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The Lost Road

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'''The Lost Road''' is an unfinished story by [[J.R.R. Tolkien]] in which he attemped to link the newly developed [[Númenor]] story of the [[Legendarium]] with the [[Ælfwine]] story of [[The Silmarillion]] as it then stood. It seems likely that it was written in 1935-6.
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{{expansion}}
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'''The Lost Road''' is an unfinished story by [[J.R.R. Tolkien]]. It concerns a father and son that travel back through time to [[Númenor]]. It seems likely that it was written in 1935-6.{{fact}}
  
The original idea of the book came out of discussions that Tolkien had with [[C.S. Lewis]] who said that "There is too little of what we really like in stories" and they thus tried to write their own. C.S. Lewis took 'Space Travel' and his story emerged a few years later as ''[[Out of the Silent Planet]]''. Tolkien meanwhile took 'Time Travel' and wrote the Lost road.
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==Plot==
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The theme of ''The Lost Road'' is one of 'Preincarnation': there are a series of occurrences throughout time of father and son duos sharing names that are etymologically connected with [[Amandil]] ('Bliss-friend') and [[Elendil]] ('Elf-friend'). These include [[Eädwine and Ælfwine|Eädwine-Ælfwine]] of Anglo-Saxon legend, [[Audoin and Alboin|Audoin-Alboin]] of Lombardic, through to "the traditions of the North Sea concerning the coming of corn and culture heroes, ancestors of kingly lines, in boats".<ref name="Letter257" /> In the story the present pair&mdash;[[Edwin and Elwin]]&mdash;travel back through the different phases of the history of their names, eventually reaching the time of Amandil and Elendil and the ''[[Akallabêth]]'' or ''Atalantie'' ('Downfall' in [[Númenorean]] and [[Quenya]] respectively) of Númenor.
  
The theme of the book is one of 'Preincarnation', that a father and son duo, sharing names that are etymologically connected with Elendil (Elf-friend) and Valandil (God-friend), such as the pairs Ælfwine/Eadwine, Alboin/Audoin and the like. In the story the father son pair were to go back in time through different phases of the history of their names - in notes Tolkien lists them as 'Anglo Saxon. Irish legends. Prehistoric north. Belariand. Númenor.'
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Númenor at this stage in Tolkien's thought was not connected with the wider [[Legendarium]]. Rather it is a direct analogue of [[Atlantis]], a "legend or myth or dim memory" that had always "troubled" Tolkien and a theme to which he often returned.<ref name="Letter257" />
  
However, Tolkien only wrote 4 chapters of the story. The two opening chapters, and two which take place in Númenor. It seems he abandoned it due to his interest only in the 'Númenor bits' and possibly the fact that he was working on the Silmarillion at the time.
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==Conception==
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The genesis of the story was a discussion Tolkien had with [[C.S. Lewis]] about the shortcomings of Science Fiction literature. Lewis remarked that "there is too little of what we really like in stories", and suggested they try their hand at the genre "as amateurs":<ref name="Letter294">{{L|294}}</ref>
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{{blockquote|We... meant each to write an excursionary 'Thriller': a Space-journey and a Time-journey (mine) each discovering Myth.|{{L|24}}}}
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Lewis' 'Space-journey' came to fruition a few years later and was published as ''[[Out of the Silent Planet]]'', thanks in part to the positive review of it Tolkien gave to publishers [[Allen and Unwin]].
  
However, this was not the last time Tolkien tried to integrate the Númenor story into a time travel frame work, as he tried a second time a decade later with [[The Notion Club Papers]].
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However, only a fragment of ''The Lost Road'' was ever written: the two opening chapters, and two which take place in Númenor. According to Tolkien he abandoned the story because "it was too long a way round to what I really wanted to make, a new version of the Atlantis legend".<ref name="Letter294" /> He did pass the completed chapters on to Allen & Unwin in 1937 as a possible successor to ''The Hobbit'', however the publishers felt that even if finished the story was unlikely to be a commercial success.<ref name="Letter24N3">{{L|24|3}}</ref>
  
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==Other versions of the Legendarium==
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This was not Tolkien's last attempt at integrating the Númenor story into a time travel frame work. He tried a second time a decade later with [[The Notion Club Papers]]. It was only after both these works floundered that the legends of Númenor were finally integrated with the main mythology.<ref name="Letter257">{{L|257}}</ref>
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{{references}}
 
[[Category:Manuscripts by J.R.R. Tolkien|Lost Road]]
 
[[Category:Manuscripts by J.R.R. Tolkien|Lost Road]]

Revision as of 22:03, 12 August 2010

"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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The Lost Road is an unfinished story by J.R.R. Tolkien. It concerns a father and son that travel back through time to Númenor. It seems likely that it was written in 1935-6.[source?]

Contents

Plot

The theme of The Lost Road is one of 'Preincarnation': there are a series of occurrences throughout time of father and son duos sharing names that are etymologically connected with Amandil ('Bliss-friend') and Elendil ('Elf-friend'). These include Eädwine-Ælfwine of Anglo-Saxon legend, Audoin-Alboin of Lombardic, through to "the traditions of the North Sea concerning the coming of corn and culture heroes, ancestors of kingly lines, in boats".[1] In the story the present pair—Edwin and Elwin—travel back through the different phases of the history of their names, eventually reaching the time of Amandil and Elendil and the Akallabêth or Atalantie ('Downfall' in Númenorean and Quenya respectively) of Númenor.

Númenor at this stage in Tolkien's thought was not connected with the wider Legendarium. Rather it is a direct analogue of Atlantis, a "legend or myth or dim memory" that had always "troubled" Tolkien and a theme to which he often returned.[1]

Conception

The genesis of the story was a discussion Tolkien had with C.S. Lewis about the shortcomings of Science Fiction literature. Lewis remarked that "there is too little of what we really like in stories", and suggested they try their hand at the genre "as amateurs":[2]

We... meant each to write an excursionary 'Thriller': a Space-journey and a Time-journey (mine) each discovering Myth.
J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 24, (dated 18 February 1938)

Lewis' 'Space-journey' came to fruition a few years later and was published as Out of the Silent Planet, thanks in part to the positive review of it Tolkien gave to publishers Allen and Unwin.

However, only a fragment of The Lost Road was ever written: the two opening chapters, and two which take place in Númenor. According to Tolkien he abandoned the story because "it was too long a way round to what I really wanted to make, a new version of the Atlantis legend".[2] He did pass the completed chapters on to Allen & Unwin in 1937 as a possible successor to The Hobbit, however the publishers felt that even if finished the story was unlikely to be a commercial success.[3]

Other versions of the Legendarium

This was not Tolkien's last attempt at integrating the Númenor story into a time travel frame work. He tried a second time a decade later with The Notion Club Papers. It was only after both these works floundered that the legends of Númenor were finally integrated with the main mythology.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257, (dated 16 July 1964)
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 294, (dated 8 February 1967)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Note 3 to Letter 24, (dated 18 February 1938)