Saturday, January 9, 2016

More New Arrivals

So, books continue to come, via gifts, visits to the bookstore (three different Barnes & Nobles), subscriptions, and that great bookstore in the sky (also known as Amazon).

1. MALLORN, #56. This is the latest issue of one of the most long-lived of all Tolkien journals (rivaled only by the Tolkien-Lewis-Wms themed MYTHLORE). Haven't had time to do more than skim it yet, but there's always something of interest herein. At a first glance, the stand-out piece for me is Jn Doherty's review of Jamie Williamson's THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN FANTASY: FROM ANTIQUARIANISM TO THE BALLANTINE ADULT FANTASY SERIES. I've only skimmed this one, and that in pre-publication form, but I think it might well be the most important work on fantasy in thirty years. Certainly it's up there among the top works giving a plausible and persuasive history of the genre.

2. TOLKIEN'S WORLD: A FANTASY COLORING BOOK. This one was a gift (thanks, Misty): I'd had my eye on the two Tolkien Coloring Books that'd come out earlier this year, and kept going back and forth on whether or not to order them (since they never showed up among the table at Barnes & Noble devoted to the new enthusiasm for coloring books). I was surprised to recognize some of the art, having seen it as long ago as Day's TOLKIEN ENCYCLOPEDIA (1978, I think; poss. '79). Anyway, a welcome addition to the shelves of Tolkien artbooks and related material.

3. BANDERSNATCH: C. S. LEWIS, J. R. R. TOLKIEN, AND THE CREATIVE COLLABORATION OF THE INKLINGS, by Diana Pavlac Glyer. This is a re-casting of Diana's  THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, rather as my BRIEF HISTORY was a condensation of the fuller HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT. I heard a presentation based on this book at this past summer's MYTHCON and have read the original full version (and also before that the thesis it was based on), though not yet done more than skim this third iteration.

4. EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI by Jung Chang. Here's a book Janice read a while back and found interesting. It's one of those books I want to read because I know so little about its topic: a sympathetic biography of an unsympathetic person, the Dowager Empress who ruled China in the dying days of the Manchu Dynasty. She's remembered today as a kind of object lesson in how not to rule a country by the West,* but then that's because it's her enemies who wrote the histories (rather like asking English biographers of Wellington scholars write about Napoleon). Even on a little dipping I've already come across something that fascinated me: we don't know what her name was. She was assigned a name when she entered the Imperial court as a sixteen-year-old concubine in the Emperor's harem, and her original name wasn't recorded.

current reading: Aratus's PHAENOMENA (tr. R. Hard)

*when I'm done with this one, I may finally get around to reading a biography of Nicholas II, the last Czar, which I've had hanging around for years waiting the right time; his even more disastrous reign might make an interesting counterpoint to the Dowager's story.

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