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Re: Tolkien cartoon

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  • Merlin DeTardo
    ...
    Message 1 of 18 , Sep 14, 2008
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      ---David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
      << It reads as if the cartoonist had browsed through a couple volumes
      restlessly while on an upset stomach and decided to condemn the whole
      project thereby. >>

      Well, he offers the other point of view in the third strip.

      << Also, if you want to complain about vast quantities of posthumous
      Tolkien hitting the streets, aren't you rather over ten years out of
      date? >>

      What about _The Children of Hurin_ and, er, _The History of The
      Hobbit_? I think those books, particularly the first one, got more
      attention in mainstream press than the later _History of Middle-earth_
      volumes.

      -Merlin DeTardo
    • David Bratman
      ... Only to belittle it. ... That s why I wrote vast quantities, Merlin. One book, _The Children of Hurin_, isn t enough to generate the kind of
      Message 2 of 18 , Sep 14, 2008
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        "Merlin DeTardo" <emptyD@...> wrote:

        > ---David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
        > << It reads as if the cartoonist had browsed through a couple volumes
        > restlessly while on an upset stomach and decided to condemn the whole
        > project thereby. >>
        >
        > Well, he offers the other point of view in the third strip.

        Only to belittle it.

        > << Also, if you want to complain about vast quantities of posthumous
        > Tolkien hitting the streets, aren't you rather over ten years out of
        > date? >>
        >
        > What about _The Children of Hurin_ and, er, _The History of The
        > Hobbit_? I think those books, particularly the first one, got more
        > attention in mainstream press than the later _History of Middle-earth_
        > volumes.

        That's why I wrote "vast quantities," Merlin. One book, _The Children of
        Hurin_, isn't enough to generate the kind of flooding-the-market complaints
        of these strips. And _The History of The Hobbit_ is not directly the
        responsibility of Christopher Tolkien, at whom the attack is specifically
        pointed, nor is it packaged and marketed as a book by Tolkien. An ignorant
        inquirer picks it up at the store, it looks like a book by John Rateliff
        _about_ Tolkien. John's name is more prominent than JRRT's on the cover,
        and JRRT's name doesn't appear on the title page at all; neither of these
        things is true of the Narn or of the HoME books.
      • William Cloud Hicklin
        I concur with David B. This is the sort of ignorant spew we ve been seeing for *over twenty years* from people who haven t a clue what HME is, how valuable it
        Message 3 of 18 , Sep 15, 2008
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          I concur with David B. This is the sort of ignorant spew
          we've been seeing for *over twenty years* from people who
          haven't a clue what HME is, how valuable it is, or the mind-
          boggling amount of labor CRT put into it. A murrain upon it!
        • John D Rateliff
          ... Sorry about that; last time I offered an opinion on a link I was posting I got lambasted for it, so I thought I d give this one as neutrally as possible.
          Message 4 of 18 , Sep 15, 2008
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            On Sep 14, 2008, at 8:02 AM, David Bratman wrote:
            > I wish you'd warned us how profoundly ignorant and cheap-shot they
            > are.

            Sorry about that; last time I offered an opinion on a link I was
            posting I got lambasted for it, so I thought I'd give this one as
            neutrally as possible.

            In fact I completely disagree with the cartoonist's rants; I
            simply thought the middle one (Blimey!) was funny. They're the sort
            of things one can only say out of complete ignorance of the material
            being condemned, sight unseen.



            On Sep 15, 2008, at 1:53 PM, William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
            > This is the sort of ignorant spew we've been seeing for *over
            > twenty years* from people who haven't a clue what HME is, how
            > valuable it is, or the mind-boggling amount of labor CRT put into it.

            Some of us have been seeing it for more than thirty years, since
            those original sneering reviews of THE SILMARILLION back in 1977.
            It's a cliche with a life on its own, immutable by the facts.

            --JDR
          • hoytrand
            I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously (especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication) is a seriously
            Message 5 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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              I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously
              (especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication)
              is a seriously problematic endeavor. I don't just mean that it is
              difficult: there are very good objections *against* doing it at all.
              If I remember correctly, Christopher Tolkien later decided that
              publishing *The Silmarillion* in the form he did (without any frame)
              was not the right thing to do.

              Don't get me wrong; I am *very* grateful for what he has done. I fully
              admit that the cartoons most likely originated in an inappropriate
              ignorance and disrespect towards Christopher Tolkien's work. But maybe
              -- just maybe -- the cartoonist is much more thoughtful about the
              situation and cognizant of the fundamental problems inherent in this
              type of project. Even if not, I think the cartoons could provide a
              good opportunity for us to have a thoughtful discussion about those
              problems.

