NewsWire: New Tolkien Book Discovered - news.com.au

Wow..!  Wow...!!  Thanks to Aniron_R for pointing us over to this one!

New Tolkien Book Discovered
news.com.au - December 30, 2002

A YELLOWING manuscript by J.R.R.Tolkien discovered in an Oxford library could become one of the publishing sensations of 2003.

The 2000 handwritten pages include Tolkien's translation and appraisal of Beowulf, the epic 8th century Anglo-Saxon poem of bravery, friendship and monster-slaying that is thought to have inspired The Lord of the Rings.

He borrowed from early English verse to concoct the imaginary language spoken by Arwen, played by Liv Tyler, and other elves in the second film made from the Rings books, The Two Towers.

A US academic, Michael Drout, found the Tolkien material by accident in a box of papers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

An assistant professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, Dr Drout was researching Anglo- Saxon scholarship at the Bodleian, and asked to see a copy of a lecture on Beowulf given by Tolkien in 1936.

It was brought to him in a reading room in a large box. Professor Drout, who reads Anglo-Saxon prose to his two-year-old daughter at bedtime, said: "I was sitting there going through the transcripts when I saw these four bound volumes at the bottom of the box.

"I started looking through, and realised I had found an entire book of material that had never seen the light of day. As I turned the page, there was Tolkien's fingerprint in a smudge of ink."

After obtaining permission from the Tolkien estate, Professor Drout published Beowulf and the Critics, a version of Tolkien's 1936 lecture, in the US earlier this month.

Even more exciting will be Tolkien's translation of the poem and his line-by-line interpretation of its meaning, which will be published next summer.

Tolkien's name on the cover is likely to make the translation a bestseller.

Professor Drout says Tolkien found inspiration for many of his storylines and characters in Beowulf. The Anglo-Saxon hero's friendship with Wiglaf is mirrored in the relationship between Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings.

Elves, orcs and ents, the latter a type of giant that becomes a walking and talking tree in Tolkien's work, are all mentioned in Beowulf.

Merlin Unwin, son of Tolkien's original publisher, said: "Beowulf is a wonderful story, and if you put Tolkien's name to it, it would probably be a great commercial success."

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