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Re: New Book Releases
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Trotter wrote:

Stu wrote:
Daniel Grotta almost certainly had fair use doctrine on his side when it came to reprinting his (non-contentious but unauthorised) biography, but he chose not to out of fear of the Estate and its alleged nastiness when he first wrote it.


I am just looking at my copy of his non-contentious biography

"For a time, Mabel Suffield had tried to teach Christianity to the Sultan of Zanzibar's harem."

Did Daniel Grotta think or believe this statement was correct when he wrote it, he gives no clues as to any evidence that he may have had access to, or did he just make it up?

This quote was used by William Ready in the The Tolkien Relation and some people today still think it is correct

I am not a fan of any books that make up items about J.R.R. Tolkien and his family, that readers may believe are true


Grotta wrote his biography before Humphrey Carpenter's, against - apparently - a backdrop of obfuscation from the estate. I'm sure that there may be errors in it, but I have not read anywhere that it is full of fabrications. To judge it against a work written subsequently, directly for the estate (with the estate's full cooperation, rather than obfuscation) seems unreasonable.

The Carpenter biography is the official view of Tolkien, as sanctioned by the estate. It seems foolhardy to think that it could be the only version of the "facts" that might have merit or that it must be complete in all regards. I'm sure all the biographies have their failings, some more so than others. All of them, even Carpenter's probably contain things that are fabrications or distortions.

I'm not being "pro" this new book, as I suspect it will be a work of fiction, but to blindly assume everything that Carpenter wrote was the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" is incredibly naive.

Posted on: 5/2 14:56:02

Edited by Stu on 2015/5/2 15:08:03
Edited by Stu on 2015/5/2 15:09:34


Re: New Book Releases
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garm wrote:
On the contrary, I believe they are saying that they can make up anything they like - let's look at the title. Tolkien as a spy-master? Spy-masters run (or ran) spy-rings, did they not?

It sounds all made-up to me, and that is very much part of the style of this pair.


I agree that their conclusions are likely to be absolute nonsense, but as I understand it they are probably correct in their assertions that they can - more or less- write what they want about a dead figure. Quite honestly, I don't want to live in a world where people can't write what they believe to be correct about figures of historic interest (even if what they write turns out to be incorrect supposition), for fear of litigation from that figure's wealthy estate.

If you change the subject to "Adolf Hitler : Pederast and Satanist", you wouldn't find anyone who would be that bothered what you wrote about him, be it gospel truth or completely exaggerated falsehoods (and plenty of falsehoods have been written about that nasty character for the purposes of selling books).

We can't apply one set of standards to historical figures that we like, such as Tolkien, and another set of standards to ones we don't like.

If the book is a load of tosh (and I suspect it probably is), then those who have the knowledge and information to do so can easily refute the book with supported facts and information, not lawyers. Or more likely, the book can simply be ignored -- I can't imagine it is going to sell very many copies.

And realistically, from the title, it doesn't sound like they are going to be fielding any of the more unsavoury (and, so far as I am aware, entirely vexatious) allegations that have been thrown at members of the family, both living and dead. I think it is more likely that they are going to be painting him as a far more important, positive and heroic figure than he actually really was.

I'm not willing to spend 25 pounds plus postage to find out, though, as I'm not a fan of the pair's prior work.

Posted on: 5/2 3:14:21

Edited by Stu on 2015/5/2 3:30:05


Re: New Book Releases
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Trotter wrote:

Urulöké wrote:
As I said before, interesting.... from the introduction (page iv): "To put it bluntly, we can say what we like about him and there is nothing that anyone can do about it."


Not a very good way of advertising your book, we can make up what ever we like about Tolkien in our book :(

I have contacted the Tolkien Estate to make them aware of this title and the comments from the authors.


To be fair, I don't think they are saying they can make anything they like up, they are saying that they can say anything (presumably so long as it is supportable), and the Tolkien Estate can't bully them into not printing it.

I'm not huge fans of these two, but I respect them for their balls in this regards. The Estate has, arguably, not always behaved honourably in this area. Daniel Grotta almost certainly had fair use doctrine on his side when it came to reprinting his (non-contentious but unauthorised) biography, but he chose not to out of fear of the Estate and its alleged nastiness when he first wrote it.

Posted on: 5/1 16:06:15


Re: New Book Releases
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garm wrote:
Of course, Elan Sea is just the letters L & C (Lewis & Currie) read out loud - possibly a code-breaking test for readers?



I reckon you actually probably have it there. And those two have prior form with such shenanigans.

Posted on: 4/28 14:46:38


Re: New Book Releases
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Deagol wrote:
This one will be interesting:

J.R.R.Tolkien: Codemaker, Spy-master, Hero: au unauthorised biography

by Elan Sea (Author), Mr Alexander Lewis (Consultant Editor), Ms Elizabeth Currie (Consultant Editor)


I thought he just did a three day induction course with GCHQ and then decided he didn't want to join (or GCHQ didn't require his services?). Surely that would render him neither a spy-master nor a hero* (by any stretch of those terms)?

* Obviously I'm excluding the First World War, but I haven't read of any specific acts of heroism there, either.

Posted on: 4/27 18:45:23

Edited by Stu on 2015/4/28 14:43:06



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