Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Week at Marquette

So, I just wrapped up a week at Marquette, spending the days working with the Tolkien collection in the Archives* and the evenings seeing friends from my Wisconsin days I don't get to see nearly often enough.** It was great, and I'm already looking forward to Next Time, whenever that may be. In particular, staying on-campus brought back a lot of memories from the years when I lived on or just-off campus (first in the Abbottsford [1981-83] -- still standing-- and later in the apt on 17th street [1983-87], no longer extant).

As for my research, I spent a lot of time with the John Boorman script for his unproduced LotR movie, finally wrapping up a project I'd worked on in bits over several previous short visits (day trips).  But I also got to spend some time with the 1983 conference papers, and some with the timelines for LotR, and some on miscellaneous things.  I'd wanted to look at the timelines for some time, in part because they were among the material added to the collection after my time at Marquette, so they postdate my knowledge of the collection, Now that I've taken a good look at them and seen just what all might be there, it turns out to be fascinating stuff, in more ways than one. For one thing, they're oddly reminiscent of the Timelines and Itineraries that made up part of the 1960 HOBBIT, which I thought unique in Tolkien's work. I now see that what I worked w. for H.o.H. resembles the early stages of work Tolkien did that ultimately evolved into the TALE OF YEARS. I'll definitely be spending more time with and taking a closer at this material.

And there was one fun moment I wanted to share. Richard West came over from Madison and joined me for a day (Tuesday the 7th), during which time he made an interesting discovery in the course of his own researches. I'll leave the announcement of it to Richard, in whatever he decides is the appropriate time and place, but looking over that same material the next day, in the same box I came across an anonymous article on THE HOBBIT. No author, no place of publication, no date -- just a neat copy of the piece itself.  That attracted my curiosity, given my interest in THE HOBBIT, so I quickly skimmed the piece. It looked familiar. Turning back to the front and skimming again, I realized there was a good reason why: I wrote it. In fact it was one of my CLASSICS OF FANTASY pieces, the next-to-last in the series (#18, December 2003). I so informed the Archivist, and it's now suitably identified and all. But it was a weird moment to find an unknown piece by an unknown author, only to have it turn out to be me.

--John R.
current reading: SUMMER MOONSHINE by Wodehouse (just finished),
THE BROTHERS CABAL by J. Howard (resumed)

*I originally wrote "down in the Archives, but it's been more than a decade, I think, since they moved to the top floor in the new building.

**hi Jim! hi Richard! hi Peter and Mary and Hugh! hi Eileen. And of course all at the Archives

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