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Letter 227

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 227
RecipientMrs. E.C. Ossen Drijver
Date5 January 1961
Subject(s)Discussing Númenor, work on The Silmarillion

Letter 227 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Summary

Númenor, shortened from Númenórë, was his own invention, said Tolkien. It was a compound of numē-n, "going down" (NDŪ, NU), sunset, West, and nórë "land, country". The legends of Númenórë were background for The Lord of the Rings. They were his own version of the Atlantis legend, not based on special knowledge but with the tradition of culture-bearing men from the Sea.

Tolkien said that C.S. Lewis was a very old friend and that it was his encouragement that induced him to eventually finish The Lord of the Rings. He had heard all of it read aloud but never saw it in print until after his trilogy was published. His Numinor was derived by ear from Tolkien's name.

He was under contract, said Tolkien, to prepare for publication the mythology and stories from the First and Second Ages. It had not been deemed publishable until the surprising success of The Lord of the Rings. However, The Silmarillion had no hobbits, little fun or earthiness, but much grief and disaster. It ought to satisfy the critics who claimed, falsely, that in The Lord of the Rings "everyone was happy ever after" – if they deigned to notice it.

See also