After a fantastic 2005, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of "The Lord of the Rings", we saw some nice publications in the end of the year. Some are noteworthy and should be in any good Tolkien collection; I remember "The Smith of Wootton Major - Extended Edition" by Verlyn Flieger, "The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook" by Alan Lee, the revised edition of "Father Christmas Letters" and in December 2005 there appeared a lovely book "The Art of Ruth Lacon".
Now let us have a look what 2006 will offer us. For sure it will again become a fascinating year in the field of Tolkien related literature. I'll try here to summarize all the books we will have to look out for this year (making it possible to pre-order them when you like!). My information is gathered from numerous sources and publication dates and covers may change, but I will try to spread new info on the books when it reaches me.
The first "big" title of this year has just been released. It is "Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary". It offers a new and unexplored angle on the creative world of J.R.R. Tolkien and present us with new archive material. A unique book in all respect and a must read (and have) for all serious Tolkien lovers. I had only a chance to read the advance reading copy of this book and it seems the published edition has a different cover from the arc that I have (if I have to believe some bookseller sites), so I added here the new cover.
Few writers have found so much of their creative inspiration in the shapes and histories of words like J.R.R.Tolkien. "The Ring of Words" describes this unique and powerful relationship between tolkien's creative use of language in his fictional works and his professional work on the Oxford English Dictionary.
As we know, J.R.R. tolkien's first job, just after returning from World War I, was as an assistant on the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). He later said that he had learned more in those two years than in any other equal part of his life. "The Ring of Words" reveals how his professional work on the OED influenced tolkien's creative use of language in his fictional world.
In the first two chapters of "Ring of Words" the three senior editors of the OED, Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner, offer an intriguing exploration of tolkien's career as a lexicographer and illuminate his creativity as a word user and word creator. The centerpiece of the book is the third chapter where we find a wonderful collection of "word studies" which will delight the heart of Tolkien fans and word lovers everywhere.
The editors explain in fantastic detail the origin of such Tolkienesque words as "hobbit," "mithril, "Smeagol," "Ent," "halfling," and "worm". In this work we discover that the word "mathom" was actually common in Old English, but that "Mithril," on the other hand, is a complete new invention and the first "Elven" word to have an entry in the OED.
This book reaches a larger public then mainly Tolkien fans but will be appealing to both Tolkien enthusiasts and language enthusiasts and everyone interested in the creative use of language, and the writing of dictionaries.
The next items all Tolkien collectors are waiting for are the Tolkien Diaries and Calendars. They have been announced for July and August. Here you can have a sneak peak at the cover images. As you can see we recognize immediately who had the right to make this years diary and calendar, no one less then Alan Lee. The look & feel we know from his "Lord of the Rings Sketchbook", a book that was a massive success. Let's see if the success goes on with these two items also.
The "Tolkien" desk diary for 2007 continues in a popular tradition, building on the success of "The Hobbit Diary 2006". This year's diary features 13 paintings and illustrations by Alan Lee. It is not only illustrated by the acclaimed and Oscar-winning "Tolkien" artist, it has been designed by him, too. To accompany each watercolor, every month features complementary line drawings selected by Alan from his "Lord of the Rings Sketchbook"; there are also brand new sketches produced exclusively for this diary.
Alan Lee has depicted famous scenes, including Gollum and Bilbo, Rivendell and Smaug the Dragon, but these new pencil drawings will take the reader deeper into the enchanting world of Middle-earth than ever before.
The Tolkien calendar has become an established publishing event, eagerly looked forward to by Tolkien fans the world over. Although this year I was not surprised to see that Harper Collins choose Alan Lee as the artist for this year's calendar. After seeing his successful work for "The Lord of the Rings" (the movie) and his "Sketchbook" to stay bestselling Tolkien related title months in row on numerous bookselling sites; this must have been an easy choice. This year, as in the previous years, the calendar matches the diary (or the other way around). It also has the watercolor drawings by Alan Lee and every month features complementary line drawings selected by Alan from his Lord of the Rings Sketchbook; there are also brand new sketches produced exclusively for this calendar. I wonder if they will be different from the ones we will see inside the diary. We will have to wait and see.
