venerdì 14 luglio 2017

J.R.R. Tolkien the Esperantist. Before the arrival of Bilbo Baggins

We are delighted to announce that J. R. R. Tolkien the Esperantist. Before the arrival of Bilbo Baggins is now available. After the Italian edition, J. R. R. Tolkien l'esperantista. Prima dell'arrivo di Bilbo Baggins, has been published in English. 

Published by Cafagna Editore, J. R. R. Tolkien the Esperantist is a collection of essays by Oronzo Cilli, Arden R. Smith; Patrick H. Wynne with Foreword by John Garth and an contribution by Tim Owen, secretary of the Esperanto Association of Britain.




The book contains studies by Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne and Oronzo Cilli which re-establish the links which existed between the author of The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the planned language Esperanto, created by L. L. Zamenhof.

Smith and Wynne's essay, published originally in the Anglo-American magazine Seven (2000), presents Tolkien's first experiments with inventing languages (Animalico, Nevbosh and Naffarin) and analyses in depth his initial encounter with Esperanto, as mentioned in a notebook of his from 1909 which he called the Book of the Foxrook. The two American scholars analyse with exceptional accuracy and insight every concept and symbol noted by Tolkien reflecting on his essay A Secret Vice, published posthumously by his son, Christopher.

Cilli's essay covers two periods of Tolkien's life, starting with the period of 1907 to 1909, in which Tolkien first encountered Esperanto in his youth, via the Officers' Training Corps and Lord Baden-Powells' Scout movement. The second period spans 1930 to 1933 and Tolkien's involvement in the British Esperanto movement, thanks to the emergence of new information hitherto unknown. Cilli commences with the celebration of the World Congress of Esperanto in Oxford in 1930, which was attended by the Inkling Ronald Buchanan McCallum, and finishes with the 1933 British Congress of Esperanto in Oxford, to which Tolkien was named among its Patrons. Thanks to Cilli's research, a document previously unknown in Tolkien studies,The Educational Value of Esperanto, signed by Tolkien alongside other eminent British academics of the time, is included.

A contribution from Tim Owen of the Esperanto Association of Britain enriches the book, which adds biographical details about Tolkien and his interest in languages, and adds insight into how he build his Legendarium, by providing the context of Esperanto at the time that Tolkien knew it.

The Preface is entrusted to John Garth, one of the most important scholars of the life and works of J. R. R. Tolkien and author of the books Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (HarperCollins, 2003) and Tolkien at Exeter College (Exeter College, 2014).


John Garth

1887-1937: 50 years of hope and optimism, with particular reference to Great Britain
Tim Owen

Part I
Tolkien and Esperanto
Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith

Part II
Tolkien and the British Esperantist Movement
Oronzo Cilli


Cilli, Oronzo lives in Puglia, Italy. He edited the second Italian edition of The Annotated Hobbit (Bompiani, 2004) and published J. R. R. Tolkien, la prima bibliografia italiana dal 1967 ad oggi (L’Arco e la corte, 2013). The last book is a work on the Italian publishing history of the works of Tolkien, with unpublished documents from Italian and British archives, Tolkien e l’Italia (Il Cerchio, 2016). He has spoken at several conferences dedicated to Tolkien and, in 2015, was the curator of the exhibition “Piero Crida: the art of illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien”, an exhibition of original drawings used for the Italian editions of Tolkien’s books, from 1970 to 1992, published by Rusconi. He is the curator of a series of studies on the life and works of J. R. R. Tolkien, “Il Mondo di Tolkien”, for Cafagna Publisher, and is President of the Italian Tolkien Collectors. He runs a website Tolkieniano Collection.

John Garth is internationally recognised for his groundbreaking work on the creative development of J.R.R. Tolkien in the context of his times. Tolkien and the Great War, his 2003 biographical study exploring the invention of Middle-earth against the backdrop of the First World War, won the Mythopoeic Award for Scholarship. Ongoing research has produced a codicil, Tolkien at Exeter College, on the formative undergraduate years. As Fellow in Humanistic Studies at the Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada in Las Vegas, he is currently working on his next book about Tolkien. A contributor to the Blackwell Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien and the Routledge J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, Garth writes regularly for the annual scholarly journal Tolkien Studies. He read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist, working for many years on the London Evening Standard. More recent work includes web-editing university alumni magazine Oxford Today; writing on cultural topics for major media such as the GuardianTimes and Daily Beast; teaching Tolkien to adults for Oxford University and the Mythgard Institute; and giving regular talks and media appearances in Britain and elsewhere.

Tim Owen first encountered Esperanto in a children’s encyclopedia after a swimming lesson, and thought it sounded like a good idea. It wasn’t until around 15 years later, however, that he started to learn it, having met some Esperanto-speakers at a language festival in Toulouse, France in 2002. He has been involved with Esperanto in various capacities ever since and is grateful that his once-prodigious memory specifically recalled that article “What language did Dr Zamenhof create?” from a distant Saturday morning when he was nine or so, which put the idea of Esperanto into his head and compelled him to speak to the people manning the Esperanto stand all those years later. He is currently the secretary of the Esperanto Association of Britain and lives in Warwickshire with two cats and his lovely fiancée, the latter being easily the most rewarding thing that Esperanto has given him. And nearly thirty years after speeding through that now long-lost, five-part encyclopedia, he still thinks Esperanto is a really good idea.

Arden R. Smith lives in Albany, California, and holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published numerous articles and essays in the field of Tolkien studies, with a focus on Tolkien’s invented languages and writing systems and the translation of Tolkien’s works, including “Certhas, Skirditaila, Fuþark: A Feigned History of Runic Origins” in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter (Greenwood Press, 2000), “The Treatment of Names in Esperanto Translations of Tolkien’s Works” in Tolkien in Translation, edited by Thomas Honegger (Walking Tree, 2003), “Tolkienian Gothic” in The Lord of the Rings 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (Marquette University Press, 2006), and most recently the chapter on “Invented Languages and Writing Systems” in A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Stuart D. Lee (Wiley Blackwell, 2014). He is a member of a project to order, transcribe, and edit Tolkien’s unpublished linguistic papers, in which his particular focus has been those dealing with the Elvish alphabets. His work as part of this project includes “The Alphabet of Rúmil” (2001), “The Valmaric Script” (2003), and “Early Runic Documents” (2004), “Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets” (2006 and 2009), “The Qenya Alphabet” (2012), and “The Feanorian Alphabet, Part 1” (2014), published in the journal Parma Eldalamberon. As an Esperantist and Volapükist, he has contributed the chapter “Confounding Babel: International Auxiliary Languages” to the volume From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages, edited by Michael Adams (Oxford University Press, 2011) and serves as a member of the Kadäm Volapüka.

Patrick H. Wynne is one of a group of five scholars currently editing and publishing J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings on his invented languages. Most recently he edited Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals (2005–07) and has served as co-editor of the Gnomish Lexicon (1995), Qenya Lexicon (1998), and other works. A dental lab technician by trade, he has been an avid Esperantist for some thirty years and serves as the Esperanto editor for the publishing company Evertype, for whom he has edited five Esperanto books to date, including La Hobito (2015), Christopher Gledhill’s Esperanto translation of The Hobbit. He also wrote the essays on Esperanto translations of Lewis Carroll for the massive three-volume work Alice in a World of Wonderlands (2015). He has also worked as a professional illustrator on books such as Fish Soup by Ursula K. Le Guin (1992). He lives in northern Minnesota.

Cover by Adriano Monti Buzzetti
Translation by Greta BertaniTim Owen and Giovanni Costabile