On the “New” Book by J.R.R. Tolkien

So, as many have doubtlessly heard by now, the Tolkien Estate is yet again publishing some of the Great Dead Professors’ writings. This time, it is The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, a Norse epic in verse.

You know, I may be committing a mortal sin as a Tolkien fan in acknowledging this publicly, but when I heard about this, I wasn’t even a little bit excited. I mean, I can already get Sigurd and Gudrun if I want it. (And I already intended to read it at some point between the end of this semester and beginning of the next but because of its influence on his books, not his relationship to it as a translator.) So what if it doesn’t have Tolkien’s name on the cover. It’s not Tolkien’s story.

Juno mentioned the new book on her journal, and I commented there that I felt like the Tolkien Estate is becoming crass in trotting out unfinished, doctored, and reworked (by CT) manuscripts every few years. Not because I don’t think that JRRT’s early and incomplete writings and notes should not be shared: quite the opposite! I consider myself not just a fan but a student of his work and, as noted already, S&G was already on my radar for its influence over his Middle-earth-based writings. And his version of S&G might allow additional insights as to how he saw the story, which might illuminate how S&G came to influence his own original writings. I probably will buy it but my excitement over its imminence only marginally eclipses the excitement I felt for reading S&G in the first place and, trust me, given some of the other books on my between-semesters reading list, that wasn’t particularly overwhelming.

My distaste isn’t caused by the book itself but, rather, the feeling that the reputation of The Lord of the Rings (and, to a lesser extent, The Hobbit, though I expect this to change once the movie’s out) is being used to fuel interest in and hype a book that is really better aimed at students and scholars of JRRT’s writings. This is not to say that fans of his more popular books can’t and should not try to enjoy S&G. To the contrary, I hope that at least a few of the people who pick it up only because of his name on the cover do enjoy it and perhaps develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the mythological influences on LotR and TH. Furthermore, I hope that for at least a few of them, S&G will act as a springboard into a deeper, lifelong interest in medieval literature and mythology, much as The Silmarillion jumpstarted my interests in the same topics. It would be fitting to allow a professor to continue to inspire students in his field.

But I doubt that’s what will happen because I doubt that the new book will be presented in such a way to foster that attitude and approach by its readers. Adam B. Vary of Entertainment Weekly gushes that,

Maybe this new Tolkien story — which the good professor reportedly wrote before spinning his tales of furry-footed Hobbits and ring-seeking dark lords — would prove just as richly filled with fodder for a sweeping fantasy epic that wins oodles of Oscars.

Until he realizes that, ick, “it’s written in verse. Eeep. And it’s a retelling of old Norse epics. Yikes.”

Yeah, I suspect that will be the reaction of a lot of people who pick up S&G (a reaction likely compounded when they realize that “verse” isn’t even the lilting metered, rhymed verse of French origins, certainly not limerick, but alliterative verse, that kind that doesn’t even rhyme! Double ick.) Only they probably won’t have even done the minimal research required of an EW blog post beforehand; they will see a favorite author’s name on the cover, which will inevitably be appended with the exclamation Author of the bestselling The Lord of the Rings! Now a major motion picture! and correctly assume that the book is more of the same.

I know because it happened to me. I was smitten by LotR when I heard of The Silmarillion and tracked it down in the store, expecting it to be a lot like LotR. The cover didn’t do much to dissuade me. “The Epic History of the Elves in The Lord of the Rings,” it promised. The blurb on the back didn’t help much either:

The Silmarillion is Tolkien’s first book and his last. Long preceding in its origins The Lord of the Rings, it is the story of the First Age of Tolkien’s world, the ancient drama to which characters in The Lord of the Rings look back, and in which some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part.

Elrond! Galadriel! I know them! Lord of the Rings! (Mentioned three times on two covers!) The blurb is more about LotR than the Silm, intentionally written to snare LotR fans. No one tells you that The Silmarillion is the Old Testament with Elves; no one tells you that it’s nothing like LotR. I hated it. Yes, your resident heretic loremaster and the founder of the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild hated the Silm the first time she read it. It was only when I went back and read it again–prepared, this time, for what to expect–that I could here the story past the anguished scream in my brain of “THIS IS NOT LotR!!” to appreciate the stories it contained on their own merits.

