Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Fifth Review/Taum's work

Here's another, more a description of the book and circumstances that that gave rise to it than a review, but taking note of my roleplaying ties as well (appropriate enough, given my dozens of rpg credits over the past fifteen years). The site also has a good notice of Diana Pavlac Glyer's THE COMPANY THEY KEEP just above the notice on my book and a brief piece on CHILDREN OF HURIN immediately below it.

Fifth Review

And, while not a review, here's a discussion regarding my conclusion that THE HOBBIT was part of Tolkien's legendarium from its inception: see the 'Lord of the Rings Fanatics Forum'

LotR Fanatics thread

One poster makes a comment to the effect that "I don't suppose there is any chance of us ever seeing Santoski's drafts for Mr. Baggins". In fact, as I note in my Introduction (H.o.H. vol. I p. xxviii), I've deposed a complete copy of Taum's unfinished edition at the Marquette Archives so that those who wish to compare his work with mine can do so, just as I deposited a complete, unedited transcript of the entire manuscript (page by page, line by line, stroke by stroke) so that others could compare my reading of Tolkien's handwriting with the original manuscripts. (If any do so and come up with a better reading of a difficult passage, I hope they'll share their guesses with me so I can pass them along here.)
Unfortunately, while Taum's transcription is more or less complete, he had not yet drafted the accompanying commentary, so I don't think he had addressed this particular point -- at least, not that I remember. But he was as aware as I of Tolkien's letter to Selby on the one hand (the original letter was exhibited at Marquette in 1987, and a transcription appears in the exhibition catalogue) and the mention of Beren and Tinuviel within the manuscript on the other. I don't know how much weight he put on Tolkien's letter to THE OBSERVER, in which JRRT stated

"My tale is not consciously based on any other book--save one, and that is unpublished: the 'Silmarillion', a history of the Elves, to which frequent allusion is made" (LETTERS OF JRRT p. 31).

For me, at any rate, Tolkien's explicit statement that THE HOBBIT was "consciously based" on THE SILMARILLION is the clincher.

I shd probably correct one misapprehension, where a poster says Taum's "tragic death interrupted a brilliant scholarly career at Marquette" -- Taum's death was indeed tragic; I saw him almost every day during the last year of his life, even after he entered the hospice. But he was not a student at Marquette: he was one of the finest examples I've ever known of an independent scholar, and in fact made his living as a bartender, working at a private club during the evenings to support himself so that he could work with the manuscripts by day. Just before the end of his life he had decided to go back to school to pursue an art degree, but his coursework was at UWM (the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee), not Marquette.

current reading: CORALINE by Neil Gaiman


Diana Glyer said...

Glad to see that the critics agree that your work is SIGNIFICANT. I am still waiting (impatiently) for Amazon to send me mine.

Johan said...

John, I think you should check out these discussions as well:

Also, have you seen my comments on your "Errata errata'd" post back in June?

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Diana
The US edition's official release date is on the 21st, so I imagine the amazon order shd go out to you sometime this week.
Congratulations on the TLS review of THE COMPANY THEY KEEP

Hi Johan
Thanks for the links to the two discussions, which I'll try to post some response to tomorrow. I had not seen the errata, and thank you for sharing; the second is definitely an improvement, while I'll have to go back and check the original on the first. Too late to address these in the US edition, but I'll see if they can be fixed for the trade paperback edition due out in March.

Yrs, John R.