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Mr. Baggins

I'm happy to report that John Rateliff's masterwork of commentary and annotation, A History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins, is due out from Amazon UK in September. I've been looking forward to this day for some time, though surely not as much as its author has. It is the product of more than a decade's digging in the archives, manuscript comparisons, and discussions with Christopher Tolkien and others. In short, scholarship of the highest order.

I've had the pleasure of reading four chapters already (Spiders, Elves, alternate text of 1960, and the Broken Bridge), and each has impressed me with its depth, its whimsy, and with the way it illuminates Tolkien's writing process (long, slow, and tortured — and full of dead ends). I recommend this book highly for anyone interested in the origins of the Hobbit — it includes the full text of the original as well as comments on the revisions and choices that Tolkien made (and made and made and unmade), and the mythic and real-world sources of inspiration for its characters and setting.

The book may not be published in the US (Harper Collins is more reluctant now that the LotR movies are done), so purchasing the British/Canadian edition is likely the way to go. I've already ordered my copy.



May. 5th, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
Yay for John! Woo-hoo!
May. 5th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
It's been a long time coming, but it's so worth it. His work has a kind of depth that I really admire, the depth that comes from spending years researching, digging, following little leads into obscure primary sources.

Not to mention, the manuscript comparison of text changes from one edition to the next. It seems that JRR never quite stopped revising. Not that I know any other writers like that. :)

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