The Lost Road

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"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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The Lost Road and Other Writings chapters
Part One
  1. The Early History of the Legend
  2. The Fall of Númenor
  3. The Lost Road
Part Two
  1. The Texts and Their Relations
  2. The Later Annals of Valinor
  3. The Later Annals of Beleriand
  4. Ainulindalë
  5. The Lhammas
  6. Quenta Silmarillion
Part Three
The Etymologies

The Lost Road is the third chapter of the first section, 'Part One: The Fall of Númenor and the Lost Road', of The Lost Road and Other Writings.


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 Númenórean 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]


In the chapter "The Early History of the Legend", Christopher explains the conception of the story as a challenge with C.S. Lewis and how this was developed simultaneously with "The Fall of Númenor (chapter)". It is notable that this challenge, although abandoned by Tolkien, resulted in Lewis's successful Space Trilogy[2] whose protagonist is also named Elwin.

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".[3] 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.[4]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit]

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]


  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. David Downing. "Rehabilitating H. G. Wells", in C.S. Lewis: Fantasist, mythmaker, and poet, ed. Bruce L. Edwards, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p.14
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 294, (dated 8 February 1967)
  4. 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)