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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
I love Tolkien's design concepts, although they generally look unfinished.

Curious
Half-elven

Mar 26 2007, 2:42pm


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I love Tolkien's design concepts, although they generally look unfinished. [In reply to] Can't Post

For me, they work best when a professional artist helps finish the project based on Tolkien's design. On the other hand, there is something attractive about Tolkien's imperfections, since we can then trust that this is the work of the Author, imperfections and all.

Sauron is rather hard to make out on the cover you have shown us; I believe I have seen lighter versions. I'm always amazed at how much he looks like an immense person, and how little he looks like an immense cloud. The text is much more ambiguous than the picture Tolkien drew, although putting Sauron in the dark background of the cover does obscure his picture a bit, even in better quality reproductions. Still, I think Tolkien was more willing to indulge in a bit of whimsy in his drawings than some of his illustrators are, except of course for the Brothers Hildebrandt, who, probably justly, receive a great deal of grief for their Disney-esque whimsy. Tolkien's vaguely human picture of Old Man Willow is one example of Tolkien's whimsy, and this illustration of Sauron, I judge, is another. I say this in particular because I have been looking at the illustrations by Alan Lee we will be discussing this week, which are, as far as I can tell, completely devoid of whimsy.

I love the way Tolkien's designs present a puzzle for the reader. This is not at all typical of professional book covers. It's the sort of thing that makes LotR a joy to read multiple times, for there are really countless puzzles within the book which can only be appreciated after multiple readings and close study. The major drawback of the cover for The Two Towers is that Tolkien was never really satisfied with his answer to the puzzle posed by the title. I have a feeling he chose these two towers for the cover because of the symmetry he could work into the design. Personally, I like this design for Orthanc the best of all of Tolkien's drawings, but it may be too smooth and conventionally tower-like to fit the description in the book. Again, that may have been influenced by Tolkien's desire for symmetry.

As for the choice of script, perhaps Tolkien thought it looked vaguely rune-like, since it is based on stone carvings. As for the influence of St. Perpetua's vision, I wouldn't be surprised if Tolkien knew the story and found it to his liking, since he was a devout Catholic and considered his mother a Catholic martyr. It's hard to say why he liked it, but I don't find it surprising that he had particular likes and dislikes when it came to fonts.

Subject User Time
JRRT Author & Illustrator, ch. 5: LOTR: Wrapping It Up: Cover Design Luthien Rising Send a private message to Luthien Rising Mar 25 2007, 12:47am
    So the Two Towers are Orthanc and Minas Tirith Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Mar 25 2007, 1:10am
        The dust jacket image is Minas Morgul and Orthanc drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 25 2007, 2:14am
            The quote you gave us from Letters FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 25 2007, 5:01pm
                It was Minas Morgul early on drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 25 2007, 6:40pm
    Minas Morgul looks even more like a lighthouse FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 25 2007, 2:03pm
        It reminds me of a chess piece / drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 25 2007, 3:58pm
            I wonder if that was intentional. Morwen Send a private message to Morwen Mar 25 2007, 4:31pm
    My answers, by drogo drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 25 2007, 3:56pm
        Elrond's ring... N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 25 2007, 4:19pm
    I love Tolkien's design concepts, although they generally look unfinished. Curious Send a private message to Curious Mar 26 2007, 2:42pm

 
 
 

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