Monday, June 9, 2014

Another new Tolkien collection from McFarland

The books keep rolling off the presses! I’ve just gotten the final table of contents from Brad Eden for his new collection, The Hobbit in Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on the Novel’s Influence on the Later Writings. This one isn’t available for sale on Amazon yet, but McFarland has just added it to their own website (here).

This is project I’ve been aware of for some time. Brad sent out of a Call For Chapters in late May, 2013 (one year ago, almost to the day). The idea was to provide
an edited volume discussing research and scholarship on the influence of The Hobbit on the revision and expansion by Tolkien of the larger Middle-earth legendarium. Christopher Tolkien has stated in writing that the writing and publication of The Hobbit in the 1930’s had no influence at all on Tolkien’s ongoing expansion and revisions of his legendarium. Recent scholarship and detailed research has shown, however, that Tolkien was influenced by the plots, characters, and ideas presented in The Hobbit, some of which had an extraordinary effect on subsequent expansions, revisions, and new concepts within his legendarium.
I saw an early table of contents last August, and it looks like all of the chapters represented there have made it into the final book, along with a few additional ones. For a time, I was planning to offer a chapter also, though I had some concerns about the scope of the topic. I was worried the topic just wasn’t that fruitful, at least not if taken narrowly. John Rateliff’s and Verlyn Flieger’s chapters were obviously the kernel of the idea and both clearly have important and compelling things to say on the subject, but beyond that, I didn’t think there were enough explicit threads showing the influence of The Hobbit on the later development of the legendarium to base an entire collection on. And what threads there were had already been largely explored, or so it seemed to me. So I wasn’t sure what I could add on that subject. But Brad suggested that he was open to broader topics, so I proposed something. In the end, though, I wasn’t able to commit the time it would have required this past autumn, in part because of deaths in the family, surgery on one of our dogs, and other irruptions of ‘real life’, as it is called.

Looking at the table of contents now (see below), I still have the same concerns. Don’t get me wrong — all of the chapters sound interesting! It’s just that several of them don’t seem very closely connected to Brad’s stated mission with the collection. But if “a book focusing on how The Hobbit influenced the subsequent development of Tolkien’s legendarium […] was sorely needed” (marketing blurb), then one should expect there to be enough to say about that without venturing off down side alleys, however interesting they might be. But we’ll see. Perhaps some of these chapters will surprise us by revealing unexpected connection and causation.

The cover, shown above, features original artwork by Tom Loback, a well-known artist and enthusiast of Tolkien’s invested languages and scripts. The table of contents, presumably now final, follows below.

The Hobbit in Tolkien’s Legendarium:
Essays on the Novel’s Influence on the Later Writings
Edited by Bradford Lee Eden

Introduction / Bradford Lee Eden


Anchoring the myth: the impact of The Hobbit on Tolkien’s legendarium / John D. Rateliff

From Nauglath to Durin’s Folk: The Hobbit and Tolkien’s Dwarves / Gerard Hynes


“It passes our skill in these days”: primary world influences on the evolution of Durin’s Day / Kristine Larsen

A scientific examination of Durin’s Day / Sumner Gary Hunnewell


French influences

Tolkien’s French connection / Verlyn Flieger

Northern influences

Tolkien’s Northern fairy-story / Jane Chance


From “The Silmarillion” to The Hobbit and back again: an onomastic foray / Damien Bador

Animal sentience

Civilized goblins and talking animals: how The Hobbit created problems of sentience for Tolkien / Gregory Hartley


Seeing in the dark, seeing by the dark: how Bilbo’s invisibility defined Tolkien’s vision / Michael A. Wodzak

Bilbo as Tolkien personified

A Victorian in Valhalla: Bilbo Baggins as the link between England and Middle-earth / William Christian Klarner

The characters of Beorn and Bombadil

Beorn and Bombadil: mythology, place, and landscape in Middle-earth / Justin T. Noetzel


Travel, redemption, and peacemaking: hobbits, dwarves and elves and the transformative power of pilgrimage / Vickie L. Holtz Wodzak

Environmentalism and authorship

A Baggins’ backyard: environmentalism, authorship, and the Elves in Tolkien’s legendarium / David Thiessen

Contemporary interpretations of The Hobbit

Polytemporality and epic characterization in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: reflecting The Lord of the Ring’s [sic] modernism and medievalism / Judy Ann Ford and Robin Anne Reid

The wisdom of the crowd: Internet memes and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Michelle Markey Butler

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