January 1

Day 1

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: From a Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951
    *This selection will be read over the course of three days, so read about a third of the letter today.

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background: 

    • The Silmarillion: Foreword & Preface

    • On Fairy-Stories  (This essay can be found in The Tolkien Reader under “Tree and Leaf”)

             *This is a lengthy essay. You may want to read part of it tomorrow, since the Supplementary   

               Reading for January 2 is much shorter.

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

    • Modern Europe: England, Greece, Britain, Germany, Finland, Italy, Aegean Sea

  • Other: Look up biographical information about J.R.R. Tolkien. Consider the role the Inklings played in the development of his writing and the Middle-Earth mythology. (Click here for Wikipedia.)

Discussion Questions:

    1. What were some of the sources of inspiration for the development of the mythology?
    2. Tolkien expresses a dislike for allegory. How is his mythology different from allegory? Do you see any similarities?
    3. What does Tolkien’s essay On Fairy-Stories reveal about his approach to the Middle-Earth stories?

 
 

January 2

Day 2

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: From a Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951
    *Read the second third of this letter today.

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: Foreword

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps:

    • Arda: Middle-earth, Valinor, Beleriand, Tol Eressëa, Númenór

    • Middle-earth: Rivendell, Eregion, Misty Mountains, Moria

  • Other: Read some of Tolkien’s other fictional work, such as Leaf by Niggle or Farmer Giles of Ham.  (Both of these can also be found in The Tolkien Reader.)

Discussion Questions:

    1. What did Tolkien perceive to be the most important concepts in his mythology?
    2. How was Tolkien’s view of his stories different from the popular enthusiasm we see today?
    3. Most people today have some level of familiarity with Tolkien’s stories. Did you read anything that surprised you?

 

January 3

Day 3

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: From a Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951
    *Finish the letter today.

Supplementary Reading:

  • Expanded Story:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: I. The Cottage of Lost Play

  • Background:

    • Morgoth’s Ring: Foreword

    • The Lost Road: Preface

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps:

    • Arda: Middle-earth, Númenór, Tol Eressëa, Valinor

    • Middle-earth: Eregion, Mordor, Rivendell, Mount Doom, River Anduin, Arnor, Gondor, Barad Dûr

  • Other: Create family trees for the major characters in the mythology. The family tree of Men and Elves is connected, but Dwarves and Hobbits are separate. (Some limited genealogical information is included in the “Tables” section at the end of The Silmarillion, which is a good starting point.) Start the framework of the family trees today, then add people as you read about them.

Discussion Questions:

    1. In what ways is story a useful tool in understanding our world and history?
    2. How did you find this letter helpful as setting the stage for the familiar events of the Third Age?
    3. What do you think about the time-travel framework presented in The Cottage of Lost Play?

 
 

January 4

Day 4

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Preface

  • Expanded Story:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: II. The Music of the Ainur, up to the first Commentary

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: II. The Music of the Ainur, the rest of the section

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section IV. Ainulindalë

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part One: Ainulindalë

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

  • Character Cards: Eru Ilúvatar, Melkor, Ulmo, Manwë, Aulë

  • Timeline: The Years of Music

  • Other: Listen to some musical interpretations of the Music of the Ainur online. There are many fascinating renditions. (Selections on YouTube.) 

Discussion Questions:

    1. What are some similarities and differences between reality and this account of the beginning of all things?
    2. What is the “secret fire”? What is the “Imperishable Flame”?
    3. How have you observed beauty coming from sorrow?

 
 

January 5

Day 5

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: Valaquenta: Account of the Valar and Maiar according to the Law of the Eldar

Supplementary Reading:

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: III. The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor (The “Commentary” section contains two interesting diagrams.)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section III. The Quenta, Opening Section up to Chapter 1 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section VI. The Earliest Annals of Valinor, up to VY 500 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, up to VY 500 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section VI. Quenta Silmarillion, through Chapter 1 (including Commentary)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Opening Section, up to but not including Of the Beginning of Time and its Reckoning

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (I) The First Phase, through Chapter 1: Of the Valar

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, through “The Valaquenta”

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

    • Valinor: Taniquetil, Lórellin, Lórien

  • Character Cards: Oromë, Mandos, Lórien, Tulkas, Varda, Yavanna, Nienna, Estë, Vairë, Vána, Nessa, Ilmarë, Eönwë, Ossë, Uinan, Melian, Olórin, Sauron

  • Timeline: The Shaping of Arda (Valinorean Years 1 - 500)

  • Other: You may find it helpful to create a list of the Valar and their primary attributes on an index card. You can use it as a bookmark and refer to it as needed. (See example below.)

