Pagination cross-reference for The Lord of the Rings

My friend and colleague Andrew Peterson visited this last weekend to help with the initial work on my new pagination cross-reference for The Lord of the Rings. I had decided to include the following editions:

  1. Second edition of 1965 (Allen & Unwin 1966, Houghton Mifflin 1967): the three-volume hardcover edition for many years considered the “standard”.
  2. Ballantine paperbacks (Ballantine Books): I don’t know whether every Ballantine edition has the same pagination; certainly, the copies I have from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s all do; this is probably still the most common edition in the U.S.
  3. 1994 (Houghton Mifflin 1994): HarperCollins digitized the text for this single-volume 1994 edition illustrated by Alan Lee; though it’s not terribly common, John Rateliff has used it for LotR references in The History of the Hobbit.
  4. 50th Anniversary Edition “A” (HarperCollins & Houghton Mifflin 2004/5): The one-volume setting of the text edited by Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull and at least one subsequent three-volume set with continuous pagination (see A1 – A5 at Hammond & Scull’s Lord of the Rings Comparison). Arguably the closest thing we have to an authoritative edition today.
  5. 50th Anniversary Edition (B): The HarperCollins three-volume setting of Hammond & Scull’s edition (see B1 – B3 at Lord of the Rings Comparison). Essentially the same as the immediately preceding edition, although much less wieldy, somewhat less common, and perhaps slightly more accurate.

I’ve built a database which will contain one record per paragraph of The Lord of the Rings, containing the first few words of the paragraph, the paragraph number within the chapter and book (watch for a posting soon describing how this is assigned), and the page number on which the paragraph begins in each of the five editions listed above. In addition, there are spots to put the correlative page in Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (if there is one) and Words, Phrases and Passages in The Lord of the Rings (in Parma Eldalamberon XVII).

With help from my wife Karen, Andy and I exhaustively entered the relevant page numbers from all seven volumes for all of Book I, and have tweaked the procedures so further data entry should go somewhat more quickly.

Once we’ve entered the rest of the data, I’ll make everything available freely in spreadsheet form. I may also have the time to create an on-line pagination converter and companion iOS app.

With these tools, we’ll be able to easily find quotations in any of these editions of The Lord of the Rings and see at a glance whether there are relevant notes in Reader’s Companion and Words, Phrases and Passages. In addition, we’ll be able to begin using standardized paragraph numbers when we cite passages in LotR.

Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur

The Guardian reports that HarperCollins will be releasing Tolkien’s latest posthumous work, The Fall of Arthur, this coming May. The opening lines:

Arthur eastward in arms purposed
his war to wage on the wild marches,
over seas sailing to Saxon lands,
from the Roman realm ruin defending.
Thus the tides of time to turn backward
and the heathen to humble, his hope urged him,
that with harrying ships they should hunt no more
on the shining shores and shallow waters
of South Britain, booty seeking.1

1 J.R.R. Tolkien, quoted in “‘New’ JRR Tolkien epic due out next year,” 2012–10–09

This form of verse should look familiar to readers of The Lord of the Rings:

Forth rode Théoden. Five nights and days
east and onward rode the Eorlingas
through Folde and Fenmarch and the Firienwood,
six thousand spears to Sunlending,
Mundburg the mighty under Mindolluin,
Sea-kings’ city in the South-kingdom
foe-beleaguered, fire-encircled.
Doom drove them on. Darkness took them,
horse and horseman; hoofbeats afar
sank into silence: so the songs tell us.2

2 The Lord of the Rings, LRC §5.03.097; 50th Anniversary Ed., 803

Tolkien calls this meter “the ancestral measure of England” in his essay on “The Verse-forms of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl.” He continues:

This kind of line falls into two parts. … There is nearly always a breath-pause between them, corresponding to some degree of pause in the sense. But the line was welded into a metrical unit by alliteration; one or more (usually two) of the chief words in the first part were linked by alliteration with the first important word in the second part.3

3Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo, 155.

I love this essay; it’s a short read, yet it easily explains this native English verse form, displaced over the centuries by the (first) French and (later) Italian forms that we now tend to think of as “standard.”

The Guardian article quotes Christopher Tolkien:

It is well known that a prominent strain in my father’s poetry was his abiding love for the old Northern alliterative verse. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight he displayed his skill in his rendering of the alliterative verse of the 14th century into the same metre in modern English. To these is now added his unfinished and unpublished poem The Fall of Arthur.

Not knowing about The Fall of Arthur, I just had to do a little more research. I found that Pieter Collier at The Tolkien Library wrote that Tolkien

made a single reference to [his poem] in a 1955 letter and kept a 1934 letter from his friend, R.W. Chambers, professor of English at University College London, who wrote: “It is very great indeed … really heroic …. You really must finish it.”4

Turning to Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull’s J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, I found that Tolkien began the work in the early 1930s, but that he abandoned it

after 954 lines, though various outlines and drafts survive in addition to the final unfinished text.5

5 J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide vol. II, p. 56

They devote several excellent pages to “Arthur and the Matter of Britain,” as well as one page to Raymond Wilson Chambers, whose letter Collier quotes. Tolkien respected Chambers, describing his “Beowulf and the Heroic Age” “the most significant single essay on the poem that I know.”6

6 “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, quoted in J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide vol. II, p. 152.

HarperCollins’ press release:

The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur.

The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred. Already weakened in spirit by Guinevere’s infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordred’s rebels and foreign mercenaries.

Powerful, passionate and filled with vivid imagery, The Fall of Arthur reveals Tolkien’s gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Originally composed by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s, this work was set aside for The Hobbit and has lain untouched for 80 years.