September 18, 2006 is a day I'm looking forward to, four days before Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday, it should be the publication day of a new book called: "The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins". Although I truly hope this is the publication day, it will probably be not. I have seen a site mention the publication date of May 8, 2007. This seems more logic because of two good reasons, first because Harper Collins themselve do not mention the book anywhere yet, secondly because in 2007 we celebrate no less then the seventieth birthday of "The Hobbit". I can imagine already the year 2007 will bring us fantastic editions of the Hobbit, Limited editions, boxes with the Hobbit and this brand new title:
"The Hobbit" was first published on 21 September 1937. It has gone on to be one of the most treasured stories of all time, often dismissed as a children's book but enjoyed as much by adults as children. Like its successor, "The Lord of the Rings", this is a story that "grew in the telling", and many characters and story threads present in the published text were completely different when Tolkien first read his story aloud to his young sons as part of their "fireside reads".
This work features major new examination of how Tolkien came to write his original masterpiece, including the complete unpublished draft of the story. As well as recording the many changes made to the story both before and after publication, it examines - chapter-by-chapter - why those changes were made and how they reflect tolkien's ever-growing concept of Middle-earth. The original account of where Bilbo meets Gollum and steals the ring from him is reprinted here in its proper context for the first time in over fifty years, as are many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for the story by Tolkien himself. It's rather along the lines of Christopher tolkien's editions that make up the History of Middle-Earth series (which I highly recommend if you haven't read them): an edition of the original manuscript of The Hobbit with extensive commentary on how Mr. Baggins' story fits into tolkien's legendarium.
Also featured are extensive annotations and essays on the date of composition (which can actually be reconstructed from available evidence to within a month or two on either end), the influence of tolkien's professional and early mythological writings, the imaginary geography, and tolkien's later revisions. Finally, this edition makes available for the first time the text of tolkien's attempt to recast "The Hobbit" into the style of "The Lord of the Rings". This is a book I'm really looking forward to, especially since there are so much rumors about it. There is even said that this is one of the very few projects Christopher Tolkien is cooperating on, we will see if this is true when the book is published. More on this book will follow as the information comes to me!
For the third time in as many years I announce the following work: "J.R.R. Companion and Guide". Although it seems like this book has been announced ages ago, I'm willing to believe that the waiting will be almost over; in the end Tolkien took 16 years to publish the "Lord of the Rings" so if needed we will wait even longer. Still I silently hope the book will be published this year. If all rumors are half true then this book will be truly the most important Tolkien study ever to be produced. All thanks go to Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull...
What I give here is the editorial review (I'll make my own when the book comes out). I hope this info is accurate, because this text is really old and after working so many years on this title the book might turn out to be much different (and larger) then is said here:
This is a stunning two-volume slip cased set containing the most comprehensive in-depth companion to tolkien's life and works ever published, including synopses of all his writings, and a Tolkien gazetteer, who's who and chronology. The two volumes contained in this slipcase, written by two of the foremost experts on J.R.R. Tolkien, comprise the definitive handbook to one of the most popular authors of the 20th century. tolkien's progress is traced from his birth in South Africa in 1892, to the battlefields of France and the lecture-halls of Leeds and Oxford, to his success as the author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", until his death in 1973. His many academic and literary achievements, his public reception, and his enduring fame are examined in detail. The first volume in this set is a chronology of tolkien's life and works, the most extensive biographical resource about him ever published. Thousands of details have been drawn from letters, contemporary documents in libraries and archives, and a wide variety of other published and unpublished sources. Assembled together, they form a portrait of Tolkien in all his aspects: the distinguished scholar of Old and Middle English, the capable teacher and administrator, the devoted husband and father, the brilliant creator of Middle-earth. The second volume, the Reader's Guide, is an indispensable introduction to tolkien's life, writings, and art. It includes histories and discussions of his works; analyses of the components of his vast 'Silmarillion' mythology; brief biographies of persons important in his life; accounts of places he knew; essays on topics such as tolkien's interests and attitudes towards contemporary issues, ideas found in his works, adaptations, and invented languages; and checklists of his published works, his poetry, his pictorial art, and translations of his writing.
