[to The Lord of the Rings]
This tale, which has grown to be almost a history of the great War of the Ring, is drawn for the most part from the memoirs of the renowned Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo, as they are preserved in the Red Book of Westmarch. This chief monument of Hobbit-lore is so called because it was compiled, repeatedly copied, and enlarged and handed down in the family of the Fairbairns of Westmarch, descended from that Master Samwise of whom this tale has much to say.
I have supplemented the account of the Red Book, in places, with information derived from the surviving records of Gondor notably the Book of the Kings; but in general, though I have omitted much, I have in this tale adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative of my original than in the previous selection from the Red Book, The Hobbit. That was drawn from the early chapters, composed originally by Bilbo himself. If 'composed' is a just word. Bilbo was not assiduous, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little.
The tale has been put into its present form in response to the many requests that I have received for further information about the history of the Third Age, and about Hobbits in particular. But since my children and others of their age, who first heard of the finding of the Ring, have grown older with the years, this book speaks more plainly of those darker things which lurked only on the borders of the earlier tale, but which have troubled Middle-earth in all its history. It is, in fact, not a book written for children at all; though many children will, of course, be interested in it, or parts of it, as they still are in the histories and legends of other times (especially in those not specially written for them).
I dedicate this book to all admirers of Bilbo, but especially to my sons and my daughter, and to my friends the Inklings. To the Inklings, because they have already listened to it with a patience, and indeed with an interest, that almost leads me to suspect that they have hobbit-blood in their venerable ancestry. To my sons and my daughter for the same reason, and also because they have all helped me in the labours of composition. If 'composition' is a just word, and these pages do not deserve all that I have said about Bilbo's work.
For if the labour has been long (more than fourteen years), it has been neither orderly nor continuous. But I have not had Bilbo's leisure. Indeed much of that time has contained for me no leisure at all, and more than once for a whole year the dust has gathered on my unfinished pages. I only say this to explain to those who have waited for this book why they have had to wait so long. I have no reason to complain. I am surprised and delighted to find from numerous letters that so many people, both in England and across the Water, share my interest in this almost forgotten history; but it is not yet universally recognized as an important branch of study. It has indeed no obvious practical use, and those who go in for it can hardly expect to be assisted.
Much information, necessary and unnecessary, will be found in the Prologue. To complete it some maps are given, including one of the Shire that has been approved as reasonably correct by those Hobbits that still concern themselves with ancient history. At the end of the third volume will be found also some abridged family-trees, which show how the Hobbits mentioned were related to one another, and what their ages were at the time when the story opens. There is an index of names and strange words with some explanations. And for those who like such lore in an appendix some brief account is given of the languages, alphabets, and calendars that were used in the West-lands in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Those who do not need such information, or who do not wish for it, may neglect these pages; and the strange names that they meet they may, of course, pronounce as they like. Care has been given to their transcription from the original alphabets, and some notes are offered on the intentions of the spelling adopted.* But not all are interested in such matters, and many who are not may still find the account of these great and valiant deeds worth the reading. It was in that hope that I began the work of translating and selecting the stories of the Red Book, part of which are now presented to Men of a later Age, one almost as darkling and ominous as was the Third Age that ended with the great years 1418 and 1419 of the Shire long ago.
*Some may welcome a preliminary note on the pronunciation actu¬ally intended by the spellings used in this history.
The letters c and g are always 'hard' (as k, and g in get), even before e, i, and f; ch is used as in Welsh or German, not as in English church.
The diphthongs ai (ae), and au (aw), represent sounds like those heard in brine and brown, and not those in brain and brawn.
Long vowels are all marked with an accent, or with a circumflex, and are usually also stressed. Thus Legolas has a short o, and is meant to be stressed on the initial syllable.
These remarks do not apply to the names of the Hobbits or their Shire, which have all been anglicized, for reasons later explained.
Почему Толкин отказался от этого предисловия и написал новое (к изданию 1965 года), понятно из его прямого указания: "This Foreword I should wish very much in any case to cancel. Confusing (as it does) real personal matters with the "machinery" of the Tale is a serious mistake" ("История Средиземья", т. 12, с. 26). В итоговом тексте Толкин-"переводчик" - фигура, явно присутствующая только в прологе, немногочисленных примечаниях и приложениях; биографии и жизненных обстоятельств он лишен. Здесь же и Инклинги - потомки хоббитов, и ныне живущие британские хоббиты оказывали консультации. Это - едва ли не последняя из череды попыток (начатых за тридцать лет до того в "Книге утраченных сказаний") непосредственно привязать историю Средиземья к истории Англии и личной биографии автора. Невозможность найти баланс между историей и мифом - одна из причин неоконченности "Сильмариллиона"; пожалуй, одна из самых важных.