Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tackiest Museum Store gift ever

So, as we were leaving the Pompeii exhibit* down at the Seattle Center last Thursday we went directly from the room with the body-casts of the people who died horribly in the eruption into the exhibit gift shop, where I spotted what I think marks the tackiest museum store gift ever: a little snow-globe of Vesuvius and Pompeii that when shaken re-inacts the eruption by burying the city in ash.


current reading: "The Authority of Old English Poetical Manuscripts" by Kenneth Sisam [1946] and re-reading (after thirty-plus years) a section of BEOWULF AND THE BEOWULF MANUSCRIPT by Kevin Kiernan [1981]

*which is v. good: recommended


ATMachine said...

I think I've deciphered something in Tolkien's Plot Notes D for The Hobbit which you found to be illegible.

From page 570 in the two-volume (full text) edition:

"Be not a greater fool than the fools who illegible the dragon from? his wealth."

I suspect this was actually meant to read "Be not a greater fool than the fools who come between the dragon and his wealth."

It's a mangled reference to Shakespeare's King Lear: "Come not between the dragon and his wrath!"

Years later Tolkien later used a similar play on the same line in LOTR, for Eowyn's confrontation with the Witch-King: "Come not between the Nazgul and his prey!"

What do you think of my interpretation?

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Machine

It soundS plausiblE, but you never know. I'm a little tied up right now, but early next week I'll dig out the relevant page and see if what's there could fit your reading.

By the way, kudos on spotting the echo of LEAR, which I had not picked up on.


John D. Rateliff said...

Dear M.
Just a note to let you know I haven't forgotten but just haven't gotten around to checking the passage yet. Shd have it by end of this week, so bear with me a little longer.
--John R.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear A.T.

I have now had a chance to check the page in question (Marq. Ms. I/1/10:6), and I'm sorry to say your proposed reading isn't possible.

However, the good news is that because of the extra scrutiny you inspired, I have now been able to figure out what Tolkien wrote. The passage shd read "Be not a great fool than the fools who MISTOOK the dragonFIRE for wealth" -- i.e., the folk of Lake Town who saw the flame of the approaching Smaug and thought the song about rivers running gold was coming true.

Thanks for the prompt that led me to remove one more 'illegible' and one more '?' from the text. Since I'd like to let readers at large know about the errata, rather than leave this in a comment I'll make a short post to this effect tomorrow.

Again, many thanks. Keep up the good work!