Tolkien Collector's Guide

Inquiry about the 2014 edn. of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Oct 17
2020/10/17 19:52:58 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Hello all,

Prefatory remarks: I’m a long-time follower of TCG, first-time poster. I’m not actually sure how appropriate this topic is, as it has less to do with “collecting” per se than it does with tracing consistency across editions (though I know that such things have sometimes been discussed, as with the contents of the various “Father Christmas” editions). And I don’t think this particular topic has been dealt with before, so far as I could find by searching. In any case, my comments/inquiry are as follows.

Main remarks: My confusion has to do with the original ordering of the poems “Cat” (11) and “Fastitocalon” (12) in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (hereinafter AoTB), their reversed order beginning in the second printing (respectively > 12, 11), and the alignment of these two poems with the references to numbers “11” and “12” in the preface to the various printings, particularly as regards their treatment in the 2014 edn. by Scull & Hammond (hereinafter “S&H”).

According to the commentary of the 2014 edn. (p.121, 232), in the 1st printing of AoTB “Fastitocalon” was originally no. 12 and “Cat” was originally no. 11 in the collection. When the order of these two poems was reversed in the 2nd printing, Tolkien’s preface was not updated to match the original referents of these numbers. Thus, contrary to all subsequent printings/editions, the preface of the 1st printing referred to “Fastitocalon” (12) as the poem marked “SG” (though derived from “comic bestiary lore”), whereas the 2nd printing onward assigns this attribution instead to “Cat” (being the new no. 12). Meanwhile, the 1st printing stated that the so-called “marginalia” poems were: 4 (=Princess Mee), 11 (=Cat), and 13 (=Shadow Bride), which makes good sense. With the change of the 2nd printing, the referents of these numbers became: Princess Mee (4), Fastitocalon (the new no. 11), and Shadow Bride (13), which S&H point out still makes sense but applies less “aptly” than the original referents (p.121). [I should note: I of course do not own or have available a first printing of AoTB but am simply going off of S&H’s description of it. For comparison to the 2014 edn., I’m using my copy in The Tolkien Reader, which should match the 2nd printing of AoTB in the relevant points.]

In the 2014 edn., however, the numbers as printed in Tolkien’s preface have actually been changed from the previous printings, not only in reference to the “marginalia” poems, but also in reference to the poem said to be marked “SG”. The former reference (on p.29 of the 2014 edn.) reads “4, 12, 13”, which actually corrects things back to the original 1st printing referents, namely: Princess Mee (4), Cat (2014 edn. “12” = orig. “11”), and Shadow Bride (13). For the reference to the poem attributed to “SG” (on p.30 of the 2014 edn.), where previous printings have the number “12”, the 2014 edn. prints “11” instead. This too corrects things back to the original referents of the 1st printing, namely that “Fastitocalon” was the poem marked with “SG” (2014 edn. “11” = orig. “12”), rather than “Cat”. Thus, the references are actually in line with their original 1st-printing referents (as explained correctly on p.232) although their numerical values have been changed, by amending the preface text precisely along the lines that S&H claim not to have chosen to do! They state plainly in their commentary (p.121) that, due to lack of any authorial statement in favor of modifying the numbers in the preface, the “original text has been allowed to stand.” Yet it is not the original text that they’ve ended up printing, making their commentary in this regard (pp.121 and 232) completely incoherent.

Now, in their Addenda and Corrigenda online, they say that the printed numbers “12, 13” are a late-stage error and should instead read “11, 12” [sic], which would restore the original text for “11” (now = “Fastitocalon”, per the 2nd printing onward) but, bafflingly, would change the reference of the “Shadow Bride” (13) to “Cat” (12), which as far as I know—and according to their description in the commentary—was in no printing a possibility. Worse still, such a correction would erase all reference to “Shadow Bride” in Tolkien’s preface, which would falsify their statement that “the only poem not cited...in the preface...is The Mewlips” (pp.118–19), since now there would be two unmentioned poems (“Mewlips” and “Shadow Bride”). Therefore the online correction must, as far as I can see, be a further mistake and should instead read “11, 13” (i.e., matching all prior printings, consisting of the “original text” they claim to have “allowed to stand”). With this change, the reference to “11” on p.30 (i.e., the “SG”/”bestiary lore” poem) should accordingly be changed back to the original “12” (now = “Cat”, per the 2nd printing onward), as in all prior printings. (Note that this latter discrepancy is nowhere mentioned in the online Addenda and Corrigenda.) With these two corrections to the 2014 text, the commentary would be rendered coherent, and the references to the poems in the preface would again refer as they do in all printings besides the 1st, namely to “Fastitocalon” (11) and “Cat” (12) respectively as “marginalia” and the “SG”/”bestiary lore” poem (i.e., opposite to the 1st printing). In particular, the statement in the 2014 commentary that the revised attribution applies albeit less “aptly” than in the 1st printing (where “Cat” was “marginalia” and “Fastitocalon” was the “SG”/”bestiary lore” poem) would be restored to the apt observation that it is.

