Welcome to ye machine, which organizes a genealogy of the One Ring. Unlike world-building indexes of Middle-earth (like Tolkien Gateway), my aim is to construct an historical index. While the main menu separates text and video production, below is a chronological arrangement of my studies of the successive projects of J.R.R.Tolkien that culminated in The Lord of the Rings.
1. Magic ring: The magic ring imagined in the late 1920s and set down in The Hobbit 1930-33. The aim is to establish what the magic ring was before it became the One Ring.
2. Tower: In 1936, Tolkien’s study of Beowulf generated ‘The Fall of Númenor’, which introduced three ages of Middle-earth and became the second story to which The Lord of the Rings was the sequel.
3. Ghost sequel: before the sequel to The Hobbit became The Lord of the Rings it was another story altogether, the first two thirds of which are found in Return of the Shadow, edited by Christopher Tolkien. This project reconstructs this lost sequel, which starred Tom Bombadil and Bingo, the hobbit who vanished.
4. Fairy-elements: A pivotal lecture of 1939, written up in 1943, On Fairy-stories (1947) is the theoretical bridge between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Widely quoted but never understood.
5. Mirror: This is where I began: a monograph on the magic of The Lord of the Rings put on hold when a search for foundations generated the projects above and this index. An account of the war of the Ring as sequel to two stories: The Hobbit and ‘The Fall of Númenor’, passing through the linguistic workshop of ‘On Fairy-stories’, and bursting out of the ‘ghost sequel’ in Autumn 1939, just as Britain declared war on Germany.
Index: an index (in preparation) of hidden agencies in the great index of Middle-earth.
Simon J. Cook