Monday, November 5, 2007

Mythlore 99/100

I just got my contributor’s copy of the Fall/Winter 2007 issue of Mythlore. Though I have been a Mythopoeic Society member for some time now, I have never subscribed to Mythlore, but I see now what I’ve been missing. The issue is quite handsome, well designed and put together, and with only an absolute minimum of “advertising” — all of it relevant and tasteful. No “come out to our commune and pretend to be Hobbits in Middle Earth [sic]” type stuff. It’s also bigger than I expected, weighing it at more than 200 pages, all of them packed with content.

As some readers will know, and as I announced here, I have two reviews in this issue. These are C.S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy, edited by Bruce L. Edwards, on pp. 201–5; and Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien, by Tom Shippey, on pp. 209–12. I’ve read the other two reviews in the issue now, too.

I’ve also read Nick Birns’s essay on Radagast, an almost completely overlooked character in The Lord of the Rings (and even more overlooked in The Hobbit). A very interesting essay which attempts a clever solution to the “enigma” of Radagast. Birns connects his disappearance from the narrative with Tolkien’s own continued revision and transformation of The Lord of the Rings into a progressively darker and more poignant story, growing ever more distant from its origins as a mere fanciful sequel to The Hobbit. In Birns’s own words:
The elegy [reflected in the disappearance of Radagast] is for a kind of storytelling that is now gone from a reconceived Middle-earth, for a light-hearted tale of adventure now turned into a somber legend of loss. (125)
If the rest of the issue is as good as the parts I’ve read and dipped into so far, and I think it will be, then I have a lot of great reading to look forward to. And congratulations to the editor, Janet Croft, for a terrific 100th issue!

10 comments:

  1. Gary Schmidt11/05/2007 4:36 PM

    Fun with quoting out of context:

    "I see now what I’ve been missing. The issue is quite handsome, well designed and put together, and [....] I have two reviews in this issue."


    Congrats on the reviews! :)

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  2. Hahae, or even: “I see now what I’ve been missing [and you should, too, because] I have two reviews in this issue.” LOL.

    Thanks, Gary. :)

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  3. Gary Schmidt11/06/2007 8:32 AM

    I can't resist:

    "I have two reviews in this issue [....]
    If the rest of the issue is as good [....] then I have a lot of great reading to look forward to. And congratulations to the editor" ;)

    BTW, did you catch Boingboing's link to a guy that does amazingly intricate Lord of the Rings origami?

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  4. Hahae, nice. Okay, one more. How about this’n? “[Jason Fisher] is quite handsome, well designed and put together, and with only an absolute minimum of ‘advertising’ — all of it relevant and tasteful.” LOL. :)

    Thanks for the great link, too. No, I didn’t see that. And yes, you caught me not reading Boingboing, even after your nudge. I’ll probably post a link to those origami here on Lingwë. Impressive work!

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  5. Jason, I want to turn in purchase requests for the university library before the money runs out for this year. What do you think of Edwards' 4-vol. set? Does the content justufy the price? Our collection of Lewis is excellent for a small four-year university. We should not buy the book if it mostly rehashes things in other books, which we are likely to have.

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  6. Dale, it’s very difficult for me to say the content justifies the price in this case. Not that the books aren’t worth paying for — just not this particular asking price. I don’t know exactly what you’d be paying, but at retail, each volume is $75.00, which seems outrageously high to me; they should have been priced at half that. I know we’re talking about academic publishing here, not trade, but even so.

    Also, in addition to the generally good but certainly mixed quality of the content, the production quality is not good enough to justify the cost in my mind. The paper is basically newsprint, and though hardback, the covers aren’t cloth, aren’t even protected with dust jackets. And I don’t recall being impressed with the binding. They don’t seem built to last. (Of course, this is Praeger, not Edwards.)

    Also, to your other point, the bulk of the content of the four volumes is not new scholarship. Not to say it’s all just a “rehash”, but some is. It’s really almost an encyclopedic approach, coalescing the state of Lewis studies into a series of organized chapters. Probably less useful to you, since you have a good collection already. And even for its best contributions and new observations, well, again $300.00 for the set just seems exorbitant to me. If you have it to spend anyway, and nothing else would be sacrificed by the acquisition, then get it. Otherwise, pass.

    Of course, you might want to request a copy via interlibrary loan to evaluate it yourself. My opinion is just that: mine. :)

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  7. Jason, thank you! Your information is just what I needed to know.

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  8. nicholas birns11/30/2007 6:55 AM

    Jase, Glad you liked MYTHLORE and my piece. I enjoyed reading your Shippey review as well!

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