Thursday, December 27, 2007

’Tis the season ...


During my wife’s fifteen-year college reunion a few months ago, I learned that the son of one of her fellow alumni was a big Tolkien fan. The last time we saw them, Leo was just a toddler, but now 10 or 12, he had been drawn into Middle-earth as fully as readers three times his age (like me). Of course, I don’t doubt the movies did their part too!

So, to help him along, I sent him a copy of the Ace “pirate edition” of The Two Towers (1965), like the one you see here. I happened to have two copies of it, actually, but I didn’t have an Ace Fellowship of the Ring or Return of the King. These are relatively valuable as collectible copies in their own right, but they’re also a comparatively economical way to get a copy of the first-edition text (although unauthorized and likely riddled with small errors). I’m just sorry I didn’t have a complete set to send him.

Now check out the very nice Thank You/Christmas card I got in the mail recently (above; click to enlarge), complete with a hand-drawn illustration. That’s obviously Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in the foreground; a Ringwraith mounted on his Fell Beast in the background; and an Eagle swooping in from above. I love the stubble on Aragorn. Clearly Leo’s conception of the scene was strongly influenced by Peter Jackson — which doesn’t bother me a bit. There are worse interpretations out there.

I do have to say it feels a little strange to be called Mr. Fisher. Am I really getting that old? To a ten-year-old, I suppose I probably look as old as Gandalf. ;)

6 comments:

  1. N.E. Brigand12/27/2007 3:40 PM

    likely riddled with small errors

    I believe Nancy Martsch has published a study of the errors in the Ace edition, probably in her journal, Beyond Bree.

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  2. That sounded familiar, so I went poking around. You must be thinking of this: “Differences between the Ace and Ballantine Paperback Editions of The Lord of the Rings” by Robert Acker and Nancy Martsch (Beyond Bree, September 1996: 1–9).

    I think Nancy still has all the back issues available for anybody who wants to read this. On the other hand, the text has been tweaked and corrected so many times since the authorized Ballantine paperback editions, I hardly see the point in studying those differences. Besides, isn’t this, de facto, a comparison of the first with the second edition?

    A more useful study would compare the Allen & Unwin and/or Houghton Mifflin first editions with the Ace edition.

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  3. Jason

    Happy Holidays! I remember growing up and seeing the cover of the ACE edition of Return of the King on our book shelf - the image is still stuck in my mind - the fields of Pelannor with several of the characters on before the gate and in the distance a large looming shadow (the moment as described when the shadow loomed up and then was blown away) - blue background. Hope to do some regular posting now that I have a new laptop with WIFI etc. One of my pressies was a first edition of Ancrene Riwle which I am currently digging into. How is the Ostler Latin book - on my list to get tomorrow in town. Cheers, Andy

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  4. Long time, no talk, Andy. I had been checking in on your blog fairly often, but you seem to have been in absentia there until very recently. Welcome back! :)

    Regarding the 1955 Salu translation of the Ancrene Riwle — a nice gift! — I am sure you’re aware of this, but you didn’t mention it on your blog: the short preface was written by Tolkien himself. Nice. I don’t have a copy of this, but I do have a first edition of Tolkien’s own edition of the same work (Ancrene Wisse, The Early English Text Society, 1962). If, after reading the translation, you find that you want to read it in the original vernacular (actually a mixture of early Middle English and Latin), then look for Tolkien’s edition.

    Speaking of Latin, Ad Infinitum is very interesting so far. Occasionally, I find that Ostler could be a bit clearer, but for the most part (about one-fifth of the way through), I can recommend it highly. All sorts of surprises about early Latin etymology — including much more Etruscan influence than I was aware of.

    I’ll be writing a review of it when I’ve finished, and I may blog about it as well. Give it a look. And let me know, come to that, what you think of the new translation of War and Peace; I saw that at the bookstore a few days ago and was curious.

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  5. Jason thnx for the reply - yes, so much to review and I spent this morning (my geburtstag!) reviewing all your past postings to catch up. You have some of the post postings I've read on the web and I sent a link to your blog to my father in New York who is the ur-Tolkien scholar of my family. I purchased the Ostler book yesterday and will be digging into it after I finish a lite but interesting holiday diversion with Kate Mosse's Sepulchre. I also went to the Beowulf movie last night in IMAX 3-D - which i am still processing and have been holding off on reading what others such as you and Professor Drout thought of it and will be blogging on (it was a hell of ride that's for sure). There is a documentart on UK TV (ITV) called JK Rowling a Year in the Life which I will watch and report back on any interesting tidbits. Just order the Walking Tree Press Silmarillion book and look forward to reading your article.

    Cheers, Andy

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  6. I spent this morning (my geburtstag!) reviewing all your past postings to catch up.

    Very flattering! Thanks! :)

    You have some of the post postings I've read on the web

    Did you leave a word out or substitiute a different one by mistake here? Not sure I understand “post postings.” I don’t want to automatically presume you meant to type “best”, but, erm, did you? ;)

    I sent a link to your blog to my father in New York who is the ur-Tolkien scholar of my family.

    Excellent. I’ll be quite interested to hear what thoughts he might have.

    I also went to the Beowulf movie last night in IMAX 3-D - which i am still processing and have been holding off on reading what others such as you and Professor Drout thought of it and will be blogging on (it was a hell of ride that's for sure).

    I haven’t posted more than an idle comment or two yet myself, because I hadn’t seen it. Until last week. And you’re right: it was one hell of a ride. I plan to post some thoughts some time in the next few days, and I’ll look forward to reading yours. I thought Mike Drout’s were very astute, too.

    Just order the Walking Tree Press Silmarillion book and look forward to reading your article.

    Glad to hear somebody out there is buying it, hahae. Do let me know what you think of it. I’ll look for a review of it on your blog at some point, and feel free to email me as well. One always feels like one is working in a vacuum, and when one releases a finished work “into the wild” as it were, it is always with some degree of trepidation about its reception. Then, of course, one almost never hears anything at all. Which is possibly worse. :)

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