Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sometimes the whale wins ...

I last updated readers on J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of the Book of Jonah in August 2009, a little over five months ago. Since then, I’ve heard from some of you, impatient as I was. Release dates have come and gone on the various pages at Amazon, etc. According to, in fact, the British edition was due to appear next week; but gave a much later date (December 2010). So, understandably confused, I inquired with my contact at the publisher, Darton, Longman & Todd. I just heard back, and sadly, he conveyed the worst possible news.

I don’t have any details yet (nor am I assured of getting any), but apparently the project has been killed. In their words, “I’m afraid we’ve had to cancel publication unfortunately. I’ll make sure is amended ASAP” — which I took to refer to Amazon, Bowker, and every other distributor and bibliographic database that had been informed of the planned publication.

So, I guess all we’re going to get — at least, for the foreseeable future — is the wonderful cover design and a lot of “what could have been” speculation. I will, of course, let you know if I ever hear that the project has been brought back to life. But for now — bollocks.


  1. Any reason given for this abrupt cancellation? I'd assume that such a book, with cover and all, must have been fairly far advanced -- was it a legal issue? A "creative difference" with the Tolkien estate? I'd be grateful for any further information.

  2. I don’t have any specific details, but my guess — no more than that — is, yes, a legal issue. If it’s only a matter of permissions, then there may be hope yet. But if the difficulties are financial, then maybe we should “correct little hope to no hope.” I can imagine a scenario — and I should stress that I am not suggesting this is actually the case at all — where a third party with a financial claim were to insist upon a con$$ideration greater than the whole anticipated revenue from the project. Such a scenario would effectively kill the book, probably beyond resuscitation.

    But I really don’t know anything more at present. If I learn anything concrete, I’ll certainly share it — unless sworn to secrecy. ;)

  3. I smell the fine Italian hand of the Estate here.