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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded edition

Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 3, 2:23pm

Post #1 of 10 (1245 views)
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The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded edition Can't Post

I think this qualifies as some pretty huge news.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded edition

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Felagund
Rohan


Jun 3, 2:48pm

Post #2 of 10 (1208 views)
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absolutely! [In reply to] Can't Post

Very excited! Put the publication date (9 November) in my diary this morning!

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


squire
Half-elven


Jun 3, 3:47pm

Post #3 of 10 (1212 views)
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How interesting and exciting [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this. I see that this edition includes "150 letters that were excised purely to achieve what was then deemed a 'publishable length' " back when the book was first edited and published in 1981. I'm very interested in getting this book, of course, and I'm glad it's finally happening. But I had several more specific reactions:

1) It seems that length restrictions no longer apply to any book with Tolkien's name on it. Well, we kind of already knew that.

2) Letters cut to reduce a compilation's length are presumably the letters at the bottom of a list that rated all the proposed letters' literary or biographical importance, readability, and relevance to fans' interests. They're not the duds that Carpenter or the Tolkien family felt didn't rate publication at all - but they're the duds that got cut when cutting was necessary. It will be up to a few critics and commentators to put out some papers in the next year or three, respecting how important or not the omission and much later publication of the 150 duds seems to be to the field of Tolkien studies.

3) These are not newly discovered letters or anything like that. They were known in 1981 and approved for publication, but just didn't make the cut due to length restrictions per (1.) above.

4) Therefore the new book will also not include any of the many other now-known letters that have appeared and been auctioned off since the Prof's death, unless any of those letters were actually in Carpenter's approved file for the book back in 1981.

5) These newly included letters will no more address Tolkien's private life with its difficulties and unpleasantnesses than the first edition did. The Estate has no interest in such things becoming public any more than it did in 1981.

6) The Amazon blurb crows that one of the now-included letters is "Tolkien's own plot summary of the entirety of The Lord of the Rings".
I am curious if this refers to the four-page section of Letter #131 that was omitted from the 1981 Letters book. It was cut because it was a mere plot summary compared to the remainder of the letter which was a long argument to a prospective publisher that LotR and The Silmarillion should be released simultaneously as a single large work.
If so, most close readers know that that selection (the plot summary) has since been published in several other Tolkien-adjacent books. To my mind it's hardly something for HarperCollins to crow about - but a Tolkien press release is a Tolkien press release.

7) The book's co-editors Carpenter and C. Tolkien are no longer alive. The press release names no editor who supervised this project. It simply says Carpenter's notes, files, and rough draft for the book were used to restore the 150 letters that were cut only for length and apparent lower ratings on the scale of interest or relevance. In short, there will be no new editorial commentary or rearrangement of the book's second edition, reflecting any changes in the critical status of Tolkien in the past 45 years. I have long hoped for a second edition of the Letters book that would include such a reconsideration and additional commentaries - possibly by such experts as the redoubtable Hammond & Scull, or John Garth, or the Prof's second biographer, Raymond Edwards, but that's not what this is.

Anyway, whining aside, this is very good news in and of itself and I can't wait to read it. Thanks again for posting the good news!



squire online:
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Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 3, 4:50pm

Post #4 of 10 (1208 views)
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My thoughts largely parallel yours [In reply to] Can't Post

So I don't have much to add. I would hope that at the very least Scull and Hammond will revise the very fine index that they created for the second edition to accommodate the new (old) material.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 3, 10:34pm

Post #5 of 10 (1188 views)
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I wondered about Carpenter's inclusion [In reply to] Can't Post

so thank you for explaining that (and for all your other thoughts, of course).

I minor note from me: I wonder why the description put fans in quote marks - it's an odd thing to do.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


elentari3018
Rohan


Jun 4, 1:11am

Post #6 of 10 (1174 views)
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im soooo excited!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

getting it first thing if it's available for US folks?

"By Elbereth and Luthien the fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" ~Frodo

"And then Gandalf arose and bid all men rise, and they rose, and he said: 'Here is a last hail ere the feast endeth. Last but not least. For I name now those who shall not be forgotten and without whose valour nought else that was done would have availed; and I name before you all Frodo of the Shire and Samwise his servant. And the bards and the minstrels should give them new names: Bronwe athan Harthad and Harthad Uluithiad , Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable.." ~Gandalf, The End of the Third Age , from The History of Middle Earth series


squire
Half-elven


Jun 4, 1:33am

Post #7 of 10 (1175 views)
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'Fans' were perhaps a new phenomenon in the 1950s and 60s, at least in Tolkien's circles [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice question! I had missed that feature of the press release about the new book.
Checking, I see that in the Letters the term is used in quotations, e.g. for Letter 287's editorial introduction:
287 From a letter to Joy Hill, Allen & Unwin 10 May 1966

[Tolkien's telephone number was still in the Oxford directory, and he was sometimes bothered by calls from 'fans'.]

Thank you very much for your suggestions about my telephone number...
I assume that these quotation remarks are meant to indicate that Tolkien was not accustomed to his readers behaving in what we would now call fannish behavior. The press release is, I think, being a bit precious to preserve that now-outdated usage in the Prof's name, so to speak.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 4, 3:11am

Post #8 of 10 (1164 views)
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Nice answer! [In reply to] Can't Post

I missed that reference in the press release as well, but that is an excellent point that you make about the equivalent reference in the letter to Joy Hill.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 6, 2:58am

Post #9 of 10 (1037 views)
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That makes sense to me. :) / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Paulo Gabriel
Lorien

Jun 7, 11:23pm

Post #10 of 10 (963 views)
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Well, very good news indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post

I do have the first one (Brazilian edition, since I am from Brazil), like I believe many here have as well. I got mine in 2016, however, and I think I never got past page 100 (actually, I believe even a lot less than that). Maybe this announcement will get me around to finally read it until November. Wink


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Jun 7, 11:25pm)

 
 

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