About eighteen years ago, when I first began reading J.R.R. Tolkien, I could never imagine that I would be one of the many enthusiasts spread around the world with serious objectives of analysing the Professor’s works, not only as entertainment but as a key to our modern culture.
First of all, I hope you have all had a very happy Yule, and I wish you all a prosperous, happy, and Tolkienian New Year!
Next, I will remind you of the 2015 birthday toast on Saturday, January 3rd, when you are supposed to toast to “The Professor” at 21:00 (9 PM) local time. For much more information, see the Tolkien Society’s 2015 birthday toast pages – and don’t forget that you can join the Tolkien Society …
In his review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, David Bratman makes the astute observation that the title of the film goes unexplained. Unless the extended edition changes this when it’s released – presumably in November 2015 – viewers will have to decide for themselves which groups Peter Jackson considered one of the five armies.1
Well, I’m back …
After a hiatus of three months, I return with the Tolkien Transactions for the month of November 2014. This means that I have skipped the transactions for August through October, except for the few bits that I had prepared before I got too busy, and the few bits that are too good to miss out on
The publication of Scull and Hammond’s expanded edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil basically completes the set of publications of drafts and associated papers, and annotated editions, of all of Tolkien’s books published during his lifetime. (What’s come out posthumously is all “drafts” in a sense.) Omitting his purely technical publications, only “Leaf by Niggle” and a few miscellaneous poems remain unpublished in this format. I thought it might be useful to have a bibliography of these items, so here are all the ones published in book form, with The Silmarillion also treated in this format.
One of the most frequent requests I receive from fans of Tolkien and Middle-earth is to speculate on what The Silmarillion might have looked like, “had Tolkien finished it”. This is a really popular topic. I have stumbled across more than one attempt to produce a (pseudo)-canonical Silmarillion text through the years. Canonical contrivances always lead into the Valley of Canonical Collisions. There is no canon, and everyone has their own idea of what should be canon. The problem is of such universal proportions that the Vulcans have a saying: “Only J.R.R. Tolkien can write a canonical Silmarillion; everything else is fan fiction.”