Tolkien Collector's Guide

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BnF Exhibition, October 22 2019 through 16 February 2020

BnF Exhibition, October 22 2019 through 16 February 2020

Oct 6 (edited)


[Updated Oct 9 to correct a mis-dating of the "Long Expected Party" draft]

It has been a great year or two for Tolkien exhibitions, with the Bodleian Library (2018) and the Morgan Library (early 2019) showing "Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth", and now the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) with the exhibition "Tolkien, Voyage to Middle-earth".

The BnF exhibition is much larger than the two preceding ones - the space being estimated at 1000 square meters - with approximately 300 items coming from the Bodleian collection, the Marquette collection, and a number of selections from the BnF collection of historical and artistic items giving additional context for Tolkien's creations. A significant number of Tolkien original art and manuscript exhibits were not shown in "Maker of Middle-earth", so the BnF event is not one to be skipped if you can possibly make it to Paris in the next few months.

The exhibition layout is broken into sections covering specific geographic regions and storylines, with original writings and illustrations from Tolkien, alongside literary, cultural, and linguistic material relating to Tolkien's works. The sections are announced to be:
  • Middle-earth
  • The Shire
  • Land of the Elves
  • Kingdoms of the Dwarves
  • Forests
  • Rohan
  • Gondor
  • Isengard
  • Mordor
  • Valinor
  • Tolkien and Oxford
  • The Professor
  • Tolkien and Children's Literature
  • "The Tale Grew in the Telling"

  • Below, with permission, are shown just a small number of items from the forthcoming exhibition.

    Silmarillion HD.jpg

    I Eldanyare : The History of the Elves, 1937-8 © Bodleian Library/ The Tolkien Estate Limited, used with permission

    This is a manuscript title page for The Silmarillion from Tolkien's efforts around December 1937 - January 1938, discussed in detail in The Lost Road by Christopher Tolkien, p. 202.


    Orthanc I © Bodleian Library/ The Tolkien Estate Limited, used with permission

    This illustration of the tower of Orthanc was drawn in 1942, matching the first manuscript descriptions in the draft text of The Lord of the Rings at the time. He went through many iterations of drawings and textual changes before arriving at the description in the final published book. See J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist & Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, pp. 166-169 for more information.

    160 Marquette Minas Tirith.jpg

    Earliest sketch of Minas Tirith, October 1944 Marquette University © The Tolkien Estate Limited/The Tolkien Trust 2019-2020, used with permission

    This is the earliest sketch of the city of Minas Tirith from October 1944, with surrounding text giving a brief outline of a description of the city. For more information, see The Art of the Lord of the Rings by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, pp. 140-148.

    15 Marquette A long expected party.jpg

    Book 1, Chapter 1, "A Long-Expected Party", 1939
    Marquette University © The Tolkien Estate Limited/ The Tolkien Trust 2019-2020, used with permission

    Here is shown a draft first page of The Lord of the Rings in manuscript form, from 1939 after The Hobbit was successfully published and Stanley Unwin was clamoring for a sequel.


    Shelob’s Lair © Bodleian Library/ The Tolkien Estate Limited, used with permission

    This draft page of the 'Kirith Ungol' sequence, written circa May 1944, shows a detailed sketch of the approach to Shelob's Lair. For more information, see The War of the Rings by Christopher Tolkien, pp. 183-201 and The Art of the Lord of the Rings by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, pp. 124-125.

    The exhibition opens to the public on Tuesday, October 22nd, and is open Tuesdays through Sundays until February 16th (closed Mondays). The hours are from 10 AM until 7 PM except on Thursdays when it stays open until 9 PM.

    Guided tours are available by reservation. Public tours are on Wednesdays through Fridays and have a fee. There are two sign language tours (December 8 and February 2) that are free. Descriptive tours for the visually impaired are available by request. More information for these guided tours is available here.
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    Oct 16
    I spend the last 20 minutes trying to find this review again, finally found it. Vivien Stocker reviewed the translation here, and says:

    Tolkien Créateur de la Terre du Milieu est donc une somme incontournable pour quiconque s’intéresse à Tolkien et à son œuvre. Toutefois, il n’est pas exempt d’imperfections qui se résument à une chose : sa traduction. En effet, cet ouvrage a été traduit hors du cosme de l’éditeur et de l’équipe de traduction officielle représentés par les éditions Bourgois et Vincent Ferré. Cela pose un certain nombre de problèmes. Fabrice Canepa, le traducteur, prévient dans sa note du traducteur, p. 4 :

