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[page 3] THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL By J. R. R. Tolkien George Allen & Unwin, London, 1962 64 pp., Illustrated, As a rule, SPECTRUM does not review English books -- partly because it is hard to keep up with the new ones, and also because it is not easy for our readers to get them ... but mainly because there are so many new American books to review. We're delighted, however, to make an exception in the case of this book. As the first book in seven years from the author of the finest fantasy of this century, it certainly commands our attention. Professor Tolkien's new book consists of 16 poems drawn from the literature of Middle Earth, and a preface that is a sort of tongue- in-cheek parody of the solemn, scholarly type of literary archeology that is his profession. Some of the poems are of considerable length: the first in the book, called _The Adventures of Tom Bombadil_, is a charming, rollicking narrative poem of about 130 lines, concerning Tom's wooing and wedding of Goldberry, the River's Daughter. Another, _Bombadil Goes Boating_ (about Tom's adventures in the Shire) runs to 160. There are also poems about Trolls, the Elves, and other inhabitants of Tolkien's magical, prehistoric world. Virtually alone of the great fantasy novelists, Tolkien's verse stands comparison with his prose. Lovecraft, Cabell, Dunsany -- in fact almost all prose writers who chose to deal in magic -- produced inferior verse, despite the often high artistry of their prose styles. Only Tolkien (and to lesser degrees, Eddison and Clark Ashton Smith) wrote in both forms with equal craftsmanship. Some of these verse display an extraordinary technical virtuosity, as for example the complex metrical devices, and elaborate handling of vowel music, in _Errantry_: "There was a merry passenger, a messenger, a mariner: he built a gilded gondola to wander in, and had in her a load of yellow oranges and @prridge@ for his provender; he perfumed her with marjoram and cardamom and lavender." Other poems draw from the ballad, or the nonsense-poem. Some of them are new versions of poems in _The Lord of The Rings_, but most of them are new. It is a charming little book, excellently illustrated with two-color drawings by Pauline Baynes who illustrated the _Narnia_ books, and with a gorgeous four-color wrap-around jacket. This book will be published in the United States this July, by Houghton Mifflin It certainly whets my appetite for the long-delayed _Silmarillion_! --L/C

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