Lord of the Rings Comparison 2
In a previous post, we compared editions of The Lord of the Rings with corrected text issued between 2004 and February 2012 by HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), so that we could answer a recurring question: Which edition of The Lord of the Rings is the most accurate? We also wished to see if Tolkien’s primary British and American publishers had made further changes or corrections (as noted in our online addenda and corrigenda) since we edited The Lord of the Rings for its 50th anniversary in 2004–5. Since that earlier post, nearly three years ago, many more editions and printings have appeared, and as the question of an accurate text is still being asked, we thought that we should bring our findings up to date.
As before, Wayne has compared copies in our own collection and has classified them according to their respective typesettings, denoted as A, B, C, and (now) D. The list given below is revised and expanded from its earlier appearance, with hardback and paperback versions broken out for clarity, new versions added, and further information provided. The printings checked are internally marked as first impressions unless otherwise stated.
A1. HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin one-volume hardback (2004), deluxe (both) and trade (HarperCollins) (Tolkien Collector 27, pp. 9–10, 14).
A2. HarperCollins three-volume trade hardback (2005), with dust-jackets reproducing Tolkien’s designs (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 11). The preliminaries have different pagination relative to that in other ‘A’ copies.
A3. HarperCollins one-volume trade (B format) paperback (Tolkien Collector 27, pp. 10–11). The 1st printing (2005) is in predominantly gold-coloured wrappers. We also have the 40th and 51st printings (acquired in 2007 and 2014 respectively), in predominantly red-coloured wrappers.
A4. Houghton Mifflin one-volume trade hardback (2005), with cover art by Alan Lee. Wayne checked the 1st (2005) and 9th (2012?) printings (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 15; Tolkien Collector 33, p. 11); the latter has the Houghton Mifflin imprint on the title-page and binding spine, but identifies the publisher as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on the jacket spine.
A5. Houghton Mifflin one-volume trade paperback (2005), with cover art by Alan Lee. Wayne checked the 1st (2005) and 6th (2009?) printings (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 15; Tolkien Collector 29, p. 13).
A6. HarperCollins three-volume trade (B format) paperback (2011), in black wrappers with coloured spine panels (Tolkien Collector 33, p. 9).
A7. HarperCollins three-volume trade (B format) paperback (2012), with film tie-in covers. We have these volumes in a boxed set with The Hobbit (2013).
A8. Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt one-volume trade paperback (2012), with a film tie-in cover featuring the One Ring.
A9. HarperCollins three-volume hardback ‘collector’s edition’ (2013), bound in decorated cloth. We have these volumes in a boxed set with The Hobbit, similarly bound.
A10. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt one-volume trade hardback (2013), bound in grey suede.
A11. HarperCollins three-volume trade hardback (2014), with dust-jackets reproducing Tolkien’s designs. Both this edition and D1 were meant to include the same further corrections; A11, however, missed some of these and added at least two new errors:
On pp. xvi–xix, our note on the 50th anniversary edition is reprinted from 2004, though we submitted a slightly amended version. (The latter is correctly printed in D1.)
On p. 169, l. 7 from bottom, ‘Dear Frodo,’ (the opening of Gandalf’s letter) is still indented, but should be flush with the left margin.
On p. 170, l. 9, we had noted, in regard to the original 50th anniversary setting, that the first line of the poem (‘All that is gold does not glitter,’) should be indented, that is, brought to the left measure of the poem rather than set (with a standard paragraph indent) at the left measure of the larger text block. But the typesetter failed to see that this point had been corrected already in this edition, and indented the line still further, too far to the right.
For p. 1041, n. 1 (etc.), we had discussed issues with footnotes or parts of footnotes in Appendix A which needed to be within quotation marks, to indicate ‘extracts’ from annals or tales. The typesetter has misread this in regard to n. 1 on p. 1043: here, instead of an ‘extract’, followed by a comment not within quotation marks, followed by another extract, the comment has been enclosed in quotation marks, within a larger not in quotation marks. The note should correctly read, with all quotation marks as they should be printed: ‘The sceptre was the chief mark . . . with a silver fillet’ (p. 146; pp. 848, 861, 967). In speaking of a crown . . . Aragorn’s line. ‘The sceptre of Númenor . . . crowning of Aragorn.’
