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Tolkien Notes 3

December 31, 2012
Addenda and Corrigenda

We posted to our website this evening new addenda and corrigenda for J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Chronology and Reader’s Guide), The Lord of the Rings (50th anniversary edition), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, and Roverandom, thirteen web pages altogether.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Before Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring was released twelve years ago, we watched its trailers and read advance magazine and newspaper articles, and genuinely hoped it might be a good adaptation, or at least a good film. It was neither. Even so, we saw The Two Towers and The Return of the King as well, because as Tolkien scholars we felt that we might be asked to comment about them, and we were. Now the first of the Hobbit films is upon us, but this time we’re staying home. The many trailers and clips and podcasts for An Unexpected Journey made it clear enough, and most of the reviews have confirmed, that it’s a bloated, loud, violent indulgence by Jackson and co. For our readers who have seen An Unexpected Journey and liked it, we’re happy for you. For us, it would be certain discomfort and a waste of fifteen dollars (2D at matinee). So no, thank you.

The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Heaven knows why our book has become unavailable on Amazon U.S. this evening. It’s marked ‘item under review’: only temporarily, we hope. A while ago, its sales rank among books on Amazon U.S. was in the 500s – very satisfying. Some of Tolkien’s Hobbit pictures were included (with scenes from That Film) on a PBS NewsHour web page on 14 December; some have gone a little garish. The Art of The Hobbit has been noticed also in other media, including the Boston Globe on 12 December. We found a reference to the art of The Hobbit as well on the Oxford University website, on a page dated 13 December – not about our book, but referring to a podcast by Judith Priestman of the Bodleian Library, who is responsible for the Tolkien papers and who recorded her thoughts on Tolkien as an artist in connection with World Book Day in 2010. (There are now eight podcasts about Tolkien on the Oxford site.) We don’t know what’s become of our interview with Sirius/XM’s Kim Alexander, but will report any news that comes our way.

For all of our readers: our best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, and fulfilling New Year.

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5 Comments
  1. Andrew Wells permalink
    January 1, 2013 4:29 am

    Anda very Happpy New Year to you, Wayne and Christina!

  2. Gian Pietro Basello permalink
    January 1, 2013 5:06 pm

    I read your post this morning (January 1st) and it was a really good way to start the new year… Thanks (also for the tireless work on the addenda and corrigenda) and happy new year from Italy

  3. January 2, 2013 11:54 pm

    I have a question that I don’t know where else to submit; a blog comment doesn’t seem the proper place to post a mostly-unrelated question.

    Nonetheless, I have an issue that is troubling me, and I presume that Wayne and Christina would be the ones who could point me in the right direction.

    On p. 1033 of the 50th Anniversary Edition (slipcase hardcover) of ~The Lord of the Rings,~ Footnote 1 says that the references to ~The Hobbit~ in the Appendices are to the hardback 4th (reset 4th edition (1995)) edition of ~The Hobbit.~

    However, I can find no such edition. The Tolkien Library (http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/booksbytolkien/hobbit/editions.htm) lists a 1995 “First Printing of the Reset ‘Fifth UK Edition’.” Is this what is intended? Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16301363-the-hobbit) lists what looks like the same edition as the “7th reprint of HarperCollins edition of 1991.”

    Is this the proper edition? And if so, is the page numbering the same as in the current printing with that cover (http://www.amazon.com/The-Hobbit-J-R-R-Tolkien/dp/0618968636/ref=tmm_hrd_title_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1357185166&sr=1-1)?

    • January 4, 2013 8:43 am

      Thanks for your questions, Jim. The Hobbit is the most bibliographically challenging of Tolkien’s works, and has been reset and reissued so many times that it’s now impractical to think of it in terms of numbered editions. Even its publishers can’t keep them straight. For instance, Allen & Unwin, Tolkien’s main (British) publisher (later Unwin Hyman, now HarperCollins), issued a ‘fourth (school) edition’ in 1972, which was mostly still the setting of the ‘third edition’ of 1966, but then another ‘third edition’ in 1974 though it had enough alteration to qualify as a new edition, a ‘reset (new edition)’ in 1975, a ‘fourth edition’ in 1978, a ‘reset third paperback edition’ in 1979, etc., etc.

      By the time the 1995 edition was published, it was hardly a ‘4th edition’, and in fact isn’t called that on its copyright page (we should make an added annotation about this for our Reader’s Companion). There the ‘Fourth edition’ is stated as published in 1978, while the present edition is ‘Published by HarperCollinsPublishers 1995 . . . This edition has been reset and the illustrations re-originated’. Nor is it called a ‘Fifth UK Edition’ as the Tolkien Library list has it. ISBNs aren’t always reliable, but in this case you would want ISBN 0-261-10328-8. Another distinguishing feature is a ‘Note on the Text’ by Douglas A. Anderson, dated 7 December 1994. On Neil Holford’s useful Tolkien Books site, the reference is here.

      The edition for which you give an Amazon link is later (2007), and although it says that its text is ‘based on that published by HarperCollins Publishers in 1995′, it’s a different setting, with different pagination. Among American editions, the only one comparable in pagination to the HarperCollins 1995 setting is the Houghton Mifflin trade paperback, ISBN 0-618-00221-9, this one on Amazon.

      The text of the 1995 HarperCollins edition includes corrections, which is why it was used for citation in Appendix A (not by us; this work pre-dated the 50th anniversary edition). In 2001, however, further corrections were made, and the text reset once again: this has come out in several formats, and likewise has different pagination.

      We hope this helps!

  4. Jere Markkanen permalink
    January 16, 2013 3:27 pm

    Happy New Yeart to you Wayne and Christina (even though I might be a bit late…)! It’s always a pleasure to read your blog.

    I have to comment because of what you mentioned of Petter Jackson’s Tolkien movies. I have to join your opinnion about the Lord of the Rings movies. They were rough, giddy, even mercurcial and most importantly I didn’t find myself enjoying them. That is the definition of a good movie for me (for example I love American movies from the 1940’s, like Citizen Kane and such, but I can’t stand the Finnish equivalents because they are just full of stupid humour and shabby characters).

    But for some strange reason I did find the first Hobbit movie entertaining. Of course there were parts that irritated me quite a lot and it was clear from the beginning that this movie was directed by the same Jackson. Still, I was positively surprised with the movie and I have to say it was in a way “a visual masterpiece” if you allow me to use such expression.

    Hopefully the two forthcoming movies won’t be a disappointment but at least I can say that the first one was a real surprise.

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