Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
As you know, in May this year J R R Tolkien’s translation of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf was finally published. This beautiful volume, edited by Christopher Tolkien, also includes commentary on the poem and the task of translating it (taken from the Professor’s own lectures); J R R Tolkien’s own Old English poem, ‘Sellic Spell’ (in both the Anglo Saxon and modern English); and a poem ‘The Lay of Beowulf’, again written by the Professor.
As someone who studied Old English and Middle English at University, and having read both Beowulf and Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I had long been curious about the Professor’s Beowulf translation. It’s been a long wait for this text to be published – and it doesn’t disappoint!
The first thing one notices about the book is what a lovely edition it is. A black hardback with gold lettering on the spine, the book has a paper jacket, which features three of Tolkien’s own illustrations – including on the front a beautiful green dragon, curled like knotwork and delicately coloured. This image and the lettering on the front and spine, in white and gold, are raised – a nice touch which adds to the luxurious feel of this book. (If you want to go REALLY luxurious, Harper Collins, Tolkien’s publishers in Europe, have a special slipcase edition. As I think this is a text to which I will want to refer again and again, I may start saving my pennies for that edition…)
As ever, Christopher Tolkien’s Preface and Notes are helpful and insightful. In the Preface, he addresses the issues of translation: how does one choose the right word to capture all the nuance and implication of a word in another language? There are always multiple options; which one gives the best ‘feel’ of the original? Judging from J R R Tolkien’s lectures, this was something he pondered – and changed his mind about! – over the years, and as such he came back to and edited his translation. Christopher has done his best to put together the ‘final’ version, but as he writes, the text is ‘in one sense complete, but at the same time evidently ‘unfinished”. The interesting notes provided illuminate any question marks over word choices.
Christopher also points out another of the inherent difficulties in preparing such a volume for publication. In the Preface, he quotes from one of his father’s letters to Rayner Unwin, with regard to the publication of the translation of Sir Gawain:
- ‘I am finding the selection of notes, and compressing them, and the introduction, difficult. Too much to say, and not sure of my target. The main target is, of course, the general reader of literary bent but with no knowledge of Middle English; but it cannot be doubted that the book will be ready by students, and by academic folk…’
This difficulty of target audience, however, turns out not to be an issue for the volume Christopher Tolkien has put together here; it is neatly arranged so as to be easy for the reader to take from it what he or she wishes. If you are only interested in reading Beowulf in modern English, so be it; if you are curious about Tolkien’s notes, they are there for you; if you want to see how J R R Tolkien crafted a poem in Anglo-Saxon, you can read his ‘Sellic Spell’ in Old English – but it’s there in modern English, too. Thus this volume can appeal to academics and ‘lay’ readers alike. (My only slight disappointment is that it does not include the AS Beowulf side by side with Tolkien’s translation; but that extra content would perhaps be superfluous, and certainly it would make the volume rather more weighty!)
The translation itself is in prose – but with an extraordinary sense of the rhythm and shape of the Anglo-Saxon verse. As Christopher writes (in the Introduction), ‘…my father, as it seems to me, determined to make a translation as close as he could to the exact meaning in detail of the Old English poem, far closer than could ever be attained by translation into ‘alliterative verse’, but nonetheless with some suggestion of the rhythm of the original.’ To my ear, Tolkien’s version has a strong feeling of the verse shapes; the two phrase pattern of Old English poetry seems very much to inform the structure of his sentences, and there is a beautiful musicality to the shape of the language. This occasionally means that the syntax is a little complicated, and one needs to read the line aloud to work out the exact meaning – but this is no bad thing. Beowulf is a poem which is meant to be spoken aloud – and I think this translation would be wonderful as a bedtime story!
(Tolkien’s detailed, prose translation is a great companion to Seamus Heaney’s verse translation; the two translations together shed much light on the scope, the energy and the feel of the original Anglo-Saxon poem.)
I haven’t yet read all of the other content of this publication. I’m excited to discover ‘Sellic Spell’: it is referred to on the book’s fly leaf as ‘a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folktale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the northern kingdoms.’ This makes me wonder if it ties in to Tolkien’s desire to create a English mythology; perhaps this is his version of a specifically English (rather than Danish or Norse) telling of the tale of Grendel and his vanquisher.
