Translating Tolkien: Philological elements in The Lord of the rings. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2005. 213 pp. ISBN 3-631-53517-1 36.40 €. (Duisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft, 59). .
Reviewed by Dirk Delabastita
The case of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973) is a particularly rich and intriguing one from the viewpoint of translation. His books have attracted a faithful following, with his status changing progressively from that of a steady-selling cult author to that of an international literary superstar whose top ratings in popularity polls are matched by his sales figures across the globe. The phenomenal success of Peter Jackson’s triple film adaptation of The Lord of the rings and all the merchandising, computer games and internet hype that came with it have made the novels of Tolkien more popular than ever. The full story of when, how and why they have conquered the world remains to be written, but it is bound to be a story in which translators—and that includes the media translators who have recently taken care of the films and the digital material—have played a major part. One is curious to see if the major forthcoming reference work J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia. Scholarship and critical assessment (ed. Michael D.C. Drout) will give the translators what is their due, but the Routledge flyer where I saw the book advertised is perhaps somewhat less than reassuring on this point, listing as it does “Adaptations (Film Treatments, Television, Stage)” but not also something like “Translation” among the main entries and categories of entries.