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The Revised Hobbit

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  • William Cloud Hicklin
    Can anyone here, like John R or Wayne, shed any light beyond the bits in Carpenter and Letters on why Tolkien, rather oddly, sent A&U a rewritten Chapter 5,
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 8, 2006
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      Can anyone here, like John R or Wayne, shed any light beyond the
      bits in Carpenter and Letters on why Tolkien, rather oddly, sent
      A&U a rewritten Chapter 5, apparently without any intention that it
      be published?
    • John D Rateliff
      Short version: In writing LotR, Tolkien decided the original Gollum story in THE HOBBIT didn t work. His options were to let THE HOBBIT stay as it was and
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 8, 2006
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        Short version:
        In writing LotR, Tolkien decided the original Gollum story in THE
        HOBBIT didn't work. His options were to let THE HOBBIT stay as it was
        and explain away the contradiction in LotR (so that the two works wd
        disagree, but that disagreement wd be explained in the latter) or to
        change the first book so that the two wd match. He preferred changing
        THE HOBBIT (option B), and so sent the revised chapter to A&U.
        Through a misunderstanding, he thought they'd rejected the change and
        so fell back on option A. Then he discovered, several years later,
        that they'd gone with option B after all and so he made some quick
        changes to LotR to accommodate the fact. There'll still a few
        disconnects as a result, but they're minor and usually overlooked.
        For the long version, either someone else will have to pitch in
        or you'll have to wait for my book, which devotes a chapter to the
        1947 revisions.

        --JDR


        On Dec 8, 2006, at 8:48 AM, William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
        > Can anyone here, like John R or Wayne, shed any light beyond the
        > bits in Carpenter and Letters on why Tolkien, rather oddly, sent
        > A&U a rewritten Chapter 5, apparently without any intention that it
        > be published?
      • William Cloud Hicklin
        ... and ... later, ... This is what I was asking about. So why did Tolkien believe at the time (1947) that A&U was willing to publish a revised version? And
        Message 3 of 8 , Dec 8, 2006
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          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
          >
          > He preferred changing
          > THE HOBBIT (option B), and so sent the revised chapter to A&U.
          > Through a misunderstanding, he thought they'd rejected the change
          and
          > so fell back on option A. Then he discovered, several years
          later,
          > that they'd gone with option B after all

          This is what I was asking about. So why did Tolkien believe at the
          time (1947) that A&U was willing to publish a revised version? And
          what misunderstanding then led him to think they weren't?
        • Wayne G. Hammond
          ... On 24 July 1947 Tolkien left a typescript of Book I of _The Lord of the Rings_ with Stanley Unwin. Rayner Unwin read it, and wrote: Converting the
          Message 4 of 8 , Dec 12, 2006
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            William Cloud Hicklin wrote:

            >This is what I was asking about. So why did Tolkien believe at the
            >time (1947) that A&U was willing to publish a revised version? And
            >what misunderstanding then led him to think they weren't?

            On 24 July 1947 Tolkien left a typescript of Book I of _The Lord of the
            Rings_ with Stanley Unwin. Rayner Unwin read it, and wrote: "Converting the
            original Ring [in _The Hobbit_] into this new and powerful instrument [in
            LR] takes some explaining away and Gandalf is hard put to it to find
            reasons for many of the original Hobbit's actions." After seeing Rayner's
            report, on 31 July Tolkien noted in a letter to Stanley Unwin that Rayner
            had spotted a weakness in the link between the two works, and that the
            proper way to deal with it would be to revise _The Hobbit_, Chapter 5,
            though "any alteration of any radical kind is of course impossible, and
            unnecessary" beyond the correction of misprints. Typically, Tolkien could
            not let this go, and at least as an intellectual exercise, made a revision
            of Chapter 5. He sent this to Stanley Unwin on 21 September "for the
            possible amusement of yourself and Rayner", together with some corrections
            to other parts of _The Hobbit_. He had no reason to think that Allen &
            Unwin would adopt the revision of Chapter 5, but had nothing to lose by
            trying it on. In the event, although Tolkien made light of the matter,
            Stanley Unwin took it seriously, a measure of his respect for Tolkien and
            for a successful book. He may also have been influenced by Tolkien's
            statement in his cover letter that the "specimen of re-writing" of Chapter
            5 of _The Hobbit_ "would simplify, though not necessarily improve, my
            present task", i.e. writing _The Lord of the Rings_, which Unwin wanted to
            see completed.

