Saturday, April 30, 2011

WOTD: Collops

As attentive readers will know, I am currently reading C.S. Lewis’s translation of the Aeneid. This, by the way, is really wonderful. Brilliant, in fact. The best translation since Gavin Douglas’s 16th-century rendition into Early Modern Scots. The more of it I read, the more I lament that it is incomplete; it’s a must-read for admirers of Lewis and/or Virgil.

Anyway, I came across a pretty uncommon word in the Lewis translation — two rare words, actually, but one of them, collops, got me thinking about etymology. First, let me give you Lewis’s lines:
While they about their meal bestir them and lay bare
The ribs and draw the numbles out and at the flame
Roast the yet quivering collops of the fatted game [1]
Isn’t that a tasty translation? For the sake of comparison, here is Robert Fitzgerald’s rather more mundane rendering (no pun intended): “They skinned the deer, bared ribs and viscera, / Then one lot sliced the flesh and skewered it / On spits, all quivering […]” [2]. Both translations are pretty accurate, but Lewis’s is much more, well, visceral. The choice of “numbles” for the Latin viscera and “quivering collops” for frusta […] trementia verubus gives Lewis the edge, at least according to my aesthetic.

So, numbles and collop are pretty rare words. Editor Andres Reyes includes them in his glossary — a good thing, since most readers, including me, will not be familiar with either word — defining them as “entrails” and “a slice of meat”, respectively. The second word caught my eye. Can you guess why?

When I see an unfamiliar word, the first thing I try to do is determine its meaning from my knowledge of Indo-European etymological principles. Possible cognate forms swim into my mind, often revealing the meaning and origin of the word — but occasionally leading me down the primrose path. In this case, seeing that a collop is a slice of meat, what would you think of? If you’re me, it’s Italian scaloppe (think of veal scaloppini, a dish of thinly sliced veal), Spanish escalope, French escalope, all meaning a “cutlet, cut of meat”. The derivation is from Latin scalpere “to carve, cut”, cp. English scalpel. (One is tempted to think of the Native American practice of scalping, but this is a red herring. Back to this later.)

So this seems like an obvious etymology for English collop, right? Well, I think so, but my etymological dictionaries say no! Are they right, or am I? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

One turns to the Oxford English Dictionary in vain (to paraphrase Tolkien). It says “derivation obscure” and gives only a couple of cognate forms, echoing an earlier scholar’s suggestion that the first element might be col– “coal”. Walter Skeat says the same, more assertively, giving the Middle English forms coloppe, col-hoppe, and (by way of analogy) the Swedish glö(d)hoppa “a cake baked over gledes or hot coals”. Ernest Weekley cites the same antecedent forms and also suggests the first syllable is “coal”, but the second (he says) is obscure. He gives the Old Swedish kol-huppadher “roasted on coals”, and he adds that the word originally meant “bacon and eggs”. Hmm. This agrees with Tolkien’s gloss in A Middle English Vocabulary, coloppes “collops, eggs fried on bacon”. And finally, the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology recaps all of the above, but again with an emphasis on bacon and eggs. The bacon, it would seem, is actually the collop (the slice of meat).

Is this right? Or is it possible that collop = “slice of meat” and collop = “dish roasted on coals; eggs and bacon” were once two entirely separate words, only coincidentally homonymic? It is extraordinarily hard to resist an etymology of collop from Latin, with those conspicuous and phonologically sound cognate forms in the Romance languages.

This also put me in mind of the word scallop. Might this refer to the “(slice of) meat” inside the bivalve? With the original sense being “cut, carve, slice”, if the word scallop is just as old as collop, then no, probably not — but, if collop came to mean simply “meat”, losing the sense of slicing and carving, and scallop is attested much later, then maybe. So I looked up scallop too. According to the OED, (e)scallop, (e)scollop goes back to Old French escalope “shell”, and it entered the Romance lexis as a borrowing from the Germanic branch, exemplary of which the OED gives Middle Dutch schelpe “shell”. Hmm, that’s plausible, but the first attested use of this word is a century later than collop, so my theory that scallop = collop could hold water too. At least as much water as could fill a scallop shell.

