Two Tolkiens, One Better World | The American Conservative

Of the original stories that Tolkien wrote for his nascent mythology, the first real attempt at depth as well as breadth was The Fall of Gondolin, most likely begun in 1916. From there, the story took on an unwieldy and unpredictable life of its own, like many of Tolkien’s writings. Tolkien’s wife, Edith, wrote out the story sometime in 1917 after he had first written it, and Tolkien offered a version of it as a public essay in 1920 at Exeter College, Oxford. The story appeared as one of the most drawn-out of Tolkien’s Lost Tales (the first version of the larger mythology that would one day become The Silmarillion); in slightly different form in the 1926 “Sketch of the Mythology”; in yet again slightly different form in the 1930 Quenta Noldorinwa; and, finally, in 1950 and 1951, as Tolkien was trying to write the history of the ages preceding the now completed but yet unpublished The Lord of the Rings. The final 1951 version ended up, more or less, in the 1977 Silmarillion.
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