Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A new Tolkien reference — well, almost new

A couple of years ago, Tom Shippey wrote a guest editorial for Mallorn, the journal of the Tolkien Society, in which he identified several areas of Tolkien studies as yet un- or under-explored. I had reason to read this editorial again recently, in prep-aration for a panel discussion at the Mythopoeic Society’s annual conference (Mythcon) last month. (And I read it again just a few weeks ago and cited it in a book review, forthcoming in the next issue of Mythlore.) Well, when Tom suggests something ought to be looked into, then it really ought to be looked into. He even encourages others to take the lead, generously sharing his ideas:

Reverting to images from World War I, much of the above must sound like “château generalship”, with the old guy well to the rear urging the young enthusiasts forward to do something he does not care to try in person. If all these are such good ideas, why not use them myself? The answer is, and I will say it in Latin to elevate the tone of this piece, non possumus omnia omnes, and in English to make sure everyone gets it — “we can’t all do everything”. There just isn’t time. I look forward to pursuing some of these thoughts, I hope for quite a long way, but I would be very pleased as well if someone else would get there first. There is, after all, a great deal of juice in Tolkien, more than enough to go round. [1]
One of the items Tom singled out in his editorial was this:
[R.G.] Collingwood and Tolkien were both Fellows of Pembroke College for nearly a decade till 1934, when Collingwood took up a Chair at C.S. Lewis’s college, Magdalen. Did the three of them ever talk about, agree about, disagree about the subject of folktales, on which Collingwood was working and publicly lecturing in the 1930s? […] Tolkien was furthermore surely aware of W.G. Collingwood, R.G.’s father, who not only helped to found the Viking Society and wrote influential works on Icelandic sagas, early English inscribed stones, and the “historical” King Arthur, but also published several historical novels set in Dark Age England of a kind which (I think) Tolkien would have liked. [2]
About a year later, Tom mentioned Collingwood again in an online chat celebrating the release of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, in which I also participated. There, he said, “I suspect [Tolkien’s] Oxford milieu has not been much investigated. Did he ever talk to R. Collingwood? They must have known each other, and Collingwood was taking a deep interest in folktale at that time. Tolkien also, I think, had a high opinion of his father. There may have been other social/intellectual connections, which could be researched” [3].

I begin to wonder about this too. Over the past week or so, sparked by having just read the editorial again, I started to poke around. There were extremely few references to R.G. Collingwood in the usual places. Nothing in Tolkien’s biography or published letters, for example. I found a reference to Collingwood in the bibliography for Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond’s wonderful Reader’s Guide, but nothing specific about him in the book. The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia makes one reference to W.G. Collingwood, the father — totally incidental, as far as Tolkien is concerned — and none to R.G.

The most specific references to R.G. Collingwood I have found come from J.S. Ryan, who mentions him in two of the essays recently collected in Tolkien’s View: Windows into His World. But the references are anecdotal and short on specifics. “Tolkien had had so many significant conversations with R.G. Collingwood […] in his own earlier years in Pembroke College”, and things of that sort [4]. Ryan is a little more specific in another essay, offering a few more details and even citing the book we’ll be coming to shortly [5].

But on my own, I had come across a nice, rather juicy reference to Tolkien in one of Collingwood’s books. Even better, it seemed as if no one had yet printed it! The references (two, actually) occur in Collingwood’s Roman Britain and the English Settlements, where he noted that “special debts must be mentioned. My colleague Professor J.R.R. Tolkien has helped me untiringly with problems of Celtic philology. […]” [6] Of which there is one example of this assistance:
Let us look at the evidence. Sulis,¹ the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, came into her own at a very early date; her temple, with its classical architecture and very unclassical sculpture, was probably built in the Flavian period. But less than thirty miles away across the Severn, Nodens, the hunter-god of the Forest of Dean, who survived in later mythology as Nuada of the Silver Hand, king of the Tuatha dé Danann, and later still as King Lear, […]

