Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Tolkien Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Diary

Tolkien EncyclopediaSo, about six months ago a great big book called The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment finally appeared. Since others have already done it for me, I won't rehearse the long list of the book's problems and production nightmares (you can read about them here, at the editor, Michael Drout's, blog) — I'll just say that I contributed twelve entries to the volume, most of which I'm pretty happy with. One of them was chosen as a sample entry for the Routledge / Taylor & Francis website. Doing twelve entries also tied me for sixth eighth place among the top ten contributors, but hey, it's not about quantity but rather quality, right?

Earlier this year, I learned about the Encyclopedia Diary, a project launched by a fellow contributor with the goal of systematically reading and reviewing every entry in the whole Encyclopedia — all 537 of them! Squire discussed his Diary, what is it, and why he started it at his blog, squiretalk, and the idea behind it appealed to me very much. So, again, long story short, I've been participating in the project since February, along with squire and another Encyclopedia contributor, N.E. Brigand. These guys have real names, of course, but as Treebeard might say, "Hoo! Now that would be telling! Not so hasty." ;)

Some of my own entries have been reviewed, with quite a few valuable opinions and insights, as well as some very legitimate criticisms. I've also had the chance to do some 64 reviews — and counting — myself. Drop in and browse! And if you're lucky enough to have one of these rare, expensive books, I know that squire would welcome your input. And as Tolkien once said, "Touching your cap to the Squire may be damn bad for the Squire but it's damn good for you" [1]. What does that mean? I'll leave you to ponder it.

[1] Carpenter, Humphrey. Tolkien: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977. p. 128.


  1. I've been reading the Diary with considerable interest, but have decided to remain mute on the subject of the Encyclopedia. Ergo silebo, as Tolkien once said.

    Actually, you're not tied for sixth place, you're tied for eighth. It's a common mistake.

    But you're quite right, it's quality not quantity. Considering that the #1 contributor by quantity is ... but, ergo silebo.

  2. Ah, you're right — tied for eighth. My first erratum. Thanks! :)