Couldn’t it? What do you think?

Oh, and back to the stereotypical Native American practice of scalping an enemy … It’s a funny coincidence that the verb scalp (i.e., to remove the hair from the scalp), arising through back formation from the noun, should also resemble the same root giving us scalpel, and suggesting cutting or carving. The noun scalp comes from the Germanic “shell” root I talked about above, suggesting the skull is your brain’s shell. This is analogous to Vulgar Latin testa “head”, with the earlier sense of an earthen pot, a shell, and even a shellfish. And this is the reason we have Italian testa, French tête “head”, but Spanish cabeza, German Kopf (cognate to Latin caput). This root also originally meant “a drinking vessel”, and I’ve written about it before.

It’s all a mess of metaphors and poetic diction, isn’t it? What a tangled web of words we weave when first we practice to conceive!

[1] Reyes, A.T., ed. C.S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, p. 51, ll. 210–2.

[2] Virgil. The Aeneid. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage, 1990, p. 11, ll. 288–90.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ye, Yea, Yay, Yeah

Confusion between these is one of my biggest pet peeves. One of my college professors used to read literary passages aloud in class. Here’s one I remember:
“Yea, forsooth,” replied the bond-servant, staring with wide-open eyes at the scarlet letter, which, being a new-comer in the country, he had never before seen. “Yea, his honorable worship is within. But he hath a godly minister or two with him, and likewise a leech. Ye may not see his worship now.” [1]
This professor — who shall remain nameless; and he no longer teaches at my alma mater; he has moved on to another school in another state — this professor read yea (/jeı/) as yeah (/jɛə/). I’m sure he knew what the word meant, but he pronounced it incorrectly. He pronounced ye correctly, but that was small consolation to the ghost of Hawthorne, I’m sure. He (and others I’ve known) constantly confused the two words. And vice versa. In colloquial use, I see yeah misspelled yea all the time. It drives me absolutely nuts.

Can you imagine this? “Yeah, forsooth.” I would just about tear out my hair every time I heard it. He might as well have added, “dude.” This guy was a well-educated American college professor and a native speaker of English! The two words, yea and yeah, mean basically the same thing — yes — but there is a world of difference between them, starting with the pronunciation. I ask you, would it sound right to declaim, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death […]”?

Or how about “Yay! Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, tra la la”? Maddening! The same confusion occurs with yay, the exclamation of delight, which I often see spelled yea. This is at least pronounced the same as yea, and at one time, its meaning may have been the same, but again, there is a world of difference now. I can understand the confusion to some degree. After all, the antonym of yea is not *nea, but nay. And all three, yea, yeah, and yay, may derive from the same source, Old English géa “yes”, but there is a reason we have three distinct forms today. I wish people would distinguish them appropriately.

I threw ye in for good measure (and because it occurs near yea in the Hawthorne quotation). This has two meanings: “you” and “the” — the latter, as in Ye Olde Fishe and Chippe Shoppe, comes from the loss of the thorn (þ) in the English alphabet and is really a corruption. No sign of affirmation in either of these words, and fortunately, I’ve seen fewer people confuse them.

Now hear ye: is anyone out there still unclear on the difference between these words, yea or nay? Nay? Yay! ;)

[1] Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1878, pp. 129–30.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Early responses to “Goblin Feet”

Ah, “Goblin Feet”, that debatable trifle, with its flittermice, beetle-things, gnomes, goblins, golden honey-flies. This short poem, first published in the collection, Oxford Poetry 1915, is as lovely and charming to some readers as it is nauseatingly twee to others. Many people have obviously enjoyed it (or at least editors have assumed that children would enjoy it; do they?), since the poem has been reprinted in many different anthologies.