1. She is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol — perhaps meaning the same — is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye’, and this again may mean the sun. [7]
Clearly , Tolkien was still thinking about Nodens, a subject he had explored four or five years earlier, in 1932. Tolkien does not mention Collingwood’s work in that essay [8], but it’s probable that he knew it and that they discussed the subject at Pembroke. Collingwood had published previous versions of his research, Roman Britain (1932) and The Archaeology of Roman Britain (1930), either of which might have made references to Tolkien, but I found nothing there. But the two references quoted above are interesting because they give additional weight to the argument that Tolkien was well-versed in Celtic philology (however, at least one contemporary reviewer criticized Tolkien on that score [9]).

But in any case, so far as I knew, no one had ever reprinted this quotation. Ah, but I said the reference was “almost new”, didn’t I? I often forget (and should never) that it’s not enough to consult Wayne and Christina’s printed books — one must also never forget to check their online addenda and corrigenda! As it happens, sometime after their Chronology appeared at the end of 2006, they wrote an addendum online:

p. 181, insert before entry for 14 January 1936:

By 14 January 1936 Tolkien assists R.G. Collingwood, the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford and a colleague at Pembroke College, ‘untiringly with problems of Celtic philology’, as Collingwood will write in the preface (dated 14 January 1936) to Books I–IV of Roman Britain and the English Settlements by Collingwood and J.N.L. Myres (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936; 2nd edn. 1937), p. vii. On p. 264, Collingwood mentions in a footnote regarding Sulis, the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, that ‘she is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol – perhaps meaning the same – is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye”, and this again may mean the sun.’ [10]
Alas, I have to confess my disappointment at having been beaten to the punch. But how can I even pretend surprise? Wayne and Christina are two of the best researchers the discipline of Tolkien studies has ever seen. I must try to keep in mind Tom Shippey’s pleasure “if someone else would get there first”. The important thing is to excavate these references and to bring these little gems into the light of scholarly study. If I’m not the first to mine the same vein, at least it’s being mined. Much ado about nothing? Probably. Well ... back to the dig.

[1] Shippey, Tom. “Guest Editorial: An Encyclopedia of Ignorance.” Mallorn 45 (Spring 2008): 3–5, p. 5.

[2] Ibid., p. 4.

[3] “Transcript of chat session with Pr. Tom Shippey during The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun Online Release Party (09.05.09)”, http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/885-Tom_Shippey_chat_session.php

[4] Ryan, J.S. “Tolkien’s Concept of Philology as Mythology.” Tolkien’s View: Windows into His World. Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers, 2009. 103–20, p. 120. Interestingly, this reference comes in the last footnote to the essay, but it’s missing from the original essay, published in Seven in 1986. There, there is no mention of Collingwood. Ryan evidently added this reference for the reprint!

[5] Ibid., “Mid-Century Perceptions of the Ancient Celtic Peoples of ‘England’.” 189–98, pp. 194, 195, 198. I don’t have a copy of the original essay from Seven, 1988, to compare, but I expect the references to Collingwood are there in this case.

[6] R.G. Collingwood and J.N.L. Myres. Roman Britain and the English Settlements. The Oxford History of England, ed. G.N. Clark. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936 [2nd ed. 1937], p. vii.

[7] Ibid., p. 264 and note 1.

[8] Reprinted in Tolkien Studies 4 (2007): 177–83.

[9] T.F. O’Rahilly, who wrote: “Stokes, followed by Rhys and Thurneysen, would refer Nuadu to the IE. root neud–, ‘acquire possession of ‘, seen in Germ. geniessen and nutzen. The same etymology is adopted by J.R.R. Tolkien in his discussion of the name Nodons […]. A serious objection to this etymology is that this root neud–, so far as is known, is peculiar to the Germanic and Baltic languages ; there is no trace of it in Celtic.” In Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946, pp. 495–6.

