Saturday 20 October 2018

Collectors hold the key to success of Irish 'Hobbit'

A scene from Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit
A scene from Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A PUBLISHER who bought the rights to translate JRR Tolkien's classic children's novel 'The Hobbit' into Irish is banking on international book collectors to make its release a financial success.

The novel, which costs €39.95, will contain original Tolkien illustrations.

Its Irish publisher, Michael Everson of Evertype Publishers in Westport, Co Mayo, said he will receive 18 copies in the first batch from US printers and it will then be "print on demand".

"Initially people can buy it directly from my website It's a hardcover which makes it more expensive, but in time I plan to commission a black and white and paperback issue," he added.

It's the latest chapter in the saga of the Tolkien story, following the decision by independent publisher Evertype to purchase the rights from Harper Collins to translate 'An Hobad' into Irish.

The magic of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, the dwarves, and Smaug the Dragon, will be given a new lease of life when it goes on sale this Sunday.

The book which begins with the famous first sentence: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit", will have a classic introduction 'as Gaeilge' .

"I'm expecting it to be extremely popular, especially with collectors," said Mr Everson.

"The official publication date is March 25 -- which happens to be the day Frodo destroyed the ring -- but that date is subject to change. All that's left to do is one more illustration and then we're all set for publication," he added.

"The books are being printed in Tennessee, and then shipped to Ireland. People can place pre-orders with Amazon who I expect will have it in stock in due course.

"I'm a small publisher so I don't have a marketing division of a larger company -- but a number of Irish book stores such as Siopa Leabhair on Harcourt Street have already placed orders. I don't know how many books will be published because it's going to be 'print on demand'," he explained.

Everlast has already translated 89 other classic works such as 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass'.

Mr Everson said certain "Hobbitesque" words, especially place names, proved challenging when it came to finding an equivalent word in Irish.

'Gleann na Scoilte' was chosen for Rivendell, 'An Mhodarchoill' for Mirkwood and 'An Dobhar' for The Water, while Hobbiton will be known as 'Baile na Hobad'.

Translator Nicholas Williams, who was associate professor of Irish at UCD for 30 years, also translated Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There'.

"The translator and I argued for about five years on what to call the elves. The rest of it is pretty straightforward," said Mr Everson.

Irish Independent

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