Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

Author:J.R.R. Tolkien
Title:Roverandom; edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond
Published:1998 by HarperCollins


Rover should have never have bitten the wizard's trousers. His punishment was to be transformed into a toy, and now he is forced to track down the magician so he can be returned to normal. His adventures will take him to the moon and under the sea, introducing him to many fabulous - and dangerous - creatures.

Inspired by the loss of his own child's (Michael -- ChW) favourite toy, this charming tale was written by Tolkien long before The Hobbit, yet remained unpublished for more than 70 years. This new paperback edition includes a full introduction and detailed notes (by the editors -- ChW) about the story.

(included are also 5 related pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien -- ChW)

description from the back-cover of the book


A connection of Roverandom to T's ''legendarium' is explained to some degree in the 'Introduction' to the book (by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond):

The most intriguing connection between Roverandom and the mythology, however, occurs when the 'oldest whale', Uin, shows Roverandom 'the great Bay of Fairyland (as we call it) beyond the Magic Isles', and further off 'in the last West the Mountains of Elvenhome and the light of Faery upon the waves' and 'the city of the Elves on the green hill beneath the Mountains' (pp. 73-4)· For this is precisely the geography of the West of the world in the 'Silmarillion', as that work existed in the 1920s and 1930s. The 'Mountains of Elvenhome' are the Mountains of Valinor in Aman, and the 'city of the Elves' is Tún - to use the name given it both at one time in the mythology and in the first text (only) of Roverandom. Uin too is drawn from The Book of Lost Tales, and although he is not here quite his namesake 'the mightiest and most ancient of whales' (Part One, p. 118), still he is able to carry Roverandom to within sight of the Western lands, which by this time in the development of the legendarium were hidden from mortal eyes behind darkness and perilous waters. Uin says that he would 'catch it' if it was found out (presumably by the Valar, or Gods, who live in Valinor) that he had shown Aman to someone (even a dog!) from the 'Outer Lands' - that is, from Middle-earth, the world of mortals. In Roverandom that world in some ways is meant to be our own, with many real places mentioned by name. Roverandom himself 'after all was an English dog' (p. 51). But in other ways it is clearly not our earth: for one thing, it has edges over which waterfalls drop 'straight into space' (p. 21). This is not quite the earth depicted in the legendarium either, although it too is flat; but the moon of Roverandom, exactly like the one in The Book of Lost Tales, moves beneath the world when it is not in the sky above.
Roverandom p. xxii - xxiii

And in the notes to p.73 - where the passage in concern is found - we find:

the Shadowy Seas ... and the light of Faery upon the waves. See pp. xxii-xxiii. The earliest text has: 'It was the whale who took them to the Bay of Fairyland beyond the Magic Isles, and they saw far off in the West the Shores of Fairyland, and the Mountains of the Last Land and the light of fairyland upon the waves.' In Tolkien's mythology the Shadowy Seas and the Magic Isles hide and guard Aman (Elvenhome, and the home of the Valar or Gods) from the rest of the world. A good illustration of this geography, from the 1930s, is in Tolkien's Ambarkanta (The Shaping of Middle-earth, 1986, p. 249).
ibid. - Notes


This book is suitable for all ages, although it's written in a very childish way. I really love the story and the amazing pictures. -- ChC?

Roverandom is a tale which was inspired by the loss of a toy - a miniature dog made of lead and painted black and white - of Tolkien's second son Michael and that was lost during a summer holiday at the seaside in the summer of 1925. Tolkien probably invented a short story spontaneously to console his 5 year old son who was "heartbroken" over the loss of his favourite toy.

The full story of Roverandom was probably written sometime between 1925 and 1927 and the book is edited and annotated by Christina Scull and her husband Wayne G. Hammond (who have also edited J.R.R. Tolkien - Artist & Illustrator).

Though Roverandom is a children's book and the story as such is suitable for children of all ages, we also find a few motifs and characters that already resemble Tolkien's later books: The dragons, three Wizards (Psamathos ... Radagast? - Artaxerxes ... Saruman? - The Man-in-the-Moon - Olórin?) as well as a few more connections to Tolkien's sources and his mythology (which later became "The Silmarillion"). The annotations of Christina Scull and Wayne Hamond provide the reader with helpful and interesting background information and make Roverandom an interesting and "fun to read"-book for all ages... -- ChW

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