Good books and stories that I love dearly hold so much hope and glimpses of things that are eternally real. And this book, Unfinished Tales, has me dreaming about Middle-earth and all the history, stories, and people of the lands. The centuries of kings and rulers and the stories of their kin.
I know that many people roll their eyes when someone (quite possibly, me) mentions Middle-earth as they think about the crazy weirdos who dressed up as elves and represent the sci-fi or fantasy genre gone wrong. Well, there are crazies among all tales, but that is truly not a good representation of the stories and what they mean. That is one reason why I cringe when movies are made of books that are so good, the movies sometimes bring out the worst, thanks to the media and the consumerism that is so embraced here. Regarding The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, they are enjoyable, though I do have many thoughts on the new Hobbit movies and some grievances concerning them, but that's all a moot point here.
Tolkien was a super-detailed writer, with an imagination to match that attention to detail. He spent years (more than 30 at least) writing The Lord of the Rings and other tales of Middle-earth, creating the languages, creating the lands, the people, the histories and genealogies of the families. He drew the maps. He spent so much time perfecting, re-writing, and re-working the stories that there are so many of them that are unfinished. In fact, much of the credit goes to C.S. Lewis for pushing his friend Tolkien to finish the stories to get them published, otherwise, they might all be unfinished due to his tendency to re-write everything and never feel like it is complete.
It's amazing, really. The more I read the more I am amazed at the intertwined stories and the depth of his histories. How could one person sub-create so much history and tales that all have their own traditions, culture, and language? It is hard to explain without reading the stories to see the enormity of it.
Reading this book bring me back to my senior year of college when I took a Tolkien class that I enjoyed immensely. We didn't read this book, but we read almost every other book published by Tolkien. It was the perfect class for me to contrast my accounting and business classes that took up my schedule. I was craving English, writing, and reading, but didn't know how deep that longing really was at the time. Engaging in this class awakened that love from where it had slumbered for many years. If I could take that class again today, I know I would get so much more out of it than I did then. My understanding of my love for words and literature is so much deeper than it was. Looking back at myself when I thought I knew so much, when in fact I knew so little. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight.