lunedì 16 settembre 2013

The Hobbit, edizione americana Ballantine/Cover Craft 1989

The Hobbit
di J.R.R. Tolkien
Ballantine Books, New York
29° ed. 1989, pp. 304
Illustrazione di copertina di Michael Herring

Note di quarta di copertina

In this delightful and enthralling tale, J.R.R. Tolkien first created the imperishable world of fantasy called Middle-earth, and those charming, indomitable creatures, the Hobbits, whose adventures are continued in “The Lord of the Rings.”

It's been fifteen years at this writing since I first came across THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the stacks at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh.  I'd been looking for the book for four years, ever since reading W. H. Auden's review in the New York Times.  I think of that time now—and the years after, when the trilogy continued to be hard to find and hard to explain to most friends—with an undeniable nostalgia.  It was a barren era for fantasy, among other things, but a good time for cherishing slighted treasures and mysterious passwords.  Long before Frodo Lives! began to appear in the New York subways, J. R. R. Tolkien was the magus of my secret knowledge.
    I've never thought it an accident that Tolkien's works waited more than ten years to explode into popularity almost overnight.  The Sixties were no fouler a decade than the Fifties—they merely reaped the Fifties' foul harvest—but they were the years when millions of people grew aware that the industrial society had become paradoxically unlivable, incalculably immoral, and ultimately deadly.  In terms of passwords, the Sixties were the time when the word progress lost its ancient holiness, and escape stopped being comically obscene.  The impulse is being called reactionary now, but lovers of Middle-earth want to go there.  I would myself, like a shot.
    For in the end it is Middle-earth and its dwellers that we love, not Tolkien's considerable gifts in showing it to us.  I said once that the world he charts was there long before him, and I still believe it.  He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either:  he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world.  We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers—thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses.  Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.

— Peter S. Beagle
    Watsonville, California

    14 July 1973