Visually interpreting the Silmarillion 

On my last read through of the Silmarillion, mostly on the beach on a mini-vacation, I noticed that certain passages really spoke to me visually. It’s not really surprising to me to have that be the case — Tolkien was a very visual writer, giving just enough detail to form a landscape or character, but leaving enough ambiguity to really capture the reader’s imagination.

So I decided that I would challenge myself to a back-to-back re-read of the Silmarillion, but this time sketching out the passages that invoke a particular image. This feat has been helped by the purchase of an iPad this semester, because one of my Anglo-Saxon books was only available as an e-book. I’ve been using the iPad mostly as a sketchbook after having devoured my Anglo-Saxon textbook over the course of an afternoon. It’s been a dream of mine for at least 12 years to have a functioning graphics tablet to sketch on, and although I haven’t yet hooked the iPad up to Photoshop on my computer (and I will eventually), I’ve been having fun doing quick sketches on it nonetheless.

 


 

“Behold your music! This is your minstrelsy;” — Silmarillion, Ainulindalië

Illuvatar showing the Ainur a vision of the product of their great music. Illuvatar is depicted in early Anglo Saxon garb and the Ainur as mere shadows in the glow of their first vision of Eä, shown as it would be during the first age.

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