              Thanks,
              ~randy


              (This is my first post to the list, so please don't lambast me! Though
              I admit I got my flame-shield out of the cellar before writing this. :~)
            • David Emerson
              ... There s a big difference between posthumously publishing work that the author didn t feel was good enough to submit (e.g. rough drafts, stories that
              Message 6 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                >I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously
                >(especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication)
                >is a seriously problematic endeavor. I don't just mean that it is
                >difficult: there are very good objections *against* doing it at all.

                There's a big difference between posthumously publishing work that the author didn't feel was good enough to submit (e.g. rough drafts, stories that weren't "good enough") and work that the author cared about but publishers did not (until his posthumous fame changed their minds). Much of what ended up in HOME, even though not entirely finished, falls into the second category, as do things like _Roverandom_ and _Mr. Bliss_.

                It also makes a difference when material like that in HOME is clearly presented as original drafts and working papers, intended for scholarly access, rather than a publisher exhuming a previously-rejected manuscript and foisting it on the public just so they can make more bucks. _Children of Hurin_ might conceivably be seen as an instance of the latter, but only if readers are unaware of the metastory surrounding it.

                David Emerson

                ________________________________________
                PeoplePC Online
                A better way to Internet
                http://www.peoplepc.com
              • John D Rateliff
                Hi Randy. Welcome to the list. Yes, it s always problematic to publish an author s work posthumously. Some heirs choose to publish, and some choose to
                Message 7 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                  Hi Randy. Welcome to the list.
                  Yes, it's always problematic to publish an author's work
                  posthumously. Some heirs choose to publish, and some choose to
                  suppress. Two good contrasting examples are Vergil and Mary Renault.
                  Vergil died after completing only half of THE AENEID and left
                  behind explicit directions that it be destroyed; the Emperor himself
                  overrode the will and ordered the work --one of the most influential
                  in world history-- published.
                  Similarly, Mary Renault died when half-way through her Arthurian
                  novel. She had an understanding with her longtime companion that the
                  latter wd destroy any work Renault left unfinished. So despite her
                  deep reservations (since she thought it Renault's best work), after
                  reading and re-reading it herself several time she destroyed the only
                  copy.
                  Now, I don't have much use for Vergil, and I'd quite like to have
                  had a look at Renault's take on King Arthur. But that doesn't mean
                  the one decision was right and the other wrong.
                  There are plenty of other factors to consider. Did the author
                  want the work published, or suppressed? Was it finished, or nearly
                  finished, or merely fragments? Had the author tried to publish it
                  himself or herself? To what degree has the material been re-written
                  by another hand to make it publishable (cf. Twain's THE MYSTERIOUS
                  STRANGER)? And so forth.
                  The most important factor, for me, is that Tolkien in his will
                  explicitly gave Christopher the authority to publish or destroy, in
                  whole or in part, all JRRT's literary manuscripts in his possession
                  at the time of his death.


                  On Sep 17, 2008, at 3:01 PM, hoytrand wrote:
                  > I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously
                  > (especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication)
                  > is a seriously problematic endeavor. I don't just mean that it is
                  > difficult: there are very good objections *against* doing it at all.
                  > If I remember correctly, Christopher Tolkien later decided that
                  > publishing *The Silmarillion* in the form he did (without any frame)
                  > was not the right thing to do.

                  He has expressed reservations about the form the book took, but
                  not about the decision to publish the book.

                  > Don't get me wrong; I am *very* grateful for what he has done. I fully
                  > admit that the cartoons most likely originated in an inappropriate
                  > ignorance and disrespect towards Christopher Tolkien's work. But maybe
                  > -- just maybe -- the cartoonist is much more thoughtful about the
                  > situation and cognizant of the fundamental problems inherent in this
                  > type of project. Even if not, I think the cartoons could provide a
                  > good opportunity for us to have a thoughtful discussion about those
                  > problems.

                  The third in the series shows he is at least aware of the larger
                  picture.
                  And I think your post shows we are having a thoughtful discussion
                  --JDR

                  > Thanks,
                  > ~randy
                  >
                  > (This is my first post to the list, so please don't lambast me! Though
                  > I admit I got my flame-shield out of the cellar before writing this.
                • Doug Kane
                  Welcome to the list, Randy. No need for flame-guards around here. This is a very civilized bunch. :-) While it is true as you point out that Christopher
                  Message 8 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                    Welcome to the list, Randy. No need for flame-guards around here. This is a very civilized bunch. :-)

                    While it is true as you point out that Christopher Tolkien expresses some regret at certain aspects of his construction of the published _Silmarillion_, particularly his failure to include a "frame", as you say (I've heard rumors that there will be a new book coming soon that addresses the process of the creation of the published _Silmarillion_ in some depth ;-) ), he also said in no uncertain terms that for _The Silmarillion_ to remain unknown was for him "out of the question" (see the Introduction to _Unfinished Tales_). I agree with that fully; the thought that he might have followed the alternative that his father left him of leaving the work unpublished fills me with horror. To a large extent, _The Silmarillion_ was Tolkien's life work, and as far as I am concerned, there is no acceptable argument against its publication.

