A middle English vocabulary by J R.R. 1892-1973 Tolkien? (19.01.11 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Once in a while you stumble upon books that raise a lot of questions. This once again happened when I found a copy of A middle English vocabulary. Designed for use with Sisam's Fourteenth century verse and prose on Barnes and Noble. The cover shows nice snowy mountains in clouds. The clear blue sky really jumps out. A smart designer then repeated the same blue color at the bottom of the cover and wrote: "J R.R. 1892-1973 Tolkien Kenneth Sisam". It just makes you think, doesn't it? How does someone come up to write such a thing?

of course I immediatly went over to see if I could find this copy in other online bookstores, especially since it was already released in August last year!

And yes, also on Amazon the author is called: "J R. R. 1892-1973 Tolkien". The second author of this book is noted as "Kenneth Sisam"... better then Kenneth 1887-1971 Sisam right? We of course know Kenneth Sisam as the author of Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose.

Fourteenth Century Verse & Prose, Sisam's collection, was a groundbreaker in its day, anything but interchangeable with others. As originally published in 1921 (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press), the 300-page "Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose" had an excellent introduction, interesting texts with informative headnotes, detailed technical endnotes, and an appendix on "The English Language in the Fourteenth Century."

However, it lacked a glossary. This appeared separately the following year, as "A Middle English Vocabulary", about 170 double-column pages (no numbering), compiled by one of Sisam's colleagues, none other than the young J.R.R. Tolkien. So there you have it. This book is not a reprint of Kenneth Sisams'book, but a reprint of tolkien's glossary.

The page amount indeed matches with this book, that has 174 pages in total. So now that we have that cleared out what is this book about? A reprint?

A middle English vocabulary reproduction

After some digging I finally found the following description written by the publisher: "This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book."

OK, so because this book was printed before 1923, and by giving a twist to the authors name, Nabu Press thinks they can just pick up a Tolkien book and photo copy it? This just does not sound right to me.

A quick search shows that Nabu Press has about 600,000 books listed on Amazon, all public domain reprints (similarly to General Books LLC, an imprint of the alleged scam publisher VDM Publishing). There's no website for Nabu Press and their books do not have any contact information. Turns out that Nabu Press is ... BiblioBazaar / BiblioLife, a company started by former BookSurge partners after they sold their Print On Demand company to Amazon. No surprise then that they print their POD books through Amazon. I'm really stunned by this found and it makes me sad. I'm a proud owner of a copy of both Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose and JRR tolkien's A Middle English Vocabulary and I treasure them. I would prefer others to make nice Print of Demand books, with a nice cover reproducing the original, and not stuff like this? What do you think?

Title: A middle English vocabulary. Designed for use with Sisam's Fourteenth century verse and prose
J.R.R. Tolkien & Kenneth Sisam
Nabu Press

Publication Date:

August 2010

paperback, 174 pages

ISBN-13: 9781177695930

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