Honestly, I
believe that the most valuable unpublished source material that was not
available to me is the information stored in Christopher's mind. Perhaps,
however, there will be an opportunity for a follow-up work by either myself
or some other Tolkien scholar with access to the unpublished documents.
TL: How did you get interested in the Silmarillion anyways?
DK: I first encountered _The Silmarillion_ as a young man in my twenties. I had
already been a big fan of _The Lord of the Rings_ and _The Hobbit_ since I
was a child, but this was something else altogether. From the first words of
the _Ainulindalë_ I was hooked. I had never encountered anything quite like
it, and I can honestly say that it has had more influence on me then any
other single piece of literature. I proceeded to devour _Unfinished Tales_
and each volume of _The History of Middle-earth_, with ever-increasing
wonder at the true scope of tolkien's creation.
TL: What special qualifications do you have for making this study? What makes you different from your colleagues?
DK: I don't know that I can say that I have "special qualifications" other than
simply the persistence to stick with it. Certainly as an attorney I have a
lot experience in engaging in very detailed research, and in applying facts
to make an argument. But I think the main qualification that I have, and
the main reason why I was able to persevere, is simply that I love the
material so much.
TL: What is the big difference between your book and other books like the history of Middle-earth?
DK: Well, _The History of Middle-earth_ books trace in amazing detail the
history of J.R.R. tolkien's work creating his legendarium. But it really
only gives a few hints here and there about Christopher's work in creating
the published _Silmarillion_. There really is not any work comparable to
_Arda Reconstructed_ that I am aware of. Charles Noad has an excellent
essay in the book _tolkien's Legendarium_ called "On the Construction of
'The Silmarillion'" which delves into the subject to some extent. And Wayne
Hammond and Christina Scull's massive _J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide_
has entries on the individual chapters of _The Silmarillion_ which give
brief overviews of the source material used to create them. But neither
explores the subject to nearly the depth that I have done, and neither
attempts to look in detail at how the editorial decisions affected the final
TL: To write this book, did you work alone or did you have help of other Tolkien scholars?
DK: I mostly worked alone. I did get some very helpful suggestions and advice
from a few Tolkien scholars, including Don Anger, Merlin DeTardo, Bill
Hicklin and Jason Fisher, as well as my colleagues at thehalloffire.net. In
addition, David Bratman twice read the manuscript for the Lehigh University
Press, and provided indispensable suggestions for improvements.
TL: The illustrations were made by Breogan a fairly unknown Tolkien artist,
how did this cooperation work?
TL: This book must have meant a lot of research? How long did it take to make this book?
DK: It did take a lot of research. The initial process of tracing the source
material paragraph by paragraph took about 8 months. It then took another 3
or 4 months to prepare the initial draft of the manuscript. After I
submitted that to Lehigh University Press they had David Bratman read the
manuscript, and he provided some extensive suggestions for revising the
manuscript. That required an extensive rewrite that took an additional 3
months or so. Then, after it was accepted for publication, it has required
additional work over the course of the past year as a result of reviewing
the copyediting, and the page proofs. The final big (and very important!)
task was preparing the Index. All told, it will have been almost exactly three years
from the time I first began the project to the time that it is available for
TL: How long did it take Breogan to illustrate it and make the fabulous cover?
DK: I can't really answer that with specificity. But I can say that each
illustration took a long time to complete, because they are all so
extraordinarily detailed. And the cover illustration perhaps most of all.
It is beautiful, isn't it?
TL: I read the book has not been endorsed by the Tolkien Estate, do you now hope that you will somehow be asked by Christopher Tolkien to work further on the topic?
DK: I would certainly be honored if he did so, but I can't say that I expect it
to happen. I do want to say that I have a tremendous amount of respect for
Christopher Tolkien, and gratitude to him for his extraordinary efforts to
bring the full scope of his father's work to light as much as possible.
TL: What are your expectations for this book?
DK: I honestly don't know what to expect. I do hope, however, that it helps
gives people a greater appreciation for and understanding of the work of
both J.R.R and Christopher Tolkien. And that it perhaps helps to open the
door to further _Silmarillion_ scholarship.
TL: The book should be available already through Amazon, when do you think it will be shipped out?
DK: According to my publisher, it should be available for shipping from Amazon
no later than mid- to late-March. So very soon!
TL: A final question, are there any plans for other Tolkien related publications?
DK: I plan to submit a paper for presentation at the upcoming Mythopoeic Society conference, expanding on my discussion of the Second Prophecy of Mandos in _Arda Reconstructed_. Beyond that, there are a couple of subjects that I am interested in exploring in depth, but nothing that I am prepared to talk about at this point
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