                    HoMe is somewhat different story. As David Bratman points out in his great article on the literary value of HoMe (published in _Tolkien's Legendarium_) there are some (including perhaps most prominently Guy Kay, who assisted Christopher in the creation of the published _Silmarillion_) who believe that HoMe was a "bony ax" that never should have been published. Like David, I am not one who even remotely shares that view. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Tolkien's unique genius really required the publication of the full body of his work (or as close to it as was possible) to be fully appreciated. But only those who have made a very careful study of Tolkien's work are likely to understand that. So it is not surprising that this cartoonist would consider Christopher's work to be an easy target for light-hearted scorn and derision.

                    That having been said, while I felt that the first comic was not only disrespectful, but worse, was completely unfunny, I did chuckle at the giant Hobbit in the second comic, and I laughed out loud at the idea of Jimi Hendrix talking to Tolkien in heaven, and Tolkien not understanding a word that he said, in the third one.


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Merlin DeTardo
                    ...
                    Message 9 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                      --- "Doug Kane" <dougkane@...> wrote:
                      << ...there are some (including perhaps most prominently Guy Kay, who
                      assisted Christopher in the creation of the published _Silmarillion_)
                      who believe that HoMe was a "bony ax" that never should have been
                      published.... >>

                      Oxen of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!



                      Seriously: nice comments, Doug.

                      -Merlin DeTardo
                    • Jason Fisher
                      ... Yes, absolutely. Too, the difficult nature of the challenge facing Christopher Tolkien is probably almost impossible for any of us to fully comprehend
                      Message 10 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                        > While it is true as you point out that Christopher Tolkien
                        > expresses some regret at certain aspects of his construction
                        > of the published _Silmarillion_ , particularly his failure to
                        > include a "frame", as you say [...], he also said in no uncertain
                        > terms that for _The Silmarillion_ to remain unknown was for
                        > him "out of the question" (see the Introduction to _Unfinished
                        > Tales_). I agree with that fully; the thought that he might have
                        > followed the alternative that his father left him of leaving the
                        > work unpublished fills me with horror. To a large extent,
                        > _The Silmarillion_ was Tolkien's life work, and as far as I am
                        > concerned, there is no acceptable argument against its publication.

                        Yes, absolutely. Too, the difficult nature of the challenge facing Christopher Tolkien is probably almost impossible for any of us to fully comprehend (except perhaps those few of us, like John, Wayne, Christina, and others, who have actually poured over the manuscripts themselves). Christopher described it this way (in the booklet, The Silmarillion: A Brief Account of the Book and Its Making):

                        "To bring it into publishable form was a task at once utterly absorbing and alarming in its responsibility toward something that is unique. To decide what form that should be was not easy; and for a time I worked toward a book that would show something of this diversity, this unfinished and many-branched growth. But it became clear to me that the result would be so complex as to require much study for its comprehension; and I feared to crush The Silmarillion beneath the weight of its own history. I set myself, therefore, to work out a single text, by selection and arrangement." ([4])

                        I think that says it pretty well. And I'm more than willing to accept a few missteps in the "single text" for what we got in exchange. Of course, Randy and probably everyone else here will agree with that. And in the end, we got the first plan as well (i.e., the "book[s] that would show something of this diversity"), in HoMe. I'm more than satisfied. :)
                      • Walter Padgett
                        Ahh, yes... Where would we be without Christopher Tolkien? Is this the beginning of another Silmarillion appraisal on this list? I can t think of anything
                        Message 11 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                          Ahh, yes... Where would we be without Christopher Tolkien?

                          Is this the beginning of another Silmarillion appraisal on this list?
                          I can't think of anything much better than that!



