J.R.R. Tolkien - The Silmarillion
Read in Italian and found hopelessly boring and abstruse when I was ten years old and just done with the doom of reading for the second time the Lord of the Rings. At that time (1992) I was so much involved into LOTR that I knew by heart the first 20 minutes introduction, dialogues and all of the often despised Ralph Bakshi's cartoon which I had found fantastic.
Being my memory oddly selective, I'm afraid I can still recall most of the cartoon. Should I prove it? The Italian version began with the lines "In un passato molto, molto remoto grandi artigiani del ferro forgiarono magici anelli. Nove erano per gli uomini. Sette per i nani. E tre per i re degli elfi". And so it goes.
I must say that the translation was not really accurate, but I couldn't know it at that time and it challenged the rhymes of Garcia Lorca and Leopardi in my mind.
Anyways, let's stick to The Silmarillion. I re-read this tome in English in A.D. 2011 after having found a wonderfully preserved first edition (the one portrayed on the top left of this post) for just 4 £ in a charity shop. At first I tried to resist to the call of the wild-buyer and ran away, far from the geekery. But when the same book was still popping up from the same shelf in the same charity shop one week later, I surrendered and bought it.
Much, too much, has been said about this book. I will cut it short: to put it as straight as I can, The Silmarillion is the Bible of Tolkien's mythology and cosmogony. A Bible with no dogmas but full of parables, in its own way. A book where pronouns "thy", "thine", "thou" and "thee" set themselves at ease.
You cannot expect any humour or brilliant dialogues here, but a heavy old-fashioned narration of the events of the so called First Age of bygone Beleriand where Elves dwelled and which used to stand at the north-west of Middle-Earth before being broken by a cataclism and swallowed by the sea (a recurring escamotage in Tolkien's mythology as well as in many others).
This is a book for John Ronald Reuel's geeks who not only know what Numenor was but where to put the accent on it (on the U). If you're not into Tolkien's world, just leave it: you won't find anything that you may like here.
The Silmarillion is an extremely accurate imitation of a whole epic in the fashion of his author's beloved Norse-Germanic mythology. Here Mr Tolkien didn't care about details and made an apparent mess with personal names (among the ones who belong to several characters on different ages we have Glorfindel, Denethor, Boromir, Gothmog) so that you do need a glossary and a map to get an orientation in time and space. Both compasses are provided here.
Still, as a half-geek for all that concerns what Tolkien invented, I enjoyed this book at this time and spent more time than necessary looking at the map of Beleriand attached. And yet, I do think that this book could be a burden if not a bane for all those who became familiar with the Lord of the Rings thanks to the entertaining pop movies directed by Peter Jackson.