The Lord of the Rings - 50th Anniversary Edition: Notes

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Riv Res
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The Lord of the Rings - 50th Anniversary Edition: Notes

Postby Riv Res » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:40 pm

The Lord of the Rings - 50th Anniversary Edition: Notes



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Early last week I was shopping for a couple of books for my great-niece at Barnes and Noble and I started to look at the 'nook' and ended up purchasing one. I am finding that I like the easy lightweight option rather than carrying around something enormous like LOTR. Anyway ... I made sure that the Tolkien basics were available on the nook before purchasing it. The version of LOTR that is available is the 50th Anniversary Edition. I had purchased the actual book when it came out in 2004. It is still sitting in my bookcase in pristine condition ... a beautiful volume.

I had never gotten around to reading the two lead in pieces (Notes); the first, NOTE ON THE TEXT, by Douglas Anderson and the second, NOTE ON THE 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, by Hammond and Scull. Perhaps it is only a true Tolkien geek who can say this, but they are both eye opening and fascinating reads.

Anderson writes primarily about the history of the editing of the original texts - a daunting task considering the (dare I say) disorganized and unorthodox way it was written over such a long period of time. Hammond and Scull attempt to explain and restore Tolkien's original wording to the 50th Anniversary Edition from those previously edited editions and they document the problems they discovered.

Starting with the original British printing in 1954, there was (as one could imagine) much correction to be done even after the editors had finished. Tolkien wanted things changed ... editors got words and punctuation wrong ... and so on. There were British and American publishers out there getting things wrong on this ENORMOUS books and Tolkien (and others) were continually trying to update (as Tolkien re-thought some things) and correct them. Then there was the small American publisher, Ace Books, who published an 'unauthorized and non-royalty paying edition' in 1965 ... and ... did their own unauthorized editing!

Tolkien tried for years to make his own editing corrections for all these editions and publishers and by 1966 was worn out by it and giving up. Then he died in 1973 and in 1974 Christopher Tolkien took up the torch and after as much grief as I have personally given CT, I will now admit that the Tolkien world owes him an enormous debt of gratitude and I can understand ... after all of his eye opening work on his father's writings and legacy ... why he guards these works so closely.

One of the most fascinating things mentioned in these 'notes' is the fact that Tolkien often wrote passages in light pencil and then would go over them ... and make changes ... in ink, and it was only through CT's work that he deciphered the changes that his father was making to his story. This he did this by painstakingly resurrecting the pencil version from underneath. Wow!! All of this additional information is what compelled the fastidious CT to publish the 8 volumes of The History of Middle-earth.

I felt the 'notes' and the 50th Anniversary Edition itself might prompt some in depth conversation.

Thoughts?
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Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:42 am

One of the most fascinating things mentioned in these 'notes' is the fact that Tolkien often wrote passages in light pencil and then would go over them ... and make changes ... in ink, and it was only through CT's work that he deciphered the changes that his father was making to his story. This he did this by painstakingly resurrecting the pencil version from underneath. Wow!! All of this additional information is what compelled the fastidious CT to publish the 8 volumes of The History of Middle-earth.


:o All I can say is "Blimey!" What a nightmare that must have been. It's almost as if he had to write the text all over again. How in heaven's name did he pull the pencil out from the ink overlay?
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Postby Merry » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:44 am

I've sometimes noticed, when reading some secondary source by one of the original generation of commentators, that the language in some quotes is different than I remember it to be. One of the young scholars from the Sorbonne who was at Oxford years ago had a paper on how we should think of all these versions--and it was in French!

Nice of you to give CT a break, RR! :wink:
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Postby Riv Res » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:36 am

I know ... I know. I have really been hard on the old guy. :roll: :oops:

Just imagine being the impeccable philologist that Tolkien was and inventing new languages for these detailed and lengthy stories only to have some eager (translation = brainless) editor change (without Tolkien's authorization) the eloquently thought out and invented nuances and languages ...

> glistered became glistened
> chill became cold
> Dark Power became dark power
> Elvish became elvish
> Drúadan became Druadan
> Númenórean became Númenorean

Tolkien must have gone nuts as it happened over and over again.
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Postby Merry » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:58 am

And worst of all, 'nasturtians' became 'nasturtiums'!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:43 pm

Yesssssssssssss! :x
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Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:58 am

Geesh, I had to look up "glistered" to see if it was a real word. :lol:
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:07 pm

I have read some of Anderson's LOTR notes and it makes fascinating reading.

It's clear editors, ignorant of Tolkien's credentials and faced with the sort of writing that they had never come across before, had no idea that they weren't looking at mistakes. They were editing a new genre before books with new words (and unfamiliar old words) were commonplace. It must have driven him absolutley nuts!

I knew from the HofM-e notes that Christopher T had painstakingly resurrected written over text for all the History of Middle-earth stuff - everything including LOTR. It makes the mind boggle at how herculean that was. We really do owe him a huge debt.
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Postby Merry » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:36 pm

True. I do my share of studying ancient corrupt texts in my academic work, so I don't hate that kind of work myself, but I lose patience even reading CT's work. I can't imagine doing the work! It's truly a labor of love.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.


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