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Re: [mythsoc] Re: The Coalbiters

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  • David Bratman
    ... Both because of the occasional inaccuracies in Carpenter s Tolkien biography (often due to sources unavailable or unabsorbable by him) and because of the
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 25, 2011
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      "Wayne G. Hammond" & Christina Scull <Wayne.G.Hammond@...> wrote:

      > Carpenter's biography is more reliable by virtue
      > of his access to all of the Tolkien papers and because it was vetted
      > by persons with their own authority, though with Carpenter too we
      > corroborated as much as possible, and caught him out on a few points.

      Both because of the occasional inaccuracies in Carpenter's Tolkien biography
      (often due to sources unavailable or unabsorbable by him) and because of the
      brevity of what's intended as a narrative biography, I consider its value as
      a reference work to have been eclipsed by the Companion & Guide. There is
      nothing one would want to look up for factual reference in the biography
      that isn't also in the latter. The biography's value now is as a brief,
      readable, and reliable account of Tolkien's life, personality, and creative
      goals. In this it still far outclasses any competing works of its kind.

      Carpenter's _The Inklings_ has not been superceded in this way. Glyer's
      _The Company They Keep_, though vital as a deeper and more sophisticated
      analysis of the Inklings' intergroup relations and influences, is not
      intended as a full history of the group or as a complete factual reference
      book.


      > Grotta's principal source for his account seems to have been Nevill
      > (note correct spelling) Coghill, from whose testimony (in an oral
      > history recorded soon after Tolkien's death) he extrapolated at
      > length.

      Which Carpenter seems not to have used, and to whatever extent (limited, as
      you note) it's useful, it was the principal reason to consult Grotta prior
      to the publication of C&G.


      > From the Companion and Guide you could know that in December 1927
      > Tolkien was appointed the supervisor of Helen McMillan (note correct
      > spelling) Buckhurst, an advanced student, whose thesis was to be The
      > Historical Grammar of Old Icelandic. She was, for a time, a Fellow
      > and English language tutor at St Hugh's College, Oxford.

      This raises a point that puzzles me. She is described as an advanced
      student on p. 143 (1927) and a former Fellow of St. Hugh's on p. 150 (1929).
      John Rateliff says she held her position at St. Hugh's 1926-30, so if that's
      accurate, query "former". Also, if it's accurate, her appointment as Fellow
      came before her becoming an advanced student, and if not it's hard to cram
      the Fellowship in between the presumable completion of her thesis and 1929,
      also suggesting it came before. But this seems chronologically backwards to
      my limited understanding of practices in these matters, so: more generalized
      query.


      "Michael Martinez" <michael.martinez@...> wrote:

      >I don't think there is a definitive list for the Coalbiters

      There isn't. Lazo's list of known Coalbiters (Braunholtz, Bryson, Coghill,
      Dawkins, Gordon, Lewis, McFarlane, Onions, and Tolkien; derived, I suppose,
      from Carpenter) is the best we have.

      There's no definitive list of Inklings, either, by the way. Carpenter's
      list is, again, of known full members, omitting guests and peripherals, and
      absent anyone we don't have a record of, of whom there could be quite a few
      in the early years, perhaps.
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