wo items that have been on my “top ten list of favorite things” for some time, have finally been brought together. This weekend my brother Gera made my Saturday by emailing me this article and I just had to share it with whoever reads this blog. Many people have complained that Tolkien’s famous work, “The Lord Of The Ring” is to difficult to read. Fortunately for those who don’t want to read the book, Peter Jackson made a great move. Of course the unread watcher missed out on a lot (though maybe less than the unread watchers of Harry Potter). But many who read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Ring drew the line at the Silmarillion which reads more like the Old Testament historical books. Personally I love the Old Testament historical books and actually I think I liked the Silmarillion a little better than the Lord of the Rings.
The Silmarillion is Tolkens history of all that happened in the ages leading up to those events recorded in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” which summed up the 3rd age of middle earth. It covers everything from creation of Ea (the world of middle earth) and its first two ages to the beginning of the third age where middle earth takes center stage. The gap between the Dunedane establishing themselves in middle earth and Bilbo’s 111th birthday is contained in the appendices of “The Return of the King.”
The art and practice of illuminating manuscripts is a tradition that goes back 1600 years and was very prominent during the Middle Ages. It is generally associated with religious texts, especially biblical texts, which were illustrated by monastic monks. Their intricate decoration of the scriptures are often saturated with mesmerizing detail and beauty. In particular the Book of Kells, which is an illuminated copy of the four gospels created by Celtic monks around 800 AD, is considered to be the height of insular art of its kind and is one of Ireland’s greatest national treasures. It was also the focus of the recent film “The Secret of Kells” which I recommend to everyone.
The union of these two themes is the brilliant brain child of one Benjamin Harff, a German Academy of Art student whose interview you can read at Tolkien’s Library. I would venture to say that of all the innovations made with Tolkien’s works over the years this contribution would likely be closes to Tolkien’s heart. It does nothing to alter the story and is done in a style that I am sure Tolkien would have been impressed by. If ever this were to be published I would do my best to get near the head of the first line to get it. I am only posting one image here; you will have to see the rest at the Tolkien library site.