Nov 26 2021, 11:41pm
Can you or Voronwe comment on,
1. What the 'Chronology' is focused on or includes, that readers have not see before from Tolkien or his various editors and critics.
2. Where this manuscript has been for all these years, and how and why it is finally being published with full scholarly regalia?
3. How many more works from the Prof's own hand remain to be published - or, contrarily, are known to exist but will not likely be published in our lifetimes (I'm thinking of his diary and more private letters, for starters, but what else might there be?).
1) The Chronology (Tolkien's heading for the manuscript), is- well, I'll here to save labor just pirate my own post on another forum: This is the third and last of the 'synoptic' time-schemes Tolkien made, in other words using parallel columns to keep track of his various groups of characters. They wind up looking something like calendar pages, grids of boxes. This version, which I have dubbed S3, postdates the completion of the story. That fact I think is important in understanding its nature- it's not a 'working' document, in which we can see him developing his ideas as with the drafts in HME, but more in the nature of a 'reference' document like the Appendices, of which impulse it really was a part, although it was not I believe intended for publication but rather as groundwork for published material.
The first two pages (one leaf), written on 13-inch lined paper in the normal manner, are a linear time-scheme of the story from Hobbiton to the entry into Lorien. The next six (three leaves) use the same paper but are oriented landscape-fashion and divided into columns for the dramatis personae (these change constantly as needed), with a row for each date, January 15 through March 7. The next page, the ninth, followed suit; but it dissolved into a welter of alterations, strikethroughs, insertions, directional arrows and ultimately became such a chaotic mess that Tolkien discarded it (it was found separately in the archives) and replaced it. From this point he used blank pages from exam booklets, his usual medium for drafting. As so often, what had started as a "final" copy had become mere rough work. (It's also possible though that he simply ran out of the other paper!). The new pages 9-11 continue the multicolumn time-scheme through the fall of Sauron on March 25. The verso of 11 was left blank (for now), and 12-14 return to portrait linear mode, there being no need for multiple columns, until Sam's return to Bag End on 6 October 1421. At some time, I am inclined to think much later in around 1954 while working on 'The Great Years,' Tolkien jotted some Appendix B-style entries on the back of p.11, all concerned with global events after the fall of the Dark Tower.
There then follow far more than 15 pages of my own blathering about the above, and an ungodly number of footnotes. The blathering actually covers much more than just this document, because I found myself for better or worse describing the development of all three 'synoptic' chronologies, and their interrelationship to the development of the narrative itself. This applies even to S3: although the story was 'finished,' making S3 caused Tolkien to completely overhaul the week leading up to the Pelennor, and accordingly rewrite all the many, many threads converging on Minas Tirith.
And then there's the matter of converting his calendar post facto from our modern calendar to Shire Reckoning.......
Since it's a detailed if laconic record of what everyone was up to during the period of the story, including allies and enemies, it is especially valuable in giving events occurring "offstage," many of which are not mentioned in the book at all.
2) Up until the mid-1990s, it was in Christopher Tolkien's possession. After the completion of The History of Middle-earth, he donated a great trove of material relating to The Lord of the Rings to Marquette, to which his father had sold the manuscript in the 50s; CT felt that at least morally if not legally the entirety of the Lord of the Rings papers should be included, and at any rate belonged together.
Why not published until now? Well, in the first instance because nobody had bothered to do it. To that then add my own dilatoriness, distraction, and sloth: my writing process is something like Tolkien's himself's, fits and starts separated by long hiati. Also, although it was finished 13 months ago the process of turning a manuscript into print grinds slowly. My greatest regret is that, due to my dithering, Christopher was never able to see it finished.
3) A very large quantity. Marquette alone has boxes upon boxes of unpublished papers, and what the Bodleian has is much larger than that. CT only published such manuscripts or excerpts from them as he needed to tell his history within the compass of a dozen rather thick volumes, but there is many times that not printed. In fact, there is much material CT never had time to study in detail, or in some cases to decipher (with JRRT's handwriting, deciding to decode some passages represents a major commitment!) In other words, there is enough material there to keep textual scholars busy for decades, assuming such people still exist in the coming years. Christopher is gone, but I don't think we should leave the trail he blazed unfollowed.