Monday, December 14, 2009

The New Arrivals: The Tolkien Collector

So, yesterday's mail brought the welcome sight of a well-stuffed packet from Christina Scull which, when opened, turned out to include not one but two new issues of THE TOLKIEN COLLECTOR (#29 & #30). The first covers new* and re-released books by Tolkien and new books about him, while the second is mainly devoted to translations and an extensive piece by Steven Frisby.

In her editorial, Christina talks about their decision not to collect e-books, including the recent & ongoing release of Tolkien's books in e-format: "Sooner or later, limits of money or space force most collectors to redefine the parameters of what they collect. Wayne and I . . . love books as physical objects as much as for their contents, and do not plan to collect e-books if we can help it". She also discusses the death of Pauline Baynes last year and the transfer of Baynes' sketches and working library to Williams College.

I've been a subscriber since issue one, and looking through this digest I always find things I'd not heard about before -- including, this time, the separate publication of the first chapter of THE HOBBIT by itself as a little booklet in 2003. It's also interesting to see how, having been translated into the major European languages, THE HOBBIT is now working its way into an array of less-widely-spoken languages such as Breton, Basque, Georgian, and Luxembourgese, among others, as well as major Mid-Eastern languages like Arabic and Persian (two separate versions).

The books about Tolkien section also rewards the reader: I was unaware that David Collins' young-adult biography of JRRT came in two distinct versions (1992 & 2005), the latter having been re-written by a third party to its detriment. And it would certainly have saved me shelf-space if I'd known ahead of time that Stratford Caldecott's two books SECRET FIRE and THE POWER OF THE RING are actually the same book under two different titles, with the latter having an additional eight-page appendix about the films.

The main interest of issue 30 for most will be Frisby's essay, written in 2003 and finally published here in its entirety, explaining in great detail how to distinguish between the various early printings of THE HOBBIT. This is exactly the sort of thing the late Dr. Blackwelder, who assembled a collection that had every printing of all the Ballantine JRRT paperbacks he cd find, would have loved.

In short, both issues live up to the high standards of the journal's entire run. If you like this sort of thing, you'll be all the happier to get a double-dose at once.


*for example, SIGURD & GUDRUN alone accounts for four separate entries

1 comment:

David Bratman said...

The two editions of the Caldecott book are slightly more different than that, but yes, they're functionally the same book.

I covered both this and the two editions of Collins in "The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies" at the appropriate time, though that might not have come early enough to help your buying decisions.