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Archive for the ‘Other Tolkien books’ Category

Tolkien and the virtues of fairy-stories

9780007375288 In our latest Library piece, TORn feature writer Tedoras discusses 10 key excerpts from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous lecture On Fairy Stories.

In case you’ve never read it, On Fairy Stories (which Tolkien first delivered as a lecture in 1939) examines the fairy-story as a literary form, and explains Tolkien’s philosophy of what fantasy is, and how it ought to work. As Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson write in their introduction to the expanded 2008 reprint, On Fairy Stories is “[Tolkien's] most explicit analysis of his own art”.

 


The virtues of fairy-stories

By Tedoras

Professor Tolkien—as he was known then—was a very busy man in 1938. Not only was he beginning to develop what would become The Lord of the Rings, but he also delivered at this time one of his most famous lectures, titled “On Fairy-stories.” (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

Tolkien’s Beowulf – a review

BeowulfAs 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 CollinsYou can order it from Amazon - click here.]

Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Shop, Tolkien

TORn Message Boards Weekly Roundup – June 8, 2014

Balrog wings or notWelcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join the fun!

(more…)

Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie The Two Towers, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien

Which Silmarillion Character Are You?

MorgothAndFingolfinThis quizz came up on my Facebook feed yesterday, so just for fun, I thought I’d share it here with all of you.  The Silmarillion is my favourite of all of Tolkien’s books, so I was interested to see how it worked out.  I got Ëarendil :)

Let us know who you are in the Silmarillion via our comments section below or here on our Message Boards.

What Silmarillion Character Are You?

*And yes, I know it should be “Which”, but that’s how they wrote it on the site* Cheers Kel ;)

Posted in Creations, Fans, Headlines, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion

A list of the landmark novels in the history of Dark Fantasy

alan_lee_the children of hurin_the fall of nargothrond2 What folks call dark fantasy — that niche within fantasy of bloody tales full of morally grey people, supernatural forces and a distinct lack of happy endings — has become incredibly popular over the last few years.

But who are the progenitors of the dark fantasy movement? What are their key works?

Here’s a thought-provoking list from io9 of some of the landmark titles that have helped define dark fantasy. It contains some interesting entries.

One readers of Tolkien will certainly recognise is The Children of Hurin — a grim read if ever there was one. Beowulf and The Kalavela were also key inspirations for Tolkien. Victorian proto-fantasy author William Morris was too, although Tolkien’s letters cite influence from The House of the Wolflings and The Roots of the Mountains rather than Williams’ archaically-styled magnum opus The Well at the World’s End. (more…)

Posted in Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

John Garth reviews Tolkien’s Beowulf translation

Beowulf Tolkien scholar John Garth reviews Tolkien’s long-awaited translation of Beowulf (together with the short story Sellic Spell) in The New Statesman.


 

J R R Tolkien’s Beowulf: one man’s passion for the threshold between myth and reality

by John Garth

In his story “Leaf by Niggle”, J R R Tolkien imagines an artist painting a picture he can neither complete nor abandon. “It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots.” In the end the picture is never put on show. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

TORn Message Boards Weekly Roundup – May 18, 2014

Children of HurinWelcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week.  If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights.  Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards.  Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join the fun!

(more…)

Posted in Fans, Other Tolkien books, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien

Explore this great interactive map of lost Beleriand

A couple of weeks ago we revealed LOTRProject’s new interactive map of Middle-earth — complete with key dates, events and character movements for events of the Second Age and Third Age.

Now Emil Johannson has reached back into the events of the Elder Days of Middle-earth’s history, creating a similar interactive map that depicts the key events of the elves’ war against Morgoth on a map of Beleriand. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Creations, Fans, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien

Experiencing the Music of the Ainur

The Silmarillion and the birth of Middle-earth

As soon as you open your copy of The Silmarillion, you are faced with what is perhaps the most difficult chapter in all of the book.

Have you ever tried to image how the scene of the Music of the Ainur and the vision of the world, would unfold?

How is Tolkien’s highly-complex imagination perceived by you?

The following post presents a three-minute video with one fan’s outlook towards the Ainulindalë.

________________________________________________________________________

- Comprehending and Conceptualizing the Ainulindalë in the real world

Ever read Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova?

That passion. That love. All the emotions in just a few cleverly-constructed sentences.

Transform that text into music and you get Patrick Cassidy’s Vide Cor Meum; and you might just start to comprehend what the Music of the Ainur may have sounded like.

No discords of Melkor. At first.

Just all the Ainur signing in unison before the seat of Ilúvatar – the glory, the majesty, love and subtleties of nostalgia.

[Read More]

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Creations, Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien

Congratulations to our 2014 Middle-earth March Madness champion: Thranduil!

memadness2014-champion-fb The results are in! After three weeks of intense competition we can finally crown a winner! In the end, Thranduil — the Sindarin king of the Woodland Realm — has taken the crown in our 2014 Middle-earth March Madness contest!

We received more than 20,000 votes in the final, and Thranduil (Thrandy to his nearest and dearest?) soundly defeated his worthy opponent Legolas (aka Leggy) with 64.18% of those votes! I guess it is good to be king!

We’d like to thank you all for participating in this year’s event and hope you had a fun time discussing the finer points of your favourite Middle-earth characters and objects, regardless of whether you viewed the contests as a physical battle, a game of wits, or a popularity contest (all valid ways to vote!). It’s also a neat way to explore what makes these characters such interesting and vital parts of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

(more…)

Posted in Events, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Two Towers

Why Tolkien’s Beowulf translation is one of the best things to happen to literature

Beowulf There’s a lot of excitement floating round academic communities for J.R.R. Tolkien’s forthcoming Beowulf translation (which you can pre-order here) where the prevailing buzz seems to be “best thing since slices bread”. Here, writer Mabel Slattery outlines why.

EDIT: There is an error of fact within the article. Michael Drout did not actually re-discover Tolkien’s Beowulf translation.

I did not “discover” the Beowulf translation, not even in the sense that I found it in the Bodleian Library. This claim is a conflation of a story about one manuscript with information about a totally different text.

The real story is not quite as exciting.

You can read Drout’s explanation in full here.

Don’t forget to click the link to read the full article. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

TORn Message Boards Weekly Roundup – April 6, 2014

WizardsWelcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week.  If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards here’s a great way to catch the highlights.  Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions.  Watch this space as every weekend we well spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards.  Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join the fun!

(more…)

Posted in Fans, Hobbit Movie, Other Tolkien books, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien