Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The King's Letter

So, today was a good day. Yesterday was my first day back in the Archives of this (short) research trip, mostly spent sorting out where I left off and getting myself back into the feel of working with the manuscripts again. Today I got back into the detail work. My first overall goal is to go through the sequencing for the latter part of Book VI, which I put together in haste last time without the usual double-checking. Specifically it was figuring out the best way to represent the complicated tangle whereby the Epilogues spun off from the final chapter and then in turn spun off The King's Lettter, one of Tolkien's fine calligraphic tengwar manuscripts.

Christopher Tolkien states that there are three versions of this document, two of which -- the first  (IX.130) and third (IX.131) texts -- he reproduces in HME.IX. Wayne & Christina pick up on this discussion in ARTIST & ILLUSTRATOR (page 201) and reproduce the second text (item #199, page 202).  But there's actually a fourth text, and I was trying to figure out where it fit into the sequence. And just to complicate things a little more today I turned up a fifth text, though this might be the text CT refers to as a 'transliteration' (IX.129), given that it is written in Tolkien's fine calligraphic hand in English and Elvish but not in tengwar.

In other news, last night I got to attend a meeting of the Burrahobbits, my all-time favorite reading group. Which reminds me: the group got its name when we were much amused with Nichol Williamson's readings from THE HOBBIT --still I think second only to Christopher's recordings of some Silmarillion texts.* Now Williamson's performances have been available online, for those who don't have a copy of the old four-record set or indeed a way to play vinyl albums. Here's the link, for which my thanks to Janice:


So, things are off to a good start. The most eventful incident so far was accidently leaving my laptop behind in the Archives at the end of day yesterday. Thanks to one of my fellow researchers working in the Reading Room, who saw me at the bus stop and let me know; a quick dash back from the bus stop up to the top floor of the library revealed that I was in luck: there was still someone inside who'd been keeping an eye out while locking up in case I shd show up again. So I didn't have to spend that evening and the next morning without my electronic devices.**

--John R.
--current reading: continuing the collection of C. L. Moore's NORTHWEST SMITH stories. Also today read some unfinished short stories by Virginia WoolF, which were interesting (I've read virtually all her fiction and essays/literary criticism, and biographical pieces, but a few stray pieces have turned up since I was last in a V.W. reading mood).

*and of course to JRRT himself

**If I had, it wd probably be justice for the time I was babysitting a toddler and had to hear her distraught cries of 'Y-pad! Y-pad!' when it was time to put the I-pad away and sleep.

UPDATED W.9/25-19

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