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Tolkien Centenary Conference Proceedings

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  • Joan Marie Verba
    Let me touch on this subject once again briefly, as I m sure this topic may be only be of interest to me and Mr. B. The policy I stated and defended was as
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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      Let me touch on this subject once again briefly, as I'm sure this topic may be
      only be of interest to me and Mr. B.

      The policy I stated and defended was as follows:
      If a title is selling well, the Press would reprint it.
      If a title was not selling well, the Press would probably not reprint it.

      For the Masques, I stated the following:
      If the title sold out the initial print run of 300 copies in the first 6
      months, I would reprint it. If it sold out within the first year, I would
      strongly consider reprinting it. If it did not sell out within 2 years of the
      first printing, I would be reluctant to reprint it.

      Mr. Bratman seems to have mistaken my statement that a title that did not sell
      well within a reasonable period of time would probably go out of print, as a
      statement of no reprints, ever. He has previously taken my statement that
      whether or not to reprint a title after a period of time has elapsed is
      essentially a judgement call, as "no reason."

      (By the way, my policy did not apply to the Masques only. Had I remained
      Mythopoeic Press Secretary, Chad Walsh Reviews C. S. Lewis would very probably
      not have been reprinted, either.)

      I can understand Mr. Bratman's disappointment in my reluctance to reprint the
      Masques. I understand that contributors want their works to remain in print
      indefinitely. Mr. Bratman worked hard on the Masques and the results were
      outstanding, in my opinion.

      My 2000 Mythopoeic Press Budget, as with most (if not all) of my budgets, had a
      line item for funds set aside for reprinting titles. That is a matter of
      record. As the Masques was the only title eligible for reprint at the time, I
      believe that backs up my statement that I would have been willing to reprint
      had the sales been better.

      Allowing works to go out of print if sales do not meet certain expectations is
      not uncommon in the publishing industry. While I understand the feeling that
      the Mythopoeic Press is special and should be dedicated to the mission that
      works be in print indefinitely (the current Press Secretary may be of this
      opinion, but I would not wish to quote him without his direct input), this is
      not always financially realistic.

      One last item: if Mr. Bratman wished the Press to be run his way, he was always
      free to run against me as Press Secretary in the Steward elections, and I would
      have been happy to hand the Press over to him if he had won such an election.

      I am, again, sorry that this misunderstanding ever took place, and hope that
      this clarifies the record.

      Joan Marie Verba
    • Wayne G. Hammond
      Humphrey Carpenter died today (4 January) at age 58. He had spent several years with Parkinson s Disease. An obituary is on the _Daily Telegraph_ website, at
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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        Humphrey Carpenter died today (4 January) at age 58. He had spent several
        years with Parkinson's Disease. An obituary is on the _Daily Telegraph_
        website, at www.telegraph.co.uk: it mentions Carpenter's biography of
        Tolkien and his book on the Inklings among many other accomplishments.

        Wayne Hammond
      • Wayne G. Hammond
        ... Christina has found in our files a letter that _Proceedings_ co-editor and Conference co-chair Pat Reynolds wrote on 14 August 1992 to those intending to
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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          Joan wrote:

          >The Tolkien Society told us that some of the authors signed contracts
          >specifying that the Proceedings would be printed once only. However, no one
          >ever produced a contract for me to examine, and some of the authors reported
          >that they could not recall signing any contract.

          Christina has found in our files a letter that _Proceedings_ co-editor and
          Conference co-chair Pat Reynolds wrote on 14 August 1992 to those intending
          to present papers at the Centenary Conference. This stated that the
          Conference Committee had long planned to publish all of the papers in more
          than one volume of _Proceedings_ (as was then thought, rather than one
          thicker volume) "as part of the series of both _Mallorn_ and _Mythlore_".
          At that time there was also the possibility that some of the papers "on a
          specific theme" might appear in a volume "published by a major British
          publishing house" (this fell through). But it was quite properly left to
          the individual presenter's wishes where his or her paper might appear, and
          the recipient of the letter thus was asked to choose from a list of
          options, with order of preference indicated if more than one option was chosen:

          I would like my paper to be considered for the themed volume.

