A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from A Secret Vice (book))
A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages
Publication Information
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorDimitra Fimi, Andrew Higgins
PublisherHarperCollins
Released7 April 2016
FormatHardcover; paperback
Pages224
ISBN0008131392

A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages is a book edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins, published in 2016. The work is an extended edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's acclaimed lecture "A Secret Vice", in which he first revealed his "vice" of inventing languages in his fantasy fiction.

Overview

"A Secret Vice" is the title of a lecture by Tolkien on the subject of constructed languages and world-building. Together with "On Fairy-Stories", it is one of the most important insights into Tolkien’s sub-creative methodology.

First delivered in November 1931 to a literary society at Pembroke College, Oxford, it underwent subsequent revision and was eventually published by his son in The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays in 1983.

A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages prints the original essay alongside previously unpublished drafts and notes, together with a substantial introduction on Tolkien’s linguistic invention and editorial notes throughout.

It also see the publication of "Essay on Phonetic Symbolism" — in which Tolkien ponders the idea that the sounds of words may fit their meanings — for the first time.[1]

From the publisher

First ever critical study of Tolkien’s little-known essay, which reveals how language invention shaped the creation of Middle-earth and beyond, to George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s linguistic invention was a fundamental part of his artistic output, to the extent that later on in life he attributed the existence of his mythology to the desire to give his languages a home and peoples to speak them. As Tolkien puts it in ‘A Secret Vice’, ‘the making of language and mythology are related functions’.
In the 1930s, Tolkien composed and delivered two lectures, in which he explored these two key elements of his sub-creative methodology. The second of these, the seminal Andrew Lang Lecture for 1938–9, ‘On Fairy-Stories’, which he delivered at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, is well known. But many years before, in 1931, Tolkien gave a talk to a literary society entitled ‘A Hobby for the Home’, where he unveiled for the first time to a listening public the art that he had both himself encountered and been involved with since his earliest childhood: ‘the construction of imaginary languages in full or outline for amusement’.
This talk would be edited by Christopher Tolkien for inclusion as ‘A Secret Vice’ in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays and serves as the principal exposition of Tolkien’s art of inventing languages. This new critical edition, which includes previously unpublished notes and drafts by Tolkien connected with the essay, including his ‘Essay on Phonetic Symbolism’, goes some way towards re-opening the debate on the importance of linguistic invention in Tolkien’s mythology and the role of imaginary languages in fantasy literature.

Publication history and gallery

In July 2020, a revised paperback was published. According to editor Dimitra Fimi, the new edition "incorporates some revisions, including restoring a previously illegible name to the text".[2]

2016 hardcover
2016 hardcover  
2020 paperback
2020 paperback  

See also

External links

References

  1. “A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages” published (accessed 14 June 2022)
  2. Dimitra Fimi, "Facebook post" dated 4 June 2020, Tolkien Society Facebook group (accessed 4 June 2020)
A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
Other
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.