Of course this book will have also an American print by Houghton Mifflin. Any way or another this is the most important book that I can possibly imagine to come out in the next decades. 1600 pages about Tolkien is more then any one did expect some years ago when we first heard the announcements about this book. Hope I can get my hands on a copy as soon as it comes out! But will probably end up with many copies since I must have pre-ordered it over 20 times by now.
Another work I'm curious about is the following book "J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment" by Michael Drout. The list price is rather high (£100) so i suspect it to be either limited, high quality binding or just great quality scholarship. I'm hoping on a mixture of the three, where i value the last one highest.
I'm going to try to contact the author in person for more info on this book. Until then you will have to do with the info I managed to gather together. The book will be a detailed work of reference and scholarship, this one volume Encyclopedia will include discussions of all the fundamental issues in Tolkien scholarship written by the leading scholars in the field.
Coverage will not only present the most recent scholarship on J. R. R. Tolkien, but will also introduce and explore the author and scholar's life and work within their historical and cultural contexts. tolkien's fiction and his sources of influence will be examined along with his artistic and academic achievements- including his translations of medieval texts- teaching posts, linguistic works, and the languages he created. The 550 alphabetically arranged entries will fall within the following categories of topics:
* Art and illustrations
* Characters in tolkien's work
* Critical history and scholarship
* Influence of Tolkien
* Literary sources
* Creatures and peoples of Middle-earth
* Objects in tolkien's work
* Places in tolkien's work
* Reception of Tolkien
* Medieval scholars
* Scholarship by Tolkien
* Medieval literature
* Stylistic elements
* Themes in tolkien's works
* Theological/ philosophical concepts and philosophers
* tolkien's contemporary history and culture
* Works of literature
The work will be edited by Michael D.C. Drout, from Wheaton College, with the participation of Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, Marjorie Burns, and Douglas Anderson. A book to look forward to if it will contain all that is mentioned above.
The Silmarillion: Thirty Years On
As mentioned above we will get many Hobbit related editions in the end of 2006 (or so I guess anyways); But 2007 will mark not only the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, but also the 30th anniversary of The Silmarillion. So I expect some publications there also (why not have another limited edition of the Silmarillion signed by Christopher Tolkien?). But there will be some nice academically works about the Silmarillion also.
The subsequent publication of the twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth (1983-1996) has provided Tolkien scholars with a more detailed and accurate picture of the 'mythological' background to tolkien's narrative works and has thus rendered The Silmarillion almost obsolete for this purpose. The time has therefore come to take a look at The Silmarillion not so much as a source to be quarried for background information to The Lord of the Rings or the development of Middle-earth, but rather as a work of literature in its own right (whose authorship may not be so clearly J.R.R. tolkien's, though).
Walking Tree Publishers (known for there high quality articles on Tolkien translations, ed.) are planning to make exactly such a book for this occasion:
Possible topics to explore include:
* A Work of Love: Christopher Tolkien and the creation of a coherent text
* The Cosmology of Arda
* The Creation of a Canon: selecting texts for The Silmarillion
* The Language and Style of The Silmarillion
* (Un)reliable Narrators: whose story is it anyway?
Potential contributors are invited to submit a proposal (working title, brief abstract) on any of the topics listed above or on a topic of their own choice. The editor, Dr Allan Turner , in collaboration with the editorial board of Walking Tree Publishers, will review the proposals and, based on this selection, invite contributors to write full papers.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 28th February 2006
Deadline for submission of full papers: 31st August 2006
Please address all correspondence concerning The Silmarillion project to:
Dr Allan Turner
Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik
The editor: Allan Turner has had a keen interest in the works of Tolkien for many years. His areas of specialization include linguistic characteristics of literary texts and translation. His recent book Translating Tolkien (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2005) investigates the problems posed to translators by philological features such as nomenclature and archaism, outlines some of the solutions actually adopted and considers their effect on the consistency of the texts thus created.
I hope to have offered some information that was useful and will release more info on the titles mentioned above once it is available or once the books have been published. This years brings us a lot of decent Tolkien scholarly works and less special editions. But we will get our share of those next year!
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