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The Lost Road and Other Writings

The Lost Road and Other Writings
Lost Road and Other Writings 1987.png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherUnwin Hyman (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released27 August 1987 (UK)
30 November 1987 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback
Preceded byThe Shaping of Middle-earth (1986)
Followed byThe Return of the Shadow (1988)

The Lost Road and Other Writings, published in 1987, is the fifth volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien.


[edit] Background

The Lost Road itself was the result of a joint decision by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to make attempts at writing science fiction. Lewis ended up writing a story about space travel, which eventually became The Space Trilogy, and Tolkien tried to write something about time travel, but never completed it.

The Lost Road is a fragmentary beginning of that "time travel" tale, with a rough outline and several pieces of narrative, including four chapters dealing with modern England and Númenor, from which the entire story may be glimpsed. The scheme was for time travel by means of "vision", or being mentally inserted into what had been so as to experience that which had happened. In this way the tale links the 20th century to many legends of older times, going further and further back, until to the Third Age of Middle-earth, and finally to the Fall of Gil-galad, before recounting the prime legend of the Downfall of Númenor and the Bending of the World.

The novel explores the theme of the "Straight Road" into the West, now open only in memory because the world has become round. Tolkien reworked and expanded some of the ideas in The Lost Road in The Notion Club Papers, which was also left unfinished.[1]

[edit] Contents

  • Preface
Part One: The Fall of Númenor and the Lost Road
Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings
Part Three: "The Etymologies"

[edit] Inscriptions

There is an inscription in the Tengwar characters in the first pages of every History of Middle-earth volume, written by Christopher Tolkien and describing the contents of the book. The inscription in Book V reads:

"Herein are collected the oldest Tale of the Downfall of Númenor, the story of the Lost Road into the West, the Annals of Valinor and the Annals of Beleriand in a later form, the Ainulindalë, or Music of the Ainur, the Lhammas, or Account of Tongues, the Quenta Silmarillion or History of the Silmarils, and the history of many words and names."

[edit] From the publisher

The fifth volume of the History of Middle-earth, containing the early myths and legends which led to the writing of Tolkien’s epic tale of war, The Silmarillion.

At the end of 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien reluctantly set aside his work on the myths and heroic legends of Valinor and Middle-earth and began The Lord of the Rings.

This fifth volume of The History of Middle-earth completes the examination of his writing up to that time. Later forms of the Annals of Valinor and the Annals of Beleriand had been composed, the Silmarillion was nearing completion in a greatly amplified form, and a new Map had been made. The legend of the Downfall of Númenor had entered the work, including those central ideas: the World Made Round and the Straight Path into the vanished West. Closely associated with this was the abandoned ‘time-travel’ story The Lost Road, linking the world of Númenor and Middle-earth with the legends of many other times and peoples.

Also included in this volume is the The Lhammas, as essay on the complex languages and dialects of Middle-earth, and an ‘etymological dictionary’ containing an extensive account of Elvish vocabularies.

[edit] Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1987 hardcover  
1989 paperback  
1993 paperback  
2002 paperback  
2010 hardcover  

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

A detailed list of unique writings and works by Tolkien in this volume, at


  1. Verlyn Flieger, A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to Faërie

The History of Middle-earth series
i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated ·
x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth ·