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Letters from Father Christmas Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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‘Tolkien at his relaxed and ingenious best’
This revised edition of Tolkien's famous illustrated letters from 'Father Christmas' includes extracts and pictures not included in the original publication 25 years ago. Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R.Tolkien's children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas. They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas's house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and 'authenticity' of Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas.To complement the timeless charm of the letters and their accompanying pictures, this new hardback edition features a delightfully "classic" dust-jacket, with the inclusion of every one of the delightful letters and pictures that Tolkien sent to his children.See all Product description
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I have bought a number of hardback and paperback editions of this masterpiece, including a first edition copy (which includes a first impression of the Return of the King). The original edition set aside, this one is easily the best edition of the lot.
Paper quality: High-quality paper, cream-coloured, and relatively fine. The volumes are thinner than previous standard hardback editions.
Dust jacket: The dust-jackets reproduce a design by the author, which eventually wasn't used for the original publication. This was a shame as the design is superb. This is of course a matter of personal taste but in my opinion they are far better than cover illustrations by Alan Lee, John Howe and the likes. My only criticism is about the Harper Collins logo. Ideally, this should have been absent from the book spine, as it detracts a bit from the vintage aspect of the jacket.
Box: Sturdy and thick. The usual stuff. It is a bit cumbersome, but will protect the books well.
Reader's companion: This is the revised edition. If you have read the book at least once already, and want to enjoy the text again as you would savour an exceptional vintage glass, then you should read it again with this volume in hand.
As others have mentioned, the first edition of The Hobbit is not within most folks budget and so I was quite excited to see this offered many years ago. I'm not sure I am going to actual pore over it and check to see what the differences between the first edition and subsequent ones (Rateliff's The History of the Hobbit does that). But just to look at it and page through it is worth the purchase price.
It is a wonderful addition to my bookcase!
I like proper books, I love the feel of them and this one does not disappoint.
Notwithstanding the story, the book is a quality collectors product that should not just be looked at but read.
My only complaint is that it has heft, sitting next to my son for his bedtime story it is not a book I can hold in one hand. I have to rest it against my knees. This is a book to be handed down the generations.
Rather nerdishly, I spent a day or two researching every available Hobbit edition in the UK before buying a new copy to read before watching the movie.
There are three that I would heartily recommend - this one, The Annotated Hobbit, and the hardback version of this one.
In the end, the cheaper price and paperback portability decided it, though I will certainly buy the annotated edition at some point too.
So why this particular edition and not any of the 20+ others?
1) It has been beautifully re-typeset in a very readable font surrounded every few pages by what look like charcoal or pencil sketches by Alan Lee. It's much less cramped than the traditional Plantin setting (though it's not enormous or anything), and the frequent illustrations are highly atmospheric. It's a joy to look at, and a pleasure to read; definitely the most visually elegant of all the editions (tied with the out-of-print David Wyatt woodcut edition).
2) There are also colour plates of illustrations every other chapter or so. All in all, I'd say there are about twenty of these glossy, full-colour pictures, all of which are beautifully done, and again add a lot to the reading experience.
The Hobbit is a wonderful, charming, touching book without any of the above, of course. But if you want to enjoy it in the best possible setting, I'd say this edition takes the biscuit (and the wine and the cheese and the tobacco and the best crockery and the fish supper, etc).
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