Friday, August 31, 2012

hrolf kraki, con't

[con't from previous post]

Until now, I mainly knew the saga through Jesse Byock's translation fr. Penguin books [1998], which is nicely readable as well as having a useful introduction and helpful notes. I'd also read Poul Anderson's novelization, done long ago for Ballantine's famous Adult Fantasy Series [1973], but don't recommend it: a truly unpleasant piece of work. THE BROKEN SWORD [1971] has a well-deserved reputation for being bleak and depressing, but Poul A.'s HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA revealed a truly nasty side of P.A. I hadn't expected to find there.

The Tolkien connection with this particular translation is that Stella Mills, the translator, was one of Tolkien's students at Leeds who became a lifetime family friend;* the book is dedicated

E. V. G.
J. R. R. T.
C. T. O.

--i.e., E. V. Gordon, who contributed a short Introduction; J. R. R. Tolkien (her old professor, who later helped her get a job at the O.E.D.), and C. T. Onions, one of the 'Four Wise Clerks of Oxenford' immortalized in FARMER GILES OF HAM, the fourth and final editor of the original OED who finally brought that massive project to completion.

Mills' book being extremely rare (I've been hunting for a copy for years, unsuccessfully till now), it's a real boon to have it available at last.

And it's an extra added bonus for this Nodens Books edition that Priscilla Tolkien has contributed a new Foreword about Mills and her friendship with the Tolkiens; a short piece that would have gone wonderfully in THE TOLKIEN FAMILY ALBUM and adds a lot to what little we know about the Stella Mills/JRRT connection. (It's particularly timely to me, since I'm just starting to sketch out an article on JRRT and his lifelong support for women's higher education).

So, if you're interested in sagas, in Tolkien's medieval sources, or in works by those closely associated with JRRT, I highly recommend picking this up.

Here's a link to a description of the book on the Nodens Books website; it can be ordered at amazon et al.


*she is one of the people to whom Tolkien gave one of his original author's copies of THE HOBBIT when it was first published (cf. Appendix V in THE HISTORY OF 'THE HOBBIT')

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