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The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Language and Communication Quotes

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Quote #10

The legends, histories, and lore to be found in the sources are very extensive. Only selections from them, in most places much abridged, are here presented. Their principal purpose is to illustrate the War of the Ring and its origins, and to fill up some of the gaps in the main story. The ancient legends of the First Age, in which Bilbo's chief interest lay, are very briefly referred to, since they concern the ancestry of Elrond and the Númenorean kings and chieftains. Actual extracts from longer annals and tales are placed within quotation marks. Insertions of later date are enclosed in brackets. Notes within quotation marks are found in the sources. Others are editorial. (Appendix A, 2)

In another book series, we might think these appendices were a joke or a parody, they are so formal and academic. Come on—these aren't actual extracts. These stories aren't even real! Middle-earth doesn't exist! But maybe the fact that the entire cycle is in the guise of a factual history is meant to tell us something about the power of stories. We have said before that Tolkien is really superb at world creation, and this is part of it. It's almost as though Tolkien himself has faith that Middle-earth exists, and that he is just editing or recording true stories (rather than writing them). It makes it easier for us to believe in the rich lore of Middle-earth because Tolkien appears to believe it himself.

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