But Tolkien’s own opinion soured, more and more Grinch-like, with the years. Looking back on it more than a half-century later, he wrote — to the editor of yet another anthology requesting permission to reprint it — “I wish the unhappy little thing, representing all that I came (so soon after) to fervently dislike, could be buried for ever.” I’ve written a good deal about both the poem and Tolkien’s attitude toward it (notably this piece), and I think there is some reason to question the vehemence of Tolkien’s response. (John Garth, for one, seems to agree; he suggests we might read Tolkien’s damnation of the poem “with perhaps a hint of self-parody”.) But let me not repeat myself unduly. However it happened, and to whatever degree, it’s a fact that Tolkien came to dislike “Goblin Feet”. Not so some of his earliest readers.

Geraldine Hodgson, writing in 1919, a scant four years after Tolkien’s poem first appeared in print, saw fit to single it out as one of “the better poems in the 1915 volume [of Oxford Poetry]”, referring to “Mr. Tolkien’s delightfully childlike, ineffably gay Goblin Feet” [1]. The reference comes in “English Poetry of the Early Twentieth Century”, the seventh, and penultimate, chapter of her book — a commendably audacious subject, since she was less than two decades into that century at the time the undertook her assessment. She admits at the outset, “[w]e are too close to it to appraise recent Poetry, too close to leave it entirely out of account” [2].

The chapter is quite interesting, in large part because of the author’s catholic approach and her close proximity to the poetry in question (proximity in time, not in person; she points out in her preface that she has no connection to any of the poets she discusses, save one, killed in France during the Great War). With today’s “canon is king” mentality, you’d be hard-pressed to find critics meticulously picking a path through university publications the way Hodgson does. She considers works of the War Poets, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield, Edwardians and Georgians, and — more to the point for us — “a younger coterie […], one immensely aware of itself and its work, viz. that succession of young Oxford singers, whose work, since 1910, Mr. Blackwell has so generously published […].” Hodgson continues: “There have been among them not a few poems of interest, some of promise, but, on the whole, as perhaps is only to be expected, they are far more good College exercises than lasting Poetry. Their particular weakness, with a few notable exceptions, is that their form is more distinguished than their matter […]” [3].

But remember, Hodgson singled out Tolkien’s poem as one of the best in the series, evidently one of the “few notable exceptions”. She also admits that “[i]t is temerarious to attempt definitive judgments on poems of a new generation while they are still so fresh” [4]. Fresh indeed! Hodgson’s is surely one of the earliest published responses to Tolkien’s creative work, in all likelihood the earliest (the earliest I’ve seen, at any rate) — and what’s most interesting to me is that it’s complimentary of a poem Tolkien would later wish he’d never written!

In fact, Hodgson liked “Goblin Feet” enough to mention it again in another book a few years later. This time, she reproduced the entire poem, with some minor deviations from the text in Oxford Poetry 1915. It had already been reprinted in two or three other anthologies by this time; perhaps the variants were introduced in one of these. She writes that
Mr. Tolkien, who appeared among the ‘Oxford Poets,’ in 1915, wrote a delightful poem of this kind, Goblin Feet. It has not Mr. de la Mare’s guileful guilelessness quite; but it cares for the things for which children care. […] Goblin Feet stands rather more than half-way from Mr. de la Mare’s spontaneous child-like attitude, and rather less than that from the following rather mild specimen of the fantastic artificiality and self-consciousness of that newer school which was perhaps born of the jazz music, discordant colours, and general clatter which, lately, so many people have so much sought after and apparently enjoyed. [5]
“The King of China’s Daughter” is the poem to which she refers, and Edith Sitwell the poet — today, a better known poet than Tolkien, yet Hodgson apparently considers “Goblin Feet” the superior work. This too, though four years later (1923), must still be one of the earliest appraisals of Tolkien’s creative work.

