Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More on JONAH

So, thanks to Mike Foster for forwarding the link to more information about the forthcoming publication of Tolkien's JONAH in THE JOURNAL OF INKLINGS STUDIES.  I'd still like to make some comments about the current issue, now that I've had a chance to read some of it, but I'll save that for another post. Here's the link describing the forthcoming Tolkien piece:

Of course, there's another Tolkien/Jonah link I haven't seen mentioned yet in this context, and that is that Tolkien would have been very familiar with the form the Jonah legend took in medieval times: it's retold (with great wit and charm) as PATIENCE, one of the four poems all presumed to be by the same author: the Gawain-poet (also known as the Pearl-poet) -- someone of whose work Tolkien made a special study*

In any case, J.I.S. editor Judith Wolfe's post makes much clearer what we're getting in this new publication: Tolkien's original submission, not the version reworked by another hand and actually published. So this will be an uncollaborative text -- like seeing Warnie's original Biography of CSL rather than the re-edited 'Memoir' published in the original LETTERS OF CSL.  And, given that Wolfe's post includes a facsimile of the first page of a 1955 handwritten JRRT letter to Allen & Unwin that doesn't seem to mention the JONAH project at all (so far as my admittedly uncertain eyesight can make out) but contains plenty of interest about how Tolkien created the final LotR map, it looks as if we'll be getting information on LotR as well as possibly other subjects, in addition to the JERUSALEM BIBLE proper. I'm looking forward to it.

--John R.

*the fourth poem in the manuscript, CLEANNESS (or PURITY), is unfortunately the weakest of the four; far better is a fifth piece (in a different ms. and probably by another hand, probably influenced by the Pearl-poet) called SAINT ERKENWALD, which tackles the problem of the unsaved virtuous pagan and recounts a miracle whereby this injustice is set right, at least in one case.

1 comment:

David Lenander said...

I loved _Saint Erkenvald_, though part of my love was for the ridiculously overdone critical apparatus and setting of an entire hardcover book (and price) for my "Other Middle-English Poets"(meaning, other than Chaucer) class, which had--I don't know 150 pages of introduction, critical commentary or essays, index, etc. All for a 3 page poem or something. Maybe it was 15 pages. But, I did like the poem quite well, too. I recommend it over "Cleanness" for sure!