Red Book of Westmarch
(redirection from Red Book)

Brief Description   
History of the Red Book of Westmarch   
Red Book of Westmarch and The Silmarillion   
Comments and Annotations   

Brief Description    

The large book written mainly by Bilbo, Frodo and Sam with a few additions and notes by others. The book contained Bilbo's adventures with Thorin in ThA 2941, an account of the War of the Ring and the events at the end of the ThirdAge as seen by the Hobbits (of the FotR). Attached were also three volumes of Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish" and a volume of genealogies and other Shire matters compiled by the descendants of Sam. Sam gave it to his daughter Elanor and it was kept by the Fairbairns in Westmarch.

Called also the RedBook (because of its red leather covers) and in Gondor "Red Book of the Periannath".

History of the Red Book of Westmarch    

Although the original RedBook has not been preserved, many copies were made, especially of the first volume, for the use of the descendants of the children of Sam. However the most important copy was the ThainsBook, made at the request of King Elessar, and was brought to him by Peregrin Took when he retired to Gondor in FoA 64. It was annotated and expanded in MinasTirith by the scholars of Gondor (many corrections, especially of names, words, and quotations in the Elvish languages were made, and an abbreviated version of those parts of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen which lie outside the account of the war was added).

An exact copy of the ThainsBook was made in Gondor by Findegil (the King's writer), probably at the request of the great-grandson of Pippin, and completed in ShR 1592 (FoA 172). It is the only copy that contains the whole of Bilbo's Translations from the Elvish and was later kept at the GreatSmials.

The ThainsBook was thus the first copy made of the RedBook and contained much that was later omitted or lost.

Red Book of Westmarch and The Silmarillion    

Another important fact about Findegil's copy:

But the chief importance of Findegil's copy is that it alone contains the whole of Bilbo's Translations from the Elvish. These three volumes were found to be a work of great skill and learning in which, between 1403 and 1418, he had used all the sources available to him in Rivendell, both living and written. But since they were little used by Frodo, being almost entirely concerned with the Elder Days, no more is said of them here.
The Lord of the Rings - Prologue

Robert Foster in his CompleteGuide says that

Quenta Silmarillion was no doubt one of Bilbo's Translations from the Elvish preserved in the Red Book of Westmarch.' The Ainulindalė and Valaquenta were closely associated with it
The Complete Guide to Middle-earth

Since in 1963 Tolkien had pondered in which way The Silmarillion could possibly be presented (c.f. Letters #247) and the part in the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings quoted above had been added 1966, Christopher Tolkien was led to conclude that this was, what his father had had in mind for The Silmarillion (and it seems he was confirmed in this by Foster's conclusion):

So also I have assumed: the 'books of lore' that Bilbo gave to Frodo provided in the end the solution: they were The Silmarillion. But apart from the evidence cited here, there is, so far as I know, no other statement on this matter anywhere in my father's writings;...
BoLT1 - Foreword

Though, in the event, as can be gathered from the Foreword of The Book of Lost Tales 1 Christopher Tolkien no longer seemed quite happy about this decision...

Comments and Annotations    


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