So, I imagine I've expressed some of these thoughts before in other threads, but they certainly bear repeating upon this occasion. Tolkien fans bear an incalculable debt to Christopher John Reuel Tolkien. Without his herculean efforts, we would never have had The Silmarillion, the grand origins of Middle-earth and its peoples, from which the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings sprang. Nor would we have had Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, or any of the other works that issued in the years since 1973. Organizing and collating the manuscripts of a dead author is no easy task, and it would have been brutal to organize the work of Tolkien Sr., who had difficult handwriting, and frequently wrote and rewrote on the same pages, and would also use whatever paper was available, be it student exam books, napkins, whatever. Thank God Christopher was a fan of his father's work and had been involved in it from an early age, as no one else would have had the background knowledge and insights to be able to do this.

And to some extent, this work must have been a thankless task. Sure, all the books sold, but I don't think any of them had sales to compare to The Hobbit or LOTR. And I have a sense that the majority of people that call themselves Tolkien fans have actually read much of the posthumous volumes. Most of my friends who loved the Hobbit and LOTR never even made it all the way through The Silmarillion, let alone the less finished works. And lastly, very little glory attaches to the editor of a dead person's writings.

Fortunately, it doesn't seem like any of that mattered to CJRT, at least not enough to discourage him from forging ahead. His goal was to get his father's works out there in some form that could be enjoyed, and he dedicated his life to that from 1973 onward. Forty-five years is a very long time to spend doing anything, and a very, very long time to spend slogging through boxes of manuscripts or manuscraps, as the case often was.

Of course, we all well know how protective Christopher was of his father's legacy. He wished no adaptation rights had ever been sold, and wouldn't agree to any further ones while he was still running the estate. I know I personally was sometimes frustrated by this, as the adaptations we did get, especially of the Hobbit, could have benefited from material from Unfinished Tales, but on the other hand, there's no guarantee Peter Jackson would have made better movies, had he had access to more source material. But one always dreams....

There's no doubt that the sale of rights to Amazon was connected with Christopher's retirement from the Estate. I'm guessing that Christopher, wanting to retire and knowing someone would sell the rights after he was out of the picture, worked out a deal before retiring that he felt would best safeguard his father's literary integrity. And I've never been able to find out whether the rights contain rights to works beyond LOTR and the Hobbit. I'm guessing they must, or Amazon could simply have licensed the existing rights from Saul Zaentz' Tolkien Enterprises. But what exactly the rights entail, and the price paid for them, is undisclosed.

In any event, what I wanted to do with this somewhat rambling post is to express my gratitude to Christopher. His efforts made Middle-earth a much richer place than it would ever have been, if only The Hobbit and LOTR had been available.
"Olorin I was in the West that is forgotten...."


Obituary covered a lot of ground....some things I knew already, but a lot was new to me.
And... I cried at the end.

"Unless you're prepared to surrender everything, don't surrender anything."

When seconds matter, it's reassuring to know that the police are only minutes away.

"Only the paranoid survive."
Post Reply

Return to “Tolkien”