Adam Tolkien on The Children of Hurin

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I enjoyed reading Adam Tolkien on The Children of Hurin:

I was brought up in France, and although my grandfather died when I was very young, his work was always very much in evidence at home. My father, Christopher, the third of J.R.R. Tolkien’s four children, according to his father’s explicit wishes, has devoted himself to the publishing of my grandfather’s massive archive of material ever since he began work on the “Silmarillion” papers in 1974. Ideally suited as he was through his 25 years of experience as a professor of Anglo-Saxon in Oxford, his work has always been that of the most rigorous editorial discipline. I have always been impressed by his ability to preserve his father’s original writings as far as possible while applying the deft skill of an editor to make his volumes readable and not simply a catalogue of unpublished texts, something I was to learn first-hand when I undertook the daunting task of translating the first two volumes of The History of Middle-earth for Christian Bourgois, the French Tolkien publisher. With these books, complete with Christopher’s notes, as well as being able to discover some otherwise completely unknown tales, readers could begin to understand the way the author worked, and see how he would write and rewrite, often revisiting the same stories and passages after many years, keen to refine and improve his vast mythology, as well as to accommodate into his earlier writing the fruits of his later invention and to create a complete and seamless mythology, a saga spanning thousands of years.

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