In his review of The Art of The Hobbit in Mythprint 359/360 (June/July 2012), p. 8, Edward J. Kloczko feels that we do not provide a ‘thoughtful analysis of the drawings or Tolkien’s technique’, that our comments are ‘sometime [sic] a little too descriptive’ for the reviewer’s taste, and that our ‘Introduction is a welcome resume of Tolkien’s work, if a little too diluted in style’. If we understand Mr Kloczko correctly, and putting his criticism in a nutshell, he thinks that our text should have been more extensive and more critical (in an art-historical sense). Against this, we can only point out that The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, to give it its full title, is a showcase for Tolkien’s art, and that our charge from HarperCollins was to keep our text brief and subservient to the pictures, somewhat in the manner of Christopher Tolkien’s text in Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien and within specific bounds of trim size and number of pages. But also, we wonder if it did not occur to Mr Kloczko (as he makes no mention of it) that we have already published a lengthy analysis of Tolkien’s work as an artist, including a long chapter on The Hobbit, in our 1995 book, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator – which is in print, readily available, and cited at the end of our Introduction. That is the proper venue for extended critical text, as The Art of The Hobbit was not; but The Art of The Hobbit, we should add, gave us the opportunity to think again about some of the points we made in Artist and Illustrator, and those thoughts will inform a revision of the latter book, should a second edition ever be possible.
pp. 20–3: On p. 901 of the second edition of The History of The Hobbit by John D. Rateliff (HarperCollins, 2011) are reproduced two sketches by Tolkien which Rateliff describes as attempts to depict Gandalf’s hat. Both have a wide brim and a low crown like that worn by the figure in Josef Madlener’s painting Der Berggeist (‘The Mountain Spirit’; see Reader’s Guide, pp. 571–2), but not a flat crown like the Madlener figure, nor a tall, pointy crown as seen in drawings in The Art of The Hobbit, e.g. figs. 1, 3.
p. 31, l. 13: The ‘tracing of the earlier work’ was reproduced in the first edition of Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1979; Houghton Mifflin, 1979), where it was wrongly identified as the pen-and-ink frontispiece of the first printing of The Hobbit.
pp. 34–5: Two other versions of Thorin’s letter to Bilbo in tengwar are reproduced on pp. 904 and 906 of the second edition of The History of The Hobbit by John D. Rateliff (2011).
pp. 49–56: Christopher Tolkien earlier wrote of the compass points drawn on the first sketch of Thror’s Map: ‘The device at the top of the map apparently represents the points of the compass, with the seven stars of the Great Bear [Ursus Major] in the North (the black spots to the left of the stars are merely marks on the paper), the Sun in the South, the Misty Mountains in the West, and (I think) the entrance to the Elvenking’s halls in the East’ (The Hobbit, Unwin Hyman, 1987, pp. v–vi).
In the September 1987 number of Beyond Bree (‘The Compass Symbols on Thror’s Map Reproduced in the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Hobbit’, p. 5), Donald O’Brien took issue with Christopher’s interpretation of the symbols for West and East, arguing (in particular) that since Tolkien had ‘chosen distant significant cosmogonical phenomena – the Great Bear and the Sun – to designate the North and South on the ms. map, the other two symbols probably depict similarly significant phenomena’. He suggested that the symbol for West was the Pelóri, ‘with the central peak representing Taniquetil’, and that for East, a ‘rounded archway with its emanating rays’, was ‘the Gates of Morn’, both from ‘The Silmarillion’. Pat Wynne similarly suggested that the symbol for East represents the Gates of Morn in an independent note following O’Brien’s on the same page in Beyond Bree. He allowed that ‘the Gates of Morn as conceived in The Book of Lost Tales had become a discarded concept by the time Tolkien began writing The Hobbit’, though that did not ‘rule out the use of the concept in a purely figurative sense’.
Christopher Tolkien responded to O’Brien and Wynne in the January 1988 Beyond Bree (‘The Hobbit Map Symbols’, p. 6). His interpretation of the symbol for East as the gate of the Elvenking’s halls, he explained, ‘was a suggestion rather than an assertion . . . based on what seems to me a striking likeness between the symbol and my father’s many drawings of the Elvenking’s Gate’, sometimes with a rounded arch and barred gates rather than doors. ‘On this view the rays above the gate are simply a conventional representation of the hillside above.’ In reply to comments by O’Brien concerning the location on the sketch map of the Misty Mountains and the Elvenking’s halls relative to Mirkwood and the Lonely Mountain – not in accord with the text of The Hobbit – Christopher suggested that his father may have had a more generalized idea in mind, ‘the Misty Mountains in the West of Wilderland, the Elvenking’s halls in the East’. Moreover, he notes, when the sketch map was made
the story had gone no further than the first chapter. It may therefore be right to look for an interpretation of the symbols elsewhere, though I personally find it unlikely that at the time and in that context (it is abundantly clear from the surviving pages of the original first chapter that this new story was not even remotely associated with ‘The Silmarillion’) my father should have derived them from the mythology.
In his History of The Hobbit, John D. Rateliff holds that Tolkien connected The Hobbit from its inception with ‘The Silmarillion’, and similarly argues, like O’Brien and Wynne in Beyond Bree, and Douglas A. Anderson in The Annotated Hobbit (whom we cite, p. 49), that the compass symbols for West and East on ‘Fimbulfambi’s Map’ were derived from the mythology.
p. 55: Carl F. Hostetter comments on the Noldorin and Old English inscriptions on Thror’s Map. Copied by B. Baggins, recto and verso (figs. 25, 30), in the Lambengolmor Tolkien linguistics forum, message 1116.
pp. 112–14: Edward Kloczko comments in his review of The Art of The Hobbit in Mythprint 359/360 (June/July 2012), p. 8, that he ‘wouldn’t be so sure that Tolkien wrote Ezgaroth as Hammond and Scull presume’ (at the head of fig. 79). ‘The first tengwa, shaped like a big c, stands for an e, and was transformed by Tolkien into a Latin E by drawing a central bar to it’, unlike the tengwar mode used in Thorin’s letter to Bilbo. ‘I wonder if the strangely shaped áze [the tengwa for z] is not in fact just a badly drawn silme’, i.e. another tengwa, with the value s. In light of this, we have looked again at the drawing, but the pen strokes of the áze (or esse, also with the value ss) are clear and appear to be deliberate. In any case, the word is only a scribble, and any variation in spelling or script need not be seen as consequential.
pp. 123–5: It has been said that the map drawn by H. Cribb for The Sundering Flood by William Morris (Kelmscott Press, 1897) bears a striking resemblance to Tolkien’s map in The Hobbit, by which is probably meant Wilderland. This has suggested to some that Tolkien was influenced by Cribb’s map in drawing his own, and it has even been said, expanding the idea further, that Cribb’s map was Tolkien’s direct (stylistic) source for his maps of Middle-earth in general. It is reproduced on this page, which calls it the, or at least an, ‘archetype of the fantasy map’; but Tolkien used existing conventions of mapmaking, as did Cribb, so while one can certainly point to resemblance, the direct influence of Cribb’s work is by no means certain.
p. 139: Two lines of runes drawn by Tolkien for the 1966 schools edition of The Hobbit published by Longmans are reproduced on p. 895 of the second edition of The History of The Hobbit by John D. Rateliff (2011). In the event, these were not used by Longmans, but adapted and re-drawn for the cover of their reprint in the ‘Heritage of Literature’ series (Hammond, Descriptive Bibliography, p. 39).