A tale of two cities

Saturday Aug 10   10:30 AM to 11:30 AM (1 hour)

This reflexion began as I was studying Tolkien’s drawing of Taniquetil or, to give it its full name, Halls of Manwë and Varda on the Mountains of the World Above Faerie1, as part of a document to support the Aubusson Tisse Tolkien project. In the Sketch of the Mythology2 , dated 1925, Tolkien carried out a radical contraction and reorientation of the content of The Book of Lost Tales (1916-1919), his first major writing. Condensing what it will take two volumes to publish posthumously sixty years later, and withdrawing the narrative connecting the tales, he reached a succinct text – 30 pages, including the notes – in which he substantially altered the geography of Aman and created the overarching narrative framework of the Legendarium, which would guide his writing for the rest of his life. The watercolour painting dates from this intermediary period between the writing of The Book of Lost Tales and that of the first proper version of The Silmarillion, the Quenta Noldorinwa3 (1930-31). In order to interpret correctly what we see in the painting, we need to be aware of the date of its origination, as its geography seems to correspond more to the text which precedes it than to the one which follows it, the latter being much less precise than the former. It can be confusing to seek to see ‘accurate’ representations of locations in the published Silmarillion, as what we see may not tie in properly with what we read in the final text.


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