Introduction: The Appendices
Nowadays we're all so used to getting "supplementary material" from DVDs that we almost come to expect it. Some of these special features that we get are quite interesting while others are nothing more than silly filler designed to make a DVD purchase more tempting. Incidentally, I love it when you look at a DVD of an older movie and they list things like "interactive menu" as a special feature. Nice. And how about that "English/French subtitles" deal? Wow. The stuff in the Extended Editions of Peter Jackson's films are superb. Supplementary material for films is standard nowadays. But supplementary material for literature? Unheard of. In this way, Tolkien was a pioneer when you think about it.
And imagine how the publishers must have reacted to Tolkien when he told them he wanted to include 130 or so pages of stuff that isn't even in the story? They must have been beside themselves. But hey, they desperately wanted "Return of the King" published so they went along with it. In fact it was because Tolkien took so long to finish with the Appendices of "Return of the King" that they weren't able to release it to the public until almost a full year after "The Two Towers". But the good folks of Allen & Unwin no doubt forgave the good professor, not just because of the book's financial success but because fans were clamoring for more about Middle-Earth! In hindsight, putting in those Appendices seemed like a shrewd move.
The reason Tolkien was so adamant about the inclusion of the Appendices is that he honestly thought that it would be his only chance to publish them. Of course, the further successes of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and the whole History of Middle-Earth series proved his concerns to be unwarranted. But sadly, all of those volumes were published after his death. Tolkien had much more material to share than what he eventually included with The Lord of the Rings. But he pared it down as best he could.
I can certainly understand why most readers would avoid them. I mean, you just finish a thousand page story to its final conclusion and now there's...more? I'm sure lots of people put aside "Return of the King", expecting that they'll eventually get around to the Appendices. Unfortunately, most never do. And it's a shame. While much of the material isn't as compelling as the story itself, there really is a lot of worthwhile stuff there. So, to entice those who maybe haven't read them and might be interested, I thought I'd write a little about the Appendices.
Giving the material a once over, I've broken it up into four separate posts:
- Appendix A (Part One): The Numenorean Kings, The Realms In Exile: The Heirs of Isildur, The Realms In Exile: The Heirs of Anarion/The Stewards & The Tale of Aragorn And Arwen
- Appendix A (Part Two): The House Of Eorl (Rohan) & Durin's Folk (the Dwarves)
- Appendices B & C: The Tale Of Years & Family Trees
- Appendices D, E & F: The Calendars, Writing And Spelling (Pronunciations) & Languages Of The Third Age