I love Baynes' illustrations for FARMER GILES but won't miss her too-precious flower-fairy art for SMITH or BOMBADIL.
Lee's pieces seem hit or miss -- there are a few great ones and some that don't do much for me. It's odd how for most of these works he has some art at the beginning and again at the end but none inside the component pieces -- the exception being ATB, where there's at least one illo per poem (& more often two, a headpiece and a tailpiece). Replacing Tolkien's own art for ROVERANDOM is a bigger issue for me than replacing Baynes' for the other books -- but the rationale behind it is no different than Lee's HOBBIT or LotR or SIlm; if those were valid projects, so too is this.
I've only skimmed the Shippey introduction, but I'd give it a thumbs up over Beagle's essay any day.
It's nice to see ROVERANDOM get more circulation, but I don't think it goes particularly well with the other items in the collection, and I'm sorry to see HOMECOMING has been cut. In general I think all these pieces work better as individual little books rather than as an omnibus, and I'll keep re-reading my old copies.
So, not definitive, but a handy collection for those who want somewhere to go after HOBBIT & LotR. The latest in a long line,* of which THE TOLKIEN READER is still my favorite -- but I may just be dating myself here.
*(like POEMS & STORIES, which was TOLKIEN READER plus SWM sans Beagle, or A TOLKIEN MISCELLANY, which left out HOMECOMING but added the GAWAIN translations)
On Mar 7, 2011, at 7:45 AM, David Lenander wrote:
> I'm sorry, but this publisher's (or vendor's) description demands objection:
> Repeating "definitive" for edition with new illustrations by Alan Lee in place of the Tolkien-approved Baynes work, and some of Tolkien's own (for _Roverandom_) is almost offensive. Whether you like Lee's work or not (and I mostly think it's fine, if boring)--and I'll probably have to buy this--in fact, I'm sort of curious about illustrations to "Leaf by Niggle,"--the definitive illustrations are by Pauline Baynes.
> The description (from Amazon) doesn't really address other reasons that these may be "definitive:: is this a more authoritative text?