Discussion Questions:

    1. Do you see any correlation between Tolkien’s Valar and the gods of other mythologies?
    2. Why is the presence of an enemy so crucial from the very foundation of the story?
    3. Is innocence more easily corrupted than experience? Why or why not?

 
 
 

January 6

Day 6

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 1: Of the Beginning of Days

Supplementary Reading:

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section II. The Earliest ‘Silmarillion’ through Chapter 1 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section III. The Quenta, Chapter 1 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section VI. The Earliest Annals of Valinor, VY 500 - 1000 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, VY 500 - VY 1000-2000 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section VI. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 2: Of Valinor and the Two Trees

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, through entire First section of the Annals of Aman (stop at Second section of the Annals of Aman)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (I) The First Phase, Chapter 2: Of Valinor and the Two Trees

Enrichment Activities:

Discussion Questions:

    1. What are the differences between the way nature functioned under the light of the Trees compared to the way it functions now, with sun and moon?
    2. Why did Melkor run and hide at the laughter of Tulkas?
    3. How do you respond to the discussion of death in the final paragraph? Have you ever thought of death as a gift?

 
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January 7

Day 7

Basic Reading: 

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 2: Of Aulë and Yavanna

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • The War of the Jewels: Foreword

  • Prior Versions:

    • The War of the Jewels: Part Three, IV. Of the Ents and the Eagles

Enrichment Activities:

Discussion Questions:

    1. What do you think of Aulë’s motives in creating the Dwarves? Should Illúvatar have punished Aulë and/or destroyed the Dwarves?
    2. Manwë and Yavanna referred to the song of creation. How does collaborative work enhance the outcome of Yavanna’s concern? How can collaboration enhance your creative work?
    3. What is the difference between the pride of Melkor and the pride of Aulë and Yavanna?

 
Day 7.jpg
 
 

January 8

Day 8

Basic Reading:

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 3: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section V. The Lhammas, Opening section and Chapter 1 (including corresponding Commentary)

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: IV. The Chaining of Melko

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section II. The Earliest ‘Silmarillion’ Chapter 2 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section III. The Quenta, Chapter 2 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section VI. The Earliest Annals of Valinor, VY 2000 - 2100 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, VY 500 - VY 1900 - 2000 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section VI. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 3 (a): Of the Coming of the Elves

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Second section of the Annals of Aman

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Third section of the Annals of Aman, YT 1100 - 1128

    • The War of the Jewels: Part One: The Grey Annals, Opening section and VY 1050 - 1128 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (I) The First Phase, Chapter 3: Of the Coming of the Elves  

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

    • Arda: Mountains of Aman, Angband, Cuiviénen, Inland Sea of Helcar, Utumno, Helcaraxë, Great Gulf, Beleriand

    • Beleriand: Bay of Balar, River Sirion, Dorthonion, Hithlum, River Anduin, Hithaeglir, Eriador, Blue Mountains, Firth of Drengist, Misty Mountains, River Gelion

  • Character Cards: Ingwë, Finwë, Elwë, Olwë

  • Timeline: Years of the Trees 1085 - 1128

  • Other: Examine the chart “Quendi - The Elves” in the “Tables” section of The Silmarillion. This chart is so helpful that you may wish to bookmark it, or reproduce it on an index card for reference.

Discussion Questions:

    1. What is your reaction to the corruption of the Elves by which Melkor made the Orcs?
    2. What could the Valar have done differently? Is evil inevitable?
    3. What is the primary difference between the Calaquendi and the Moriquendi?

