Sunday, October 30, 2016

Maps &c. for 'The Hobbit'

"I have redrawn (as far as I am capable) one or two of the amateur illustrations of the 'home manuscript', conceiving that they might serve as endpapers, frontispiece or what not. I think on the whole such things, if they were better, might be an improvement. But it may be impossible at this stage, and in any case they are not very good and might be technically unsuited. It would be kind if you would return the rejected." 

This is the earliest reference I have seen to The Hobbit. Humphrey Carpenter notes that C. S. Lewis had read an early text of the book in 1932, though it was still lacking the final chapters. The completed typescript was sent to Allen & Unwin Publishers on October 3, 1936. By the time of this letter, January 4, 1937, the book had been accepted for publication and Tolkien was attempting to provide maps and illustrations. 

At least five years had passed to this point in the life of Bilbo Baggins. Probably that many more years stewing and brewing on Tolkien's mind before CSL given the incomplete manuscript to read. 

Well over five years to get The Hobbit close to publication. Tolkien was about 45 years old, a veteran of World War One, husband and father, three children, professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, corroborating on a new edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight...

I'm exhausted just thinking about his days! 

More than his great energy and perseverance, his humility strikes me. He did not presume that his attempts at drawing and painting were fit for the book, yet he did what he could. Probably more due to lack of funds, but still...a proud man would not risk putting forth effort that had the potential for rejection. 

A proud, self-centric man cannot risk rejection. 

How many opportunities have I let pass because of fearful, self-centric pride? 

Quotation from The Letters, #5, page 14

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