NYC Area Friends of JRR Tolkien & Fantasy Message Board › ATTENTION! ALL TOLKIEN LOVERS!

ATTENTION! ALL TOLKIEN LOVERS!

Apulia
Apulia
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 129
http://www.themorgan....­

The JP Morgan Library & Museum is hosting an exhibition which just started and will continue until May 5th called Treasures from the Vault. On view is a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien containing a commentary on "The Hobbit".
Apulia
Apulia
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 131
On a whim, I visited the JP Morgan Library Museum today. Headed right to the library and found Tolkien’s letter. Silly me didn’t bring a pen and I assumed I could find a transcription of this letter online. Oh, well. I have to rely on my memory. Tolkien’s handwriting isn’t easy to decipher.

The letter was dated Dec. 14, 1937 – A few words caught my eye. (I really wish I had had a pen with me!) (I also forgot to check who Tolkien wrote the letter to!) The words that caught my eye were that Tolkien preferred his own mythology to that of the Hobbit. He had come up with Hobbits at the 10th hour. In his own mythology there was Elrond, Gondolin and another word I couldn’t quite read. (The transcription on the exhibit only dwelt on the second half of the letter for some reason.)

Last thing I noticed was Tolkien’s comment on dissatisfaction with the name Smaug. The name came from a language not In keeping with those Tolkien liked to use. Smaug was based on Icelandic. .

Maybe someone in the group is familiar with this letter. I sure would like to see a transcription of it. As I wrote above, the Professor's handwriting is very small and hard to decipher.
Timothy F.
Timdalf
Valley Cottage, NY
Post #: 135
Well, first problem. This letter is NOT in "The Letters of JJRT" ed by Humphrey Carpenter...

Second problem: welcome to the club of great scholars who have lamented JRRT's handwriting...

This is as much as I could find out on the Net:

There was this blurb from the Morgan >>>Despite its selling over thirty million copies today, The Hobbit was not an immediate success when it was first published in 1937. In a letter to his friend G. E. Selby, J. R. R. Tolkien describes—in his ornate handwriting—the genesis of his novel, joking that the manuscript “was discovered (in a nunnery).” Tolkien went on to say that his children, for whom he originally created the story, “do not wholly approve of their private amusements being turned to cash…[That was the hope. Actually I have ear[n]ed ₤25 so far…].”<<<

It's from here: http://www.themorgan....­

From this blog I get these bits: http://lingwe.blogspo...­

But this translation into Old Norse suggests that Tolkien was playing with the idea of representing much more than just the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit as Old Norse. As early as December, 1937, Tolkien admitted that “[Old] Icelandic was in a foolish moment substituted for the proper language of my tales” [4]. Not just the names, but also the language, it seems Tolkien is saying.

[4] Tolkien makes this rather significant admission in a letter to G.E. Selby, dated December 14, 1937. Christopher Tolkien quotes a selection from this letter in his foreword to The Return of the Shadow (p. 7) — but not the passage I have quoted. The complete letter to Selby was printed in the exhibition guide, J.R.R. Tolkien — The Hobbit: Drawings, Watercolors, and Manuscripts, Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, June 11–September 30, 1987, p. [4].

The quote from p. 7 of "The Return of the Shadow" (Vol. VI of Chr. T's History of Middle-earth):

...How my father saw The Hobbit -- specifically in relation to "The Silmarillion" -- at the time of its publication isshown clearly in the letter that he wrote to G. E Selby on 14 December 1937:
I don't much approve of The Hobbit myself, preferring my own mythology (which is just touched on) with its consistent nomenclature -- Elrond, Gondolin, and Esgaroth have escaped out of it -- and organized history to this rabble of Eddaic-maned dwarves out of Voeluspa, newfangled hobbits and gllums (invented in an idle hour) and Anglo-Saxon runes.

The importance of The Hobbit in the history of the evolution of Middle-earth lies, then at this time, in the fact that it was published, and that a sequel to it was demanded....
Apulia
Apulia
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 132
Thank you, Tim. I knew someone would know.

The press release was at the front desk of the entry to the museum. I didn't pick it up.

Those are great links. I took a quick look. I think I saw the word legendarium and couldn't' make out what it was. It seems to be solely Tolkien related as a word. If so, one of the places I found online that discusses Tolkien's use of the word would be incorrect as he wrote this letter in 1937 while that site says he first used it in 1951. Anyway, relying on my memory isn't a good idea.

http://middle-earth.x...­

Much to read. One of the links shows a sample of the Professor's writing so readers can see how difficult it is to make out what he is writing about.
Timothy F.
Timdalf
Valley Cottage, NY
Post #: 136
A couple of comments; The word "legendarium" has simply become commonplace in Tolkien studies to refer to his entire mythological/linguistic complex. Two of the top ranking Tolkien scholars have compiled a collection of essays entitled "Tolkien's Legendarium - Essays on The History of Middle-earth"

http://www.elvish.org...­.

Martinez, whose web page you refer to is generally considered a pop scholar, mainly engaged in Internet essays and self-published books. So I would take his conclusion that JRRT first used the word in the 1951 Letter to Waldman very lightly. If one simply looks in the index to "The Letters of JRRT" by Carpenter one finds the 4 references Martinez relies on. Since that collection is far from complete, to conclude, without any qualifications, from it alone that this is the first use is a bit risky. If JRRT uses the word in this 1937 letter, which is not included in the Carpenter selection, then it demonstrates how careful one has to be with the vast complex of Tolkien's papers in Marquette and Oxford, many of which (letters, translations, etc.) are not yet even published. In fact I doubt if a published catalogue of those papers had been made available, other than going to Marquette and Oxford personally.
Timothy F.
Timdalf
Valley Cottage, NY
Post #: 137
PS: Apparently no one has really looked into the question of the history of the Tolkien's use of the word. I suppose someone could go to Marquette and to the Bodleian at Oxford and spend a good many days trying to dig up such. Would make an interesting research project.

Meanwhile here is an Internet listing of the Tolkien papers held by Marquette:

http://www.marquette....­

And I suppose some scrounging about in this site could find a similar listing for the Bodleian:

http://www.bodleian.o...­

>>>The twentieth century to the present

The Bodleian’s manuscript holdings for the modern period reflect the Library’s interest in acquiring papers of authors who have a connection with the University and the City of Oxford. The Bodleian holds substantial archives relating to J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and other members of the Inklings circle.<<<
Powered by mvnForum

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy