Monday, May 17, 2010

Books at Kalamazoo

So, I'm just back from Kalamazoo tonight and one of the first tasks in sorting out the stuff I brought back and getting back to work is finding places on the shelves for the new books I bought over the extended weekend. Here's a list w. some brief annotations:

MIDDLE-EARTH MINSTREL: ESSAYS ON MUSIC IN TOLKIEN, ed. Brad Eden [McFarland, just out]. -- I'd held off ordering this one in hopes it'd be available in the Book Room, which it was (I think its official release date was the 15th). Its contents range from a piece on phonoaesthetics and a comparison of THE LAY OF LUTHIEN with SIR ORFEO (hm!) to an extensive piece on Tolkien's musical influences (Gregorian chant, Wagner, Sibellius) and music inspired by JRRT (Oliver, de Meij, Russell &c) by David Bratman, which I'm looking forward to reading.

THE VALE OF YORK HOARD. This is one of the 'British Museum Objects in Focus' little booklets which describe in great detail some artifact from the museum's collection. While in London back in 2007 I picked up four of these,* which I enjoyed greatly, so I thought I'd learn about this one as well. I was more interested in the forthcoming one (Sept/Oct?), which I ordered, on the FRANKS CASKET. I also ordered a similar but non-series from another publisher about a similar hoard found in Staffordshire.

SUTTON HOO AND ITS LANDSCAPE: THE CONTEXT OF MONUMENTS by Tom Williamson. I don't know if I'll ever get to Sutton Hoo, but this looked like a nice overview, well illustrated, of the site and its background.

ENGLAND'S BOY KING: THE DIARY OF EDWARD VI, 1547-1553. This is just an impulse buy; I thought it might be interesting to learn a little more about the last Tutor king by hearing his own voice, given that I have v. little impression of his personality.

WORDCRAFT: NEW ENGLISH TO OLD ENGLISH DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS by Stephen Pollington. Looks to be a handy one-way dictionary in which you look up the modern English word and it gives you the Old English equivalent(s). Might be a useful supplement to Clark-Hall's ANGLO SAXON DICTIONARY, which is what I generally use (a legacy from Taum's library). I'd love to have the Bosworth-Toller, but at least it's available online (and in all its bound glory in Suzzallo-Allen.

ELVES IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND by Alaric Hall. An interesting-looking book on a v. interesting topic. I'm particularly looking forward to reading its third chapter, "Female Elves and Beautiful Elves" -- he devotes six pages just to "AElfscyne", wh. of course is relevant to anyone interest in Tolkien's poem "IDES AELFSCYNE".

NINE MEDIEVAL ROMANCES OF MAGIC, tr. Marijane Osborn. Among the contents are the opening section (the non-prophetic parts) of THOMAS OF ERCELDOUNE, accompanied by the more familiar version of the legend, THE BALLAD OF THOMAS RYMER. Also SIR LAUNFAL (a personal favorite), a little fragment from LYBEAUS DESCONUS (which I've not read, but is by the same author as SIR LAUNFAL), and TIM LIN (Child Ballad #39). Osborn was there at the conference and delivered a paper at an evening session the first night that I'm told was quite good: I was there in the audience, but two nights running of three to four hours' sleep a night, plus a trip out fraught with storms and delays and rebookings and reroutings had by that time caught up with me so much that I had a hard time following any of the four presentations at the evening session -- much to my annoyance, both at the time and afterwards, since what little bits I cd focus on seemed quite interesting.

MIDDLE ENGLISH ROMANCES, ed. A. C. Gibbs. Includes excerpts from KIGN HORN and HAVELOK THE DANE, both of which I've been wanting to pick up (too bad there's no GUY OF WARWICK as well). I had been hoping to find two Univ. of Exeter Press volumes covering some of the same ground (having just finished their ST. BRENDAN volume, picked up at the conf. two years ago, and having found their WACE and LAYAMON volumes last year) but my luck failed there.

Also on its way is PHYSIOLOGUS, a new translation from the Latin, wh. I ordered after skimming their display copy -- given how much trouble I had finding a reliable translation at Suzzallo-Allen when working on the Bestiary poems for my Kalamazoo presentation, I thought it'd be worthwhile picking this up to have on hand henceforth. I almost bought the EETS volume of the Middle English Physiologus in the Powells Room, which I'd thought was well done when working w. it recently, but ultimately decided against it, since Suzzallo Allen does have that one.

Finally, as the book room was closing down I picked up a little booklet from Phil Kaveny's booth, THE HORRORS WE BLESS: RETHINKING THE JUST-WAR LEGACY by Dan Maguire, who was a famous, not to same infamous, Marquette professor in my time there but whom I never had, since we were discouraged from taking any courses outside our own department (including a famed medieval history lecture that wd have been enormously useful to those of us who took Medieval Literature as one of our three fields). So now I'll get a taste of what I missed all those years ago.

A few non-book items from the Book Room shd be interesting: audio recordings by 'The Chaucer Studio' of performances of SIR GAWAIN & THE GREEN KNIGHT, KING ARTHUR'S DEATH (excerpts from the ALLITERATIVE MORTE & the STAZAIC MORTE), HORN CHILDE, PATIENCE (the Gawain-poet's hilarious version of Jonah), & PEARL. These shd make for entertaining listening during driving, or so I hope. We'll see.


*on the LEWIS CHESSMEN, the QUEEN OF DARKNESS, an Easter Island statue, and the SUTTON HOO HELMET.


Carl Anderson said...

Haven't read Williamson's Sutton Hoo book, but I will throw out a recommendation for Martin Carver's Sutton Hoo: Burial Ground of Kings? (now just about 12 years old, but still worthwhile). Alaric Hall is a great guy, and his elves book (based on his doctoral thesis) is likewise excellent. Similarly, I have a lot of time for Marijane Osborn; besides her new romances collection, I strongly recommend her classic Landscape of Desire: Partial Stories of the Medieval Scandinavian World (co-authored with Gillian R. Overing) and her contributions to the Beowulf & Lejre collection (edited by John Niles, which also includes an afterword from Tom Shippey).

Extollager said...

Tolkien and serious music sounds like an interesting topic. (We'll put aside the question of Gilbert and Sullivan influence on "Errantry"!)

I wonder what JRRT would have thought of a comment linking the feeling, when Feanor and his people come to the Great Ice, with the "Landscape" (lento) portion of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony #7 (Antarctica)? -- not as a matter of "influence" but of "affinity."

Speaking of affinity between a musical composition and a fantastic story, try putting Sibelius's symphonic poem "Tapiola" side by side with Blackwood's "Wendigo."