[10] “Addenda and Corrigenda to The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (2006), Vol. 1: Chronology”, http://mysite.verizon.net/wghammond/addenda/chronology.html

30 comments:

  1. Hello Jason.

    There are also references to Collingwood's footnote in the following sources:

    Doug Anderson's excellent (and sadly still unpublished) 2004 Kalamazoo paper "Tolkien and the Collingwoods"

    My PhD thesis: "The creative uses of scholarly knowledge in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien", Cardiff University 2005 (and also in my Tolkien online courses since 2005)

    Mike Drout's 2007 article in Tolkien Studies 4 (2007) "J.R.R. Tolkien’s Medieval Scholarship and its Significance"

    (BTW I know I owe you an e-mail - I will reply a.s.a.p.!!!)

    Dimitra

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  2. Hi, Dimitra! This is great information! I had not heard of Doug’s Kalamazoo paper, but it sounds very interesting! I’m going to have to ask him for a copy of it.

    I have read Mike Drout’s essay in Tolkien Studies, but the footnote where he quotes from Collingwood’s book completely slipped my mind. In fact, I wonder whether Wayne and Christina decided to add this to their online addenda and corrigenda after reading it in Mike’s essay? The timing is right. If so, it’s Mike who really deserves the credit for sharing the quote and making the same point as to its significance that I did in this post. Then again, maybe it’s really Doug who deserves the credit!

    Ah, I suppose (to paraphrase Lloyd Alexander) I should just “let the credit go”. As I said above, it’s less important who discovered something than that it was discovered. Still, it’s a great thrill to be the first to find something new, isn’t it? :)

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  3. At the LOTR Plaza [http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=237245&PID=7185188#7185188], Charles Noad (via 'Dorwiniondil') notes that "[i]n his The New Leviathan (1942), in discussing the word 'right' Collingwood agains notes Tolkien's help on whether it is derived from Latin 'rectus' as a loan word (p.440-441)".

    Furthermore, there is a reference to Collingwood (not sure if it is to father or son) in Mallorn 28: "Collingwood and Myres (p. 407) noted a dearth of archaeological material 'in east Oxfordshire'... I believe that Tolkien took the archaeological and documentary knowledge of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire used in Collingwood and Myres and combined it with his knowledge of early Surrey and Middlesex and the idea of residual British populations to generate the idea of an early kingdom of 'Greater Middlesex', i.e. 'The Little Kingdom', existing some two hundred years before Frithuwold." The title of the paper is "Frithuwold and the Farmer: Farmer Giles of Ham and His Place in History" and the author is Patricia Reynolds.

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  4. By the way, thanks for the photo of Collingwood, it goes into my evergrowing electronical collection of Tolkien-related photos.

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  5. Have you tried Google books? It always gives at least a good starting point. Also irrelevant or simply wrong results, of course - but this search:

    http://www.google.com/search?tbs=bks%3A1&tbo=1&q=inauthor%3Acollingwood+tolkien&btnG=Search+Books

    yields these books by Conningwood with at least one mention of the name "Tolkien" in them:

    Roman Britain and English Settlements
    The New Leviathan
    The Roman Inscriptions of Britain: Inscriptions on stone
    The philosophy of enchantment

    and per you post and Ardamir's comment the first two are relevant, so it should be worth looking for the other titles. Maybe they are just reprints, but who knows?

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  6. Another possible lead for you: Owen Barfield refers favorably to Collingwood in several places. (The books I would check on this are in my office.) This raises the possibility that Tolkien and Barfield discussed Collingwood. I think it is widely accepted that Barfield influenced Tolkien. You might find it worthwhile to investigate whether any of the places wherein Barfield mentions Collingwood seem to have Tolkienian resonance.

    The first Barfield book I would check is Poetic Diction.

    I should say -- it may be that all of Barfield's references to Collingwood are late. For example, I think Barfield doesn't refer to Collingwood in the body of Poetic Diction, but in an appendix. However, it is likely that Barfield had been reading (and talking about?) Collingwood for years.

