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The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion [Paperback]

Wayne G. Hammond , Christina Scull
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Mar 2008

A unique insight into the evolution of The Lord of the Rings, detailing how mistakes crept in almost from the first printing, how Tolkien changed the text during his lifetime, posthumous changes made by Christopher Tolkien and a previously unpublished Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, written by Tolkien himself.

Since its first publication fifty years ago, The Lord of the Rings has generated an almost unparalleled interest from both fans and critics alike. Every detail of its 500,000+ words has been examined and discussed, making it the most widely studied – and enjoyed – work of fiction of the 20th century.

In The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull unravel the story of how an epic battle has been fought for decades, first by Professor Tolkien, then by his son, Christopher, to maintain the integrity of this huge story. They examine the work chapter by chapter, providing details of:

• Notes on significant author changes, when they entered, and any background history
• Notes on changes made by Christopher Tolkien, and differences between the earliest manuscripts and the printed text
• References to people, places and events that appear in other Tolkien books
• Explanations of unusual words
• Appearing for the first time, Tolkien's own "Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings", with fascinating notes by him about many of the names he invented

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion will provide a unique insight into the creative process of a true genius, and will offer a detailed and informative account of how the Book of the Century has evolved from one generation to the next.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (3 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007270607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007270606
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Wayne G Hammond is a librarian at the Chapin Library of Rare Books at Williams College Massachusetts. He is the author of The Graphic Art of C.B. Falls (1892), J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography (1993), and regular notes on Tolkien in the journal Mythlore.

Christina Scull is the former librarian of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. She is the author of The Soane Hogarths (1991), edits the journal The Tolkien Collector, and frequently writes and speaks about Tolkien.

Together, Wayne and Christina have written the two-volume J.R.R. TOLKIEN COMPANION & GUIDE and edited Tolkien’s ROVERANDOM and FARMER GILES OF HAM 50th anniversary edition.


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Two of the foremost Tolkien scholars, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have managed to produce in this volume one of the most essential books in any Tolkien library. A READER'S COMPANION carefully annotates, line by line, chapter by chapter, Tolkien's great masterpiece.

When the revised version of THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT came out in 2002 with Douglas A. Anderson's annotations, I was thrilled, as the original from 1988 was out of print. The way they handled THE HOBBIT was a large, oversized hardback, with the main text printed on wide sheets but only taking up the half closet to the binding, with the annotations on the outer edges of the sheets. The book is beautiful to hold, and it was very enlightening during rereadings of THE HOBBIT. It also noted all revisions, and gave original readings, including the original version of "Riddles in the Dark" chapter, which has been out of print for over fifty years. The natural question, of course, was when would LOTR get similar treatment? After all, LOTR had been in print for over fifty years, and such a publication has been long overdue.

Although the method described above worked well with THE HOBBIT, it proved unfeasible for LOTR. For one, LOTR is a much, much longer book than its prequel. So Hammond and his wife opted for a separate volume, and what a volume it is.

Due to the size of LOTR, the way READER'S COMPANION is broken up to cover each chapter in the book. Each annotation is proceeded by the first few words of whatever paragraph the two scholars are analysing at that point. This makes A READER'S COMPANION very easy to use, and to locate in your copy of LOTR the passage in which they are discussing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Lucinda
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
JRR Tolkien's epic creation "The Lord of the Rings" is a rather complex single volume, containing such detailed underpinning and intricate otherworldly details as to make it somewhat confusing! This spectacular volume, by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull is the ultimate annotated handbook to Tolkien's work. Both internationally acclaimed scholars examine and scrutinize in-depth Tolkien's masterpiece, going through each chapter and offering expert insights into evolution, structure and meaning. In this thoroughly modern age the use of language in Tolkien's work could be considered old-fashioned and confusing, together with the richness and complexity of it to be somewhat overwhelming to many readers. With this resource to hand, every reader is now able to enjoy Tolkien's work to its full extent, with illuminating clarity and enlightening enjoyment.

