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Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion Hardcover – March 15, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Hardcover, March 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Kane minutely details the delicate task Christopher [Tolkien] undertook in stitching together elements of his father's oeuvre, disparate in genre (from annals and glossaries to full-fledged narratives) and in composition-date (from the 1930s to the 1960s, including work composed both before and after The Lord of the Rings). Kane's textual scholarship is rigorous and is a model not only for Tolkien scholars but for scholars of more canonical authors, whose textual study is often pursued with less enthusiasm. . . . As welcome as the scrupulous registering of minute changes is, the book excels most when it points to [the] larger choices. [An] absorbing study. (Nicholas Birns Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Vol. 5, 2009)

One marvels at the amount of work Kane has invested in his project and appreciates the rigor with which it is documented. Meticulous as it is, one has the feeling that ― like all icebergs of scholarship ― only perhaps one-tenth of the author's labor has actually made it onto the printed page. . . . [A] meticulously researched and valuable new reference work (one of all too few) on The Simarillion . . . it has the added benefit of approaching the work from the relatively new angle of considering Christopher's role as a vigorous editor, and Kane is to be congratulated for confronting the matter directly. (Jason Fisher Mythlore, (The Journal Of The Mythopoeic Society), Volume 27,)

It will probably have occurred, however transiently, to many of those who read first the published Silmarillion and later The History of Middle-earth to ponder exactly how the one is related to the other. . . . This task has now been accomplished by Douglas Kane in Arda Reconstructed at an unprecedented level of detail. . . . However, this is much more than a tabulation of sources. . . . Arda Reconstructed is an important and thought-provoking work and raises serious questions about the treatment of unpublished ― and unfinished ― literary material. Even if one by no means agrees with all of its answers, it merits a place on the shelf of the more serious explorer of Tolkien's imagined world. (Charles Noad, author of “On the Construction of The Silmarillion” The Lotr Plaza)

In Arda Reconstructed Douglas Kane reveals, in even more detail than has previously been available, the complexity of The Silmarillion; and in doing so, also brings into focus the intractable problems Christopher Tolkien faced in making its publication a reality in a form that reflected the “Silmarillion” material in all its breadth and depth. . . . Arda Reconstructed is highly illuminating and very enjoyable to read, shedding much light on The Silmarillion. (Brian Henderson The Tolkien Library)

Arda Reconstructed . . . is probably the most extensive analysis of The History of Middle-earth so far undertaken. (The Literary Encyclopedia)

All in all a wonderful piece of research with many insights into how The Silmarillion was put together by Christopher Tolkien. . . . [A] worthwhile purchase for the Tolkien fan and perhaps essential for the Silmarillion fan. (Robert H. Walker Amon Hen, The Bulletin of the Tolkien Society, May 2010)

Mr Kane's legal background shines through in his utter precision and his delight in the smallest relevant detail. That may all sound like an exceedingly dry exercise, yet this book is anything but dusty. It is never less than readable whilst presenting information which is often complex with commendable clarity. This is a book which has much to offer to readers of several sorts. For anyone wanting to read into the background to the relatively familiar Silmarillion, Arda Reconstructed gives them a way to begin exploring the vast History of Middle-earth series, which can often seem dauntingly confusing. For the more serious scholar, Arda Reconstructed is invaluable, as it gives us a sure guide to what is authorial and what is editorial in the . . . Silmarillion. . . . It also makes possible critical evaluation of the choices made by the editors, particularly necessary with a posthumous work such as The Silmarillion. … Mr Kane's work also throws up intriguing questions worthy of answer by themselves; some may lie buried somewhere in the HoMe series but are far clearer here, while others may be asked for the first time in this book. … That scholarly usefulness is however, I believe, only part of what this book has to offer. This painstakingly detailed and accurate study is also potentially of the greatest use to those engaging creatively with Tolkien's work. Arda Reconstructed's ability to point to more expansive versions in the HoMe series is ideal for anyone wanting or needing more information than the often spare Silmarillion. (Ruth Lacon, co-author of numerous books on Tolkien The Festival of the Shire Journal) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Douglas Charles Kane is an attorney specializing in employment discrimination and harassment cases adn a co-founder of the Tolkien internet discussion site, http://www.thehalloffire.net --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Lehigh University Press (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980149630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980149630
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,980,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brendan Moody VINE VOICE on June 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book helps answer a question that many Tolkien scholars and enthusiasts have doubtless asked since the publication of Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle-earth" was completed over a decade ago: "How does the mass of manuscripts described in these twelve volumes relate to the published Silmarillion?" Douglas Kane's substantial research has identified the sources of each section of The Silmarillion, paragraph by paragraph, demonstrating how Christopher Tolkien (hereinafter referred to as CT), assisted by Guy Kay, combined the various incomplete larger works into a single coherent epitomizing text. This general study of the composition of the published Silmarillion is valuable work, and I'm grateful that Kane has done it. Unfortunately, Kane also attempts a criticism of the composition of the text, and this is less successful.

