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Companion and Guide - Reader's Guide
Thain
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I finally (finally!) cleared out enough stuff to get my reading hands on Christina Scull's and Wayne Hammond's Reader's Guide. What this means (for me) is that I can put in about a half hour a night when I am going to bed. I'm going straight through for the first pass, so a lot of my thoughts and comments are going to be in the A's right now.

First, as a general overview, these two volumes (the Chronology is the other one) look to be absolutely indispensable to the collector in particular, as they are absolutely chock full of information on dates, ephemera, inside info on publications and people, brief notes on the contents of various fanzines, etc. I'm glossing over the usefulness for the researcher, book fan, etc., all of which I know are here as well.

The second entry of the Reader's Guide is the Ace Book controversy (pp. 2-7). Five pages of this dense book, well referenced for all claims and quotes, a definitive layout of how it got started, the troubles it caused, and how it was definitively answered (in the courts in the early 1990s, finally). It indicates to me that George Allen & Unwin: A Remembrancer is a key book to have for those interested in the publishing history of Tolkien's works. I myself have been unable to find a copy of this book so far, and definitely need to get one. It will show up often in the Reader's Guide as a reference, I am sure. Also, for those interested in the Ace controversy, some interesting letters appear in print in Lighthouse, August 1965, and Saturday Review, 23 October 1965. Two Beyond Bree issues are critical for tracing the Ace controversy in detail - September and December 1995.

The third entry (a small one on Acocks Green, Warwickshire, p. 7) mentions in passing that a letter from Tolkien to a group of school children was first reprinted in a Sotheby's catalog from 16 December 2004. I think this qualifies as a first edition of Tolkien's writings in print. Just an example of the gems hiding in this vast volume.

The fifth entry is Adaptations, pp. 8-23 and worth every page. It goes over media translations (plays, movies, audio broadcasts) in good detail. One item mentioned in particular that I would like more information on (p. 21) - William L. Snyder made an authorized motion picture of The Hobbit circa 1962... "the result, running only about twelve minutes, was composed simply of cartoon stills or three-dimensional contructions, in which the only action was created by movement of the camera." Crammed into those twelve minutes is a very different story from Tolkien's original. No dwarves (instead a watchman, a soldier and a princess), and so on. Does this still exist? Anyone heard or seen it?

More to come as I read further...

Posted on: 2007/2/4 10:15
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- Jeremy


Re: Companion and Guide - Reader's Guide
Thain
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For those interested (like me) in the Snyder adaptation of The Hobbit, here is an excerpt from Gene Deitch's book, How To Succeed In Animation (Don't Let A Little Thing Like Failure Stop You!), quoted in Animation World Magazine:

Animation World Magazine article

Posted on: 2007/2/4 10:50
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Re: Companion and Guide - Reader's Guide
Home away from home
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What a fascinating article on the animated Hobbit. It makes me want to rush down to Reading to see what A&U had to say about it all!

The Companion and Guide is proving to be very useful. Especially the Chronology. Finding out what Tolkien wrote to Allen & Unwin and when, proved to be very useful when I was trying to work out when the various proof copies of LotR were produced.

Browsing through the 'Works Consulted' section at the end throws up a lot of references that I really 'must' track down. I can see why it took Hammond & Scull so long to research and write the books.

I've never seen a second hand copy of Rayner's Remembrancer for sale. If you would just like a photocopy of the text, I can send you one, drop me an email.

Posted on: 2007/2/4 16:54


Re: Companion and Guide - Reader's Guide
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I found the Chronology easier to read in longer reading sessions and it was quite surprising just how busy Tolkien was. With so many commitments it is amazing that so much material was written regarding Midle-earth. It certainly challenges the notion that Tolkien procrastinated too much and should have produced more. It also made it easier than HoME to understand what Tolkien was working on and in what order.

As for the Readers Guide; I have so many notes of essays to read and books to check out and I found it was better to read it in smaller bites (3 or 4 entries at a time) especially before going to bed.

So many questions answered, but opening many, many more.

Dior

Posted on: 2007/2/4 23:42


Re: Companion and Guide - Reader's Guide
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I'm also VERY fond of chronology... truly wonderfull book. Sad that i could not spent a lot of time with the Companion yet, allthough it has been very handy to look up things. Still i'm hoping to find enough time to read all that is in there...

I only see some minor flaws (my point of view). First I only see Tolkien's bright side and he is alwaysed described from his nicest angle. While there are many questions about Tolkien as a teacher, to make an example. I do not find anything on these minor points. It is truly made by fans, but it makes me question the objectivity of the book.
Secondly I miss some references to other books which are not in English. For example when mentioning photographs of Tolkien with Simonne D'Ardenne there is only mentioned The Tolkien Family Album, while I know the Johan Vanhecke has some more in his book (and had it sent to Wayne and Christina); why not mention this also - there are some unusual photos in there but is in Dutch. Is this the way all documents are treated?

For the rest i'm very happy and can only cheer! The book is truly the ultimate resource. I'm happy that the authors when not having absolute answers (for example how the Hobbit started, how the document made it to the printers); we then get all possible solutions and suggestions. At first I expected to receive all answers in this book. But now appreciate it very much that all possibilities are set one next to the other without choosing paths. It leaves us with questions, but it is better and more objectif (or shall i say scientific). The book is full of details and the research for this book must have been enormous. You can feel it when reading through the two volumes. Sometimes it is a day by day guide of Tolkien, sometimes it is a long list of possibilities, sometimes it gives very detailled info on a variety of topics, sometimes it is even very funny and makes you laugh or feel sad. If a scientific book can still move the reader then I would say the authors have succeeded to put the live of a person on paper!

Posted on: 2007/2/5 1:09



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