This, I think, is the reason for my distaste with the Tolkien Estate’s long-running habit of drudging up old stuff to put into print. It’s not that I don’t think that his unpublished works shouldn’t be published, and it’s not that I don’t think that they can’t be read and enjoyed by readers who aren’t normally inclined to Norse epics written in alliterative verse. (No modern reader is normally inclined to Norse epics written in alliterative verse, so we must arise from somewhere.) What I dislike is that, through JRRT’s primary association as the author of LotR and The Hobbit, they are presented as writings by JRRT the Popular Author and not JRRT the Scholar of Medieval Literature. And anyone who knows anything about JRRT knows that his incarnation as the Popular Author was fleeting, an accident of chance, and the Scholar was the one who was there to stay, and did. Presenting his scholarly writings otherwise is deeply unfair to readers who go in expecting “a sweeping fantasy epic” and get something very different.

But what to do, what to do? On the one hand, Dawn (you might say), you want his writings published because you want to geek out over them. On the other hand, you don’t want readers feeling misled by what those writings are. What do you want, a disclaimer like: LotR fans beware! Severe nerdiness enclosed! Don’t buy this unless you want to become a nerd! (possibly enclose a photo of Dawn Felagund staring vacant-eyed at her computer screen on a Friday night, partially obscured by a pile of books) Legolas sold separately! Trying to have our cake and eat it too, are we?

Not necessarily. My unasked-for suggestion to the Tolkien Estate is to, yes, please continue publishing JRRT’s drafts and notes and unfinished works for those of us who wish to study them without taking our vacation at Marquette University every year. But publish them online. Make some free–so that fans of his books can explore and see what they’re all about–and require a subscription for the rest and the compilations that CT is inclined to produce. Maybe make such compilations available in print through the site for those who want them. (Some, I hear, like to keep a shelf with all their Tolkien books, even though they use e-books for almost all research purposes, just because it looks impressive. *ahem*) But this habit of riding the wave of success from LotR and The Hobbit to peddle almost completely unrelated scholarly books looks like you’re just trying to make a killing on a legion of fans who salivate at the mention of Tolkien’s name (yes, the deplorable cult), and it’s getting unsightly.

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15 Responses to “On the “New” Book by J.R.R. Tolkien”

  1. Lois says:

    I doubt I’ll be getting the new book. I don’t think I would have bothered with ‘Lays of Beleriand’ if it hadn’t been written by JRRT and set in Middle Earth, but I did read it, and it remains the only epic poem I have ever read voluntarily! Norse mythology will need to wait a few more years to give me a bit longer to recover from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and other such poems we were forced to dissect at school. I have only recently managed to enjoy ‘Jane Eyre’, which I studied 15 years ago! Perhaps the word ‘poem’ needs to be written in very large letters on the cover to make sure no-one is mislead.

  2. Independence1776 says:

    Like you, I rolled my eyes when I saw it was being published. I’ll probably get around to buying it eventually, but I have other Tolkien books I need or want, some of which are related to M-e and a couple that aren’t. The fact that I like alliterative verse helps somewhat, though.

    I was less than impressed when “Children of H?rin” was released, for I have never liked T?rin and certainly didn’t want a whole book about him. (Obviously, I still don’t own it, though I have read it.)

  3. French Pony says:

    Because I know you, I’m almost entirely sure that you didn’t mean for this post to come off as sounding quite as snobbish and elitist as it does. But the fact remains that, as it’s written, there are many troubling assumptions here.

    The first is that it’s somehow wrong for the Tolkien estate to want to make money from JRRT’s works. But this habit of riding the wave of success from LotR and The Hobbit to peddle almost completely unrelated scholarly books looks like you’re just trying to make a killing on a legion of fans who salivate at the mention of Tolkien’s name (yes, the deplorable cult), and it’s getting unsightly. The works belong to the Tolkien estate, and it is the right of the estate to decide how to market them. It’s hardly the first time that a popular success has prompted marketing attempts, but this is something qualitatively different than the usual array of branded mugs, board games, tea towels, chocolates, or stuff like that. This is publication of more work from the same author/scholar, which should be encouraged.

    Adam B. Vary of Entertainment Weekly gushes that,

    Maybe this new Tolkien story — which the good professor reportedly wrote before spinning his tales of furry-footed Hobbits and ring-seeking dark lords — would prove just as richly filled with fodder for a sweeping fantasy epic that wins oodles of Oscars.