On p. 1100, the death date of Bingo Baggins still reads ‘1363’ but should be ‘1360’.
On p. 1136, l. 7, the name hámfœst (with an oe digraph) has not been corrected to hámfæst (with an ae digraph).
On p. 1137, l. 29, ‘butterflies to the falcon’ has not been corrected to ‘butterflies to the swift falcon’.
On p. 1173, index col. 2, entry for ‘Spiders’, the see also note should read ‘Shelob; Ungoliant’, with a semi-colon, but has been set instead with a comma.
B1. HarperCollins three-volume mass-market (A format) paperback (2005), in white wrappers (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 11).
B2. HarperCollins three-volume mass-market (A format) paperback (2007), in black wrappers (Tolkien Collector 27, pp. 11–12).
B3. HarperCollins three-volume trade (B format) paperback (2008), with cover and interior art by Alan Lee (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 12). Wayne checked both the first (2008) and third printings.
B4. HarperCollins three-volume mass-market (A format) paperback (2012), with film tie-in covers (Tolkien Collector 33, p. 10). We also have this (FR 1st, TT 7th, RK 5th printing) in a boxed set with The Hobbit.
C1. Houghton Mifflin three-volume trade paperback (2005), with cover art by John Jude Palencar, made for the young adult market (Tolkien Collector 27, p. 14).
D1. HarperCollins one-volume deluxe edition (2014), with cover and interior art by Alan Lee, issued in a plastic slipcase.
For each edition or printing, Wayne checked selected textual points or the presence or absence of particular features, such as the revised and expanded index. These are presented in detail in a separate document (pdf). We would be pleased to hear from anyone who has, or has seen, a later printing of any of these editions in which a reading differs from that in our analysis.
There are, then, four distinct HarperCollins or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt typesettings currently in print, and among those four are subsets with different textual readings. The text as first published in the 50th anniversary edition in 2004 (A1) was further corrected in reprints and changed formats, but not identically in each. (Granted that the derivations deserve to be described in more detail, ideally with a ‘genealogical chart’ to make the relations clearer. Wayne plans to include these in an article for The Tolkien Collector about the multiplicity of Lord of the Rings editions since 2004.)
On the HarperCollins side, A2 is corrected from A1; from this is derived, in one offshoot, A6 and A7, and in another, A9. A11 is partly corrected from A9, but adds errors. On the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt side, A4 and A5 are derived from A1, with a few corrections; A10 is derived from A4; the 6th printing of A5 has the correction ‘check copies’ on p. xx, but curiously in the 9th printing this has reverted to ‘check copied’, and from A5 is derived A8. In the B typesetting, B2 and B3 are separate offshoots of B1, and B4 is derived from B2. C1 and D1 are, so far, unique to themselves.
Of all of these, the new HarperCollins deluxe edition (D1) currently has the most accurate text, with all points noted to date. It is, however, reset, with new pagination, and therefore the page references in our Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (keyed to the A typesetting) do not directly apply. We understand that the remaining and new errors in A11, which retains the 50th anniversary edition pagination (and has been issued in an attractive boxed set with our Reader’s Companion), are to be corrected in a later printing.
Three recent editions of The Lord of the Rings do not use the corrected text and new index, but instead return to an earlier typesetting. These are, therefore, not included in this analysis. The 2012 HarperCollins slipcased reissue in seven trade paperback volumes (Tolkien Collector 33, pp. 10–11) contains the pre-50th anniversary setting used in their previous seven-volume edition (1999). The 2012 three-volume Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade paperback Lord of the Rings, which we have in a slipcase with The Hobbit (Tolkien Collector 33, p. 9), likewise repeats an uncorrected setting from 1999, with Douglas A. Anderson’s ‘Note on the Text’ dated April 1993; the wrappers are predominantly black with coloured spine panels, like A6 above. Finally, the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt leatherbound pocket edition of The Lord of the Rings, issued in 2014 with The Hobbit, also uses a 1999 typesetting.
Image: HarperCollins 2014 deluxe edition of The Lord of the Rings, D1 in the list above.