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Tolkien Notes 1

October 16, 2012

This is the first in a continuing series of brief notes on Tolkien matters, that is, when the subject doesn’t call for a longer post all to itself, or when we don’t have a lot to say about it.

The Art of The Hobbit

In time for the holidays, Publishers Weekly for 8 October includes The Art of The Hobbit among art books suitable for gifts. It’s exciting to see our book pictured next to the likes of a volume on one of our favourite artists, Caspar David Friedrich (but also James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters). However, the writer of the article, Michael Coffey, says not only that last month was the 100th anniversary of the first publication of The Hobbit – it is, of course, only 75 years since 1937 – but also that our ‘handsome hardcover . . . contains Tolkien’s 10 original black-and-white illustrations, two maps, and five color scenes he later painted’ – only! Taking up only the part of our blurb for The Art of The Hobbit which explains the art that was originally published in 1937–38, Coffey makes no mention of the dozens of other pictures included in our book.

The Art of The Hobbit is also mentioned in today’s issue of USA Today, in an over-the-top article by Deirdre Donahue.

Book Fairs and Talks

On Saturday, 27 October, at 11:00 a.m. we will be on a panel about The Hobbit at the Boston Book Festival together with Corey Olsen (Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit), sponsored by our shared publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Questions and answers will follow our respective presentations. The event will be free and open to the public, and will take place in the Hancock Room of the Boston Common Hotel. A schedule for the Festival may be found here.

On Thursday, 8 November, at 4:30 p.m. we will give a public talk, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien and the Art of Middle-earth’, at Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More information may be read here.

On Sunday, 18 November, once again we will be on a Hobbit panel with Corey Olsen, at the Miami Book Fair International at Miami-Dade College in Miami, Florida. The schedule has not been set as of this writing, but further information about the Fair may be found here.

An Illustrated Hobbit and 2014 Calendar

While cruising Tolkien listings on Amazon U.K., Christina came upon this for a new, deluxe edition of The Hobbit to be illustrated by Jemima Catlin (publication date 12 September 2013), and this for the 2014 Tolkien calendar (publication date 29 August 2013), also with pictures by Catlin. Who is Jemima Catlin? Presumably it’s the illustrator living and working in Dorset whose website is here (is the picture at far right meant to be Roverandom riding on Mew?), who says she’s ‘working on a major project’ and ‘likes’ HarperCollins on her Facebook page, but we haven’t seen any of her work before.

  1. Stephen Bridge permalink
    October 21, 2012 11:04 pm

    I’ve just been looking through The Art of the Hobbit and noticed an interesting difference between the black ink #10 The Hill and the colored #11 The Hill. In #10 there is a cross on the peak of the mill, which is gone on the colored version. Tolkien indicated that Middle Earth is pre-Christian or perhaps non-Christian, so perhaps he realized that a cross on a roof was out of place.

    I’m also reading Corey Olsen’s book, too. One of the best things about it is that it is accessible to middle school and high school students, and not filled with scholarly language that so much literary criticism is, I’m looking forward to sharing it with my 8th grade daughter.

    Steve Bridge

    • October 22, 2012 6:59 am

      The cross on the mill roof in the pen version of The Hill is a weathervane, so did not of itself have had any Christian significance; but no one can really say why Tolkien left it out in the watercolour. It’s interesting to wonder if, maybe, Tolkien was concerned that viewers would confuse the mill with a church, or if he felt that the weathervane (which is more obviously a weathervane in earlier versions of the picture) would be too obtrusive in the watercolour, or if he simply forgot to draw it. (Other elements were changed between the two finished versions as well.) Your comment also gets into the question of whether The Hobbit as first written was actually set in Middle-earth, which Tolkien explained as pre-Christian. Although The Hobbit borrows from ‘The Silmarillion’ here and there, Christopher Tolkien’s contention (with which we tend to agree) is that it was drawn into the matter of Middle-earth once its sequel came into being and was deliberately in the line of the mythology.

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