                          On Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 11:31 PM, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...>wrote:

                          > > While it is true as you point out that Christopher Tolkien
                          > > expresses some regret at certain aspects of his construction
                          > > of the published _Silmarillion_ , particularly his failure to
                          > > include a "frame", as you say [...], he also said in no uncertain
                          > > terms that for _The Silmarillion_ to remain unknown was for
                          > > him "out of the question" (see the Introduction to _Unfinished
                          > > Tales_). I agree with that fully; the thought that he might have
                          > > followed the alternative that his father left him of leaving the
                          > > work unpublished fills me with horror. To a large extent,
                          > > _The Silmarillion_ was Tolkien's life work, and as far as I am
                          > > concerned, there is no acceptable argument against its publication.
                          >
                          > Yes, absolutely. Too, the difficult nature of the challenge facing
                          > Christopher Tolkien is probably almost impossible for any of us to fully
                          > comprehend (except perhaps those few of us, like John, Wayne, Christina, and
                          > others, who have actually poured over the manuscripts themselves).
                          > Christopher described it this way (in the booklet, The Silmarillion: A Brief
                          > Account of the Book and Its Making):
                          >
                          > "To bring it into publishable form was a task at once utterly absorbing and
                          > alarming in its responsibility toward something that is unique. To decide
                          > what form that should be was not easy; and for a time I worked toward a book
                          > that would show something of this diversity, this unfinished and
                          > many-branched growth. But it became clear to me that the result would be so
                          > complex as to require much study for its comprehension; and I feared to
                          > crush The Silmarillion beneath the weight of its own history. I set myself,
                          > therefore, to work out a single text, by selection and arrangement." ([4])
                          >
                          > I think that says it pretty well. And I'm more than willing to accept a few
                          > missteps in the "single text" for what we got in exchange. Of course, Randy
                          > and probably everyone else here will agree with that. And in the end, we got
                          > the first plan as well (i.e., the "book[s] that would show something of this
                          > diversity"), in HoMe. I'm more than satisfied. :)
                          >
                          >
                          >


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • David Bratman
                          To my mind, the decision to publish The History of Middle-earth is so clearly the right one that, unless one is specifically raising Guy Kay s objection - to
                          Message 12 of 18 , Sep 17, 2008
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                            To my mind, the decision to publish "The History of Middle-earth" is so
                            clearly the right one that, unless one is specifically raising Guy Kay's
                            objection - to switch metaphors, that authors should not let their readers
                            peek at "the man behind the curtain" - I find it hard to understand why
                            anyone would have a problem with it.

                            Then I realize that they probably have a totally fanciful and incorrect
                            notion of what the posthumous material consists of. Far too often, deceased
                            authors are exploited - their notes and abandoned drafts are turned into
                            gleaming new novels that are inferior in quality, diminishing the author's
                            reputation. I've even seen it said that Christopher Tolkien is writing new
                            books and publishing them under his father's name. How can we explain to
                            people that this isn't what's going on at all? The only two books that CT
                            rewrote at all, _The Silmarillion_ and _The Children of Hurin_, are just
                            smoothed-out versions of material his father wrote extensively. Whatever
                            changes or selective omissions have been made, they're not new material
                            being sold as something it's not.

                            All the rest of the books are scholarly editions of minimally edited
                            original papers, published commercially only because Tolkien is popular
                            enough that they'll sell. That's an entirely different thing than pushing
                            newly imagined novels over his name.

                            There are two reasons for publishing this material. First, there's a lot of
                            really good stuff in there that just wouldn't fit into _The Silmarillion_ as
                            published, because it's from a different angle or point of view, or from a
                            different stage in the creation of the mythology, so it wouldn't fit the
                            sub-creation. Secondly, because one of Tolkien's greatest virtues as an
                            author is the richness of his creation, and this enables the reader to watch
                            how it was made. This is what Guy Kay would rather we not see, but the
                            magnitude of the work Tolkien put into it, a whole dimension beyond a slice
                            of the inner history as we know it from LOTR, is itself a grand creation.

                            Lastly, one of the points I made in the article that Doug kindly mentioned
                            is that there's a fundamental difference in dealing with the work of a
                            living author and of a dead one. There's all sorts of things that are
                            appropriate to do only once the author is deceased. You wouldn't put a
                            living author into a box and bury it in the ground; you wouldn't distribute
                            his possessions or put them in a museum. And you wouldn't publish the
                            papers he's not done with. But once he's dead, he's done with them. There
                            will be no more revisions. Some authors realize this. My favorite example
                            is Robert Heinlein, who kept a box of personal papers he had no desire to
                            see print during his lifetime, but which he wanted published as soon as
                            possible after his death. And he picked a title for the book: _Grumbles
                            from the Grave_.