    The defunct magazine ToWards, which was largely an anthroposophical vehicle, carried material not only on Barfield but on Collingwood.

    The Barfield biog by Blaxland de Lange doesn't have Collingwood in its index.

    Happy hunting, Jason!

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  7. Ardamir,

    At the LOTR Plaza […], Charles Noad (via ‘Dorwiniondil’) notes that “[i]n his The New Leviathan (1942), in discussing the word ‘right’ Collingwood agains notes Tolkien’s help […]”

    Thank you for this! Very interesting. This is one of Collingwood’s books I did not think to check. (I did check his autobiography; nothing.) It appears Tolkien is also mentioned in another of Collingwood’s books, The Roman Inscriptions of Britain: Inscriptions on Stone (1965), but I would have to get it from the library to find out what he says exactly. The chances are, Doug Anderson already unearthed all of this in his Kalamazoo paper.

    I think it would be fun to try to collect together as many as possible of these small and casual acknowledgements from Tolkien’s own day (to get them all would be the goal, but perhaps impossible to attain).

    Furthermore, there is a reference to Collingwood (not sure if it is to father or son) in Mallorn 28: "Collingwood and Myres […]

    That’s the son, Robin George.

    By the way, thanks for the photo of Collingwood, it goes into my evergrowing electronical collection of Tolkien-related photos.

    Of course. There is a picture of him as an older man here. Not a great photo, but you might care to see it.

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  8. Hlaford, yes indeed. Google Books and Archive.org are always worth checking. Depending on the age of the reference(s), Project Gutengerg may have useful material too. And of course, there are many one-off websites with valuable stuff. There are also lots of contemporary essays in periodicals that are worth reading, many available through Project Muse, JSTOR, or Oxford Journals. Electronic searching is just a starting point, of course — which usually leads to the library, and very often interlibrary loan, and frustratingly often, to dead-ends — but it certainly does speed up the process!

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  9. Extollager — good thought! C.S. Lewis also refers to Collingwood in some of his essays and letters. It was a pretty tightly-knit community, and as Tom Shippey pointed out, all three men (Tolkien, Lewis, and Collingwood; to which group we can add Barfield) were interested in folklore and history. It makes sense they would have talked. But like Charles Williams, Collingwood died a bit early in their tenure.

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  10. Interesting. I remember encountering, somewhere in Tolkien scholarship, a reference to (paraphrasing from memory) "Tolkien's analyses of the names 'Nodens' and 'Sulis'", with phrasing that implied that the latter was well known in the field. I didn't know anything about it. But each time I encountered that statement, I neglected to follow up; I'm glad you have.

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  11. Thanks, N.E. Brigand. You know, it strikes me that your name would fit in perfectly with all these early 20th-century intellectuals. N.R. Ker, R.G. Collingwood, C.T. Onions, N. E. Brigand. :)

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  12. Jason posted:

    "I think it would be fun to try to collect together as many as possible of these small and casual acknowledgements from Tolkien’s own day (to get them all would be the goal, but perhaps impossible to attain)."

    Yes, and I am actually doing it, sort of, because I save (electronically) all of these snippets that I find on the web, that's why I could bring you the Collingwood reference posted at the LOTR Plaza.

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  13. Excellent. I’d love to see what you’ve got so far, and I might be able to give you a few more to add to your growing list. For one example, there is the reference by T.F. O’Rahilly I quote above (n9). When you have what seems to be a pretty thorough collection, you should look for a suitable place to publish this. It would be very useful to scholars. If there’s enough material, maybe even a book, comprising all the quotations plus indexes by speaker and subject. Was this your plan already? Please let me know if I can help!

