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Archive for the ‘Christopher Tolkien’ Category

The many faces of Thranduil

Elvenking Thranduil In our latest Library piece, TORn feature writer Tedoras delves deep into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth to examine what we really know about Thranduil, the Sindarin lord of Mirkwood — a realm largely populated by Silvan elves. How does this make him different? What were the big influences in his political vision for his people? What, in essence, makes him tick?

It’s good stuff, and inadvertently, it’s almost a companion piece to my own musings on Thranduil’s strongest character traits from earlier this year.

Enjoy! (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Tolkien

A complete history of Tolkien and video games

jrr-tolkiens-the-lord-of-the-rings-vol-ii-the-two-towers_3.0In 1982, Beam Software and publisher Melbourne House brought Tolkien’s world to computers with a text adventure based on The Hobbit. (An emulator of the ZX Spectrum version is available to play online.)

Back then, the original licensor — in this case the Tolkien Estate itself, or Tolkien Enterprises (now Middle-earth Enterprises) — would allow licensees to sometimes resell the license. It appears that at this time the animated films shared a license with the first round of video games.

Enthusiasm for Tolkien adaptations ramped up in the wake of the 1980 animated film The Return of the King, based on the final book in Tolkien’s trilogy. Following Beam’s text adventure, developer Interplay Productions turned over an in-production fantasy role-playing game, changing the theme to a Lord of the Rings adaptation. Writer Jennell Jaquays, now the owner of Dragongirl Studios, said she was hired by Interplay to write background and some “adventuring” for the RPG.

All of this is according to author Alexa Ray Corriea for Polygon.com. You can read the entire article right here. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Collectibles, Gaming, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Merchandise, The Hobbit, Tolkien

Jackson muses on his Middle-earth exit

HobbitFreemanJacksonAW-620x349 Fairly wide-ranging interview from Deadline with Peter Jackon conducted around the time of the San Diego Comic-Con.

It actually contains little that’s new: the fact that The Dam Busters film is still on the cards will be of interest to war-buffs who remember the 1955 original. And apparently Jackson and Mortensen have chatted about those 3D comments that Viggo made to press a couple of months back, too. Something something misquote. Supposedly.

Anyway, here’s the meatiest bit of the entire interview about The Hobbit: (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, PJ's Other Films, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate, Warner Bros.

Regarding Aragorn: a matter of age

Eowyn and Aragorn by Alan Lee.

Eowyn and Aragorn by Alan Lee.

Over the years J.R.R. Tolkien corrected a number of typographical errors and inconsistencies within The Lord of the Rings. The 50th anniversary edition, released in 2004 and overseen by Christopher Tolkien, remains the most recent such revision.

In this TORn library article Barliman chatter and Hall of Fire regular Puma examines one error regarding Aragorn’s age that was actually introduced in the transition to the revised editions, and has seemingly remained unnoticed ever since.

 


The tale of one word

The Lord of the Rings is a complex book with just as complex a history. Through all the revisions there is one error in the appendices that has persisted even into the 50th anniversary edition, which is the most correct version we have. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Return of the King, The Two Towers, Tolkien

An awesome colour-rendering of the realms of Beleriand from The Silmarillion

This may just be the coolest Tolkien-related map you’ll see today. This week, even. The ultimate source is maps from the History of Middle-earth in Volume XI: The War of the Jewels (which is, incidentally, based on those in Volume V: The Lost Road and other Writings).

Awesome work.

Click the image to view an embiggened version.

(more…)

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

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

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

The long-awaited Tolkien translation of Beowulf is out now!

Beowulf 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

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

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