Reading this book was like opening a window into the heart of a literary genius, whose lifetime of achievements (including other works as well as the cherished Lord of the Rings) continues to inspire, amaze and delight. Having read his books many times, I found it so instructive reading this `reader's companion' and only wish that I had read it sooner for it has truly heightened my appreciation for his work. Complete with a useful Index and a list of works by JRR Tolkien, this comprehensive and indispensable book is an addition which I would gladly recommend to all Tolkien enthusiasts and seasoned readers. Likewise if you are planning to read `The Lord of the Rings' for the first time, I would strongly suggest purchasing this additional book so as to read in conjunction with Tolkien's story.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expert discussion of a 20th century masterpiece! 14 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wayne Hammond is one of the world's best Tolkien scholars. His detailed and insightful exploration of the ideas, characters, and inspiration behind "The Lord of the Rings" enriches any reading or re-reading.
I would say more but the other strong and positive and technically detailed reviews make the fundamental point that this book is GOOD!
He is also co-author of an outstanding study of Tolkien as artist and illustrator.
Very highly recommended.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book 18 Nov 2012
By Niu Mu
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
very new! & valuable! the page is a little yellow since it published too many years. but still very new.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an annotated LOTR 11 Jan 2006
By Larry D. Curtis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is amazing that it has taken 50 years for a book like this to come to Tolkien's readers, but at last and with great scholarly authority, comes annotations to "The Lord of the Rings."

Make no mistake, this is a scholarly book and its pretty dense and at times it will push the average LOTR reader. It is full of (appropriately) word origins and possible source info, word meanings and linguistic notes. Still, because of Tolkien's own linguistics background and motivations, this is a must to have at the core of the book and there is plenty of other types of info as well to add roundness and variety to the content.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond obviously read and write about LOTR in a way that the casual reader cannot and their considerible knowledge and resources (such as Christopher Tolkien himself) come into play. The book can be used as a side-by-side volume or can be read on its own chronologically. Also included is Tolkien's own, previously out of print "Nomenclature" or guide to names that he used to help potential translators of LOTR and a history of "The Lord of the Rings" The scholars also reference Tolkien's other works such as "The Hobbit", "Unfinished Tales", "The Silmarillion" and Christopher Tolkien's history of Middle-earth.

This is a 900 page work packed with information that can either be read completely or used as a help for those reading "The Lord of the Rings" and wish to get more depth and perspective from further Middle-earth exploration.

It is probably the most important Tolkien publication since (at least) Unfinished Tales in 1980.
64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Work of Scholarship 13 Dec 2005
By John D. Cofield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull are among the most authoritative of scholars researching the literary creations of J.R.R. Tolkien. In The Lord Of The Rings: A Reader's Companion, they have surpassed even their previous masterpiece: J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. (As a matter of full disclosure I should mention that I met Christina Scull some years ago in London, and I have maintained a friendship with her and her husband Wayne G.Hammond ever since. Three articles I wrote for the Mensa Tolkien Special Interest Group's newsletter "Beyond Bree" have been referenced in A Reader's Companion, and I am also among those Wayne and Christina thank in their Preface. Even without these connections I would still be highly impressed with this work!)

This Reader's Companion consists of annotations to The Lord of the Rings. The length of Tolkien's masterwork, which is often mistakenly called a trilogy, made the normal method of including annotations alongside the text impossible, and so this separate volume has been produced. The annotations illuminate some interesting and sometimes obscure sections of the book and assist readers in interpreting Tolkien's rich but occasionally (to modern and American eyes) puzzling vocabulary. Tolkien readers and scholars will find it almost as fascinating as the book itself and many will probably read it straight through not once, but many times.

In addition to the annotations, A Reader's Companion also contains a wealth of material, including Wayne and Christina's own history of the writing of The Lord of the Rings. This is in itself a fascinating description of the many forms the story took over the years from 1937 to the early 1950s, and the many vicissitudes Tolkien endured as he "niggled" away at the writing and rewriting each chapter required. Besides this history the authors have included several fascinating discussions of chronologies, maps, and other matters like dust jackets which might with a lesser author be deemed unworthy of notice, but which in Tolkien's case illuminate the painstaking care he took with every detail. Also included is a portion of a previously unpublished letter in which Tolkien describes The Lord of the Rings as a part of his larger literary/mythological work, and the Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings which Tolkien created to assist translators, and which has been published (incompletely) only once before.

As befits such a fine work of scholarship, A Reader's Companion is beautifully bound with a dust jacket which makes use of Tolkien's own designs. Although the book with its index runs nearly 900 pages, it is comfortable and pleasant to hold. The typeface, though it can be small at times, is clear. The page references are easy to interpret and can be applied to whichever of the many editions of The Lord of the Rings the reader may possess.

