The Lord of The Rings is often erroneously called a trilogy, though it is not so. It is a single novel, consisting of six books plus appendices (important part) which is sometimes published in three volumes.
I know it is a masterpiece, but I will agree with myself when I shall complete reading it(only a few hundred pages are left, plus the indexes and appendices. They are also an important part of the book. I also like to daydream with those maps of The Middle Earth for few minutes). All the three volumes. No its a single novel.
All three volumes were published in just more than one year, in 1954 The Fellowship of the Ring, then in last months of 1954 the second volume got published, The Two Towers and the last volume with much of pain suffered by Tolkien in indexing and correcting the errors for the past two volumes, in 1955 came the third The Return of the King.
It is just not a masterpiece, it is ‘IT’ because it is well written and a lot of hard work had been done by the author himself to make it a masterpiece. The book has gone through many revised editions due to the errors, printer’s errors, publishers, compositor’s mistakes including dwarves(later corrected to dwarf), elvish(later corrected to elfish),further(later corrected to farhter), and worst of all to Tolkien, elven(later corrected to elfin). In a work such as The Lord Of the Rings, delicacy matters and delicacy is what binds the reader to the book not till he is reading, but for life long. Delicacy what makes a reader thinks that it is a certain masterpiece and thus delicacy comes from the peculiar Tolkien. If he hadn’t taken any pain in correcting those continual errors it would still had been a masterpiece, maybe, but not for the author.
A book which is lived and loved by its author, it is lived and loved by the reader.
And with this thought, Tolkien died in 1973. His third son, Christopher Tolkien, a literary executor, sent for additional corrections of misprints to the editors after his father’s death.
Rayner Unwin, who has been for much of his life Tolkien’s publisher, has reminisced that as a child he was told, “that University Presses would pay five pounds to anyone who detected a printer’s error in one of their authorized Bibles”. “I have never heard of anyone who earned this fortune, but I have often imagined an equivalent reward being offered three centuries after the first publication of The Lord of the Rings. It would take at least long to achieve typographical perfection.”
It may indeed.
For those who are interested in the gradual evolution of The Lord of the Rings must try reading Christopher Tolkien’s The History of the Middle Earth:The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring and Sauron Defeated.