Friday, May 29, 2009

The NEXT New Tolkien (The Book of Jonah)

So, I'd no sooner finished my slow, careful prowl through SIGURD & GUDRUN (which includes, among other things, an excerpt each from both Tolkien's prose and alliterative translations of BEOWULF, not to mention his overview of the ELDER EDDA, his version of the VOLUSPA, and fragments from his Old English poem about Attila, along with numerous illuminating quotes from his lecture notes on Old Icelandic), when I discovered that there's another new Tolkien book due out in July: THE BOOK OF JONAH, tr. JRRT. The entry for it on seems to be pretty much just a placeholder for now, but has details about the book -- format (trade paperback), price (just under eleven pounds), number of pages (104), release date (July 20th), publisher (Darton,Longman & Todd, Ltd) -- and is taking preorders. Here's the link:

I would have found out about this a few days earlier if I'd been reading the right blogs -- i.e. David Bratman's entry of the 25th ( ); one factor of getting too busy and behind on things is that at such times I don't check the blogs and sites I usually visit daily.

The two links David provided are to Jason Fisher's blog, which gives a detailed account of what's known about the book so far; in each case, be sure to read through the comments for the additional information about the book turned up by Larry Swain & others. Here's the first relevant post:

and his follow up

So, looks like this little publication will cast some interesting new light on what's generally been viewed as a minor Tolkien publication. The main question is what all the book will contain to transform his translation of The Book of Jonah (one of the shortest books in the Bible) into 104 pages. Will they include correspondence w. JRRT? His work on Isaiah and Job? A detailed introduction setting straight the record of his involvement with the Jerusalem Bible project?* A lot of pictures and a really big font? We'll see in another two months or so.

--John R.

P.S.: One connection I keep expecting people to make that, so far as I know, no one has yet, is that the best-known Middle English adaptation of the Jonah legend is found in the Gawain/Pearl manuscript and is universally considered to be one of the four known surviving works by the Gawain-Poet (or Pearl-Poet), on whose works Tolkien was considered a major expert. Called PATIENCE, it's a hilarious near-Chaucerian portrayal of the hapless prophet.

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