It seems likely that at least some future editions of The Lord of the Rings will include A Reader's Companion. First time readers will probably prefer not to read the annotations until they have become more familiar with the text. Once they have been swept up in the story they will find A Reader's Companion enhances their experience. Those of us fortunate enough to have read The Lord of the Rings not just once but many times will immediately recognize A Reader's Companion's value and will cherish it as well.
58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sewn binding! 15 Dec 2005
By Extollager - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The content of this book looks like superlative scholarship. Something that might be overlooked, however, but that deserves applause, is the publisher's use of sewn signatures for the book's binding. Very few books are made this way any more, as far as I can see, being instead bound just with glue; but a book made with sewn pages is likely to last longer and look better. The publisher is to be commended for this extra care, and encouraged to continue to use this method in subsequent printings - - especially while holding the price down so remarkably. Even at full price rather than Amazon's discount price, this book is very good value for they money.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Guide to Tolkien's masterpiece, remarkable scholarship 22 April 2007
By Mike London - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two of the foremost Tolkien scholars, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have managed to produce in this volume one of the most essential books in any Tolkien library. A READER'S COMPANION carefully annotates, line by line, chapter by chapter, Tolkien's great masterpiece.

When the revised version of THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT came out in 2002 with Douglas A. Anderson's annotations, I was thrilled, as the original from 1988 was out of print. The way they handled THE HOBBIT was a large, oversized hardback, with the main text printed on wide sheets but only taking up the half closet to the binding, with the annotations on the outer edges of the sheets. The book is beautiful to hold, and it was very enlightening during rereadings of THE HOBBIT. It also noted all revisions, and gave original readings, including the original version of "Riddles in the Dark" chapter, which has been out of print for over fifty years. The natural question, of course, was when would LOTR get similar treatment? After all, LOTR had been in print for over fifty years, and such a publication has been long overdue.

Although the method described above worked well with THE HOBBIT, it proved unfeasible for LOTR. For one, LOTR is a much, much longer book than its prequel. So Hammond and his wife opted for a separate volume, and what a volume it is.

Due to the size of LOTR, the way READER'S COMPANION is broken up to cover each chapter in the book. Each annotation is proceeded by the first few words of whatever paragraph the two scholars are analysing at that point. This makes A READER'S COMPANION very easy to use, and to locate in your copy of LOTR the passage in which they are discussing.

As with THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, there have been a very concentrated effort on the part of the Tolkien Estate to publish the more accurate version of LOTR as possible. Scull and Hammond, along with Christopher Tolkien, spearheaded this enterprise. READER'S COMPANION gives extensive details on how Hammond and Scull, with cooperation from C. Tolkien, set about making the definitive text on LOTR in 2004 and 2005 for the fifthieth anniversary edition. All future subsequent editions will be based on this edition, and is considered the most accurate text now available of Tolkien's work LOTR.

The book annotates all major changes made to LOTR's text in its fifty years of publication. It gives extensive details on how Hammond and Scull, with cooperation with Christopher Tolkien, set about making the definitive text on LOTR in 2004 and 2005 for the fifthieth anniversary edition. All future subsequent editions will be based on this edition, and is considered the most accurate text now available of Tolkien's work LOTR. It examines rare and archaic words and gives information on Elvish linguistics. Hammond and Scull deftly analyse different plot elements, elaborate and clarify obscure points in the text, and bring to light both real inconsistencies within LOTR and perceived contradictions. Tolkien very carefully organized and created precise chronologies and time tables, including the cycles of the moon, and every time the text mentions a new day had arrived, or said something of the moon, the book tells you the precise day this event is occurring.

The companion gives extensive information on time frames and maps. It covers and annotates the forward to the second edition as well as the prologue. There is information about the original 1955 dust jacks, how the title pages were handled, and a number of other publishing matters.

As far as rare and otherwise unpublished original material by Tolkien, A READER'S COMPANION is notable for its inclusion of three pieces.

1. It contains the original forward to LOTR, which was published in the first edition in 1955 and was deleted in 1965 by Tolkien himself, who replaced it with a much longer forward. Tolkien said of the original forward that it confused "personal matters with the machinery of the Tale" and was a "serious mistake". Tolkien was only too happy to delete it. Still, it makes for interesting reading.

