Tolkien Collector's Guide

Shaping of Middle-earth question

Apr 22 (edited)
2021/4/22 15:11:13 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

I recently acquired what I think is a first printing (variant 3) of the George Allen & Unwin The Shaping of Middle-earth (see pictures), but it struck me that volume V, which had not come out yet, is listed without the usual parenthetical “(in preparation)”. However, it looks like the Houghton Mifflin first print (taken from online) does have this parenthetical below The Lost Road. Is this normal? If so, what gives?

Edit: Looking now at Hammond’s bib, it appears that it is normal, but my primary question remains, if anyone can answer it: What gives? Simple oversight? (This is the only volume in the series that lacks this parenthesis.)

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Apr 22
2021/4/22 15:52:58 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Checking Hammond's Bibliography confirms that The Shaping of Middle-earth left off the "(in preparation)" in the UK first edition under The Lost Road and Other Writings. And I see you noticed this in your edited post. 😉

I would attribute this to oversight, but I have no information in this regard. The Lost Road has the "(in preparation)" again on its list of HoMe books.
Apr 23
2021/4/23 1:59:19 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

I would attribute this to oversight, but I have no information in this regard. The Lost Road has the "(in preparation)" again on its list of HoMe books.

Thanks, Urulókë! Sometimes it’s helpful at least to know what is unknowable.

On a related note, do you know anything about why the third volume (Lays of Beleriand) is the only one to lack a number on the front cover indicating its sequence in the series (excepting the Book of Lost Tales II, which has “Part II” there instead)? Lays and Lost Tales II receive such numbers (“2” and “3” respectively) in the 1991 HarperCollins editions, so it seems that someone noticed the inconsistency eventually. But it seems odd that they skipped these two to begin with.
Apr 23
2021/4/23 3:01:38 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
This is just my opinion, but there may be more information out there to confirm or correct (Deagol? Findegil?)

It seems clear to me that they didn't have a solid plan when they set out, and so there are small inconsistencies as the series concept firmed up. All twelve books have the number on the top of the spine so they clearly knew that Lays was the third book in the planned series, but they changed the layout of the front panel of the dust jacket as they went along. The front panel for the UK 1sts goes "1", "Part II", [nothing], "4", "5", etc. Just one of those things.
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