Report on The Lost Road
 by Allen & Unwin, 17 December 1937

 

A brief but perceptive report on The Lost Road, dated 17 December 1937, was submitted by a person unknown invited by Allen and Unwin to read the text. It is to be remembered that the typescript that had been made [by A&E; Tolkien had submitted a manuscript] extended only to the beginning of the fourth chapter -- and also, of course, that at this time nothing concerning the history of Middle-earth, of the Valar and Valinor, had been published. The reader described it as 'immensely interesting as a revelation of the personal enthusiasms of a very unusual mind', with 'passages of beautiful descriptive prose'; but found it 'difficult to imagine this novel when completed receiving any sort of recognition except in academic circles.' Stanley Unwin, writing to my father on 20 December 1937, said gently that he had no doubt of its being a succes d'estime, but while he would 'doubtless want to publish it' when complete, he could not 'hold out any hope of commercial success as an inducement to you to give the finishing of it prior claim upon your time.'

 -- from p. 108, The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-earth Part V), edited by Christopher Tolkien, 1987.