Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Why so Expensive?

Welcome "One Ring" readers. I hope you are interested enough to look into the rest of the blog, and I certainly hope you're interested in Tolkien Studies.

I've received a few emails about the price of the text (and a link from BAW, whose toddler seems to be about a year younger than mine: don't despair, it gets much easier very soon; so much easier that you'll go insane and decide to have another one... which is what we just did)

But, yes, Tolkien Studies is quite an expensive book. There are a few reasons. First, the fewer copies you make, the more each has to cost. We are only guessing at the audience for a serious scholarly journal about Tolkien, and WVU Press is taking a real risk, but they're not going to print a huge number of copies and then have to warehouse them. Hence, a high price per copy.
Second, we decided to print the journal as a hard-bound annual to further differentiate it from Mallorn and Mythlore and other paper-bound journals. Mallorn and Mythlore both publish excellent work, but we wanted to occupy a different niche, and 'look and feel' is part of that niche -- but it costs.

Finally, Tolkien Studies is, in the words of someone who has held up a copy (I haven't gotten mine yet) "an absolutely beautiful book." I'm really proud of not only the content, which is great, but of the style and the look. I spent a huge amount of time examining old, beautiful books published by Oxford, Cambridge, etc. and trying to abstract their best features while still retaining the readability of more modern books. I think (if I do say so myself) that it worked, and I think that JRRT would be pleased by the look of the journal.

My contact, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that he's going to buy five or six of the issue and stockpile it: "in ten years this issue #1 will be going for $300 on eBay." That would be cool.

And one last thing: I've learned that if you need out-of-US postage, it's an additional $25 (ouch; try to find some way to get around that, like having a friend buy it for you or something), but if you subscribe rather than just buying an issue, and if you're domestic shipping, you don't have to pay the approx $6 shipping.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Tolkien Studies I has Shipped!!

The first issue of Tolkien Studies has shipped from the publisher and should begin arriving in subscriber's mailboxes any day now. I haven't seen the actual issue yet (just proof copies), but it's pretty exciting. There's an order link and some material here at the new web address:, and below I've pasted in a Table of Contents, but I thought one or two readers might be interested in the saga of how to get a new journal started.

Several years ago, I think maybe as long ago as late 2001, Doug Anderson (editor of The Annotated Hobbit) got in touch with me to talk about Beowulf and the Critics. We ended up becoming friends, and in a phone conversation, he said, in response to my and Hilary Wynne's Tolkien Bibliography, that what the field really needed was a serious, scholarly journal, "something like Tolkien Studies."

"Let's found it, then," I said.

Doug introduced me to Verlyn Flieger, and the three of us decided to see if we really could start a serious, scholarly journal dedicated to Tolkien alone. We immediately ran into the chicken/egg problem: scholars didn't want to contribute unless we had a guarantee of publication. We couldn't get a press to pick up the journal without a complete issue (and then we ran into problems getting a press). But Tom Shippey and a few others believed in us, agreed to send work, and the rest was just an unbelievable amount of hard work -- editing, sending things out for review, working with authors, soliciting for more articles, etc. As of August 2003 we still didn't have a press and so were going to self-publish, and then my friend Pat Conner and I got to talking at the wine hour at the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. He mentioned that WVU press, of which he was now the director, was doing pretty well with its journals. "Well," I said, "I have just spent the summer doing the layout for a new journal. Do you want to publish it? It's called Tolkien Studies."

It was just an unbelievable coincidence that Pat wanted to pick up a new journal and we had a complete issue all laid out and ready. So now you can take a look and see what you think.

Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review

Contents of Volume 1:

Tom Shippey, "Light-elves, Dark-elves, and Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem"
Gergely Nagy, "The Adapted Text: The Lost Poetry of Beleriand"
Verlyn Flieger, "'Do the Atlantis Story and Abandon Eriol-Saga'"
Anne Petty, "Identifying England's Lönnrot"
Carl F. Hostetter, ed., "Sir Orfeo: A Middle English Version by J. R. R. Tolkien"
Mark Hooker, "Frodo's Batman"
Michael D. C. Drout, "Tolkien's Prose Style and Its Literary and Rhetorical Effects"
Olga Markova, "When Philology Becomes Ideology: The Russian Perspective of J. R. R. Tolkien"
Thomas Honegger, "A Note on Beren and LĂșthien's Disguise as Werewolf and Vampire-bat"
Dale J. Nelson, "Possible Echoes of Blackwood and Dunsany in Tolkien's Fantasy"
Douglas A. Anderson, "Tom Shippey on J.R.R. Tolkien: A Bibliography"

Also included is a Tolkien Bibliography for 2001 and 2002.

ISBN 0-937058-85-8

Sunday, April 11, 2004

A Good Excuse for Lack of Blogging

Mitchell David Cornel Drout was born by Caesarian Section on April 9, 2004 at 2:05 a.m. He weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20.25 inches long.

Mother and baby are home from the hospital now and doing fine. Big sister is very proud.

Onomastics: Since so many people have asked, Mitchell's middle names are in honor of his grandfathers, and he is now the fourth generation of Drouts to have "David" in his name.
"Mitchell" itself is a Germanic form of "Michael," but it is also a pun: in Anglo-Saxon, "micel" means big or strong. The Hebrew name "Michael" means "He who is like God," so when Anglo-Saxons read the biblical name "Michael" they saw a nice connection with "micel," a word which survives in dialect as "Mickle," i.e., "He was mickle strong." (This same process explains why there are so many Japanese-American girls named "Naomi" : that's a biblical name and a word in Japanese that means 'beautiful'). Mitchell's sister's name can also be read as a bi-lingual pun: Rhys Miranda is homophonic with Latin "Res Miranda," "Beautiful thing."

(See, everything can be made nerdy if you try hard enough)