2. The second highlight is the previously unpublished summary of LOTR that Tolkien wrote in his letter to Milton Waldman in 1951. This letter was first published in LETTERS OF TOLKIEN, and likewise appears in new editions of THE SILMARILLION. However, the LOTR summary was omitted from these publications, and is published here for the first time.

3. Thankfully, A READER'S COMPANION includes Tolkien's essential, and rarely published before now, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings." Previously published n 1975 in Jared Lobell's A TOLKIEN COMPASS, Tolkien prepared this document for his publishers, Allen & Unwin, to send to any translators who were translating LOTR into another language. As LOTR is largely a linguistic work in both foundation and inspiration, this gives a lot of insight into Tolkien and how he felt his work should (as well as emphatically should not) be translated, and what Tolkien considers fair treatment of the material. Essential stuff.

Ultimately, A READER'S COMPANION succeeds in being one of the essential reference works for Tolkien studies and fans. The dust jacket is beautiful, the binding (sewn!) is top notch, and, as any reference work must, you can easily locate any passage or annotation you are looking for. All the annotations are pertinent and enlightening, all textual changes and revisions to the text are accounted for, and with the previously unpublished or rare Tolkien material included, Hammond and Scull have produced the single best resource now available to us on Tolkien's masterpiece. They have proven themselves as two of the foremost Tolkien scholars in the world.

For those looking for additional resources to Tolkien's hobbit cycle, the best way to study them is to have THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT revised and republished in 2002 (the definitive version of that work), buy the fully corrected 50th anniversary text of LOTR, which is the most accurate typographical version ever published, and buy this volume.

Bottom line: If you are a casual fan or very much into Tolkien, buy this book. You will not be disappointed.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tolkien Trove: Finally, a worthy annotation to LOTR 29 Feb 2008
By W. White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As the authors point out in their own introduction, publishing an annotated edition of The Lord of the Rings, complete with the text, was a practical impossibility. Thus was this "Reader's Companion" brought into being. Perhaps not so intuitive and casual to use (as is, say, Douglas Anderson's "Annotated Hobbit") with a separate copy of LOTR, but at nearly 1200 pages, and with this Companion running over 900 pages, you can easily see why Hammond and Scull and their publishers chose to go this route. As a single volume such a thing might be used to stun a Warg!

As a guide, index, and explicatory text, LOTR: A Reader's Companion excels and exceeds expectations. It is very nearly exhaustive, without being exhausting (as such a book might easily have been). Rigorous and of real use to the serious scholar and academic, but readiy accessible and fun to read for the general Tolkien reader who takes pleasure in going deeper into the story, the backstory, and the life of Tolkien and his greatest tale.

LOTR: A Reader's Companion is as well a clear and well organized accesory volume. Much easier to use than most supplemental guides, it is keyed chapter-by-chapter, and page-by-page to the main text (I have 7 editions of LOTR, paper and hardcover, single-volume and sets, and finding the passage referred to in this Reader's Companion is quick and easy in most cases, as is finding appropriate entries in the RC while reading LOTR and coming across an item you want to know more about). I strongly recommend this book to any reader who has or will read LOTR more than once. It is addictive and fun to read all by itself, and deeply informing when read side-by-side with its source.

The book itself is a sturdy, handsome, well put together piece of publishing. A nicely utilitarian, simple, but still elegant cloth binding, with bright foil stamped spine, and a jacket with a plasticized lining, which will make it stand many more hours and years of handing and reading than most paper backed jackets. The paper is excellent stock, of moderate weight in a very pale cream tone. The print is crisp, dark, and thoroughly consistent throughout (which is becoming something rare even in quality hardcovers recently), and the type is a pleasing traditional serif face of good size, and easy to read. Not certainly a self-consciously "fine" or "collector's" edition, but as definately a book that will last and put up with use, and nonetheless has been designed with care and concern for the craft of book-making.

I own it, and I recommend this "Companion" to all interested readers and their libraries, small and large. With Foster's "Complete Guide to Middle-earth" and Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle-earth", Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull shall have an equal position (to say: even somewhat superior as regards LOTR in particular, where the other two authors' work is more widely focused on the entire legendarium and body of JRRT's work). My only cavil, and I think it slight, is the absence of photos, drawings, publishing ephemera, and other graphicals, which were so prominent and vital in Anderson's "Annotated Hobbit". But: Buy it! Read it! You'll delight in it! It will enlarge your understanding and pleasure each time you read LOTR, whole or part.
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