            On 27 September 1947 Unwin wrote to Tolkien that he had sent Tolkien's
            corrections to the printer, for action when _The Hobbit_ was next
            reprinted. Three years then passed before another printing was needed (to
            fill an urgent order from Houghton Mifflin). In July 1950 Tolkien was
            surprised to receive proofs of a reprint which incorporated both
            corrections and revision. On 10 September 1950 he wrote to Stanley Unwin,
            in an unpublished part of the letter of that date otherwise in _Letters_,
            explaining that they had somehow misunderstood each other. Tolkien had, he
            said, sent Unwin (1) corrections (of detail, and to misprints) on a paper
            and with a heading distinct from (2) the specimen of what he would like to
            do with Chapter 5, if Unwin thought it advisable, but which was not
            intended as copy. He took Unwin's reply of 27 September 1947, referring to
            "corrections", to mean (1) only, and Unwin's silence on (2) to mean
            disapproval or doubt; whereas Unwin's "corrections" actually referred to both.

            See further, _The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide_, vol. 1, pp. 318-65
            passim.

            Wayne


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • William Cloud Hicklin
            ... Lord of the ... Thank you kindly, Wayne. So he really did do it on a lark! That was the impression I had earlier, with no possible sources but Bio and
            Message 5 of 8 , Dec 13, 2006
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              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Wayne G.
              Hammond" <Wayne.G.Hammond@...> wrote:

              >
              > On 24 July 1947 Tolkien left a typescript of Book I of _The
              Lord of the
              > Rings_ with Stanley Unwin. [...]


              Thank you kindly, Wayne.

              So he really did do it on a lark! That was the impression I
              had earlier, with no possible sources but Bio and Letters, but
              it seemed odd. Perhaps in retrospect it shouldn't given the
              alleys and byways into which JRRT's amazing mind was likely to
              turn. It reminds me a bit of the essay on Hobbit birthday
              customs and family organization, and the tale of Layla Took,
              which arose from a simple fanletter.

              WCH
            • John D Rateliff
              ... I don t know what about Wayne s (excellent) account gives you the impression that this was something Tolkien just dashed off, but that s far from the case.
              Message 6 of 8 , Dec 18, 2006
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                On Dec 13, 2006, at 7:40 AM, William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
                > So he really did do it on a lark!

                I don't know what about Wayne's (excellent) account gives you the
                impression that this was something Tolkien just dashed off, but
                that's far from the case. The replacement material for Chapter V
                exists in both manuscript and typescript, and it's clear that rough
                drafting which no longer exists preceded the manuscript. In addition,
                a single page survives that gives an intermediary text between the
                manuscript and typescript and there may once have been more that did
                not survive.
                In short, this is something he spent a lot of time over,
                calculating exactly how much space each revision would take for the
                typesetter. It's not something he wrote as a whim, or that he sent
                off without having carefully worked and reworked the material.
                There's actually some evidence that he began work on this as far back
                as 1944, three years before he gave it to his publisher.

                --JDR

                current reading: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BEOWULF
              • William Cloud Hicklin
                Now I m getting confused. It seems then that this was a careful, polished revision on which JRRT lavished much effort, but it was unsolicited and unexpected
                Message 7 of 8 , Dec 19, 2006
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                  Now I'm getting confused. It seems then that this was a
                  careful, polished revision on which JRRT lavished much effort,
                  but it was unsolicited and unexpected on A&U's part?


                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > On Dec 13, 2006, at 7:40 AM, William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
                  > > So he really did do it on a lark!
                  >
                  > I don't know what about Wayne's (excellent) account gives
                  you the
                  > impression that this was something Tolkien just dashed off,
                  but
                  > that's far from the case. The replacement material for
                  Chapter V
                  > exists in both manuscript and typescript, and it's clear
                  that rough
                  > drafting which no longer exists preceded the manuscript. In
                  addition,
                  > a single page survives that gives an intermediary text
                  between the
                  > manuscript and typescript and there may once have been more
                  that did
                  > not survive.
                  > In short, this is something he spent a lot of time
                  over,
                  > calculating exactly how much space each revision would take
                  for the
                  > typesetter. It's not something he wrote as a whim, or that
                  he sent
                  > off without having carefully worked and reworked the
                  material.
                  > There's actually some evidence that he began work on this as
                  far back
                  > as 1944, three years before he gave it to his publisher.
                  >
                  > --JDR
                  >
                  > current reading: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BEOWULF
                  >
                • John D Rateliff
                  ... Yes, that s it in a nutshell. --JDR current reading: Beowulf and the City of the Dark Elves by Jeff Grubb
                  Message 8 of 8 , Dec 19, 2006
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                    On Dec 19, 2006, at 7:33 AM, William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
                    > Now I'm getting confused. It seems then that this was a
                    > careful, polished revision on which JRRT lavished much effort,
                    > but it was unsolicited and unexpected on A&U's part?

                    Yes, that's it in a nutshell.
                    --JDR

                    current reading: "Beowulf and the City of the Dark Elves" by Jeff Grubb
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