Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Kindling We Will Go

Well, that didn't take long.

Yesterday our (Janice's*) new Kindle arrived, and before the evening was over we had ebook versions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (single volume edition, of course), THE HOBBIT, and something called THE HOBBIT: COMPLETE SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS by one Raja Sharma,** along with a smattering of other books (Kai Lung, Harry Stephen Keeler, Journey to the West), joined today by still more (the v. low price makes a strong incentive for impulse buys). I'm eagerly looking forward to the chance to add SIGURD & GUDRUN by this time next week (so I can look at it before my copy arrives from England).

I discovered that there were eleven of the books about Tolkien's work by other authors already available on Kindle, all of which I have (but not all read) on my shelves. There's a decided bias in favor of religious-themed works here, for whatever reason: Kreeft, Wood, Rutledge, Bruner, and Sarah Arthur's two little books on the one hand, vs. the more miscellaneous Chance, Timmons & Clark, Beahm, Hart & Khovacs, and Colbert on the other. I'm surprised by the absence of the big-name Tolkien scholars -- nothing by Carpenter, Flieger, Hammond & Scull, or Shippey. Also surprising is the pricing: most are inexpensive ($9.99 for most, $7.99 for the Sarah Arthurs), with the exceptions being the Chance collection ($29.84) and Timmons-Clark (which goes for a whopping $88.76).

I suspect as more of Tolkien's own work moves onto Kindle, more of the secondary work will follow. We'll see. In the meanwhile, time to practice mashing those buttons . . .


*in our household, Janice tends to buy the bright new techie toys and then let me play with them. She's already mastered the Kindle controls, while I'm still at the 'what does this button do?' stage.

**apparently the ebook equivalent of Cliff's Notes. At a quick glance, I give him points for not repeating the common error that JRRT was "born in South Africa" but instead correctly giving his place of birth as the Orange Free State.


David Bratman said...

Tolkien was born in South Africa. What he wasn't born in, because it didn't exist yet, was the Union of South Africa.

However, "Orange Free State" is both relevant and more specific, assuming that readers know what it is. The best thing to say might be, "The Orange Free State, later one of the constituent states of what is now the Republic of South Africa."

John D. Rateliff said...

No, Tolkien was born in Southern Africa, not "South Africa".

"South Africa" refers specifically to the country. Southern Africa refers to the region.

"South Africa" is not properly applied to the region (unlike "North Africa", "West Africa", and "East Africa", all of which are acceptable substitutes for Northern, Western, and Eastern Africa, respectively) for precisely the reason that it would create confusion as to which the writer meant.

The accurate way to say it is that Tolkien was "born in what is now South Africa", but that misses the significance that JRRT was born in a small non-English-speaking country outside the British Empire which no longer existed by the time he was ten years old.

As you point out, though, the best remedy for inaccuracy is detail.