    Until he realizes that, ick, “it’s written in verse. Eeep. And it’s a retelling of old Norse epics. Yikes.”

    Considering that two film versions of Beowulf have been released within ten years of each other, and considering the enduring popularity of Wagner’s Ring cycle even among people who don’t know anything else about opera, and considering the popularity of film versions of other verse epics (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Devdas), this comment especially comes off as pretentious. Who’s to say that a good film director couldn’t make Sigurd and Gudrun into a powerful, sweeping work?

    And anyone who knows anything about JRRT knows that his incarnation as the Popular Author was fleeting, an accident of chance, and the Scholar was the one who was there to stay, and did.

    Well . . . no. In his own mind, his primary identity was the Scholar, but that in no way negates the fact that, ever since the publication of The Hobbit, he was a Popular Author, and his popularity has endured for much of the twentieth century. That’s hardly “fleeting,” and it’s no disrespect to his memory to acknowledge it.

    Yeah, I suspect that will be the reaction of a lot of people who pick up S&G (a reaction likely compounded when they realize that “verse” isn’t even the lilting metered, rhymed verse of French origins, certainly not limerick, but alliterative verse, that kind that doesn’t even rhyme! Double ick.)

    I hear what you’re saying in this part, but I also hear a great deal of what I suspect is inadvertent condescenscion toward The Great Literary Unwashed. Here, too:

    LotR fans beware! Severe nerdiness enclosed! Don’t buy this unless you want to become a nerd! (possibly enclose a photo of Dawn Felagund staring vacant-eyed at her computer screen on a Friday night, partially obscured by a pile of books) Legolas sold separately!

    The tone of this post smacks of wanting to keep the icky fans out of the exclusive and lofty realms reserved for Scholars, and it sounds ugly, probably much uglier than you meant it to sound. When this book is published, it will be available to them what wants it, just like you ask for. more importantly, it will also be available for them what doesn’t want it, if they change their minds, or decide to branch out, or (horrors!) pick up a scholarly translation of a Norse epic, misled by the cover, and (like you) come back to it despite their initial disappointment, and come to love Tolkien-as-linguist as much as Tolkien-as-fantasy-author. No one’s being forced to read a book that the Tolkien estate publishes, but no one’s being excluded from it, either.

  4. Raksha The Demon says:

    I remember feeling a certain amount of disappointment with the Silm when I first read it (especially the Ainulindale). But there were so many nuggets of greatness there (the forging and theft of the Silmarils, the destruction of the Two Trees, Beren and Luthien’s quest including the brief verse about Finrod’s song-duel with Sauron, the story of Earendil and Elwing and then finally the coming of the Valar, not to mention the Akallabeth) that I found it worthwhile.

    The trouble (for me) with the Silm is that there is just a bit much doomed struggle and good people being killed (like everytime Turin meets someone he likes). We saw that in LOTR, but the hobbits’ optimism and cheer mitigated it, and at the end the Good Guys did triumph, albeit at a price, and it didn’t take 500 years.

    I haven’t been able to push myself to buy THE CHILDREN OF HURIN. What I saw of the story in THE SILM was sufficiently depressing; and I don’t really like Turin that much as a person, though his courage is admirable. (also, the suffering of his parents is almost too tragic to read)

    If SIGURD AND GUDRUN is part of the Volsung saga, I may skip it. That”s not one of my favorite parts of Norse myth.

    I am glad that Christopher Tolkien came out with all these HoME volumes and the SILM and THE CHILDREN OF HURIN, because they are part of JRRT’s creation of Middle-earth and they enrich my LOTR reading experience; but I’m not sure I feel the same way about scholarly recreations of Norse sagas…And I think it’s okay for a Tolkien fan to feel that way, i.e. not heresy/mortal sin, LOL.

  5. Dawn says:

    Lois: I love “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” … *hides* But, yes, I do understand the distaste that reading for English class can cause. I’m an English major now, but I despised (or so I thought) books and poems for years that we had to pick apart in English class. I do hope that I can avoid doing the same to my future students!

    Indy: I like alliterative verse too! That makes at least three of us! (You, me, and Moreth.) My favorite period of medieval literature was the alliterative revival.