What a shame, and terrible coincidence, it is that Geraldine Hodgson died in 1937, probably missing out on a work she would surely have enjoyed — The Hobbit. But she wasn’t the only early commentator to notice “Goblin Feet” before Tolkien’s rise to prominence in fantasy literature. Just a couple of years before The Hobbit appeared, but twenty after “Goblin Feet” was first published, Blanche Weekes situated Tolkien’s poem alongside works by Paul Dunbar, Rabindranath Tagore, and others, as representative of “poems which children are likely to enjoy when they have reached the higher elementary grades”. Sadly, she botched his name as “J. R. Tolkein” [6]. Well, she wasn’t the first, and she won’t be the last. [7]

Clearly, the poem has made a lasting mark. It has been reprinted in at least seven anthologies over four decades (and perhaps some others I’ve missed). It simply won’t go away. And perhaps it was the poem’s refusal to “go gently into that good night”, as much as its twee style, that really nettled Tolkien in his own failing years. He could not complete “The Silmarillion”, but this unforgivably elfin thing would outlive him?! Oh yes, that would have been enough to irritate the Professor, I think. I, for one, am glad the poem survived — and I’m clearly not alone.

Let me conclude with a chronological appendix of poetry anthologies in which “Goblin Feet” has appeared (often with minor variants). Can anyone add to this list? There should have been another in 1971, or thereabouts, but it is to be presumed that Tolkien withheld his permission. Note that I am excluding Mallorn, The Annotated Hobbit, and other Tolkien books where the poem (or parts of it) has been reprinted. The following list is limited to poetry anthologies (and pretty ephemeral ones, at that):
  • Crow, G.D.H. and T.W. Earp, eds. Oxford Poetry 1915. Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1915, pp. 64–5.
  • Crow, G.D.H. and W.S.V., eds. Oxford Poetry 19141916. Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1917, pp. 120–1. This is a wholesale reprint of the 1914, 1915, and 1916 anthologies, bound in one volume.
  • Owen, Dora, ed. The Book of Fairy Poetry. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1920, pp. 177–8.
  • [Unknown, ed.] Fifty New Poems for Children: An Anthology Selected from Books Recently Published By Basil Blackwell, Oxford. Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1922, pp. 26–7. I haven’t seen a Blackwell copy, but the same collection was published in America (New York: Brentano’s), where Tolkien’s name is misspelled “Tolkein”. This edition was printed in Great Britain, so I would hazard a guess that the British edition is basically identical.
  • Hodgson, Geraldine E[mma]. English Literature: With Illustrations from Poetry and Prose. Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1923, pp. 124–5.
  • Stokes, Anne [Knott], ed. The Open Door to Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1931, pp. 5–6. She misspells Tolkien’s name as “J. R. R. Tolkein”.
  • Adshead, Gladys L. and Annis Duff, ed. An Inheritance of Poetry. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948, pp. 66–7. This collection includes “Goblin Feet” as well as poems and riddles from The Hobbit.
  • Ferris, Helen J. ed. Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls. New York: Doubleday, 1957, pp. 369–70. She also reprints “Roads Go Ever On and On”.
[1] Hodgson, Geraldine E. Criticism at a Venture. London: Erskine Macdonald, 1919, p. 174.
[2] p. 156.
[3] p. 173.
[4] p. 174.
[5] Hodgson, Geraldine E. English Literature: With Illustrations from Poetry and Prose. Oxford: Blackwell, 1923, p. 124–5.
[6] Weekes, Blanche Ethel. Literature and the Child. New York: Silver, Burdett & Co., 1935, p. 217.
[7] The earliest such conspicuous misspelling of Tolkien I’ve seen is 1922, in the Oxford University Calendar. For shame! But it’s also spelled correctly elsewhere in the same issue. :-/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Umlaut and Tolkien

I suppose the first question, for many of you, is what is umlaut? This is a term people like me throw around a lot, often without stopping to consider the confusion among non-philologists. “Non-philologists”, I suppose, is another way of saying, 99.999% of the human race. ;)