I'm not opposed to criticism of CT's decisions in handling his father's literary estate; it would be a poor sort of scholarship that treated his involvement in the texts as off limits. But Kane's specific approach is unrewarding on a couple levels. First, he assumes that all variations between the manuscripts as presented in The History of Middle-earth and the finished book are the result of editorial changes introduced by CT without authority from his father, ignoring the possibility that these changes reflect manuscripts not included in the History (which does not claim to be exhaustive in this sense) or other sources of information about his father's intention not available to us. Kane acknowledges in the abstract that some changes may be made with authority, but in specific instances proceeds with his analysis on the assumption that they derive from CT.
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Format: Hardcover
It is now more than ten years since Christopher Tolkien published the final volume in the History of Middle-Earth series, and the full extent of his father's writings of the ages of Middle-earth prior to the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were able to be seen and understood. Many readers of these books will have noted Christopher Tolkien's painstaking study of his father's works, and wondered why he provided so little similar justification of the materials that he selected for inclusion in the work published as "The Silmarillion" in 1977.

The information contained in the History of Middle-earth series makes possible a criticism of the published Silmarillion. Perhaps surprisingly, Arda Reconstructed is the first formal, detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph examination of the Silmarillion, its source texts, and the options and possibilities faced by Christopher Tolkien as its editor. Many will have assumed that it flowed verbatim from the pen of Tolkien senior, and will be astonished to learn how extensively Christopher Tolkien pushed the boundaries of editorial stewardship during its reworking and reinvention.

Kane's work is an marvellous and much-needed reference, showing the reader from where the material for any given paragraph of the published Silmarillion was drawn. In many cases, the competing early and late drafts from which Christopher Tolkien had to select, are given, and the reader may form his own opinion of the success or otherwise of the outcome. In this, Arda Reconstructed is invaluable.

Where Kane's study is less successful is in the interposing of his opinions on Christopher Tolkien's editorial selections.
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Format: Hardcover
When one first takes a seat to read "Arda Reconstructed", there is the double dose of fear and joy for being able to read something new about my favorite writer, J. R. R. Tolkien and concern for what one will find between the beautiful and artistic covers. Keeping the trusty copy of "The Silmarillion" by my side for reference, I was delightedly surprised to find how much "Arda Reconstructed" kept me glued to the pages rather than skimming back and forth between publications.

Doug Kane has given us a brilliantly laid out depiction of what was included and written by The Professor and what was left out, as well as what was changed by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Gavriel Kay and what was added by them. I found this book to be an easy read, enjoyable in every satisfying page turned.

For the purist, "Arda Reconstructed" will give many an hour and day of discussion, debate and disagreement, but do not forget that delightful will also be an adjective used to describe the event.

Congratulations Doug Kane on your success and I applaud you for the great effort and tireless dedication to bring this project to fulfillment. I would suggest this book to any for whom excellence is paramount and truth is demanded.

Julia Davis
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
JRR Tolkien's work evolved over many decades. For those interested in the author's process, the History of Middle Earth is a treat and a joy. But it leaves one puzzling and crucial gap: the jump from the last work Tolkien did to the final published Silmarillion. Kane remedies this omission with a paragraph-by-paragraph (and sometimes sentence-by-sentence) reconstruction of Christopher Tolkien's (sometimes puzzling) editing process.

It must have been a painstaking labor for Kane, and I greatly appreciate his having done it. His commentary, sometimes acerbic (and occasionally too much so), feels like discussing a much beloved work with an old friend who's even more obsessed than I. I consider this piece an absolutely mandatory companion to the History of Middle Earth.
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