Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"At the Tobacconist's", "Wireless"

So, Monday a box from Oslo arrived.

Inside, carefully packed in Norwegian newspapers, is a set of English language lessons on fifteen .78s recorded for the Linguaphone Institute back in 1930.

Why, since I already speak English as well as I'm ever likely to do, am I ordering language lessons from almost eighty years ago, and ones intended for foreign speakers at that?

Because it felt like I should spend part of the royalties from MR. BAGGINS on an addition to my modest Tolkien collection, something that I'd would otherwise never just come across (as opposed to, say, another interesting copy of THE HOBBIT). And these records include two dialogues which feature the earliest known recordings of Tolkien's voice: "At the Tobacconist", where he expounds upon the joys of smoking (which I've had a tape of for years, courtesy of a friend), and "Wireless" (which I've never heard before) where, somewhat surprisingly, he talks about how great radio is.

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to listen to these yet, since, being from 1930, they're .78s, and our stereo only plays .45s and .33s. So, tonight we picked up a new turntable that supposedly converts records of all kinds (.78, .33, .45) into mp3 files which can then be downloaded to a computer, burned onto a disk, or put on an ipod. It might take a day or two to figure out the instructions, but when the reward is getting to hear some new Tolkien, the incentive is high.

--John R.
current audiobook: OF LIONS, DRAGONS, & TURKISH DELIGHT: C. S. LEWIS FOR LATTER-DAY SAINTS by S. Michael Wilcox (!)

current reading: DEATH'S JEST-BOOK by Th. Lovell Beddoes [1829]


Andrew said...

I acquired a set a little while ago; they are still in their newspaper wrapping! Mine came with the two booklets, but without the box, sadly.

John D. Rateliff said...

Mine has the original case as well as the sleeves for all fifteen records. But there's only one booklet included: the LINGUAPHONE CONVERSATIONAL COURSE, ENGLISH, by "A. Lloyd James, M.A. (Professor of Phonetics, University of London)", who seems to have been the guiding spirit of the project. The title page lists all the participants, who also include Tolkien's elder colleague H. C. Wyld.
If you don't mind my asking, what are the two booklets that accompanied your set?


Andrew said...

Belatedly -

I have the booklet you mention, and one in Dutch - "Handleiding bij de Linguaphone studie". I bought my set from someone in the Netherlands.


Giova said...

hi, can you help me? where i can find the text of "at the tobacconist's"? many thanks from italian fans of jrrt