Put simply [1], umlaut is a phonological process whereby the pronunciation of a vowel is influenced by the vowel (or semivowel) in the subsequent syllable. This sound change comes in many different flavors, some more common than others. In the Germanic languages, umlaut frequently refers to a more specific sound change where vowels are raised or fronted [2] under the influence of i or j in the following syllable. For these reasons, when speaking of Germanic umlaut, the synonymous terms “i-mutation” and “fronting” may be encountered (you will sometimes also see “palatal umlaut”). This sound change occurred in all the Germanic languages except for Gothic. [3]

As for why one vowel changes under the influence of another, there are two basic views. Randolph Quirk and C.L. Wrenn may have summarized it best: “The generally accepted phonetic explanation […] is that the high front i or j palatalised the preceding consonant and that this in turn pulled the vowel of the stem towards its own position, raising or fronting it. […] This theory may be called ‘mechanistic’, because it is based entirely on the assumed workings of the speech-organs. An alternative explanation is that in pronouncing the back vowel in the root-syllable the speaker unconsciously allows his mind and his tongue to ‘anticipate’ the i or j that is to come in the immediately succeeding syllable, […]. This is a ‘mentalistic’ or psychological theory of i-mutation. The orthodox view of articulatory influence through the consonant is a theory of attraction and assimilation, while the mentalistic view is one of anticipation.” [4]

Since some eyes may be glazing over at that, let me make this a little more plain: i is basically the highest, frontmost vowel there is. It’s so high and so fronted, that it can’t help but pull other vowels toward its point of articulation; not to do so would put a much greater strain on the speech process, and if there’s one sure thing we can say about the speech process, it’s that it’s lazy. It will always take the path of less resistance and least strain on the speech-organs.

Perhaps a few examples would help to make i-mutation clearer. Let’s consider Old English gold “gold”, and observe how the process worked. OE gold was originally *guld (cp. Old Norse gull, and Gothic *gulþ, attested only in the dative singular, gulþa). The suffix used to form the adjective “golden” is still clear in Modern English. We should have expected very early OE *gulden, which mutated by umlaut into gylden “golden”, the u “fronting” into the corresponding short front vowel, y. Subsequently, under the operation of a different sound change, the vowel is the noun, *guld, was lowered, giving us gold. In Modern English, the signs of umlaut in “golden” are long gone, but they were quite clear in OE gylden.

How about another? Think about Modern English “old”, “older”, “oldest”. Do you see where I’m going with this one? In more archaic English, of the type Tolkien often used to represent the speech of Gondor and Rohan, we see the forms, “old”, “elder”, “eldest”. Here umlaut survived into Modern English — for a while. Let’s have a look at the antecedent forms.

In Old English, these were eald, ieldra, ieldest. So, hmm, where’s the i or j we need to account for the fronting of the diphthong ea to ie …? You have to go further back. The original comparative and superlative suffixes in Proto-Germanic were *–izo, *–isto — there’s our vowel! By the time of Primitive West Germanic, the comparative had rhotacized to *–iro [5], while the superlative remained unchanged. By the time of Primitive Old English, this would have given us first eald, *ealdira, *ealdist, which would in turn have mutated by umlaut into the recorded forms, eald, ieldra, ieldest. These are the early West Saxon forms. In the later “classical” West Saxon of around the year 1000, these had eroded into eald, yldra, yldest. In the Mercian dialect (Tolkien’s favorite and mine), the situation looks at once more familiar: Old Mercian ald, eldra, eldest.

If you speak any German, this should look equally familiar, as the Modern German forms are alt, älter, ältesten. As you can see, in German, the vowel experiencing umlaut is still written as the same original letter, but a diacritical mark is placed over it to indicate the umlaut, and the pronunciation is indeed raised or fronted (from a to e).

