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The Hobbitonian Anthology: of Articles on J.R.R. Tolkien and his Legendarium (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) Paperback – June 17, 2009
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About the Author
One of his essays is included in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” volume of Dr. Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations series, billed as “the most comprehensive collection of literary reference in the world.” Dr. Bloom is currently the Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University.
The review of A Tolkienian Mathomium in Tolkien Studies says, because Hooker’s “breadth of expertise is somewhat unusual for Tolkienian linguists, most of whom come from the Old English/Old Norse quadrant, Hooker has a wide variety of things to say that have not been heard before.”
He contributed the article "Reading John Buchan in Search of Tolkien" in Tolkien and the Study of his Sources, edited Jason Fisher (McFarland, 2011), which was a finalist for the 2012 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies.
Hooker is a member of the Walking Tree Publishers Board of Advisors.
Hooker is the laureate of the Fifth Beyond Bree Award (2012), which was presented at The Return of the Ring in Loughborough, England. Unlike previous Beyond Bree Award votes, this time there was a single clear winner.
- Paperback : 286 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1448617014
- ISBN-13 : 978-1448617012
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.65 x 9 inches
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 4th edition (June 17, 2009)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,128,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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JRRT used language very specifically. He used some rather unusual words and constructions with very specific shades of meaning; shades which even an educated native speaker of English may not notice consciously, although when a particular passage is re-worked using more 'normal' phrasing, one instantly realizes the difference. JRRT's background in paeleo-English, Norse, Gothic, Old High German, and related languages came into play in personal and place names in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings; again, even an educated English speaker may not realize the significance of the names, although they may affect him on an almost subliminal level. Having these layers and shades of meaning pointed out increases ones appreciation of the work.
All of this makes The Hobbit/LOTR very difficult to translate. How to preserve these subtle shades is tricky, and it is very easy to stumble and fall. Indeed, JRRT himself said that translators should NOT attempt to translate personal and place names, but not doing so would remove so much of the affective aspect of the reading. The author analysis several Dutch, German, and Slavic translations' approaches to the problem.
My Dutch and German are rudimentary, although enough to follow the articles, however stumblingly. I don't know any Slavic languages, and therefore found those articles a bit of a slog. However, I did come away with appreciation of the cleverness of the translators' efforts.
The essay on the translations of "Leaf by Niggle" was particularly interesting. If I understand it, there are many passages which, if rendered in the most obvious way into Russian, would have unfortunate social/political resonances, and the story would seem to make reference to certain unpleasant episodes of 20th C. Russian history. There is also no word in Russian that can adaquately translate 'parish'--there is the ecclesiastical word for a local church, there is the word for the most basic unit of local government, and there is a word for one's particular neighborhood or community; the English word "parish" can mean all of those things, and JRRT's naming Niggle's neigbor, whose (quite legitimate) needs take Niggle away from his art, "Mr. Parish" draws on all of them and makes Mr. Parish a symbol of all the demands and duties that one has as a friend, neighbor, citizen, and member of the community. There is no one word in Russian that encompasses all the political, economic, social, and religious connotations of the English word 'parish'. This is only one way of showing how much meaning JRRT packs into a simple story, and translating it into a language that does not have similar word-values can risk turning it into entirely a religious/moral allegory or a political/social one; it is, in fact, in English both, but in Russian it is hard to convey both at the same time. One presumes that other languages would pose similar problems.
Someone who is not as 'into' languages as I am--my undergraduate degree was in Classical & Romance Languages--might find parts of this book dull and technical. Because most of the chapters were originally composed as separate papers or articles there is some repitition. However, anyone interested in exploring either JRRT's literary techniques or interested in the technicalities of translation will find this fascinating.