A self-styled Smaug had the tapes hidden away, but thankfully someone persuaded him Tolkien’s speech shouldn’t stay lost.

Back in 1958 J.R.R. Tolkien attended a dinner in his honor, hosted by devoted fans in Rotterdam. A packed and breathless hall heard the creator, in his own words, describe the “poor thing, but my own” that had delighted them, and would delight so many more in the years to follow. Some scraps of his speech survived in transcripts by Christopher Tolkien, but it was thought that the speech itself was lost forever. Not so, and now the complete recording is being prepared for release by the Middle Earth Network and Legendarium.

So where were the tapes? Hidden away in a Dutch collector’s hoard. “Like Smaug I am guarding my treasure, hissing at any collector who comes near,” jokes René van Rossenberg, a Tolkien expert who found the tapes in 1993. Jay Johnstone of Legendarium persuaded him that the recording ought to be released, and now the partnership intends to restore it and put the whole thing out there via the Rotterdam Project. What you have here is the first sample, with another due for the Beowulf launch party.

Anyone who ever wanted to know what Tolkien was trying to do with his narrative needs to listen to the whole recording; personally, I’m waiting with bated breath. Tolkien didn’t think the assembled partygoers would really be interested in a potted autobiography, so he kicks things off with a discussion of the stories. Everything from the One Ring – Tolkien says it’s just a mechanism that “sets the clock ticking fast” – to a plain description of what, in his view, all the books are supposed to be about, plus ruminations on current events and what they might mean for the future. Tolkien never got another chance to speak as plainly; this was the last time he spoke at a party held in his honor.

This is the sort of thing fans dream of, and it looks as if those dreams are about to come true. If you’re interested in learning more, better head over here.

Source: Huffington Post

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