As the last example shows, umlaut is still very much with us today. It’s typically associated with German, from which the process takes its name (umlaut is um “after” + laut “sound”). A couple more examples from German: Frau, but Fräulein. And schön from Old High German scóni. But though usually thought of in connection with German, it’s still present in English too.

Here’s something I’ve been building up to. Ever wonder why it’s Anglo-Saxon but English? Or why it’s Anglia, but England? Had I begun with this question, you might have been scratching your heads, but now you know the answer: the change from a to e is umlaut! In Old English, the angle were the Angles (as in Angles, Saxons, and Jutes), but the adjectival form of their ethnonym was englisc (originally *anglisc, acted upon by umlaut). And this is where we come to Tolkien. You may have wondered whether I’d live up to that promise, so dense has been the discussion up to now! Hopefully, you’re all still with me.

Tolkien was far more expert than I in matters of Germanic sound laws. He owned books with impressive titles like Laut und Formenlehre Altgermanischen Dialekte [“Sound and Morphology in the Old German Dialects”], and he read them in their original languages and made annotations and corrections in their margins. He was better versed in umlaut than I will ever be and would surely have found plenty to niggle at in my explanations of it. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that he worked examples of umlaut into his fiction (as he did so many other philological elements). I can think of three instances in The Lord of the Rings. If I’ve successfully communicated the basic idea behind umlaut, can you think of any? Pause here to put on your thinking cäp.

Here’s a hint: just like Angle/English, the examples of The Lord of the Rings are topo/ethnonymic.

So. Just as we have Angle, but English, Tolkien gives us Dunland, but Dunlending and Dunlendish, where the i in the final syllable causes the a in the second to be raised to e. This is as straightforward a case of umlaut as you could wish for. Interestingly, the words dún-land “down, hilly land” and dún-lendisc “hilly, mountainous” are attested in Old English, as are uppe-land and up-lendisc, both pairs clearly demonstrating umlaut in the real world. Returning to Middle-earth, another example from Tolkien follows the same pattern: Sunlands, but Sunlending, each used only once in the novel, in reference to the far southern regions of Harad.

And finally, again in connection to Harad and the Sunlands, what about the curious Shire word, Swertings? “Swertings we call ’em in our tales; and they ride on oliphaunts, ’tis said, when they fight,” Sam tells Gollum [6]. This is a little less obvious, but it must be the umlauted form of *Swartings, derived from swarthy, a word Tolkien often uses of the Harad-folk. The word swart or swarthy comes from Old English sweart “black” (Mercian *swart), cp. Old Norse svartr “black” and Modern German schwarz. In Old Norse, there is a proper name Svertingr, which probably carries a swarthy meaning and shows umlaut from svartr; likewise, probably, for the Swerting in Beowulf, though we can’t really say much about him. Also in Old English, swertling was used to gloss the Latin ficedula, a small passerine bird, dun or drab (or swarthy) in color. Today, ficedulae are Old World flycatchers of the order Passeriformes, but Bosworth/Toller supposed that swertling might be the titlark, a bird of the same taxonomic order, but different in family, genus, and species.

There you have it. Both real-world and Middle-earth examples, side by side. Put there, in fact, by one of the most gifted Germanic philologists the world has ever seen. Should we be surprised? Of course not! Is it interesting? Well, I certainly think it is, and I hope you agree. :)

More, and lengthier, notes than usual

[1] As complicated as this must sound to a lay reader, believe me, I have simplified it. The whole process is made more difficult by the fact that the i or j (especially the latter) frequently disappeared by the time the words in question were being set to parchment. Other processes of sound change might subsequently alter the vowels of the stem, inflexions, or both. Inflexions may have been lost entirely. Exceptions may have preserved root vowels where we would have seen umlaut. And so on. But at its simplest: i-mutation is the raising or fronting of a root vowel under the influence of i or j in the following syllable.