‘The Lay of Beowulf’ consists of two poems in ballad form, telling the same stories of the monster and the hero. Tolkien himself had noted, of these texts, ‘Intended to be sung’ – and charmingly, Christopher writes that he remembers ‘his singing this ballad to me when I was seven or eight years old.’ What a delight – again, these poems would make excellent bedtime reading!
I have yet to discover fully all the joys of this publication, but so far it is proving to be a magical and enthralling read. You don’t have to be an Anglo-Saxon scholar to enjoy this book (though you won’t be disappointed by it if you are!): if you’re a fan of Tolkien; if you are fascinated by Old English; if you just enjoy a good tale of monsters and battles – you should get your hands on a copy.
[J R R Tolkien Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary is published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and in Europe by Harper Collins. You can order it from Amazon - click here.]
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Shop, Tolkien
The long-awaited Tolkien translation of Beowulf is out now. So, if you haven’t pre-ordered, you should be able to wander into your favourite bookstore and grab yourself a copy (or just head to Amazon.
Edited by Christopher Tolkien, Beowulf includes the translation in prose plus an illuminating commentary, based on a series of lectures given by J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford in the 1930s. (more…)
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, Headlines, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Our friends at Weta Workshop have a couple of new books for fans to add to their collections. The first book is the next in the Chronicles series, which gives you a great inside look at the task of bringing the many costumes, armour, and weapons that were needed to bring The Hobbit Trilogy to life. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles – Cloaks and Daggers does just that, but it doesn’t just cover the second film, it also covers the many designs needed in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If you pre-order the book right now you can get it signed by some of the folks who helped bring these films to the big screen!
The second release Weta has for fans is an amazing looking two book set covering the 20 years they have been helping to bring films to life. This inside look is brimming with never-before-seen content covering films such as; The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy, Avatar, King Kong, District 9, and much more. You can get The Hobbit Art Book for $39 and Weta: The Art of Film Magic – 20 Years of of Weta for $99.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Weta Collectibles, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop
Fans have been asking and we can finally announce the availability of the TORN Book Club shirt, designed by Eeva Nikunen
Pre-order the brand new, custom designed t-shirt from TheOneRing.net and avoid the lines! This shirt was created specifically for our TORn Bookclub live show, hosted by Sarumann. This whimsical design incorporates all the best things about Tolkien’s rich world and comes on a 100% pre-shrunk cotton, cream colored shirt.
We sold out most conventions last year and wanted to give everyone the opportunity to get a Con shirt.
NOTE: This is for PICK UP only at WonderCon Anaheim. Currently NOT AVAILABLE FOR SHIPPING.
It will go on sale for non-attendees at a later date. Fear not!
TORN Book Club T-Shirt 100% Pre-Shrunk Cotton
Editor’s note: pre-ordering is now closed.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Clothing, Clothing, Conventions, Merchandise, Shop, TheOneRing.net Community, WonderCon
Following on from staffer Kili’s post, here’s the official word from UK publisher Harper Collins on the upcoming release of Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf. The Harper Collins article contains comment from Tolkien’s son, Christopher, on how he has gathered, along side his father’s translation of the Old English poem, text from lectures given at Oxford by J R R Tolkien. These show his fascination for Beowulf, Grendel and, in particular, the lure and power of treasure – which of course we see reflected in The Hobbit, in Thorin’s struggles against, as Richard Armitage has called it, ‘gold lust’.
This new publication will also contain Sellic Spell, ‘a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the Northern kingdoms.’ This further insight into Tolkien’s desire to create English native myth, unadulterated by Norse or Germanic legends, is an exciting prospect. Fans of Tolkien, of Anglo-Saxon, and of legendary battles, will be able to get their hands on this edition of Beowulf from 22nd May.
Read the full article from Harper Collins here, and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US Publisher) version here.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, Headlines, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Starting a couple of months ago, Steven Umbrello began work on an immense project. What you see before you, in the pictures on this page, is an illuminated manuscript of the first part of Professor Tolkien’s The Lay of the Children of Hurin from The Lays of Beleriand.
