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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
JRRT Author & Illustrator, ch. 5: LOTR: Intro

Luthien Rising

Mar 19 2007, 1:45pm

Post #1 of 3 (330 views)
JRRT Author & Illustrator, ch. 5: LOTR: Intro Can't Post

This week I’ll be dividing discussion Hammond and Scull’s chapter on Tolkien’s illustrations of The Lord of the Rings into – you guessed it! – five segments. These segments are determined partly by practicality (a.k.a. my nightmarish schedule this winter, which has meant I’ve been thinking about the pictures much more than reading the text so far),* partly by what struck me about these illustrations and variations on them when I saw some of them in person a few years ago, and partly by the fact that there are five weekdays.

So it will run something like this:
  • M ~ qualities of Tolkien’s work in pencil and ink at this time (illus. #145, 147, 162)
  • T ~ the Doors of Durin (illus. #150–154)
  • W ~ the Book of Moria (illus. #155–156)
  • Th ~ rising places: Orthanc and Minis Tirith (and maybe also Dunharrow; illus. #162–169)
  • F ~ cover design (illus. #176–182)

And after that, of course, a catch-all day for everything we’ve not found room to say before. (We’ll just pretend that’s not six.) My posts will end up at whatever time of day I finally manage to get them together.

I’ll preface the discussion as a whole, though, with the reason I chose this chapter.

In 2004 I had the great pleasure to attend, with a number of you, the conference “The Lord of the Rings, 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder” at Marquette University (which holds a large Tolkien collection) in Milwaukee. It was a very filled weekend, between the stimulating lectures, the often even more stimulating after-lecture discussions, and the Very Excellent socializing. (Some of us will never forget the Two Towers of Cream and Butter.) But somewhere in the middle of it all, I took some time off (trusting that N.E. was taking good notes on that particular talk) and went to see the library’s display of selected items from its Tolkien collection, on my own.

It was in a small room, so I wasn’t expecting much. And I’d seen similar displays before and just thought they were pretty, or interesting from a scholarly viewpoint to me as a (now former) sort of historian of the book. Instead I found myself face to face – just inches away – from one draft manuscript first page of The Lord of the Rings. There it was, in his own ink, “The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring”. (I wanted to scan it and post it here, at least temporarily, and if I can find where on earth it’s ended up in my disaster zone of an office I still will!) And there I was, with tears rolling down my face.

Tolkien’s hand in his text matters. For the past many years we’ve gathered here and talked about the words he produced, always coming back from our peregrinations into his other writings to The Lord of the Rings. Now we get to talk about his literal hand in his text – elaborate and scrawled, carefully planned and always changing. “Changing,” you’ll see, is one key when it comes to Tolkien’s illustrations of The Lord of the Rings. And if I just just nail down where in this nightmare of an office my copy of the Marquette exhibition catalogue got to, I’ll even through that literal hand in the mix, in the form of Tolkien’s handwriting, and of those moments where illustration and text become inseparable.

*And many thanks (again) to N.E. for offering to help me out if my schedule jams up any worse this week!

Lúthien Rising
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. / We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

(This post was edited by Luthien Rising on Mar 19 2007, 1:51pm)


Mar 19 2007, 4:14pm

Post #2 of 3 (207 views)
Looking forward to it! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh man, that story about Marquette brings back memories. As much as I love the talks, the museum display was probably my favorite part of the whole experience (well, that and cheese curd Tongue).

Seeing all those familiar names written out in Tolkien's elaborate, curlyqued handwriting was moving to say the least!

(Formerly drogo of the two names!)

NZ Strider

Mar 19 2007, 6:21pm

Post #3 of 3 (251 views)
Towers of cream and butter... mmmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

*begins salivating*

Looking forward to the discussion; and in point of jammed schedules, you have my sympathy.


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