    CoH didn’t thrill me for the same reason and you and Raksha give: Turin’s story has never thrilled me. Oh, I have tried and tried to get into it; I think the fact that he’s so awful because he’s cursed and not simply because of his complex personality (i.e., Feanor … though I know Raksha will protest me on this! 😉 ) that makes him very unexciting to me. I did read it; however, it’s not something I’ll probably revisit often outside of using it for research.

    Also, I hear you on needing other Tolkien books before S&G! 😀 I just completed my HoMe collection this Christmas (Sauron Defeated), for a grand total of around three years!

    French Pony: I am not arguing the right of the Tolkien Estate to publish his work. However, I also possess a right to the opinion (which I guarantee you that they don’t give a shit about) to think that it’s crass. Or, if my family had decided to sell off my grandparents’ estate the day after my grandmother died, that would have been their legal right, but people would still also have had the right to think that it was crass.

    Who’s to say that a good film director couldn’t make Sigurd and Gudrun into a powerful, sweeping work?

    Did I say that?

    *goes back to reread post*

    No, good, I did not. Maybe you need to reread the post too?

    I hear what you’re saying in this part, but I also hear a great deal of what I suspect is inadvertent condescenscion toward The Great Literary Unwashed.

    You suspect wrongly. My argument has nothing to do with making S&G available to icky, stoopid fans but entirely with what I perceive as the Tolkien Estate targeting it in such a way with the aim of making money rather than reaching the audience that will best appreciate it, which will include people who consider themselves fans and people who consider themselves scholars. Many icky, stoopid fans (of which I am one, however flattered I may be that you apparently think of me as a “scholar”) will probably love it. I’ve seen a lot of buzz to that effect already from people that enjoyed Wagner’s work and are looking forward to Tolkien’s take on it. But, to me, misrepresenting JRRT’s posthumous work as another LotR is unfair to his fans. It’s not, and such misrepresentation, to me, reeks of preferring to make money over honesty, and that is crass.

    Raksha: Thank you, I’m glad I’m not excommunicated yet. By you, at least. 😉

    The Silm is depressing, and I hear that critique a lot, and I suppose it says a lot about me as a reader (and a writer) that I wasn’t particularly bothered by that. CoH, though … I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. Like you, Turin’s story never wowed me too much, even though I felt that I should like it more.

    I think, too, that as a writer, the thought of someone publishing my unfinished work is … scary? Distasteful? The HoMe notes, I agree, are rather different, as they are supposed to show the evolution of the published stories and so are understood to be indefinite and unfinished. S&G–dare I even say The Silmarillion?–are different because they also were not complete but they’re being presented as complete. I don’t know. It’s a complicated emotion all around, I suppose.

  6. Rhapsody says:

    Oh I sooo missed that newsbit. 😉 I remembered the excitement I felt towards CoH, having studied canon, piecing bits together and always have been a member of the Túrin fanclub (and have been criticised for it). I had to buy it, first edition, sat down with it and made time for it. Oooh the Nirnaeth chapter, there must be all that wonderful detail I just know is out there (and you know what I know about that battle), more on this and that and the first chapter felt of a Cliff notes version of ah well. *sighs* I continued to read, but I still haven’t finished reading it because I dreaded what might have been axed even more by Christopher. (Does this make me a nerd?) Anyhow, I will get to the point, I swear!

    I have become a bit cautious, especially being made so buying hungry with the promotion of CoH. I own a very old (and written in archaic Dutch) version of the Edda, so I am not sure if I’d want to buy this book. Yet I love to have a looksie at more on Norse Myth, so I probably end up borrowing it.

    This being said, I am not sure what to make of the marketing done by the Tolkien shop and Estate. I occasionally get e-mails of the Tolkien shop, but I never felt that nudge to buy stuff. But I can see what your saying here, especially on how the reviewer you do mention also has to overcome the disappointment that its in verse and not as easy accessible as LotR (btw, I find the first 100 pages of LoTR less accessible than the whole of Silm, so go figure). Folks will probably feel disappointed and you know, the sales figures will tell the tale (or the reactions to it) and perhaps they will realise that scholar stuff could be promoted differently.