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  14. Jason

    This is very timely for me. I had a good chat with Ruth Lacon at the recent Festival in the Shire about R.G. Collingwood and his possible work/influence on Tolkien especially around the as yet unpublished Fall of Arthur. Ruth gave me a good reading list which includes The Roman Britian and the English Settlements which I found on line and will read on holiday! Be great to hear how your research on this is coming. I think there is alot of work to be done on the people Tolkien came into contact with outside of the Inklings and how they may have influenced him - he was a gregarious man who most of met a lot of different types of people in Leeds and Oxford and would be interesting to see how these went into Tolkien's soup. Anything Tom Shippey says I listen to - having now met him I can say he is a force - reminds me of Gandalf!!!

    Best, Andy

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  15. I think there is alot of work to be done on the people Tolkien came into contact with outside of the Inklings and how they may have influenced him […]

    I couldn’t agree more, Andy. It’s really serendipitous that you happened to be discussing Collingwood in just the last week! What a strange and wonderful coincidence.

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  16. Jason, I haven't really thought about publishing anything. I am just trying to collect various Tolkien-related data that often isn't available in the standard publications - such as letters, photos, signed books, books from Tolkien's library, recollections about Tolkien, and other snippets such as those discussed in this blog post - for my own perusal, but also for others, if there is interest in the stuff I've collected.

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  17. Well, as your collection grows, you just might want to think about it. Letters and photos could present certain problems for publication, but short excerpts from books, of the type we’ve been discussing here, should not. Anyway, it’s nice to know somebody’s keeping track of all these minutiæ!

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  18. There are also others, but I think they mostly collect just information about letters - but that's fine too, because then we are able to compare the letters each of us has found. I know that one of your (and my) Facebook friends is collecting information about unpublished letters in the hope of publishing them, maybe even contributing to an eventual second or revised volume of the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, but I am not sure if I am free to mention his name here. :)

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  19. No need to name names. :)

    A couple of years ago, I asked Cathleen Blackburn about the acceptable use of unpublished letters. What I wanted to know was, once the content of letters is “in the wild”, following an auction, etc., is it then acceptable to quote from these letters? Answer: no. The reason: “There is an exception in the copyright legislation for reproduction of copyright works in particulars of sale for the purposes of sale, but I’m afraid that this is regularly abused by secondary use of the reproductions. I have had correspondence with auction houses and others on this subject, who seem to be unaware of the limitations of the legislative permission.”

    That certainly makes sense to me. So, the Tolkien Estate does not grant permission to reprint such letters, though very general paraphrasing is acceptable. A close paraphrase should be run by the Estate in advance.

    On the other hand, in the U.S. at least: “The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made […]” (United States Code: Title 17, Chapter 1, §107). Still, anyone with any sense would avoid assuming an antagonistic pose toward the Estate. Not out of fear of reprisal, but as a simple matter of respect.

    No one would greet the publication of an expanded collection of Tolkien’s letter more enthusiastically than I, but I think it’s very doubtful we’ll see this any time soon. Still, we can hope.

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  20. Okay, that's good to know (about the acceptable use of unpublished letters).

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  21. We added the note about Collingwood to our Addenda and Corrigenda after receiving the information in March 2007 from John Buckelew, a reader of the Companion and Guide. (Our usual policy is to add the names of persons who call things to our attention to a list of acknowledgements on the general Companion and Guide page, http://mysite.verizon.net/wghammond/addenda/companion.html.) If not for Mr. Buckelew, we probably would have noticed Michael’s footnote in Tolkien Studies when it was published some months later.

    Collingwood was, however, of interest to us long before that. Collingwood and Myres’ book was one of Christina’s standard texts at university, and the Collingwood family was of major significance in the life of Arthur Ransome, whose bibliography Wayne published in 2000. We had also encountered references to Collingwood while researching Tolkien at Pembroke, not enough at that time to warrant an entry for him in the Reader’s Guide, though we should now add some more notes about him to our Addenda. Doug Anderson was investigating Tolkien and the Collingwoods by 2001, when we briefly discussed the subject with him and he suggested that it was Collingwood who brought Tolkien into the Lydney Park project for his note on ‘Nodens’. We had already had the same thought, while reviewing Tolkien’s involvement in relation to claims that he had physically worked on the dig and that Lydney Park had inspired Hobbiton and the Shire. (This was at a time when – riding the publicity coattails of the Jackson films - many locations in Britain began to exaggerate a connection with Tolkien for one reason or another.)

