- The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ed. by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond
Many early reviewers predicted the lasting value of Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond's J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. We are now in a position to see that these prognostications were well founded. It is scarcely possible to overstate the impact this work has had in the decade since it first appeared. Along with Scull and Hammond's other books, the Companion and Guide has become an indispensable resource for, well, nearly anything to do with Tolkien, but especially for matters of biography and bibliography. It is among the first reference works many scholars consult, and it is often the only one required to settle a point of fact. Those of us conducting ongoing research into Tolkien's life and writings have learned to check "Scull and Hammond" (or as it is just as commonly known, "Hammond and Scull") before announcing a discovery; they had often already beaten us to it. Whenever something new or forgotten has appeared, Scull and Hammond have been dutifully incorporating additions, as well as corrections, into an online addenda and corrigenda for the past decade. So while scholars had learned immediately to check their Companion and Guide, we quickly realized it was just as important to check their website for updates to it. This online information was also valuable, sometimes essential, but while Scull and Hammond did their best to make it easy to use—arranging addenda and corrigenda both by date and by page number—it was sometimes a rather cumbersome process. It also presented certain challenges of citation, because the authors were essentially revising their book moment to moment, in the ether, as it were. The arrival of a revised and expanded edition incorporating all of these corrections and additions, along with much more, is therefore welcome indeed.
The bulk of what reviewers have said about the first edition of the Companion and Guide applies equally to the revised edition (for example, see Garth and Oberhelman). I need dwell little on the praise [End Page 221] of the first edition nor on its overall structure and coverage, as the expanded edition still deserves the praise and, with a few exceptions, still follows the same arrangement. Many defects and oversights of the first edition have been corrected. For example, one of the biggest pain points in using the first edition of the Reader's Guide was that there were no running headwords identifying topics at the top of each page. Nor was there even a simple list of the topics anywhere in the volume, though the authors did publish a list on their website. Scull and Hammond always intended to include running headwords, but force majeure prevented them from adding these before publication (see Collier). A list of topics was deliberately omitted because the Reader's Guide had already reached the absolute maximum length allowed by the publisher. Both issues are understandable but made the volume much more difficult to use. Readers will be delighted to know that these omissions have been remedied in the new edition. The Chronology does not have running headwords (dates) in either the original or the revised edition, but they aren't necessary, as it is not really possible to get lost among the diaristic entries. I doubt very much there is a single page among the more than 900 in the Chronology without a date on it to orient oneself.
Before you open a volume or read a single word, the most obvious aspect of the revised and expanded edition is that it consists of three volumes, not two as did the first edition. The contents have been expanded...