Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Day at Marquette

So, today we got out and about (relatively)* early and drove up to Milwaukee, where Janice went off to meet up with some friends for brunch and I headed into the Marquette Archives for a day's research in my old familiar stomping grounds. In addition to an enjoyable visit with Matt Blessing, the Archivist, I also got to see Susan the Secretary and later ran into Mark Thiel, whose specialty is their Indian Missions collection. After looking over their new books shelf, and jotting down the authors and titles on the ones I hadn't known about before (e.g., Ted Rogers', Lee Oser's, and F. MacDonald Kells' works), I set to work: first the relatively quick job of hunting down a piece in a fanzine for a friend. Success!

Then came the main task I'd set myself for this research trip: going through the notebooks of my friend the late Taum Santoski. Taum kept a series of notebooks from the years 1978 to his death in 1991, in which he made transcriptions from the LotR manuscripts, jotted down notes about his discoveries in the Marquette collection, drafted letters, and made elaborate transcriptions in tengwar which he had then phonetically translated into English characters. There's also a lot of material on Tolkien's invented languages, this being Taum's greatest interest as a Tolkien scholar, and notes for pieces he intended to write. He'd wanted these notebooks to go to Marquette, so as Taum's literary executor I'd deposited them there. But I'd never gone through them other than a brief skim just after he died -- after the traumatic year and a half of his terminal illness, during which time I saw him almost every day, I wasn't ready to face going through them at the time.

Now, almost twenty years later, it seemed high time to look in more detail at Taum's legacy. In addition to his early fanzines and his work helping Christopher Tolkien work out the manuscript sequence for the LotR holdings at Marquette for the HME volumes dealing w. LotR (VI, VII, VIII, & IXa), in which I helped to a lesser extent, I wanted to see if there was any unpublished material that might still hold up all these years later and not have been superseded by subsequent events -- as, for example, his work on Tolkien's artwork has been by Wayne & Christina's book and most, perhaps all, of his linguistic work by the multi-volume PARMA ELDALAMERON publications by the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship team. I know of one essay and one talk (which he delivered from notes rather than a draft, unfortunately) I'm going to be taking a good hard look at. But for now, on this first foray, what I saw in the early notebooks, written while Taum was still a student in Pennsylvania, were the classic first steps of a Tolkien scholar: bibliographies of articles on Tolkien in magazines and journals that he tracked down, correspondence with others involved in the world of Tolkien fanzines (of which Taum created several, most notably CHRONICLES OF THE KING and LENDARIN & DANIAN), notes sorting out various elements of Tolkien's mythology (e.g., the sequence of events for a "Chronology of the War of Wrath"). So far, on this trip at least, I didn't get into the main sequence; that'll have to wait till next year's visit. But it's a start.

Also, while in town, I got to get together with my friends Jim Pietrusz (Arthurian collector extraordinaire) and Jim Lowder (freelance book editor extraordinaire and a fellow ex-TSR) for an enjoyable two hours over at Miss Katie's Diner (formerly a favorite haunt of Chuck Elston, who was the longtime Archivist at Marquette and one of the dedicate-es of MR. BAGGINS) for an extended lunch. Then, after the afternoon session at the Archives, it was rendezvous with Janice and drive back down to Harvard for more family visiting with inlaws.

So, now that it's winding down, I can say that it was a highly successful and most enjoyable trip. I had a great time at the Wade and Marquette and we got to see almost all of Janice's family.*** Plus, I got to see Indian Mounds, African dinosaurs, and walk around parts of the Lake Geneva shoreline (in Fontana & Wms Bay) that were new to me, while Janice got to see Mummies of the World and we both got to enjoy some time with old friends.

And now, for the journey home.

currently thinking about: Distributism -- and not in a good way.

(*)for me**

(**)when on vacation

***aside from her youngest brother's side of the family and one great-neice

P.S.: I forgot to add that I figure in, fleetingly, in Taum's papers -- e.g. in a December 1981 letter to a fellow Tolkien fanzine editor, three month after I'd met Taum, in which he refers to me as "a fellow-Tolkien scholar here . . . I know his first name is John but can't remember his last name".



David Bratman said...

Taum first impressed me when he mentioned the existence of "Aldarion and Erendis", a work neither I nor anyone else I talked to knew anything about. This was about two years before Unfinished Tales was published.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi David
Yes, that was like Taum: to notice a detail, remember it, and put it together in a way that made sense. I don't remember this particular one, which must have come through Dick Plotz, whom Tolkien told and THE MARINER'S WIFE and who mentioned it a time or two in interviews.