    J.S. Ryan, as we see when following up your reference to his ‘Mid-Century Perceptions’, felt that ‘there seems little doubt’ that Collingwood was responsible for Tolkien having a role in the Lydney Park study. We wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘little doubt’, which is too close to a statement of fact without documentary evidence, but that’s Ryan’s style. (He did indeed include the references to Collingwood in the essay’s appearance in Seven. There were some slight revisions for the reprint in Tolkien’s View.) Less comfortable is the footnote you cite from Ryan’s other essay, rightly noting that it lacks specifics as to Tolkien’s ‘many significant conversations with R.G. Collingwood’. We suspect that this is Ryan assuming that these must have taken place, given that Tolkien and Collingwood were both at Pembroke for a while and had certain interests in common; but there seems to be no documentary evidence, and since Ryan himself was not at Oxford until long after the fact, in the fifties, this isn’t first-hand testimony. Shippey’s approach to this sort of thing, wondering if there were conversations, is the correct one, to stimulate further research.

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  22. [Continued from the previous comment, which ran past the Blogger character limit:]

    In addition to Collingwood’s consultations with Tolkien, as cited in your post and in comments, it’s interesting to note that Collingwood’s collaborator, J.N.L. Myres, independently went to Tolkien in 1937, with questions about an inscription retrieved from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery (Chronology, p. 205).

    There are some passing references to Tolkien in the recent biography of Collingwood, History Man by Fred Inglis (2009, partly viewable on Google Books). On p. 105: ‘In 1926 things cheered up a little, at least for Collingwood, when J.R.R. Tolkien was appointed fellow, and the two met on the mutually sympathetic grounds of philology and folklore. . . .’ Again, there is no documentation, and again it seems likely that an assumption is being made – reasonably, but an assumption nonetheless. Inglis, as you may know, wrote a somewhat uncomplimentary essay about Tolkien’s work for the Robert Giddings collection J.R.R. Tolkien: This Far Land (1984), and on another page of his Collingwood biography makes the remarkable statement: ‘J.R.R. Tolkien had come to Pembroke as colleague, is personally acknowledge in the 1936 Roman Britain, and was even then gestating his giant mythology, and painting the luscious water-colours of Cheddar Gorge and the Rock of Ages in Burrington Combe that would supply the landscapes first for The Hobbit in 1937 (much admired by Arthur Ransome) and then for his masterpiece, Lord of the Rings.’ Tolkien certainly visited Cheddar Gorge, and may have known Burrington Combe, but as far as we know, he never painted them, lusciously or otherwise.

    In regard to the comment about ‘collecting information about unpublished letters in the hope of publishing them, maybe even contributing to an eventual second or revised volume of the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien’, we've been proposing a second edition for many years to HarperCollins and the Tolkien Estate. This seemed an especially good idea after transcribing so many letters in the course of writing the Companion and Guide. But so far, those who would have to approve the project haven’t done so.

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  23. [Continuing our previous comment, after we reached Blogger's character limit:]

    In addition to Collingwood’s consultations with Tolkien, as cited in your post and in comments, it’s interesting to note that Collingwood’s collaborator, J.N.L. Myres, independently went to Tolkien in 1937, with questions about an inscription retrieved from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery (Chronology, p. 205).