          I would like my paper to be included in the _Proceedings_.

          I would like my paper to be forwarded to the editor of _Mallorn_ for
          consideration.

          I would like my paper to be forwarded to the editor of _Mythlore_ for
          consideration.

          I prefer to submit my paper elsewhere/not to submit my paper for
          publication at all.

          And after these was a blank to fill in "titles of foreign-language
          publications where I may submit my paper".

          This was all the "contract" that was sent out, except for a two-page "notes
          for contributors" which included the statement: "The copyright of each
          paper will remain with its author. The author's right to be associated with
          his or her work will be upheld. These right[s] apply similar to artists and
          photographers." If I recall correctly, the list of options was, at least in
          small part, in response to my huffing and puffing that the editor of
          _Mythlore_ did not, by any means, have an automatic right to publish any of
          the papers just because the conference counted as a Mythcon (any more than
          he did for papers at ordinary Mythcons, as he had been claiming), not
          without written permission. It was also, I believe, set out this way
          because a handful of presenters had already said that they did not want
          their papers to appear in _Mythlore_ (that is, in an individual issue,
          never mind that the _Proceedings_ counts as _Mythlore_ 80), for personal
          reasons having to do with its editor.

          There was certainly nothing in these materials, or in anything else the
          presenters received, which stated that the _Proceedings_ could be printed
          only once. It may be, however, that some of the individual authors
          specified this privately as a condition of publication, or it was specified
          as a condition of permission to republish one or more of the essays that
          had already appeared in print prior to the conference, or it was a
          condition applied by the Tolkien Estate as part of their omnibus permission
          which covered quotations from Tolkien's works.

          Wayne Hammond
        • David Bratman
          Humphrey Carpenter first came to my notice in 1977, when his biography of Tolkien was published. This book distracted my attention effectively from a few
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 5, 2005
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            Humphrey Carpenter first came to my notice in 1977, when his biography of
            Tolkien was published. This book distracted my attention effectively from a
            few workaday nuisances, such as final exams. It's amazing how well it's
            held up over the years. Certainly none of its successors (except John
            Garth's _Tolkien and the Great War_, which isn't a full biography) have
            measured up to his achievement. Carpenter made a fair number of factual
            errors, as it later turned out: some of them because Tolkien's papers had
            not been adequately sorted at the time he did his research, so info on what
            Tolkien wrote and when he wrote it was lacking. But his errors are mostly
            in details: what's important is how well Carpenter captured the spirit and
            intellect of the man. His picture of what drove and interested Tolkien was
            impeccable, so it's unfortunate that Carpenter lost interest in later
            years, and once wrote a radio dramatization script that depicted Tolkien as
            nothing more than an absent-minded coot.

            Soon afterwards came his book on the Inklings, also still the standard
            resource on the subject, though perhaps a less successful work. Carpenter
            found Lewis's and Williams's idiosyncracies more puzzling than Tolkien's,
            and didn't really have the measure of the men. But he delved deeply into
            sources and wore his learning confidently.

            After that he was established as a famous literary biographer, and went on
            to many other subjects. The first of these was W.H. Auden, possibly
            Carpenter's best book, a rich amusing and lucid portrait of the man and his
            work. But later books tended to lose something. I was quite disappointed
            with his book on Benjamin Britten, which drew him as a man with a really
            interesting erotic life who also might have composed a little bit of music
            from time to time. But Carpenter could still turn a phrase and make telling
            points: I'm especially fond of a footnote in _Geniuses Together_, his book
            on the American writers in 1920s Paris, saying something to the effect of
            noting that Hemingway is believed to have written most of his fiction while
            mildly drunk; and that it works best if the reader is in a similar
            condition. (I haven't tried this myself.)

            Carpenter also wrote a number of other books, including children's fiction,
            that I mostly have not read, but _Secret Gardens_, his critical survey of
            the golden age of English children's literature, is another brilliant and
            insightful book.

            David Bratman
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