The Original GERMAN Translation Tolkien's work
Posted by W. T. Hoffman on 3/22/2009
I'm a native English speaker, well versed in the English edition of LORD OF THE RINGS. Just for a bit of German language practice, I thought it'd be fun to read the book(s) in German, and had no way to compare the two translations. So, I bought Margaret Carroux's translation of the first book. One of the first things that struck me odd, was that the names of characters, and places, were translated. This is not common practice, at least not in modern literature. However, place names in LORD OF THE RINGS, are already translated, from the original COMMON SPEECH or ELFISH that the RED BOOK was written in, after Bilbo and Frodo wrote the original story. Of course, part of the "fantasy" of the book, is that Tolkien found the original manuscript, and translated it into English. Since Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-saxon in Oxford, he had all kinds of fun, inventing languages for the Elves, different versions of the "common speech",(depending on locale) and even giving the book's maps the original names of rivers, places, etc, plus their English translation. An example of this, was the way BRANDYWINE RIVER was derived from BARANDUIN. So, if you are to keep this translation game in place, then you would have to translate from the original language that Frodo and Bilbo wrote the book in, into the target language, and not use English names. Because after all, this is a world, where NAMES really mean something. MISTY MOUNTAINS, become NEBEL GEBIRGE, and MIRKWOOD FOREST becomes DUENSTERWALD. Even the name of BAGGINS is translated into BEUTLIN. (Beutel is German for BAG.) The SHIRE is AUENLAND, also strange for English readers, but completely normal for Germans who have read this word from the first translation into German, which this edition is. Now, this translation of the names was done by TOLKIEN and CARROUX together. (Tolkien spoke German, so he knew what he wanted, we must assume.) Throughout the book, Carroux's translation has become standard, and these translated names are NEVER changed, even when other translaters have recently tried to "update" the language. (Wolfgang Krege retranslated the book in 1999, which is also available at AMAZON. I bought his translation of RETURN OF THE KING. It's really no better, tho sounds a bit more modern to Germans today.)
As for elf names, they have not been changed, nor has the name BILBO, FRODO, or SAM, tho Sam's last name becomes GAMDSCHRIE. (Some odd changes do crop up, like with BILL THE PONY, who's name becomes LUTZ.) RIVENDALE is now BRUCHTAL, but the Elfish "Imladris" is still employed. When older German words, or grammatical forms function, they are prefered, like ROSS for Horse, instead of PFERD. Other changes are the polite address, which isnt "HABEN SIE", but rather "HABT IHR", as was used back when the English used THOU HAST. (This convention was employed in the film as well.) Since this is the ORIGINAL TRANSLATION of the book into German, and the one which TOLKIEN (a linguist professor in Oxford) had cooperated with, and authorized, I can only recommend this translation. As for the book itself, it contains the complete MAP, in full, pull out size, that Christopher Tolkien drew. Again, the German equivalents replace the English translations of old Elfish or "common tongue" words. My copy of the book is hardback, well bound, and easy to read. (NO GOTHIC SCRIPT!) My ONLY complaint, is the artwork commissioned for this edition of the book. Its sad, that Tolkien's own watercolors, which used to be on the cover of the ENGLISH edition back in the 70s, are not used. For that matter, I would have liked to have seen ALAN LEE's artwork, which was so vital to the visual formation of the film. INSTEAD, some very "modern" looking, but rather ugly, 5 minute drawings were used. The first 15 pages of the book have the same artist's illustrations, on glossy paper, each with an elfish letter written over the picture. They are useless, for helping to envision the landscape, or setting any fantasy mood. But, with the movies, we hardly need any extra visual aids, to bring the book to life. So, as far as translation and the book's workmanship goes, this is the edition to read. As for any criticism of LORD OF THE RINGS as a work of literature, i wouldnt DARE! This is the most popular book of the twentieth century, next to the bible. If you are a German who has not read it, LESEN SIE ES! JETZT!
Posted by Charles W. Clark on 5/8/2009
My greatest enjoyment of this trilogy has come from the reading of the original books, which I did many times as a boy, and perhaps twice as a man. I also liked the movie cycle, which I saw once in a theater and perhaps two other times on DVD.
This radio play was, to me, considerably more engaging and imaginative than the movie cycle. Its power derives from effective use of basic ingredients like spoken voice, sounds, music and silence. I do like the spectacular visuals in the movies, but I shall probably return more often to this radio play than to the movies.
A great companion on the commuter bus and train, when perhaps at the end of the day I may not feel like reading.
A sentimental element - the Frodo here is wonderfully played by Ian Holm, who appeared some 20 years later as Bilbo in the movies.
I have not heard the later edition of this radio play, so my comments pertain only to this product in its own right.
BTW this edition is in the collection of several public libraries in my region, which are not exceptional in other respects, so it is probably widely available for free listening.