Given the foregoing points, my question for you all is simply, does this seem correct? Have I overlooked something? Any comments/replies are most welcome. (And, if anyone has access to the printings that I do not, please let me know if my understanding of them is correct.)

Finally, I have one minor, unrelated question about p.123 of the 2014 edn. of AoTB. Here, the original 1934 version of the poem “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” is printed. Line 2 of stanza 2 reads “a-chasing of the shadows”. Is this correct? It seems like “a-chasing off the shadows” would make better sense, but I don’t have the Oxford Magizine printing available to check, and of course the 1962 version of this poems reads “running after shadows”, so isn’t much help in this respect. (The online Addenda and Corrigenda does not mention this page.)

I conclude by stressing that I adore this edition, and I am especially grateful for all of the previously extremely-hard-to-acquire material that it reprints, which offers a fascinating “history of AoTB” to discover. My remarks on these few issues of detail are in no way meant to detract from my more general praise for the excellence of this edition, as with everything that S&H produce.
Oct 18
2020/10/18 0:19:36 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks, Philomythos, and sorry to add to the confusion when there was already so much with the 1962 switching of the order of the poems and then a change in the preface (from '4, 11, 13' to '4, 12, 13') in the 2008 Tales from the Perilous Realm printing of the Bombadil collection, which was the copy-text HarperCollins gave us for our extended edition. The central problem here is that our online note, changing '12, 13' to '11, 12', should have corrected rather to '11, 13', restoring the original text of the preface according to the editorial decision we made with Christopher Tolkien. This has now been emended, with related points, in our Addenda and Corrigenda.

As for the Oxford Magazine version of 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', 'a-chasing of the shadows' is correct -- 'of', not 'off'. It's just another way of saying that Tom was chasing shadows. Tolkien removed archaic 'a-chasing' and 'a-buzzing' in this stanza when he revised the poem in 1962.

Wayne & Christina
Oct 18
2020/10/18 1:15:48 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Oh wow—many thanks, you two! This is very helpful. I think, though, that my point about p.30 has been missed. The reference to “No. 11” on p.30 I think should read “No. 12” to match the prior printings (see my explanation above, which I grant is, perhaps inevitably, bewildering).

And, though you kindly attribute to me a correction now for p.121, actually I think your text as printed makes sense there, and does not need emendation, since the reshuffling does apply to both 11 and 12. That is, the grouping of "11" with the "marginalia" poems did apply more aptly in the 1st printing, where 11="Cat", but can still apply "not as aptly" in the later printings where 11="Fastitocalon" (as per your updated text). But at the same time, Tolkien's attribution of "12" to "comic bestiary lore" also applied more aptly in the 1st printing, where 12="Fastitocalon", but can still apply "not as aptly" in the later printings where 12="Cat" (a point which is lost in your latest emendation to p.121).

So, in sum I think your text as printed is perfectly correct, except on p.29 (which you've already emended) and on p.30 (which you have not). Of course, if you think I'm mistaken in suggesting the emendation to p.30 ("11" > "12"), please let me know.

Best,
- Ian Hollenbaugh (my real name)
Oct 18
2020/10/18 12:18:37 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
We hadn't missed your note about p. 30, Ian, but didn't address it because the reference there to "No. 11" is the original text which we chose not to change. "11" was changed to "12" in the preface as published in the 2008 Tales from the Perilous Realm -- the copy-text HarperCollins gave us for convenience -- but not the later reference (on our p. 30). We and Christopher Tolkien made the choice to retain the original text of the preface, thus "11" in both instances despite poem 11 having become poem 12, because we couldn't be sure that JRRT would have wanted the reference changed, and in our 2014 edition we were able to explain the problem in annotations. You may, of course, argue that Tolkien intended both references to be to "Cat", in which case "11" should indeed be emended to "12", but there seemed too great a possibility that Tolkien knew of the issue of reference in the preface and chose to let things stand (thus saving the cost to Allen & Unwin of more resetting), so we let his text stand as it was. Similar arguments have been made for or against changes in our 2004-5 edition of The Lord of the Rings, which amount only to differences in editorial practice or philosophy. The important thing is to explain what has or has not been done, and why.