    (Some, I hear, like to keep a shelf with all their Tolkien books, even though they use e-books for almost all research purposes, just because it looks impressive. *ahem*)

    No e-editions for me so all is done by hand and typed over, leaved through, post-it littered and all of that. Oh ain’t I the rebel! 😉

    Oh and: I think, too, that as a writer, the thought of someone publishing my unfinished work is … scary?

    I already told you before and some years ago: my notes will be burnt upon the publishing of the book, if I one day might get that far. ^-^

  7. Dawn says:

    I’m glad I was bringing breaking news to someone! 😀

    always have been a member of the Túrin fanclub (and have been criticised for it)

    WTH?? Then again, I’ve gotten dirty looks for wanting to write about the Feanorians as something more than inherently evil murderers, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Folks will probably feel disappointed and you know, the sales figures will tell the tale (or the reactions to it) and perhaps they will realise that scholar stuff could be promoted differently.

    I would think so, but the Silm was reviewed terribly and yet it didn’t slake their enthusiasm. And, as I noted in the post, I do think that this stuff should be published and made available to those who want to read it; I just cringe when I see something that is different from LotR/TH but certainly possessing its own merits being sold using the momentum of LotR/TH and the instant appeal to JRRT’s fanbase whenever that connection to LotR/TH is made. One would think that the generally tepid (or negative) reaction to everything published posthumously would clue TE in that they need to sell these books on their own merits. That they continue to most quickly associate these books with LotR/TH just does not appeal to me at all.

    Now, hopefully, they will make a liar of me and publish S&G without a single mention of LotR or TH anywhere on it. But even my copy of JRRT’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight et al manages to attach his reputation as the author of LotR/TH as somehow significant to his role as a Middle English translator, so I doubt it.

    But if they do, then I will write an apology to them here in my weble. :)

    No e-editions for me so all is done by hand and typed over, leaved through, post-it littered and all of that.

    Oh, I admire you! I would be lost research-wise without my folder of e-books where I can type a name or word I want to find and search the whole collection in a matter of seconds. But I would probably be much more familiar with and knowledgeable about the texts if I did it your way!

  8. Moreth says:

    I sympathise with your cynicism! I really do…

    I sympathise because CoH was a cash cow. I really can’t see a reason to publish it, expect to make a fast buck :/ (Now making money isn’t evil, but re-hashing previously published material is sure-as-hell boring!)

    I have THoBB and JRR’s Middle English translations in versions that don’t refer to him as ‘Tolkien the novelist’. I’m afraid that I aquired the first because I’d heard he had written a ‘Battle of Maldon’ play – so some of us are unashamedly addicted to alliterative verse 😀 Since I was expecting ‘The Battle of Maldon’, it didn’t fail to deliver… but if I’d been expecting an LotR (or even TS), it would have been a surprise!

    It’s hard to say where Tolkien’s translations and ‘other fic’ should be published. Not (please!) on teh intrawebz – much as I use and enjoy on-line searches – I really would like a hardcopy in my hand! Call me a luddite, but electronic text != a book. (Pats my poor dog-eared books…)

    I’d like to see (reasonably substantial) JRRT drafts of scholarly work published. In as far as possible, as they stand. With minimal redaction. I think we all know who I’m looking at here ;P

    And I’d like not to see ‘A New Epic by Tolkien’ plastered across the front cover. A discrete ‘Tolkien translated this because he thought it was a cool story’ will do nicely!

    So, will I buy it? Well… I guess I’ll do it the old fashioned way. I’ll go to a bookstore and flick through it. If it tells the story well, I’m sold! If it looks like ‘The Lay of Leithian’… well, I have better things to do then read Tolkien’s bad poetry. (Let’s be honest, some of his poetry is great. And some is not…)

  9. Lois says:

    Oh, I hope I will like poetry in the end!

  10. W C Hicklin says:

    “I sympathise because CoH was a cash cow. I really can’t see a reason to publish it, expect to make a fast buck :/”

    And there you would be very, very wrong.

    Christopher isn’t about the money, and never has been. He already has more money than God, and spends little of it (most goes to charity). The History of Middle-earth barely broke even.. If CT wanted simply to milk the cash cow, then instead of spending over a decade deciphering 12 volumes’ worth of his father’s heiroglyphic handwriting, he could with a stroke of a pen have done an Audrey Geisel (Seuss) and licensed unlimited quantities of merchandising crap.

