July 25, 2016

Tolkien Tuesday: "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun"

And now for something completely different! Moving down my shelf, this week’s post covers The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. This book is quite different from the others thus far: a) it’s not connected to Middle-earth b) it’s a poem in verse!

But don’t let that put you off – it is one of the best posthumous Tolkien publications ever. This book was published in 2009, so the only formats its seen are ebook, paperback, hardback, deluxe and super-deluxe.

So let’s have a look at my edition on ‘the shelf’, the hardback.

The dustjacket is made of the glossy material, that most hardcovers are, or, in the case of these Tolkien books so far, The Children of Hurin is made of similar material. Removing the dustjacket, the book itself is brown with both title and author’s name foil-stamped on the spine in gold. Inside, we are treated a plasticized facsimile of a portion of Tolkien’s own hand-written manuscript. Following that, is the table of contents. There are chapter opening illustrations throughout the book before each ‘segment’ begins, and these are in black and white. They are quite nice, and match the art style and theme of the book (also matches the artwork if you look at paperback, deluxe or super deluxe).

And that’s about it! Because it was published in 2009, this is the only edition, content wise, offered in standard hardback. The text itself is the same in all editions, and formats, is what I was getting at.

Why did I get it: I got this one, and in hardback, because it was the next major Tolkien publication. I don’t have that much experience with verse / epic poems, but the fact that this is Tolkien’s version (not translation, but his version of a story) of a story that sounded pretty interesting, I went for it. With this release, as well as others down the line, you get to see more of Tolkien as the Professor, whereas with his Middle-earth legends, he is more an ‘author’. With this and some other releases, it’s him ‘contributing’ to his field of interest on a scholarly level.

Who would I recommend this edition to: Anyone who wishes to add this title to their collection in hardback.

“Should I wait for a better one?” : Because it’s so recent, it’s very hard to say. I don’t see a better one coming up anytime soon. Will it even get an anniversary edition at some point? Who knows….

Overall: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun is a vastly different type of Tolkien book, compared to the others I’ve covered thus far. It’s his own version (not translation of an existing work) of some old tales he was quite fond of, and wished to elaborate on, or further flesh out. This is actually one of the best posthumous publications, along with The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The Children of Hurin. Despite it not being Middle-earth material, and told in verse, it’s worth checking out. Not that there’s anything wrong with neither of those, but one, or both, could be potentially off-putting.   

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