Mar. 21st, 2011

lady_branwyn: (FOTR cover art)
This was going to be a post about Bored of the Rings, a parody written in 1969 by future members of The Harvard Lampoon. I even found an online text of the book to share, but then I discovered that it is still in print (so the e-text is pirated) and even worse the e-text is hosted on a neo-Nazi website. (The link above is to a review by someone who seems perfectly nice.)

So instead, let's travel back in time with The Literary Omnivore's photos of the US editions of The Lord of the Rings--the good, the bad, and the outright ugly.

Back in the late 70s, I bought the handsome Ballantine second edition (along with Ballatine's A Tolkien Reader and Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham). Lord Branwyn has the psychodelic Ace pirated edition. In my opinion, the 1987 Houghton Mifflin is the prettiest of the American editions. The landscape paintings, geometric borders, and style of lettering remind me of Tolkien's own design for the cover of The Hobbit. The Ballantine fifth edition is the least attractive--Aragorn was so busy healing people that he didn't have time to shave for his own coronation, and Bilbo looks like Danny DeVito. (The Literary Ominvore has more to say about the Ballantine fifth edition.)

American readers, which of these is your favorite? Which was the first one you owned?

Edit: Be sure to check out the 1998 "Science Fiction Book Club Special Edition," near the middle of the pack. It's strangely slashy, though I can't tell who all those hands belong to.

Edit: For British readers, I found a site with photos of British editions.

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