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  • The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2007
  • David Bratman (bio)

Tolkien studies in 2007 included several anthologies. Most of these, such as an anthology of essays comparing Tolkien with Shakespeare, and another specifically commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of The Silmarillion, may be considered as dealing essentially with single topics. All their essays, even those which might by themselves be put in other sections, are considered together below. One important anthology which has been split up in coverage here is Myth and Magic: Art According to the Inklings, edited by Eduardo Segura and Thomas Honegger ([Zollikofen, Switzerland]: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), which consists mostly of articles on Tolkien, with a couple on C.S. Lewis, and a couple comparing Lewis, Tolkien, and Charles Williams. How We Became Middle-earth: A Collection of Essays on The Lord of the Rings, edited by Adam Lam and Nataliya Oryshchuk ([Zollikofen, Switzerland]: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), is actually on the topic of Peter Jackson's movie adaptations, though Tolkien keeps creeping in, and a couple of the essays, treated separately here, are actually about Tolkien and not Jackson at all. This is a case of turnabout being fair play, for Jackson similarly creeps into many of this year's books and essays on Tolkien. Totally apart from an alarming tendency to describe Tolkien's characters in The Lord of the Rings doing what only Jackson's characters do, many authors feel obliged, having discussed Tolkien's treatment of a matter, to compare it with Jackson's treatment, as if the movies were a tied-at-the-hip supplement to the book. This rarely sheds much light on Tolkien, the ostensible topic, and is an assumption which defenders of the movies' changes from Tolkien, who keep insisting that it's a separate work of art which must be judged entirely on its own merits and not on its representation of Tolkien, ought to decry. One wonders why earlier critics never dragged in Ralph Bakshi's version this way, although he's getting a few citations now too.

However, digressions, even not involving Peter Jackson, are a major feature in much of this year's work. Many essays, particularly those in Segura and Honegger, spend up to half their length laying background before getting to their ostensible topics, and the duplication and unmediated contradiction among the essays in Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language, edited by Janet Brennan Croft (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007), is immense.

Even one of the finest works of the year involved some duplication between essays. This was Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien by Tom Shippey ([Zollikofen, Switzerland]: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007), [End Page 347] a long-needed collection of major (and minor) shorter works by the author of The Road to Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. Like several of the other collections and even one monograph, it was, as a reader of the citations will have noticed, published by the increasingly active Walking Tree Publishers of Switzerland.

Also long-awaited were the keystone works of 2007's scholarship. The History of The Hobbit, compiled by John D. Rateliff, is a study based on Tolkien's papers at Marquette University, originally undertaken by Taum Santoski, who died in 1991 with the work barely begun, and is now completed by Rateliff, his friend and colleague, a mere sixteen years later, about the time it took Tolkien to write and publish The Lord of the Rings. And as with The Lord of the Rings, The History of The Hobbit was highly welcome after the long wait. It received the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies in 2009. The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer, based on her 1993 doctoral thesis (as Diana Lynne Pavlac) of the same main title, had a similar gestation period; the relationship between the thesis and the book may best be described as a translation from dissertationese into English. The Company They Keep received the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies in 2008.

Glyer's book employs Tolkien's biography to provide critical elucidation...


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