Friday, April 9, 2021

The New Arrivals

So, two new books -- both of them on Tolkien -- have arrived within the last two weeks.

The first is TOLKIEN & THE CLASSICAL WORLD, edited by Hamish Williams, a substantial volume of four hundred pages. This addresses a topic you'd have thought wd have received a lot of attention before, but oddly has been the subject of just the occasional essay, like Reckford's piece from 1987 on Bilbo and Odysseus. The only previous book I know of on the topic is Morse's slim little volume (circa 1986), which is more a pamphlet than a full size book.  I'm particularly looking forward to the pieces on Atlantis, the Ring of Gyges, and Rohan.

The second is THE SCIENCE OF MIDDLE-EARTH, edited by Roland Lehoucq, Loic Mangin, & Jean-Sebastien Steyer. Oddly enough, the title page doesn't list the authors of the individual essays; you have to turn to the first page of each essay for that. There's been a book on this topic before (Henry Gee's eminently readable 2004 book, also called THE SCIENCE OF MIDDLE-EARTH) but even a quick glance shows there's much more to say. Another slightly unusual feature of this book is that its contributors seem to mostly have a French background, as opposed the the US/UK background of most writers of books on Tolkien.

Two other non-Tolkienian titles I'm reading as ebooks are a biography of Kipling (who turns out to be a deeply unsympathetic figure) and a light novel series. 

Soon there will be the latest in the Murderbot series. In the meantime, Clarke's PIRANESI is waiting in the wings.

So many good, or potentially good, books waiting . . . 

--John R.



Druss said...

About The Science of Middle-earth, it's indeed a translation from a French book, Tolkien et les sciences, published in 2019. It's mainly a book where the authors use Middle-earth and Tolkien as an excuse to talk about sciences, rather than trying to explain scientific concepts specific to Middle-earth, but there is a few essays about French Tolkien specialists ; myself, I wrote the one about archeology. I hope the translation is a good one, and I'm curious to know your opinion about the whole book.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Druss

Thanks for the additional information. Yours will probably be my point of entry into the book, it being a topic I'm much interested in, having myself delved into a Tolkien & archeological related theme (on the surviving relics of the unknown god NODENS). Plus I was impressed by yr piece on Tolkien & the KALAVALA for A WILDERNESS OF DRAGONS. Looking forward to it.

John R.