Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Hobbit EMPIRE

So, Thursday the new (December) issue of EMPIRE magazine arrived from England (think it'll be out over here later this month). This is their special HOBBIT issue, and it was well worth waiting for. They have a special section on THE HOBBIT that runs more than sixty pages, with lots on the cast, the director, the three-film decision, etc. etc. etc. Looks to be really nicely done.

Best of all, from my point of view, is a section on Tolkien himself, and an overview of how he came to write the book. I was interviewed for this, along with Boyens and Shippey, who provides the best description of 'philology' I've ever seen: "language archaeology". Only a little of what I said actually made it in; I think I'm much less quotable than a good source for background -- e.g., I'm pleased to see that they've drawn on my reconstruction of the stages in which Tolkien wrote the book; nice to see my arguments get more widely disseminated.

Even Tolkien lovers who are not so keen on the movies might want to pick up this issue, because it prints a previously unknown picture of Tolkien (p. 106-107).* It's a great photo, one of the best I've seen of him, and clearly taken near the end of his life: outdoors (I think on the grounds of Merton, right next to the old city wall), wearing his glasses (rather unusual for a JRRT photograph), and holding a book (ATB, so the image is definitely post-1962**)

I understand that there will be web extras posted at Empire Online once the issue's officially out over here, so there's also that to look forward to.

For now, I'll be enjoying skimming through this issue, trying to avoid spoilers, and coming to grips with the fact that after all this waiting the film itself is really almost here. With any luck I may even be able to keep all thirteen dwarves straight by the time the film opens.

--John R.
current reading: MURDER IN THE DARK by Margaret Atwood [1983]

*unknown to me, at any rate, and I try to keep up with these things, even before the days of Dr. Blackwelder's TOLKIEN PORTRAITURE.

**I'd guess 1971-73


Anonymous said...

Which cover did you get, John?

Marcel R. Bülles said...

Hi John,

the picture you mentioned fascinated me - I looked it up at the photo agency, Scope Features.

The picture used (I have the Galadriel edition, by the way ;)) has been heavily cropped and looks much nicer in its original form.

The agency does not have a photographer for it (naming it "SC", obviously for "Scope Features") but some other pictures have been done by John Wyatt.

You can have a look at the site as a guest - wonderful pictures. More recent ones have been done on Royd Tolkien.

Scope Features - guest access

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Doug
I chose the 'Bilbo' cover. I figured if I was going to get something about THE HOBBIT, I shd go for the cover with THE Hobbit on it.
Though I must admit the Gandalf and Galadriel covers look v. nice . . . And if, like Robert Frost, I was given two choices, the second wd be for one or the other of them.
--John R.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Marcel
Many thanks for the link, which was quite interesting. Of the five Tolkien photos they had there, two I knew and two more were new to me (aside from this particular one I'd just seen published for the first time) -- i.e., the two of him in a restaurant.
Dr. Blackwelder wd have been delighted. And I'm pretty pleased myself. Though I think my favorite picture of Tolkien remains the 'white hat' photo.
--John R.

Trotter said...

The photo is probably from 1968 and was taken while Tolkien was being filmed for the Tolkien in Oxford BBC documentary.

If you go to 23:53 you will see Tolkien in the location that the picture was taken

Marcel R. Bülles said...

Thank you very much, Trotter. Yes, judging from the clothes Tolkien is wearing that will probably have been the BBC2 shoot. So the pictures are taken at Merton and the meal at the Eastgate Hotel?

Trotter said...

According to the Hammond/Scull Tolkien Companion and Guide, John Wyatt took pictures during the filming of the documentary in February 1968. All five photos appear to relate to the documentary, so even though they are not all labelled as by John Wyatt, I think they all are, so yes they are Merton and the Eastgate Hotel.