Having been in love with the tales of Middle-earth since he was a child, as well as being a collector of books, Steven was determined to complete this work. Over the past couple of months, he has been toiling away: writing by hand, illustrating, painting, binding – all while keeping readers of his blog The Leather Library updated on his progress.
What has resulted from his efforts is an incredible achievement. Steven is quick to point out that this is the first time he’s done something artistic of this nature, but you’d be hard pressed to believe him. Needless to say, his work here impressed us mightily – and it’s a testament to his passion and dedication. (more…)
Posted in Books, Christopher Tolkien, Creations, Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, Miscellaneous, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien
As we told you a while back, our friends from Weta Workshop have another amazing book detailing The Hobbit Trilogy up for pre-order. Now, we get to see what the cover of the book will look like, which is a great shot of Smaug and Bilbo having their conversation inside Erebor. This book will go behind the scenes to show us the work that went into briging to life the best dragon fans have ever seen on the big screen Smaug the Terrible. Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon is packed with exclusive images and amazing insights by the talented artists at Weta Digital. You can pre-order Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon right now from Weta’s website for $19.99 with it shipping in April of this year.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
At the start of December and all through the month, we teamed up with HarperCollins for a contest to win five copies of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Art & Design signed by Evangeline Lilly. All the entries have now been counted and we’re ready to announce the lucky winners that will be getting one of these wonderful books shipped to their homes. The winners are: Mervi M. of Finland, Nathan K. of London, Marissa O. of Tom Rivers, NJ, Rob D. of Panama City, FL, Abbott A. of Norfolk, VA. Congratulations to all of the winners and we hope you enjoy your really cool prize! We also want to thanks our friends at HarperCollins Publishers for teaming up with us.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Evangeline Lilly, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Due to be released
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Daniel Falconer, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, MGM, Miscellaneous, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Production, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien, Warner Bros., WETA Digital, WETA Workshop
on April 1 (no, not an April fools joke), the new book Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon comes from the same wonderful team behind the three The Hobbit: Chronicles books. This release will be 96 pages, exploring the creation of the title character of the second Hobbit film from concept art to digital realization. Final cover art is not yet available, but you can order the book on Weta’s website as well as Amazon.com and other online book stores. (more…)
Thanks to all who entered our competition to win the complete set of new Hobbit publications from Harper Collins. We had thousands of entries – but alas, only four people could win, picked at random from all the correct answers. Congratulations to Karen in America, Asimakis in Greece, Liudmila in Russia and Teresa in America!
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Collectibles, Contests, Events, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
We have a pretty fantastic contest lined up for you the fans starting today! We’re pleased to announce that thanks to our friends at HarperCollins Publishers we will be giving away not one but FIVE copies of the amazing art book by Weta Workshop for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This amazing art book is filled to the brim with great images of what it took to bring this movie to life. The cherry on top of the goodness that will be inside for the five lucky fans though is that Evangeline Lilly aka Tauriel has graciously signed these five copies. So not only do you get a great art book but you get one of the fine actors who worked on these movies signature. This contest will run from today through midnight PST on New Year’s Eve. Please when you fill out this form you must include your name, address, email address, and a phone number.
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Collectibles, Collectibles, Evangeline Lilly, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
To the Death – Eowyn and Nazgul
Rare and Unique Items from Greg and Tim Hildebrandt Available Now!
Back in the 1970′s Greg and Tim Hildebrandt created 3 Tolkien themed calendars for Ballantine Books, beginning around the time of the 25th anniversary of the publishing of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. During this resurgence of popularity for Tolkien’s collective works, those calendars provided an entire generation’s vision of Middle-earth and all the characters within. Since the release of those calendars, very few alternative versions of those images have been available outside of the calendars and a few art books. Greg and Tim were always very particular about the quality of how their art was showcased. That is all changing, much of this work is now being released in multiple formats that meet with Greg’s exacting standards. (more…)
Posted in Artwork, Books, Books Publications, Calendar, Calendars, Calendars, Characters, Collectibles, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, LotR Books, Miscellaneous, Other Merchandise, Posters Prints, Return of the King, Shop, The Hobbit, The Two Towers, Tolkien