This is one of the rare times I’m actually so excited for college that I can feel my heart rate rising.
These are few and far between. In fact, this is the first time I have ever experienced such a phenomenon.
I’m blaming it on Tolkien.
Dear English 373 [Tolkien And Medieval History] students,
It’s hard to believe the start of our course is only a little over a month away. I’m still a ways away from having it all planned out, but I want to send a note to say welcome and a word about the reading.
Here are the books I’ve ordered:
The Tolkien Reader, any edition, first published 1966
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo, trans. Tolkien, first published 1975
Tolkien, The Silmarillion, second edition, first published 2001
Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur, Houghton Mifflin, 2013
Simon Armitage, trans., The Death of Arthur, Norton, 2012 (paper)
Greg Delanty and Michael Matto, eds., The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, Norton, 2012 (paper)
Craig Williamson, ed. and trans., Beowulf and Other Old English Poems, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013 (paperback)
Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit, ed. Anderson, Houghton Mifflin, 2002
Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 50th Anniversary, one-volume edition, Houghton Mifflin, 2004
The ones that specify paperback are really for the benefit of the person who orders the books. A hardcover copy would be fine for any of them, and for those the pagination should be the same.
For all the Tolkien books, there are multiple editions available and the pagination will vary, but I think that’s something we can deal with. The Lord of the Rings might be the case in which it’s most worth trying to have the same edition, and I’ll be using the one I’ve listed. It’s pretty handy even it’s a bit large. And who could have too many copies of the greatest literary work of the 20th century?
My plan is to intersperse Tolkien’s fiction with his scholarly work and with works from Old and Middle English, roughly following the chronological orders of literary history, Tolkien’s career, and Middle Earth all at once. That means we’ll start his fiction with theSilmarillion, but we won’t read all of it. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be spread across most of the middle of the course, when I’m planning to spend something like one day a week on those while we spend the other two on other stuff. I think it would be doable to read it all as it’s assigned, but the assignments for the days we do LOTR will be rather long. If you haven’t read it before, it might be helpful to start it over the summer. (And if you haven’t read it, I envy having your first reading ahead of you. Of course, it’s just as good on rereading…).
I hope this finds you having an enjoyable summer and looking forward to the fall. Best,
I love this man already. “Who could have too many copies of the greatest literary work of the 20th century?”