Record Price For The Hobbit

Tolkien inscription to Kilbride COMPA first edition copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit sold for £137,000 (nearly $210,000) in a Sotheby’s auction on June 4, more that twice the previous record. The copy once belonged to his former student Katherine Kilbride.

Tolkien inscribed very few copies of The Hobbit upon publication. Kilbride was among a total of two dozen friends, family and colleagues Tolkien listed within a set of page proofs of The Hobbit whom he wished to present copies of the novel. C. S. Lewis was another.

The Guardian identified the inscription as a poem in Old English, with this interpretation:

Tom Shippey’s study of Tolkien’s fiction, The Road to Middle-Earth, cites a similar poem and translates it as: “There is many a thing in the West-regions unknown to me, marvels and strange beings, a land fair and lovely, the homeland of the Elves, and the bliss of the Gods …”

But the inscription diverges in the third line. According to Professor Susan Irvine at UCL, Tolkien followed “eardgard elfa” or “the homeland of the elves” with “eorclanstanas / on dunscrafum digle scninath”, which she translated as “precious stones / shining secretly in mountain caves”.

Kilbride’s letter of acknowledgement for the gift is preserved in the Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library. She notes “what fun you must have had drawing out the maps”.

Third Hobbit-Themed Safety Video
Takes Flight

air-nz-hobbit-hed-2014Air New Zealand, the official airline of Middle-earth, is promoting its tie-in to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.” Corresponding to the third film in the trilogy, the four-minute video is the sequel to Air New Zealand’s “An Unexpected Briefing” (2012) and “Just Another Day in Middle-Earth” (2013).

As two passengers decked out in gear from The Hobbit hurry to make their flight they sprint past the unlikeliest tribute ever to sport fishing in New Zealand and soon are aboard a flight with Sir Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood, listening to safety instructions from a variety of Elvish and wizardly personnel.

There are cameos by Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor, the video’s director Taika Waititi and Japanese baseball player Naoyuki Shimizu.

The new video also makes the most ambitious use of locations to date, shot all over New Zealand, including the set of Hobbiton, and it features armies of costumed and CGI orcs and elves, as well as a giant eagle.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the link.]

Jackson Tells Third Hobbit Movie Title

Peter Jackson revealed on Facebook today that the title of the third film of The Hobbit has been changed to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, superseding a couple of other titles had been registered and discussed in the media.

Green Dragon’s reaction at The One Ring gave me a laugh. He wrote:

Personally, I’m disappointed that they didn’t go for The Beorn Ultimatum…

Malnutrition in Middle-Earth?

An offbeat study in the Canberra Times concludes that the evil characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit lost their battle against men, elves, and dwarves because they suffered from vitamin deficiency —

Shunning sunlight, surviving on a sketchy or unbalanced diet based on rotten meat or (in Gollum’s case) the occasional blind fish, they lacked vitamin D, a key component for healthy bones and muscle strength.

The idea is proposed by Nicholas Hopkinson, a doctor at Imperial College London, and his son Joseph, in the Christmas edition of the Medical Journal of Australia. They scoured The Hobbit for references to characters’ living conditions, habits and diet.

Next thing you know, these quacks will be telling trolls to boost their vitamin D levels by getting more sunlight.

[Thanks to Janice Gelb for the story.]

Today’s The Day

If you’re not already in line for it you soon will be – the second Hobbit movie opens in American theaters today. That is, unless you’re among the proud and lonely who loathe and scorn Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien books and will spend the day with your eyes squeezed shut, a finger stuck in each ear and loudly humming “La-La-La!”

Either way, it’s really not true that you need any help making that ticket-purchasing decision. And yet I enthusiastically recommend you read Mark Lisanti’s silly and quite amusing Grantland column “Should You See It? A Curious Consumer’s Decision-Making Guide to The Desolation of Smaug, with interrogatories like —

Are you a Tolkien purist?

If you’re the type of person who’s upset that Jackson put Legolas into The Hobbit films for fan service — or if you’re the type of person who’s even aware that Legolas isn’t supposed to be in these films — you are probably going to poop your tunic over how they invented the character of Tauriel for storytelling purposes.

Things become significantly more complicated for Tolkien purists who also happen to occupy the quirky subset of Lost fans who did not find the character of Kate totally off-putting, because Tauriel is, of course, played by Magic Island pariah Evangeline Lilly. Good luck to the unfortunate souls trapped in the intersection of that Venn diagram, wherever you are. Life must be interesting for you.

SKIP IT. Though you HAVE TO ADMIT that Evangeline Lilly was born to PLAY AN ELF who ENRAGES NERDS.

On a serious note — if you come home from the movie in the mood to review it for File 770 please send me what you’ve got!