Picturing Tolkien

local experts edit Lord of the Rings essay collection

Rob Reid, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Local Tolkien experts Phil Kaveny (shown with his wife) and Jan Bogstad (not shown) have edited a collection of essays exploring the relationship between the Lord of the Rings books and Peter Jackson’s film adaptations.
Local Tolkien experts Phil Kaveny and Jan
Bogstad have edited a collection of essays
exploring the relationship between the
Lord of the Rings books and Peter Jackson’s
film adaptations.
No matter how far your quest may take you – perhaps even to Middle-Earth – you would be hard-pressed to find two people more knowledgeable about all things Tolkien than local scholars Jan Bogstad and Phil Kaveny. The two recently wrapped up a two-year labor of love – Kaveny half jokingly referred to it as having a “rat tied around his neck” – by editing a compilation of 16 essays about the relationship of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and Peter Jackson’s films. The treasure at the end of this couple’s literary quest is their book titled Picturing Tolkien, published by McFarland Publishers.

The duo each plied their special strengths as editors of the project. Phil was the “schmoozer,” recruiting, cajoling, and sometimes chastising contributors to shape their essays and meet their deadlines. Phil is an independent book vendor and his travels would find him with his wares at various fantasy-literature themed conferences. Some of the world’s other leading Tolkien scholars would eventually find themselves hanging around Phil’s booth. Jan specialized in the technical work of editing and indexing the articles. She, too, had a hand in corresponding with the contributors, as well as other aspects of deal-making. After she sent out a call for papers, she was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of contributors.

Picturing Tolkien represents a range of perspectives concerning the transformation of the trilogy to the big screen. A sampling of articles include “Gollum Talks to Himself: Problems and Solutions in Peter Jackson’s Film Adaptation of the Lord of the Rings,” “The Grey Pilgrim: Gandalf and the Challenges of Characterization in Middle-Earth,” and “Tolkien’s Resistance to Linearity: Narrating the Lord of the Rings in Fiction and Film.” The couple also contributed articles to the compilation. Jan’s piece is “Concerning Horses: Establishing Cultural Settings from Tolkien to Jackson,” which covers the importance of horses and how the focus of this importance differed in the films from the books. Phil wrote “Frodo Lives But Gollum Redeems the Blood of Kings,” which brings up, among other ideas, the notion of Gollum as a sacrificial lamb. Jan also wrote an incredibly informative essay that covers early attempts to put The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings on the big screen. The Beatles, for example, were interested in making a film in the late 60s “with John as Gollum, Paul as Frodo, George as Gandalf, and Ringo as Sam.” 

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Rob Reid  author

Rob Reid is a senior lecturer of education studies at UW-Eau Claire. In addition to writing Children’s Jukebox (ALA Editions 1995/2007), Reid has also written two more books about children’s music: Something Musical Happened at the Library (ALA Editions, 2007) and Shake and Shout: 16 Noisy, Lively S

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