                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "hoytrand" <randy@...>
                            To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 3:01 PM
                            Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien cartoon


                            >I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously
                            > (especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication)
                            > is a seriously problematic endeavor. I don't just mean that it is
                            > difficult: there are very good objections *against* doing it at all.
                            > If I remember correctly, Christopher Tolkien later decided that
                            > publishing *The Silmarillion* in the form he did (without any frame)
                            > was not the right thing to do.
                            >
                            > Don't get me wrong; I am *very* grateful for what he has done. I fully
                            > admit that the cartoons most likely originated in an inappropriate
                            > ignorance and disrespect towards Christopher Tolkien's work. But maybe
                            > -- just maybe -- the cartoonist is much more thoughtful about the
                            > situation and cognizant of the fundamental problems inherent in this
                            > type of project. Even if not, I think the cartoons could provide a
                            > good opportunity for us to have a thoughtful discussion about those
                            > problems.
                            >
                            > Thanks,
                            > ~randy
                            >
                            >
                            > (This is my first post to the list, so please don't lambast me! Though
                            > I admit I got my flame-shield out of the cellar before writing this. :~)
                            >
                            >
                            > ------------------------------------
                            >
                            > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                          • Dean Rowley
                            I am ambiguous about this issue because of the nature of The Legendarium , one of the terms Tolkien himself used in referring to his work. If we were talking
                            Message 13 of 18 , Sep 18, 2008
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                              I am ambiguous about this issue because of the nature of 'The Legendarium', one of the terms Tolkien himself used in referring to his work. If we were talking about a published work or series of works and C. Tolkien was publishing first drafts this objection would have more force. This is a review of the process by which an extremely talented sub-creator/artist developed a form of mythology over his lifetime. It is not the same as publishing random notes for individual books. If nothing else we see the (?) sub-creative (?) process at work.
                               
                              Dean Rowley



                              ----- Original Message ----
                              From: hoytrand <randy@...>
                              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 6:01:22 PM
                              Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien cartoon


                              I feel that it is worth mentioning that publishing work posthumously
                              (especially work that an author did not feel was fit for publication)
                              is a seriously problematic endeavor. I don't just mean that it is
                              difficult: there are very good objections *against* doing it at all.
                              If I remember correctly, Christopher Tolkien later decided that
                              publishing *The Silmarillion* in the form he did (without any frame)
                              was not the right thing to do.

                              Don't get me wrong; I am *very* grateful for what he has done. I fully
                              admit that the cartoons most likely originated in an inappropriate
                              ignorance and disrespect towards Christopher Tolkien's work. But maybe
                              -- just maybe -- the cartoonist is much more thoughtful about the
                              situation and cognizant of the fundamental problems inherent in this
                              type of project. Even if not, I think the cartoons could provide a
                              good opportunity for us to have a thoughtful discussion about those
                              problems.

                              Thanks,
                              ~randy

                              (This is my first post to the list, so please don't lambast me! Though
                              I admit I got my flame-shield out of the cellar before writing this. :~)






                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • hoytrand
                              I think David Emerson s comment about posthumous works being clearly presented as original drafts and working papers intended for scholarly access is a very
                              Message 14 of 18 , Sep 18, 2008
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                                I think David Emerson's comment about posthumous works being clearly
                                presented as original drafts and working papers intended for scholarly
                                access is a very helpful clarification; David Bratman said something
                                similar. I'm much more familiar with posthumous publications like *The
                                Silmarillion* -- where the editor polishes up the work and presents it
                                as the author's own -- than with publications like *The History of
                                Middle-Earth* series. Is this something that is done often? Am I only
                                less familiar with them because these don't usually exist in
                                mass-market paperback versions?

                                Thanks,
                                ~randy
                              • David Emerson
                                ... I remember debating with myself, when THE BOOK OF LOST TALES came out, whether I wanted to read variant versions and spoil the view I had of THE
                                Message 15 of 18 , Sep 18, 2008
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                                  >...Secondly, because one of Tolkien's greatest virtues as an
                                  >author is the richness of his creation, and this enables the reader to watch
                                  >how it was made. This is what Guy Kay would rather we not see, but the
                                  >magnitude of the work Tolkien put into it, a whole dimension beyond a slice
                                  >of the inner history as we know it from LOTR, is itself a grand creation.

                                  I remember debating with myself, when THE BOOK OF LOST TALES came out, whether I wanted to read variant versions and spoil the view I had of THE SILMARILLION, which I considered to be canon. I'm glad I went ahead and read all of the HOME volumes, because as many have pointed out since then, JRRT's vision of his own legendarium is so complex that it really needs to be seen in all its different forms and versions to comprehend fully.

                                  All right, so maybe I could have skipped the early drafts of LORD OF THE RINGS, but then I would've missed the delicious tidbits like Frodo and Strider originally being Bingo and Trotter.

                                  emerdavid

                                  ________________________________________
                                  PeoplePC Online
                                  A better way to Internet
                                  http://www.peoplepc.com
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