[2] Fronting and raising aren’t the same thing, though they’re closely related. Each vowel, like all speech sounds, is articulated at a certain location somewhere in the speech cavity, somewhere from the lips to the glottis (front to back), from the soft palate to the lower jaw (top to bottom). Fronting means that the articulation of a vowel moves from the back of the speech cavity toward the front (e.g., fool to foot to fur); while raising means a vowel moves from the bottom toward the top of the speech cavity (e.g., frond to friend to frill). Try pronouncing these groups of words and pay attention to how your tongue moves inside your mouth: forward with the first group of words, then upward with the second group.

[3] Actually, it might have occurred in Gothic, but two problems: the vast bulk of the Gothic we have is from the 4th century, which predates the umlaut process; and if umlaut did occur in Gothic, we don’t have any later texts that would show evidence of it. One would think it should have occurred in Gothic, and this has occasionally been alleged by scholars, but we have no clear evidence of it in the surviving corpus. By the way, i-mutation isn’t an exclusively Germanic process — there are examples in the Romance languages as well — but it was much, much more prevalent in the Germanic language family than in others.

[4] Quirk, Randolph and C.L. Wrenn. An Old English Grammar. 2nd ed. London: Methuen, 1957, pp. 153–4.

[5] Rhotacism is another sound change in the Germanic family, whereby Proto-Germanic z became a rhotic, or r-like sound. Like i-mutation, this occurred in all the Germanic languages except Gothic (er, maybe; see note 3). Example: PG *deuzom gave Gothic *dius (attested in dative plural diuzam), preserving the z; but this was rhotacized throughout the rest of the family: Old Norse dýr, Old Frisian diar, Old Saxon dior, Old High German tior, Old English déor “wild animal (> deer)”. Why should the z and r sounds be related? Ask Antonín Dvořák!

[6] In draft, it was Gollum, not Sam, who called the Haradrim Swertings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Description of C.S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid

I just received a copy in yesterday’s mail and thought I would offer some description of the book as a public service to those considering ordering it (Amazon link immediately following, where it is currently on sale at a 40% discount):

C.S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid: Arms and the Exile. Edited with an introduction by A.T. Reyes. Foreword by Walter Hooper. Preface by D.O. Ross. New Haven , London: Yale UP, 2011. xxiii + 208 pp. ISBN 9780300167177.

It’s an attractive and well-made book. Hardcover, octavo, black cloth boards, spine stamped in gold. The dust jacket is illustrated on the front with The Feast of Aeneas and Dido, folio 100v of the 5th-century Roman Virgil, MS Vat. Lat. 3867, Vatican Library; on the back with Lewis manuscript translation, Book I, ll. 1–11. Inside, five pages of Lewis’s manuscript are reproduced.

Following is the complete table of contents:
  • List of Authors
  • Acknowledgements
  • Maps
  • Foreword by Walter Hooper
  • Preface by D.O. Ross
  • Introduction
  • C.S. Lewis’s Translation of the Aeneid with the Latin text
  • Additional References to the Aeneid
  • Notes on the Manuscript
  • Some Discrepancies between the Latin and English Texts
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • General Index
The “List of Authors” is one page with biographical blurbs of Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis, A.T. Reyes, D.O. Ross, and Virgil, in that order. There are three maps: 1. Europe and the Mediterranean, 2. Italy , Greece , and Asia Minor, and 3. Area around Rome . The Foreword is 5 pp., the Preface is 7 pp., the Introduction is 33 pp., and all three include footnotes.

The translation is the whole of Book I (758 ll., in Lewis’s rendition), and large portions of Books II and VI (516 and 253 ll., respectively). What is very nice here is that for others of the books of the Aeneid, the editor has brought together various fragments translated by Lewis in others of his works, e.g., A Preface to Paradise Lost, Studies in Words, The Pilgrim’s Regress, The Problem of Pain, and others. The translation is printed on the recto with the Latin on the facing verso. The Latin text is reprinted from Virgil, Volume I. Loeb Classical Library, Volume 63. Trans. H.R. Fairclough, rev. G.P. Goold. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1999 [originally 1916].