    He published Children of Hurin because his dad wanted the long version of the Tale published, on its own. (and it wasn’t “axed:” all the detail JRRT ever wrote is there on the page.) Christopher has published S&G simply because *we asked him to*- certain Tolkien *scholars* who have known of the poems’ existence for years and pled with him to make them available. It certainly ain’t about the money.

    Of course, HarperCollins is ginning up the hy6pe machine, as one would expect. But that assuredly isn’t Christopher’s intent, and he views it with some distaste.

  11. Dawn says:

    WC: CoH debuted at #1 on the NYT best sellers’ list. I can believe that the HoMe only broke even, but I have a hard time believing the same of CoH, which is what Moreth was talking about. (I don’t think anyone thinks the HoMe series makes any money except on hardcore Tolkien geek and fan-writers! 😉 )

    All the same, as I believe I said to French Pony (it’s been a while!), JRRT’s estate has every right to make money on his work. In fact, it is to our advantage that they do. If CT had to give up working on the HoMe (or the Silm!) to work part-time at McDonald’s, students of JRRT’s writings would be extremely bereft.

    Your point about scholars of his work asking for S&G to be made available is in keeping with my point in this post. No one is contesting that it should not, but I do disagree with marketing it in such a way that it creates the impression of being another LotR or Hobbit. That is not only unfair to readers and consumers but also–yes, I loathe to say it–reeks of wanting to make a fast buck rather than present a work that deserves to be seen to an audience that will appreciate it.

    Whether that is CT’s doing or not is beside the point to me. I have utmost respect for the man, even if I don’t always agree with his choices. I have a hard time believing that the TE has no say in how the book is marketed and presented. As you note, they have more money than Eru and I know that they keep a tight leash on anything that bears JRRT’s name. This is not a first-time author who has the choice of signing her work away or never seeing it in print. If they didn’t want it hyped in a way that might appear unseemly, then it wouldn’t be. And I do hope it’s not.

  12. W C Hicklin says:

    Well, it’s interesting that in one area where CT does have some influence- book design- S&G completely avoids any tie-in to the Middle-earth empire, passing over Mssrs. Lee, Howe and Naismith to use re-renderings of the Hylestad ‘Sigurd Portal.’

    As to Children of Hurin making money- well, yes, it happened- although I should point out that CT *delayed* its publication to *avoid* piggybacking on the movies’ success. His own purpose was no more than he stated: to realize his father’s ambition of publishing long, detailed versions of the Great Tales, in the one case where it was possible to do so. His declared secondary intent was to bring the First Age materials to a broader audience, those for whom The Silmarillion is too daunting, and those who think of “Tolkien” and The Lord of the Rings as co-extensive.

    As he told me at the time, “My publication of ‘The Children of Hurin’ next April as an independent work is, intrinsically, a matter of *much* less mark than the publicity has made it appear. It arose from an idea that I have entertained for years…”

  13. Dawn says:

    Yes, I know that there’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t dilemma at work here. :) After the movies, anything with Tolkien’s name on it is going to cause ripples in the pop-culture sphere, even if it is most certainly not meant for pop culture. Which is why my reaction to seeing S&G squeed over in Entertainment Weekly was not a positive one. Anyway, I will take you on your word that S&G is to be presented without deliberately aiming itself at pop-culture consumers. That would make me very happy indeed because I would love to see the work in print, just not being sold next to a life-sized cardboard cutout of Legolas. :)

  14. ” But publish them online.”

    I like that the Internet makes a lot of things available that couldn’t be otherwise.. But if possible I don’t want the internet being the only place to find them. I want to have them on actual Ink and Paper. In case a disaster ever happens and we no longer have the Net.

  15. Dawn says:

    My opinion on this matter has pretty much taken a 180 since seeing how S&G and The Fall of Arthur were marketed … or rather, weren’t marketed toward fans looking for another LotR but toward readers interested in mythology more generally (and deep Tolkien nerds, of course! :D) So I’m glad the books exist in any and all forms that the Estate chooses to publish them in.

    I’ve thought about taking down this post but do want this blog to, in part, reflect my own changing ideas and views as I learn more about Tolkien and, of course, grow as a scholar. So I leave up stuff even when it makes me facepalm. :)

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