 
 

January 9

Day 9

Basic Reading:

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian

Supplementary Reading:

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, VY 2000 - 2010 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section VI. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 3 (b): Of Thingol

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Third section of the Annals of Aman, YT 1130

    • The War of the Jewels: Part One: The Grey Annals, VY 1130 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (I) The First Phase, Chapter 4: Of Thingol and Melian

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

    • Valinor: Lórien

    • Arda: Cuiviénen, Valinor, East Beleriand

    • Beleriand: River Gelion, Neldoreth, Region, Nan Elmoth, Halls of Menegroth, Doriath

  • Timeline: Years of the Trees 1105 - 1165

Discussion Questions:

    1. What is your reaction to the love story between Elwë and Melian?
    2. Why is Elwë called “Grey?” 
    3. What is the significance of Elwë’s heritage to his descendants?

 
 

January 10

Day 10

Basic Reading:

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section V. The Lhammas, Chapters 2 and 3 (including corresponding Commentary)

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Book of Lost Tales 1: V. The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section II. The Earliest ‘Silmarillion’ Chapter 3 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section III. The Quenta, Chapter 3 (including Commentary)

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section VI. The Earliest Annals of Valinor, VY 2100 - 2200 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, VY 2000 - 2010 - VY 2111 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section VI. Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 3 (c): Of Kôr and Alqualondë

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Third section of the Annals of Aman, YT 1132 - 1165 (complete the Third section)

    • The War of the Jewels: Part One: The Grey Annals, VY 1132 - 1152 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (I) The First Phase, Chapter 5: Of Eldanor and the Princes of the Eldalië

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

    • Valinor: Mountains of Aman, Bay of Eldamar, Tol Eressëa, Pelóri, Shadowy Seas, Calacirya, Túna, Tirion, Alqualondë

    • Arda: East Beleriand, Valinor

    • Beleriand: Bay of Balar, Isle of Balar, Mouths of Sirion, Brithombar, Eglarest, Nan Elmoth

  • Character Cards: Círdan, Fëanor, Fingolfin, Finarfin, Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, Amras, Fingon, Turgon, Aredhel, Finrod, Orodreth, Angrod, Aegnor, Galadriel

  • Timeline: Years of the Trees 1165 - 1399

  • Other: Browse through the Note on Pronunciation and Index of Names in the back of The Silmarillion. These can be helpful resources if you find yourself confused. Also, if you are creating family trees, be sure to update them with the information in this chapter.

Discussion Questions:

    1. Did Ulmo do enough to help the Elves?
    2. What is the significance of the White Tree of Númenor?
    3. How do you explain the restlessness of Fëanor and his sons?

 
 

January 11

Day 11

Basic Reading:

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 6: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

Supplementary Reading:

  • Background:

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar

    • The Peoples of Middle-Earth: Foreword 

    • The Peoples of Middle-Earth: Part Two, Section XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section V. The Lhammas, Chapters 4 and 5 (including corresponding Commentary)

  • Prior Versions:

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Fourth section of the Annals of Aman, YT 1179 - 1410

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, The Earliest Version of the Story of Finwë and Míriel

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, Later Versions of the Story of Finwë and Míriel in the Quenta Silmarillion

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

Enrichment Activities:

  • Maps: 

  • Timeline: Years of the Trees 1400 - 1449

  • Other: Investigate the similarities and differences between the Sarati (the script developed by Rúmil), the Tengwar of Fëanor, and the Cirth of the Sindar.

Discussion Questions:

    1. What is Fëanor’s primary character trait? Is this a strength or a weakness?
    2. Do the Valar demonstrate wisdom or folly in their behavior towards Melkor?
    3. How do you respond to the death of Míriel?

 
 
 

January 12

Day 12

Basic Reading:

    The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 7: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

Supplementary Reading:

  • Prior Versions:

    • The Shaping of Middle-Earth: Section VI. The Earliest Annals of Valinor, VY 2500 - 2900 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • The Lost Road: Part Two, Section II. The Later Annals of Valinor, VY 2500 - VY 2950 (including corresponding Commentary)

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Two: The Annals of Aman, Fourth section of the Annals of Aman, YT 1449 - 1490

    • Morgoth's Ring: Part Three, (II) The Second Phase, Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

Enrichment Activities:

Discussion Questions:

    1. Why is Melkor’s evil influence so effective?
    2. Do you think the Valar experience regret?
    3. Can you relate to Fëanor? What would you do in his position?