“Additional References to the Aeneid” offers seven pages of references (not translation) in Lewis’s other writings, arranged by the books of the Aeneid. “Notes on the Manuscript” is a four-page list of changes, cancellations, and other emendations Lewis made to the main manuscript. The “Notes on the Latin Text and Lewis’s Translation” (so called, in spite of the table of contents), a single page, lists departures from standard readings in Lewis’s own reading of the Latin (errors, perhaps, or merely disagreements with the Latin; it’s not clear to me on quick inspection). The remaining items are all short and self-explanatory.

I am planning to run a review, as well as an interview with the editor, in the May issue of Mythprint. It looks like a splendid piece of work with first-rate editorial apparatus. I am looking forward to digging in!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another last-minute conference schedule

As long-time readers will know, I’ve attended the annual Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont several times (most recently, in 2008; follow this link for that conference report). Sadly, I’ve been unable to attend the last few years, but as a “friend of the conference”, I like to make sure people know all about it. This year’s event, the eighth annual, runs April 8–9, 2011. That’s this very weekend, but if you’re nearby or within a reasonable drive, the conference is free and open to all, so stop by!

This year’s theme is “Nature and the Environment in Tolkien’s Middle-earth”, and the keynote speaker is Matt Dickerson of Middlebury College. Dickerson is the author of Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings (Brazos Press, 2003); and the co-author, with Jonathan Evans (who also happens to be giving a paper at the conference), of Ents, Elves, And Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).

Not only is Jonathan Evans attending the conference this weekend, I have just learned that he will be the keynote speaker for next year’s conference — whose theme will be “Tolkien’s Bestiary”. I hope Chris Vaccaro will arrange Oliphaunt rides. :)

Here’s the full conference schedule!

Friday, April 8
Open-mike Fireside Tolkien Reading and Performance
John Dewey Lounge, Old Mill, 7:30–9:00 PM

Saturday, April 9th
Full Day Conference, Memorial Lounge
Continental Breakfast, 8:15 AM

Session I: Science and Tolkien Studies, 8:30–10:00 AM
  • “‘And the Stars Were Hidden’: Middle-earth as a Canary in the Light Pollution Mine”, Kristine Larsen
  • “‘Sheep get like shepherds, and shepherds get like sheep, it is said’: Environment, Rhizomes, and the Map in The Lord of the Rings”, Andrew Hallam
Session II: The Aesthetic and the Divine, 10:00–11:00 AM
  • “Tolkien’s Painterly Style: Descriptions of Nature in The Lord of the Rings”, Jeff MacLeod and Anna Smol
  • “Divine Intervention and Its Influences on Nature and the Shaping of Middle-earth”, Gerry Blair
Lunch Break, 11:00–1:00 PM

Keynote Speaker, 1:00–2:00 PM
“Waterboards and Dark Satanic Mills: Social and Environmental Justice in the Wars of Middle-earth”, Matt Dickerson

Session III: Making and Remaking, 2:00–3:30 PM
  • “Craftswomen and Imitation Men”, Martha Monsson
  • “The Resurrection of Glorfindel, the Stella Maris, and the Cross-roads”, Evan Bassler
Afternoon Break, Coffee, Tea, Brownies, 3:30–3:45 PM

Session IV: Conservation and Agrarianism, 3:45–5:00 PM
  • “The New Agrarianism and the Economics of the Shire”, Jonathan Evans
  • “Ithilien’s Environmental History: Garden, Battlefield, Nature Reserve”, Theresa Marie Russ
It’s interesting to see a session on Tolkien and Science, since I just sat in on a session on C.S. Lewis and Science at CSLIS 14. A full report on that conference will be coming soon. If anyone happens to attend this conference, please leave some comments here about it. Much obliged if you do.