New and Upcoming Tolkien Books
The Children of Húrin
by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
U.S. publication by Houghton-Mifflin, 2007
hardcover, 313 pages
The first major release of a J.R.R. Tolkien story in 30 years - pieced together, but added to as little as possible, by Christopher. Unlike the HoMe books, it's a continuous, full narrative, with notes kept to the front and back of the book. The tone and language are those of The Silmarillion: long descriptive passages with limited dialogue, archaic narrative and speech, and lives of Men (both male and female) filled with tragedy. It's the First Age; Morgoth is still unchained, and bending all that happens in Middle-earth to his will. Don't look for happiness in this story, or more than short glimpses of hope, but there is much heroism. Alan Lee was the only reasonable choice for illustrations, given the tone of the book, and there are full-color plates as well as black-and-white drawings throughout.
A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary
by J. R. R. Tolkien, Kenneth Sisam
(paperback, 512 pages)
Released and available for order:
Editorial Reviews (from Amazon.com)
This highly respected anthology of medieval English literature features numerous well-chosen extracts of poetry and prose. Popular tales from Arthurian legend and classical mythology appear here, in addition to excerpts from frequently studied works such as the allegorical poem Piers Plowman and John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible. Extensive editorial apparatus includes notes on each extract, appendices, and an extensive glossary by J. R. R. Tolkien, the celebrated author of The Lord of the Rings.
[My notes: Kenneth Sisam has many credits for books on Old English through fourteenth century literature, sometimes as sole author (The Structure of Beowulf, for example) and sometimes credited on books that contain earlier works (including The Nun's Priest's Tale).]
The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
By Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner
From the publisher's book description: "Two discursive sections explore Tolkien as a lexicographer and his creativity as a word user and creator; while the main section of the book is made up of individual 'word studies' which explore words found in Tolkien's fiction in terms of their origins, development, and significance in his fictional world."
Just reading the description above makes this book sound like the kind that usually makes me groan and direct readers somewhere else - because the ones I've seen up until now get things so wrong. So it's even more heartening to find one that actually knows what it's talking about. Besides Tolkien's use of words, the authors discuss the years he spent working at the O.E.D., which Tolkien called one of the most formative times in his life and about which we haven't had much information about previously.
The three authors of this book gave what can only be called a "tag team" lecture at the Tolkien conference I attended in August 2006. I haven't read the book yet, but if the book is anywhere near as entertaining as their lecture about the book, it should be a winner. (Disclaimer: This is the lecture I missed the first part of because of a dearth of pens in Oxford, so the beginning might have been boring as anything, but judging from the laughter in the hall as I entered I doubt it.) There's also a five-star review at Amazon by someone whose judgment I completely trust when it comes to Tolkien scholarship, and some interest has been expressed in it by visitors to the site, so I have enough faith in it to post links to it at Amazon. The hardcover is available. The paperback is scheduled for release in August 2007, but can be pre-ordered now:
The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
By Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull
Hardcover, two volumes, 800 pages (Amazon description is unclear, but according to Houghton Mifflin website, this means 800 pages per volume! If I find out differently I'll post a correction here.)
Volume 1 (The Reader's Guide) separately
Volume 2 (The Chronology) separately
Boxed set containing both volumes
Editorial Reviews (from Amazon.com)
Product Description (from publisher):
Designed to be the essential reference works for all readers and students, these volumes present the most thorough analysis possible of Tolkien's work within the important context of his life.
The Reader's Guide [volume 1] includes brief but comprehensive alphabetical entries on a wide range of topics, including a who's who of important persons, a guide to places and institutions, details concerning Tolkien's source material, information about the political and social upheavals through which the author lived, the importance of his social circle, his service as an infantryman in World War I -- even information on the critical reaction to his work and the "Tolkien cult."
The Chronology [volume 2] details the parallel evolutions of Tolkien's works and his academic and personal life in minute detail. Spanning the entirety of his long life including nearly sixty years of active labor on his Middle-earth creations, and drawing on such contemporary sources as school records, war service files, biographies, correspondence, the letters of his close friend C. S. Lewis, and the diaries of W. H. Lewis, this book will be an invaluable resource for those who wish to gain a complete understanding of Tolkien's status as a giant of twentieth-century literature.
[My notes: The content sounds extraordinarily helpful for Tolkien study. The very fact that this guide is being published by Houghton Mifflin says a lot about its quality. I know Wayne Hammond more than I do Christina Scull (including sharing an Inklings-related newsgroup with him, although I doubt if he'd recognize my name), but she also has a reputation for solid Tolkien scholarship. ]
Also Now Released:
An Upcoming Book
This book has been "upcoming" for a long time.
Latest notice is that it won't be released until 2007.
Product Description from Amazon.com for
J.R.R. Tolkien: Interviews, Reminiscenses, and Other Essays:
Compiled by noted Tolkien scholars Douglas A. Anderson and Marjorie J. Burns, this book provides an invaluable insight into Tolkien's thought through interviews, personal reminiscences, and remembrances collected nowhere else.
Tolkien gave some twenty interviews in his lifetime. In this collection is the unedited transcript of an interview for the BBC, giving the only surviving impression of what it was like to converse with Tolkien.
Firsthand impressions ranging from those of the lexicographer of the Oxford English Dictionary to those of friends such as Robert Murray, Norman Power, Donald Swann, the science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp, and Tolkien's eldest son, Michael, the reminiscences are lively and loving testimonials.
Most of the essays here were written by people who knew Tolkien and explore other aspects of his life: Christopher Tolkien on the making of The Silmarillion, Priscilla Tolkien on his art, Rayner Unwin on publishing Tolkien, and more.
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