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Recently a new book containing material by J. R. R. Tolkien was published, edited by Carl F. Hostetter.

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From looking at the table of contents in the Amazon preview, it seems the book contains mostly writings concerning the lore of Middle-earth, and only a few pages' worth of stories (if that).

Is this true?

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    You know you're going to buy it anyway.,
    – Spencer
    Aug 28, 2021 at 19:40
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    the question is how eagerly
    – Wade
    Aug 28, 2021 at 20:03
  • @Spencer - The book has plenty of new Tolkien content, but it isn't for everyone. For example, I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone who finds Unfinished Tales or HoMe too intimating. Or to someone who doesn't like reading lots and lots of math.
    – ibid
    Aug 29, 2021 at 1:23
  • @ibid Speaking of recommendations, would you recommend UT to someone who enjoyed Beren and Luthien or the Fall and Gondolin? And would you recommend HoMe (or some of its volumes) to someone who enjoyed UT, or is it very different in nature from it?
    – Wade
    Aug 29, 2021 at 9:54
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    @Wade - If you enjoyed LotR's Appendix A then you should try UT (think of it as a less organized collection of more in-universe history). If you enjoyed B&L and FoG then you should try HoMe (which is like those two books, but more commentary heavy and tackles the whole legendarium together instead on a single tale at a time).
    – ibid
    Aug 29, 2021 at 10:12

1 Answer 1

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The book contains plenty of new content, but nothing that was intended as a story

The vast majority of the content in the book is either derived from notes Tolkien made when trying to rework the timeline of the first age (when extending the length of a Valian year to 144 sun years), or from various late philological essays. If you've read the material published in Unfinished Tales and the final three volumes of The History of Middle-earth, you'll understand that this type of stuff can often turn into narrative, but is generally not originally intended as such.

So too in this book. There are certainly texts present that with certain editorial trickery can be made to look like narratives (like was done in Unfinished Tales), but it is all presented as-is (just with some of the more linguistic parts edited out), and so nearly everything in the book will read like essays rather than stories.

Also, as you say you have access to the amazon preview, I'd encourage you to continue a little bit past the table of contents and read the foreword of the book. It explains what the book is and isn't.

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  • Thank you, this is exactly the sort of answer I was looking for. But parts of what you say confuse me... I haven't yet read Unfinished Tales of HoMe, but I assumed that UT at least was really composed of story fragments that Tolkien wrote, and simply didn't finish. Isn't this the case? Is it really based on 'essays', turned into stories by means of 'editorial trickery'? That surprises me a great deal...
    – Wade
    Aug 29, 2021 at 9:53
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    @Wade - UT is a very mixed bag, and its introduction explains a bit about the nature of each work. In particular the "editorial trickery" I was referring to was done by "Aldarion and Erendis" to turn it from a time scheme into a narrative, and I think something very similar could have been done to "The March of the Quendi" and "Key Dates" in NoMe.
    – ibid
    Aug 29, 2021 at 10:05
  • Oh, I get it. So it's too bad they didn't do it. Do you know whether the Tolkien Estate is planning on publishing any "new" semi-complete books? Such UT, Beren and Luthien, Fall of Gondolin, or even the Children of Hurin? Has the person who replaced Christopher expressed his plans for the Estate? In fact - are they planning to publish new books at all?
    – Wade
    Aug 29, 2021 at 10:10
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    @Wade - There aren't really any such stories left to be published, so making new such books would require repackaging previously published material. (Which is what B&L and FoG are.) Personally I'd prefer they focus on publishing new material (like this book) to endlessly republishing old material in new formats.
    – ibid
    Aug 29, 2021 at 10:49
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    @Wade - Most of the remaining material is either personal, academic, linguistic, or just more versions of previously published stuff. The linguistic stuff is slowly being published in specialized journals, but it's unclear if or when the rest will be. The demand for this type of material usually isn't enough to be worth the publishing costs. (Also, this is probably the most significant Tolkien publication in twenty-five years. It's a bit premature to already be asking about the next one.)
    – ibid
    Aug 29, 2021 at 15:55

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