We all know that J.R.R. Tolkien's famous fantasy books are merely translations of an ancient text, the Red Book of Westmarch. But what would happen if someone else tried to do their own translation? Could they get sued by the Tolkien estate and win? That's what this hilarious article in the Toast unravels for you.
Austin Gilkeson talks about his career as a grad student in Hobbit Studies, and how it led him to make a disastrous decision:
When I entered the Hobbit Studies program at the University of Chicago in 2003, I wasn't planning to write my own translation. Like most of my peers, I was content to lead a quiet scholarly life, writing my dissertation on Adûni phonology and having friendly debates over second brunch about whether or not Balrogs have wings (they don't). The best I really hoped for professionally were a few publication credits and a full-time lecturer job at a small Franciscan college.
Then one day, in a back corner of the second sublevel of Regenstein Library, I stumbled across an unmarked file dropped by a twitchy-looking undergrad. After flipping through it for a few minutes, I realized it was an unauthorized manuscript copy of the Red Book of Westmarch.
At first, I considered telling the Tolkien Estate about the file. But as I read through it, an idea took shape in my mind: I could write my own translation.
The whole thing is incredibly funny, and gratifying for Tolkien fans. Check it out over at The Toast.