An exploration of Middle-earth's creation story and the role of music in Tolkien's tales.
Originally published as part of The Silmarillion in 1977, “Ainulindalë” is the creation story of Middle-earth. Like the biblical account, it begins mysteriously with one great Divinity, but from there goes down a far different path. Whereas the biblical story involves speaking creation into being, Tolkien’s vision involves the creation of lesser gods who then create a great music that brings Middle-earth into reality.
In Tolkien’s Overture, John Carswell conducts a close reading of the text of “Ainulindalë”, and then goes on to explore the role of music in Middle-earth’s history, from the creation of Elves, Dwarves, and Men in the First Age to the great events of the late Third Age as recounted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, it delves into the mystery of evil, as embodied in the mighty Melkor, the great villain of the First Age and the mentor of Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor.
From the mystical song of the seas to the voice of Lúthien to the strangely musical ways of Tom Bombadil, the reader will come away with a far deeper understanding of Tolkien’s imaginary world, and see clearly how music is truly the preternatural fabric from which Middle-earth is made.
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