Now it has been edited for publication by Tolkien’s son, Christopher, who contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth.

To be quite clear, the “Mirkwood” mentioned in the press release is not the Mirkwood we know from Middle-earth. In a letter Tolkien wrote to his grandson Michael George Tolkien on 1966-07-29, Tolkien explained:

Mirkwood is not an invention of mine, but a very ancient name, weighted with legendary associations. It was probably the Primitive Germanic name for the great mountainous forest regions that anciently formed a barrier to the south of the lands of Germanic expansion. In some traditions it became used especially of the boundary between Goths and Huns. I speak now from memory: its ancientness seems indicated by its appearance in very early Germanic (11th c. ?) as mirkiwidu although the *merkw- stem ‘dark’ is not otherwise found in German at all (only in O.E., O.S., and On.N.), and the stem *widu- > *witu was in German (I think) limited to the sense ‘timber’, not very common, and did not survive into mod. G. In O.E. mirce only survives in poetry, and in the sense ‘dark’, or rather ‘gloomy’. Only in Beowulf 1405 ofer myrcan mor: elsewhere only with the sense ‘murky’ > wicked, hellish. It was never, I think, a mere ‘colour’ word: ‘black’, and was from the beginning weighted with the sense of ‘gloom’.…

It seemed to me too good a fortune that Mirkwood remained intelligible (with exactly the right tone) in modern English to pass over: whether mirk is a Norse loan or a freshment of the obsolescent O.E. word.7

7 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #289, 369–70

We wouldn’t want anyone to be misled! Back to The Fall of Arthur now. The Times Literary Supplement writes:

“This is the most unexpected of Tolkien’s many posthumous publications; his son’s ‘Commentary’ is a model of informed accessibility; the poems stand comparison with their Eddic models, and there is little poetry in the world like those.”

May 23rd can’t come soon enough!

Pre-order The Fall of Arthur at or The Book Depository.

Tolkien, Iceland, and trolls

In a post titled “Bilbo’s Ride through Iceland,” our neighbor (give or take twenty miles), Nancy Marie Brown, recently wrote about the influence William Morris’s Journals of Travel in Iceland, 1871–73 may have had on Tolkien’s visualization of portions of Middle-earth — drawing particularly from Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Marjorie Burns.

Tolkien’s family with their au pair Arndís Þorbjarnardóttir, from the Icelandic paper Morgunblað, 1999-02-28, p. 26

As is usual with Nancy’s blog (God of Wednesday), the comments are interesting and informative. Specifically, Þóra Magnúsdóttir includes a link to an article in the 1999–02–28 issue of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblað: “Barnfóstran frá Islandi og Tolkien-fjölskyldan” (“Au pair from Iceland and the Tolkien Family”) in which Linda Ásdísardóttir interviews Arndís Þorbjarnardóttir, one of the Icelandic nannies who lived with and worked for the Tolkiens in the late ’20s.

Two weeks later, Nancy followed up with a post titled “Tolkien’s Icelandic Trolls”.

John Rateliff followed up on these posts with his “An Icelandic au pair?” on 2012–08–09. Amongst other things, he observes that the Tolkien family photograph captioned “Family party, 20 Northmoor Road, March 1930” in The Tolkien Family Album

was obviously taken at the same time as the picture on the facing page of The Tolkien Family Album, except that the Icelandic newspaper’s picture has Edith, all four children, and another woman (presumably Arndís), while the Family Album version has Edith, the children, and JRRT. The two photos, though not identical, were obviously taken at the same occasion (check the white tea-pot as a confirming detail).

He concludes that it’s “very likely” that Tolkien himself took the Morgunblað photo, while Arndís took the one appearing in The Tolkien Family Album.

All of this, of course, helps confirm Hammond & Scull’s entry in their The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide:

?1926–?1930 For some years after the move to 22 Northmoor Road a series of Icelandic au pair girls will live with the Tolkien family and entertain the boys with tales about trolls.

En route to Tolkien at UVM conference

 Mark, Ray, Andy, I, and Marc setting out

Mark, Ray, Andy, I, and Marc setting out

The topic of this year’s Tolkien at UVM conference (the 9th annual) was “Tolkien’s Bestiary”; again, it was hosted and organized by UVM professor Chris Vaccaro.

We hosted former “Tolkien As Translator” classmates Mark Kaminsky, Andrew Peterson, and Ray Saxon — as well as our professor, Dr. Marc Zender.

As you can see from the conference poster, Andy, Ray, and Marc all gave presentations:

9th annual Tolkien at UVM conference

2012 Tolkien in Vermont conference poster

  • Martha Monsson: “Forth Eorlingas: Horses and Ponies in The Lord of the Rings
  • Andrew Peterson: “The Many Faces of Trolls in Middle-earth”
  • Matt Dickerson: “From Goblins to the Valaraukar: Scourges of Fire and Demons of Terror”
  • roundtable: “What To Do with Tolkien’s Orcs”
  • Jonathan Evans: “Tolkien’s Non-Allegorical Bestiary”
  • Ray Saxon: “Manwë’s Messengers: The Role of the Eagles in Middle-earth”
  • Marc Zender: “Mammoths, Mûmakil, and ‘The Old Fireside Rhyme of Oliphaunt’: Tolkien’s Contributions to the Medieval Bestiary Tradition”
  • Kristine Larsen: “A Creature of an Older World”: Tolkien and the “Mythology of the Prehistoric”
  • Gerry Blair: “A Boy and His Dog”
  • Jamie Williamson: “Tolkien and the Codification of Non-Human Beings”

A letter from France

An envelope from France

No more need be said.