The Fall of Númenor: Prof. Tolkien’s Reinvention of the Atlantis Myth
Then suddenly fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud; and all its gardens and its halls and its towers, its tombs and its riches, and its jewels and its webs and its things painted and carven, and its laughter and its mirth and its music, its wisdom and its lore: they vanished forever.
Before The Hobbit publication in 1937, Tolkien had only written stories set in his Middle-earth at the time that would afterwards become the First Age, the very Elder Days of his world, when legend still lived and walked the earth.
But while he was still working at The Hobbit, Tolkien accepted a writing challenge from his friend and colleague C.S. Lewis (who years afterwards wrote The Chronicles of Narnia) to write a story of fantastical voyages. Lewis was going to write about space travels, Tolkien about time travels.
Lewis wrote a novel that he then published in 1938 as Out of the Silent Planet, the first novel of a trilogy.
Tolkien wrote an entirely new story for his world, and while he never saw it published during his life, it became a crucial point in the history of Middle-earth. For the first time in almost twenty years, Tolkien stepped away from the Elder Days and devised a new situation: the Second Age of the world, his personal interpretation of the Atlantis myth.
Only decades later, his son Christopher published it posthumously as a part of The Silmarillion.
How Númenor looked from inside Middle-earth
Tolkien’s Middle-earth may appear as a fantastical world to the reader’s eyes, a place that never existed, inhabited by creatures like Elves and Dragons that…