The Chronology of the Lord of the Rings

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Voronwë the Faithful
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The Chronology of the Lord of the Rings

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Tolkien Studies has just published a special issue devoted entirely to a special work: "The Chronology of the Lord of the Rings" edited by William Cloud Hicklin contains a full transcript and commentary of Tolkien's notes as he worked out the timeline of the Lord of the Rings. Some here may remember Bill Hicklin as "solictr".

A digital download of the 130 page document is available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/48264
"Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from his halls; and their eyes could see to the depths of the seas, and pierce the hidden caverns beneath the world."
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Anduril
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Re: The Chronology of the Lord of the Rings

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More info
As some may be familiar, Tolkien worked on a synoptic time scheme chart while he was writing and revising the Lord of the Rings. This is a 14 document mostly arranged as a two dimensional grid showing what each character was doing on every day. A few pages have been reproduced in recent exhibitions, and Hammond and Scull quoted extensively from this document in their The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, but the work itself in full had never been published.

This book, edited by William Cloud Hicklin, includes a transcript of the full time scheme in grid form, notes and commentary, and a presentation of the draft material that led up to this timeline.

The book includes the following:

30 pages of introduction (15 by Hicklin, and 15 by other Tolkien scholars)
60 pages presenting the text of the time scheme with notes
60 pages of commentary on the development of the time scheme
It is being published by the journal Tolkien Studies as a special issue, and will likely slip under a lot of people's radar.

The book is currently available to purchase digitally from Project Muse for $20. Many universities have free access.

https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/48264

There will be a paperback edition published in September, included with a purchase of Tolkien Studies volume 19 for $60. There does not seem like there will be a way to buy it without buying TS19.

There does not seem to be a lot of great blurbs about this available online, so here are some quotes from the various introductions in the book.
Editors’ Introduction:

This special issue, published between our regular annual volumes, is entirely devoted to a single scholarly work: William Cloud Hicklin’s textual edition and commentary of “The Chronology of The Lord of the Rings.” The sheer size, as well as the importance, of this work suggested this special treatment of it. Our grateful thanks go to Mr. Hicklin for giving us the opportunity to add to the mosaic of Middle-earth this essential and heretofore missing piece. It is a look behind the scenes at the painstaking planning that went into one of the most salient features of Tolkien’s great work: that back-and-forth switching among interconnecting narratives which Richard C. West called its “interlace” structure. The word describes a medieval narrative device meant to mirror “the flux of events . . . where everything is happening at once” (West 79). Such attention to detail gives reality to a world, especially a fantastical sub-created one that has to command belief instead of relying on it.
David Bratman:

If allowance is made for the value and interest of this material as examples of studying Tolkien’s artistry, readers have enriching vistas before them. The chronology presented here, with extensive original commentary by William Cloud Hicklin, is among the Lord of the Rings papers donated by Christopher Tolkien to Marquette University in 1987, as a supplement to the manuscripts Marquette had acquired from J.R.R. Tolkien himself in the 1950s. Following Christopher Tolkien’s usage in The History of The Lord of the Rings, Hicklin labels this document as S3. It has also been consulted, referred to, and quoted from by various other scholars, particularly by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, who refer to it in their The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion as the Scheme. But until now it has never been published in full.

J.R.R. Tolkien created this chronology as the last in a series of increasingly elaborate comparative timelines intended to keep the various interlacing threads of The Lord of the Rings straight as the members of the Fellowship of the Ring scattered across the landscape at the end of Book II. The reader of the chronologies and of the drafts of the story that parallel them, as presented in The History of The Lord of the Rings, may perceive the methods the author used to construct his story. There is a behind-the-scenes, “man behind the curtain,” scaffolding under-construction air to much of this. Tolkien arranges events around the phases of the Moon, which was his principal organizational element for keeping the sequence of events straight. He adjusts the time lengths of journeys based on his estimates of how long it would take the characters to travel a given distance, sometimes even changing the date of departure so that the arrival would be at the desired moment. Nothing in Tolkien more closely gives the impression of an author moving his characters about like chess pieces than this. It was, however, all done in the service of art, to create a story that is effective in plot and emotional appeal in its finished version.
Verlyn Flieger:

[Tolkien’s] moment-by-moment Chronology, unpacked and explicated by Hicklin’s Commentary, gives the reader more than just an inside look at the structure that undergirds the surface of such a vast story, the nuts and bolts and supporting beams of the writer’s craft. Together the two elements—the Chronology and the Commentary—also open a hitherto unsuspected window that affords the reader a look into some of the most profound processes of the mythmaker’s art.
Michael D. C. Drout:

...I want to emphasize that the Chronology is important not merely because it can help resolve a puzzle or two, but because it demonstrates unequivocally that an essential feature of Tolkien’s creation of the famed “impression of depth” (M&C 27) was his treatment of his imagined world as a real place with the concomitant limits upon authorial invention. In the end, authors always have the power to write whatever they want—they can shrink or enlarge territory, violate laws of physics and fall back on a deus ex machina (feathery or otherwise) when stuck on a plot point. Tolkien could have done any of these things, but, as the Chronology demonstrates, he took account of physical and informational limitations far beyond the immediate demands of entertaining storytelling. We can marvel at both the level of detail and the effort to achieve absolute consistency in the Chronology while at the same time noting the ambiguities and apparent contradictions that remain in the text. And when we put these things together, we catch a glimpse of one of the ways The Lord of the Rings works its magic: the text (and all its para-texts) produces a powerful and compelling illusion that there is a truth to the story and its world that exists even beyond the mind of its creator.
William Fliss:

William Cloud Hicklin has provided the Tolkien scholarly community with a remarkable piece of scholarship, very much in the spirit of Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth. It builds upon that magnificent series by offering a coherent narrative of the chronology (“time map”) of The Lord of the Rings. For many years Mr. Hicklin corresponded with Christopher Tolkien, who encouraged him in his research. I would venture to say that if Christopher was alive, he would greet this publication with approbation.
He's been posting recently on the Barrow-downs Forum under his full name.
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Anduril
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Re: The Chronology of the Lord of the Rings

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