July 6th, 2018 by Michael Sauers

In three parts totaling just over 90 minutes, this is worth the time to watch.

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January 14th, 2015 by Michael Sauers

TolkienAs part of its vast collection of literary and historic treasures (the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook), the British Library owns some six million sound recordings, including significant theater productions, famous voices (like J.R.R. Tolkien’s), and field recordings of extinct animals. Some of them date back to the earliest and most fragile days of recording technology.

Now, as the Telegraph reports, the library is launching an urgent campaign to digitize and preserve its collection.

Read the full post @ IO9.

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December 12th, 2014 by Michael Sauers

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: eBooks will never be able to reproduce things like this.


TL: I wanted to talk to you about the Deluxe edition of the Silmarillion you created. what prompted you to make it?

I created the deluxe-Silmarillion for my exam at the Academy of Arts. My first idea was to create illustrations for the Lord of the Rings, but I realized that the films had left a too strong impression upon me, so I could not work free. So I decided to illustrate the Silmarillion. The calligraphy was first planned to be reduced to one single initial for each chapter. So I studied the „History of Middle-Earth“-books as well as the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and especially his works as an illustrator, which give many indications about his imagination of Middle-Earth that cannot be derived from written words. I also tried to find out what inspired him lyrically and visually and I think you can put that into one word: nature.

It is obvious that Tolkien was also a lover of calligraphy, especially medieval. In the book „J.R.R. Tolkien – Artist and Illustrator“ I found a hint about a book concerning calligraphy Tolkien had read. So I bought the same book and worked it through.

That was the point where I had more and more fun in doing medieval calligraphy and finally I had to make a decision: Illustrations OR calligraphy. This was not easy, because I had made very excessive preparations for the oil-paintings, but my time was so short, that I could not do both.

I do not regret my decision, because I have made my exam now and there are still tons of studies and prepared wood-plates waiting for paint. One study in pencil I put along with these words, they show the taking of Arathorn by the Hill-Trolls. – See more at: http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/902-Benjamin-Harff-Interview-Edel-Silmarillion.php#sthash.jy9zWtEE.dpuf

Read the full interview @ TolkienLibrary.com.

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March 19th, 2014 by Michael Sauers

BeowulfIn a world rights deal, the Tolkien Estate has signed with HarperCollins to publish for the first time Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien. This new book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who comments:

‘The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.

From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.

But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf “snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup”; but he rebuts the notion that this is “a mere treasure story”, “just another dragon tale”. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is “the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history” that raises it to another level. “The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The ‘treasure’ is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.”

Read more about this release @ TolkienBeowulf.com and pre-order it @ Amazon. (At the time of publication, Amazon is listing the hardcover under the amazingly descriptive title of “Untitled” and the author as “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt”. The Kindle version is listed under the correct title. Eventually I’m sure they’ll merge these entries to correct the error.)

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January 16th, 2014 by Michael Sauers

tolkien-profA quick update: Last year, we told you about Corey Olsen, an English Professor at Washington College, who started publishing online lectures on the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. We initially featured his lecture series on The Hobbit. Now “The Tolkien Professor,” as Olsen is otherwise known, presents a series of online courses on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Read the full post and get the links @ OpenCulture.com.

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October 3rd, 2007 by Michael Sauers
The History of the Hobbit
by John D. Rateliff

Read more about this title…

I stopped by the local Barnes & Noble over the weekend and stumbled over a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: The History of the Hobbit Part One, Mr. Baggins by John D. Rateliff and picked it up immediately. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet worked my way through all twelve volumes of the History of Middle Earth by Christopher Tolkien but I’ll finish it eventually. I’m already 30 pages into the volume (it is not a light read even if it didn’t have all those footnotes,) and I’m loving it.

For example, do you recognize these characters from the earliest draft: Bladthorin, Pryftan, and Gandalf? Well, don’t be too quick with that last one! Bladthorin ended up as the wizard Gandalf, Pryftan ended up as the dragon Smaug, and Gandalf was originally the name for Thorin the Dwarf. I can’t wait to find out what other secrets await in Tolkien’s original manuscripts.

Addendum: In writing this post I found that there’s a boxed set being released on October 26th, that includes both volumes of the History along with "a new edition of The Hobbit with a short introduction by Christopher Tolkien, a reset text incorporating the most up-to-date corrections, and all of Tolkien’s own drawings and color illustrations, including the rare ‘Mirkwood’ piece." (Click the link above-right for more details.) Guess what I just ordered.

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