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

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

Oronzo Cilli Arden R. Smith Patrick H. Wynne


The book contains studies by Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne and Oronzo Cilli which examine the connection which existed between J.R.R. Tolkien, and the planned language Esperanto, created by L.L. Zamenhof.

Smith and Wynne’s essay, published originally in Seven (2000), presents Tolkien’s first experiments with inventing languages 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.

Cilli’s essay covers the period of Tolkien’s life when he first encountered Esperanto in his youth, via the Officers’ Training Corps and Baden-Powells’ Scout movement and the celebration of the World Congress of Esperanto (1930), which was attended by R.B. McCallum, and the British Congress of Esperanto (1933), for which Tolkien was named a patron. 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. The Foreword is entrusted to John Garth, author of the books Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (HarperCollins, 2003) and Tolkien at Exeter College (Exeter College, 2014).

Cilli Oronzo lives in Puglia, Italy. He edited the second Italian edition of The Annotated Hobbit of J.R.R. Tolkien (Bompiani, 2004) and published J. R. R. Tolkien, the first Italian bibliography since 1967 (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 The last book is a work on the Italian publishing history of the works of Tolkien, with unpublished documents from Italian and British archives, Tolkien e l’Italia (Il Cerchio, 2016).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, Tolkien’s World, for Cafagna Publisher, and is President of the Italian Tolkien Collectors. He runs a website Tolkieniano Collection.

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 & 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.

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