    There are some passing references to Tolkien in the recent biography of Collingwood, History Man by Fred Inglis (2009, partly viewable on Google Books). On p. 105: ‘In 1926 things cheered up a little, at least for Collingwood, when J.R.R. Tolkien was appointed fellow, and the two met on the mutually sympathetic grounds of philology and folklore. . . .’ Again, there's no documentation, and again it seems likely that an assumption is being made – reasonably, but an assumption nonetheless. On another page, Inglis makes the remarkable statement: ‘J.R.R. Tolkien had come to Pembroke as colleague, is personally acknowledge in the 1936 Roman Britain, and was even then gestating his giant mythology, and painting the luscious water-colours of Cheddar Gorge and the Rock of Ages in Burrington Combe that would supply the landscapes first for The Hobbit in 1937 (much admired by Arthur Ransome) and then for his masterpiece, Lord of the Rings.’ Tolkien certainly visited Cheddar Gorge, and may have known Burrington Combe, but as far as we know, he never painted them, lusciously or otherwise. (Inglis also wrote a somewhat uncomplimentary essay about Tolkien’s work for the Robert Giddings collection J.R.R. Tolkien: This Far Land [1984].)

    In regard to the comment about ‘collecting information about unpublished letters in the hope of publishing them, maybe even contributing to an eventual second or revised volume of the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien’, we've been proposing a second edition for many years to HarperCollins and the Tolkien Estate, which seemed an especially good idea after transcribing so many letters in the course of writing the Companion and Guide, but so far those who would have to approve the project haven’t done so.

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  24. Thanks very much for the valuable and thorough comments, Wayne and Christina. :)

    […] but that’s Ryan’s style. […] since Ryan himself was not at Oxford until long after the fact, in the fifties, this isn’t first-hand testimony […]

    Yes, I’ve noticed his tendency to presume more than can be proven. In addition, I think one has to weigh the value of Ryan’s “many unplanned and more social meetings […], many walks and pacings together with him around the College Garden” (Tolkien’s View, p. x) against the use Ryan would later make of what they discussed — resulting in at least “one nonsensical article by J. S. Ryan” (Tolkien to Mr. Rang, 1967).

    […] J.N.L. Myres, independently went to Tolkien in 1937 […]

    Thanks, I had missed that! Thanks also for those details from the Fred Inglis book (of which I had just learned through somebody else but have not read).

    As for an expanded edition of the letters, we’ll all keep our fingers crossed. If there would ever be any value in collecting a “petition” from prospective buyers, please let us know! :)

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  25. About a year ago, Marcel Bulles from Germany, on his own initiative (i.e. with no prompting from us), started a petition in favor of an expanded edition of Letters with ourselves as editors. This evidently made the rounds of various national Tolkien groups, but we don't know if it ever got to HarperCollins.

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  26. Harm J. Schelhaas8/30/2010 10:42 PM

    As far as I know, Marcel’s petition didn’t really get off the ground. He proposed it on the ITF, suggesting that the petition should be signed predominantly on behalf of Tolkien societies or by well-known Tolkien scholars, but I think I was the only one within ITF who even replied on any of the ITF media. Of course I do not know about any replies he may have received in private, but if there had been any sizable show of support I would have heard it from him.

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  27. I never saw that petition myself. I’ll have to ask Marcel about it.

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  28. Harm J. Schelhaas9/03/2010 6:43 PM

    It was on the private ITF forum, I think, so it wouldn’t be public knowledge, nor show up on search engines.

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  29. For what it's worth, today I came across this and thought I'd mention it here: J. Whatmough in his article "Keatika: Being Prolegomena to a Study of the Dialects of Ancient Gaul" (HSCPh 55 (1944) pp. 1-85) criticizes some statement in Collingwood's 'Roman Britain' in these terms:

    [...] it is pure nonsense to write "It is now held... that the Q-variety" [of Keltic] "arose in Ireland, perhaps in the third century before Christ, by a change of p into q." If Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, who helped Mr Collingwood "untiringly with problems of Celtic philology" (vii), is the author of this extraordinary gaff, he must stand alone in it. [...] (pp. 17-8, footnote)

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  30. Hahae, nice. Thanks for sharing this reference. The way we all lionize Tolkien today, it’s good to be reminded that not everybody agreed with him, and he wasn’t always right. Another example of this (though not expressed so boisterously) is Simon Horobin’s reassessment of Tolkien’s view on The Reeve’s Tale.

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