Brenton's Reviews > A Secret Vice

A Secret Vice by J.R.R. Tolkien
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
8053323
's review

it was amazing

Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins’ 2016 publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “A Secret Vice” in a critical form is very welcome. A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Language is a beautifully designed edition in the HarperCollins Middle-earth series, and includes critical texts with extensive notes of two of Tolkien’s connected lectures, “A Secret Vice” and “Essay on Phonetic Symbolism.” They also publish a number of related manuscript notes in Bodleian Tolkien MS. 24 which would only be available to people with archival access. The volume closes with a chapter on “The Reception and Legacy of Tolkien’s Invented Languages” and a helpful chronology of Tolkien’s philological and language work in 1925-1933.
Overall, A Secret Vice is excellently done, neither disappearing too deeply into the involved worlds of Tolkienist language scholarship nor skating quickly across the issues. The reviews of scholarship are adequate though not exhaustive, and the review is accessible to new students. Some will use this book for a broad-based introduction, while others will use it primarily for the texts.
My criticism and concerns are probably issues of publication rather than editorial control. I am eternally frustrated by endnotes, especially in critical editions. This is even less endearing when we are dealing with conlang poetry. My shout into the wind on this issue will do little to shift what is the normal practice in the industry. Beyond that, the “coda” that offers the section on Tolkien language reception could have been longer. A little more detail about the living nature of Elvin tongues would be welcome, but I am surprised we don’t have a significant portion on what is the most extensive and complete post-Tolkien Tolkienist conlang, that of The Game of Thrones on screen. I can only guess that someone else has done this job or that it didn’t fit in the vision of the publishers or others behind the scenes.
These issues are minor and shouldn’t take away from a volume of worth. As a fan, as a curious reader, I’m appreciative of Drs Fimi and Higgins for their work.
See full review on www.aPilgrimInNarnia.com on Nov 13, 2019.
4 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Secret Vice.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

September 12, 2019 – Started Reading
September 12, 2019 – Shelved
November 6, 2019 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.