Why did Tolkien fail to publish "The Silmarillion" during the eighteen years which followed the publication of "The Lord of the Rings"?
From: The Tolkien Less FAQ by William D.B. Loos
No definitive answer is possible, but a several serious obstacles can be listed. They included:
a) Technical difficulties. Tolkien's unmethodical habits of revision had made the manuscripts chaotic; it seemed impossible to make everything consistent. Characters introduced in LotR had to be worked in. Beyond these detailed questions, he contemplated many alterations, even to fundamental features of his mythology.
b) The problem of depth. In LotR, his references to the older legends of the First Age helped produce the strong sense of historical reality. In the Silmarillion, which told the legends themselves, this method wouldn't be available.
c) The problem of presentation. LotR had been basically novelistic, presenting the story sequentially from one character or another's point of view. But the Silmarillion was and was meant to be a bundle of tales which had more in common with the ancient legends he studied than with LotR. He feared that if he presented it as an annotated study of ancient manuscripts that probably many readers would have difficulty enjoying the tales as stories.
d) No Hobbits. He feared (correctly) that many people expected another "Lord of the Rings", which the Silmarillion could never be.
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