    « Le Hobbit et Le Seigneur des anneaux ont fait l’objet de deux traductions réalisées respectivement par Francis Ledoux (1969 et 1972-1973) et Daniel Lauzon (2012 et 2014-2016). Certains noms de lieux et de personnes divergeant considérablement, il m’est apparu préférable le cas échéant de fournir les deux traductions sous la forme suivante : traduction de D. Lauzon [traduction de F. Ledoux]. Lorsque le terme est répété dans la suite du texte, seule la traduction de Lauzon est reprise. En dehors de cette nomenclature spécifique, toutes les citations présentes dans le livre ont été retraduites par mes soins avec le souci de privilégier la fidélité au texte d’origine et d’en faciliter ainsi l’analyse. »
    On se trouve donc là face à un ouvrage proposant donc une troisième traduction de citations de textes et œuvres picturales alors que ceux-ci font depuis 15 ans l’objet d’un travail mise en conformité de la part de Vincent Ferré et son équipe. Cela se traduit par exemple, par un incipit du Hobbit qui ne correspond à aucune édition publiée : « Dans un trou creusé dans le sol vivait un hobbit… ». Plus problématique, à mon sens, les titres de documents présentés, qui ne correspondent pas toujours à leurs titres traduits par Vincent Ferré dans sa traduction de Tolkien Treasures, Trésors de Tolkien, paru aux éditions Bourgois bien avant et donc pas non plus à ceux utilisés par Vincent Ferré et Frédéric Manfrin dans leur catalogue de l’exposition Tolkien Voyage en Terre du Milieu qui paraîtra une semaine après cet ouvrage-ci. C’est ainsi que la fameuse aquarelle représentant Bilbo sur son tonneau s’intitule « Bilbo atteint les cabanes des Elfes-aux-radeaux » quand le titre officiel est « Bilbo arrive aux Huttes des Elfes des radeaux ». Si cela peut paraître un détail, sur un ouvrage de cette taille, cela est moins mineur qu’il n’y paraît. Toutefois, ces choix n’entament en rien la qualité intrinsèque de l’ouvrage qui mérite bien sa place dans les bibliothèques des lecteurs de Tolkien.

    Roughly translated and summarized: Fabrice Canepa says in the introduction to his translation "all the quotations in the book have been retranslated by me with the desire to privilege fidelity to the original text and thus facilitate analysis." Vivien responds, saying that having a third translation of these will make scholarship more difficult, and cross referencing between the official primary Tolkien publications, Tolkien Treasures and the forthcoming exhibition catalogue much more challenging. Vivien still recommends the book.
    Oct 16

    onthetrail wrote:

    Seems France24 should have invited Vincent along instead.

    I would assume that Vincent is rather busy at the moment. 😉

    I have an interview with Vincent and Frédéric lined up next week - anything you guys want me to ask? 😁
    Oct 16
    That's not Vincent who reviewed it, it's me
    Oct 16

    Druss wrote:
    That's not Vincent who reviewed it, it's me

    Ah! My bad. I have fixed the attribution above. 😅
    Oct 22
    How is this Hobbit being held up at the BnF, glad that is not one of my copies?

    10_5daedaec28574.jpg 1536X2048 px
    Oct 22
    looks to me as if it's on a shelf. Incidentally, this looks like the Bodleian's copy (I've seen it before). Notice - no dust-jacket!
    Oct 22
    On a shelf, and there is a thin transparent strap about one inch from the right side that you can see that supports it and keeps it from sagging open.

    And yes, it is the Bodleian copy. 😉
    Nov 6
    JRR Tolkien crowds drive Paris staff to go on strike

    France may be the land of existential philosophy, surrealist poetry and romantic fiction, but it has a thing about Hobbits, too — at least judging by the Tolkien exhibition at the country’s national library.

    Curators at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris were anticipating a moderate success for their look at the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. None was expecting the event Journey to Middle-earth to prove such a success that staff would walk out in protest at having to work so hard they ended up feeling like Bilbo Baggins after an encounter with goblins.

    The one-day strike was called to denounce what unions said were lengthening queues, staff shortages and chaotic conditions facing researchers wanting to study at the library following its transformation into a Tolkien-like realm. The stoppage forced library executives to operate ticket booths to shorten the 90-minute waits.

    “We thought there would be a lot of people,” a library spokesman said. “The capacity of the exhibition room was increased to 390 people at a time, and we have put in place evening openings. But it has not been sufficient. There are even more people than we thought.”

    The library has posted a message encouraging visitors to book tickets in advance, while employees, following their return to work, have been sent out on to the forecourt to usher through researchers caught in the chaos.

    Published in The Times, which is behind a PayWall, have included the relevant parts above. ... to-go-on-strike-j0bkcbg5c
    Nov 6
    The thing is that the exhibition opened during holidays (between 19 oct. and 4 nov.). It explains a part of the success, with 1000 visitors on average and up to 1800 some days during these period. It will probably slow down a bit, now.
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