Our text on p. 121 (and p. 232!) did need to be corrected, since Tolkien did not make "prefatory comments on poems 11 and 12", only (twice) on poem 11. When we wrote that, we were undoubtedly thinking about the problem of the references to poem 11 actually, after the change in order, referring to 12; anyway, it's wrong in our book as printed. As for the (debatable) quality of aptness, really Tolkien's note about poem 11 (not 12) having come (via Sam) from "an older piece of the comic bestiary lore" refers more aptly to "Fastitocalon" than to "Cat", "Fastitocalon" having been based on an actual medieval bestiary text, whereas "Cat" was not. (But "Cat" as the shorter work is more suited to be "marginalia".)

Wayne & Christina
Oct 18
2020/10/18 16:41:30 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Ah, I think I see now, thank you. So you're saying that the original 1962 first printing text had "11" in both places, corresponding to the 2014 edn. p.29 (where is printed "12", emended online back to original "11") and p.30 (where is printed "No. 11" for original "No. 11"). So then where was poem "12" referred to in the original preface? Is it simply not mentioned? Does this mean that it isn't just "The Mewlips" (9) that had no mention in the preface? If p.29 and p.30 are and always were both "11", then, no matter what "11" refers to, it seems to follow necessarily that the statement on pp.118–19 is false, since another poem, namely "12", would then find no mention in the preface (="Fastitocalon" in the original printing, then "Cat" thereafter). Am I understanding you correctly?

What led to my remark about p.30, though, and is still confusing me is that in the only other edition of AoTB that I have (from The Tolkien Reader, which I must have bought sometime around 2002), the text corresponding to the 2014 edn. p.30 reads "No. 12" where yours has "No. 11" (i.e., for the "bestiary lore" poem). Please see attached pictures of the relevant pages from Tolkien Reader (pp.191–92) as compared with your 2014 text (p.30). This is why I thought that the reading "No. 12" was original, hence my previous comment. But if, as you say, "No. 12" was not original here, then do we know how this apparent error (from "No. 11" to "No. 12") crept in to (at least some printings of) the text? Note that in the Tolkien Reader text the "marginalia" poem correctly has "11", which means that both "11" and "12" are mentioned in this printing of the preface, rather than just one of them.

(I see now, by the way, that the Tales from the Perilous Realm text reads "12" then "11", as you said, and which you say caused the error in your printed text in the 2014 edn. But I'm puzzled by the fact that this is precisely opposite to the text as printed in the Tolkien Reader, which reads "11" then "12", as you can see.)

My sincere thanks, again, for your help with this issue,
- Ian

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Oct 18
2020/10/18 19:48:05 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Okay, let's see if we (the undersigned) can get this all correct.

The original text of the preface, from 1962, and reprinted in The Tolkien Reader, has no. 11 (originally "Cat") mentioned just once: "From these marginalia are drawn Nos. 4, 11, 13". It also has no. 12 (originally "Fastitocalon") mentioned only once: "No. 12 is also marked SG".

These references to 11 and 12 were changed to 12 and 11 in the 2008 Tales from the Perilous Realm, and that text carried over to our 2014 Bombadil edition. We failed to notice that these changes had been made, as we were writing our comments based on the original edition.

"No. 11" on our p. 30 should read "No. 12" according to our decision to retain the original preface text. Until you pointed this out, we hadn't noticed this additional 2008 change, and it was this that led to earlier misstatements and drove our online corrections. But Tolkien does mention both poems, so we've emended our Addenda and Corrigenda again (or un-emended). So what we wrote on pp. 118-19, 121, and 132 is, happily, correct. "The Mewlips" is indeed the only poem not mentioned in the preface.

Thank you very much for putting us right.

Wayne & Christina
Oct 18
2020/10/18 20:12:26 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Ok, fabulous! (And thank goodness; I was beginning to worry I might be losing touch with reality there.) Thanks so much for your patience and attention to this, which I had not intended to be such a rabbit hole for anyone involved. I really appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure corresponding with you.

Best wishes,
- Ian
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