A new generation of fans, discovering J. R. R. Tolkiens Middle-earth through the films of Peter Jackson, may not be familiar with the other books that contributed to Tolkiens legendarium.
In Middle-earth Beyond The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings I touch upon some of those works and how they informed the screenplays for Jacksons films. The sidebar was included in Middle-Earth Envisioned: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: On Screen, On Stage, and Beyond, by Paul Simpson and Brian J. Robb. The Tolkien Society chose Middle-Earth Envisioned as their Best Book of 2013. The sample below begins with my original first paragraph, cut for space in the book, then continues with the first paragraph as it appears in the published work (although I did sneak back in part of a sentence also edited for space concerns in the book).
The feeling of a vast and storied reality beyond the pages being turned pervades The Hobbit and, to a much greater degree, The Lord of the Rings. That sense of history was not achieved only through well-turned flashbacks in the narratives at hand; J. R. R. Tolkien had created a rich tapestry of Middle-earth stories even before he wrote The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. It is this work outside of the four best-known books that informs the destinies of Bilbo and Frodo. Just as the rough edges of World War I would eventually boil over into World War II, so too would Isildurs cutting of the One Ring from Saurons hand at the end of the Second Age of Middle-earth lead to the War of the Ring some three thousand years later in the Third Age, as told in The Lord of the Rings (this is not to imply allegory, which Tolkien disliked, but to illuminate the realistic flow of events within Middle-earth). In 1916, as Tolkien recovered from a fever caught while serving in the trenches of World War I, he began work on what would eventually be published posthumously as The Silmarillion (edited by his son Christopher, Tolkiens literary executor). It was in these stories that he created Middle-earth, literally and figuratively, for he tells of the creator Ilúvatar and his angelic Ainur, how they brought Middle-earth into being out of the void, and the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, elves and men, into Middle-earth. . . .
Cover image and sidebar as published copyright Race Point Publishing; original, unpublished paragraph and other text copyright Scott Pearson. All rights reserved. No part of this site may be copied or reproduced without permission.