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Russian Lord of the Rings

Last night, while working on crafty projects with pyr8queen and watching the newly Blu-Ray released Lord of the Rings, I had some crazy insight/question about the books that I had no answer for. Then faekeeper and I got on to talking about Quenya (and its delights compared to Sindarin) and then today I found this, the Russian illustrations for their edition of The Hobbit

Now I can't remember what my question was. But after watching some of the Russian teleplay of "The Hobbit" I've come to the conclusion that either the Russians really don't GET Tolkien, or at best they definitely dismiss it as child's literature. Which is funny, since Russian literature so often incorporate fantastic elements taken as normal in context, such as Golgol's "The Overcoat" or Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" Certainly those weirdly 2-d and blocky illustrations are more like woodcuts than anything else - as a child I probably would have found them frustrating, and competing for headspace with how I imagined Middle Earth. As an adult, it's an interesting look at how the Russians saw Bilbo and comrades -- Gollum is especially weird and bulbous.

Here is Bilbo Bungovich Bagginski talking with Gollum Smeagolski, under the mountain. You know the scene, I'm quite sure: bah, there's no way to embed the video, but it's the last one on the link above. It's totally worth watching for a few seconds!

All this is pointing towards me needing to do a re-read from Silmarillion right on, I think. I'm overdue, and starting to confuse my Turgons, my Thingols and my Tooks!


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
I think Bilbo looks disturbingly like a caricature of Gorbachev. (But without the birthmark) I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

May. 28th, 2010 12:43 am (UTC)
I think he looks surprisingly like a potato. With a hat.
Aug. 29th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Russian view on Tolkien's world...
// Here is Bilbo Bungovich Bagginski talking with Gollum Smeagolski, under the mountain. //

Please, don't expect something grandiose from a TV adaptation adressed to children audience and kept it down to 50 minutes.

As for Russian view on Tolkien's world...

Perhaps, you'll be have interested these links - it is my LJ-posts about Mark T. Hooker's book: Tolkien Through Russian Eyes. Here are my some impressions and criticism (English translation from Russian)

7. How the West and the East met

10. Tolkien versus Tolkien -- (see below, English text after Russian one)

Yet, here is unfinished animated Russian The Hobbit:

I think it could be looked more interesting than Ralf Bakshi's film :)

P.S. You have fairly reproached for the TV adaptation with some "inaccuracy" to an original. However, your remark regarding "Bilbo Bungovich Bagginski talking with Gollum Smeagolski" is an "inaccuracy" to culture too. In English-speaking world there is set assotiation that ending "+inski" mean "Russian" sounding of the names. Though, on Russian hearing/eye, there is obviously Polish sounding of the surname. In Russia, a typical "Russian" surname ends with "-ov" or "-in".
Aug. 29th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Russian view on Tolkien's world...
Privet, Alex! I did not mean to insult you or any other Russians - in fact, I didn't finish my thought "...either Russians don't GET Tolkien, or at best they definitely dismiss it as child's literature..." which was based on the Russian illustrated edition, and the children's teleplay. So those are the only samples I had to work from.

Thank you for the links, I will definitely read them.

In regards to the names, I have no excuse at all. I even checked with my coworker, who was sitting next to me - he's Ukrainian, and his name is Rozovsky. I asked him what the correct name would be, and I suppose I misunderstood his explanation. So what would be the correct "Russian version" of Bilbo Baggins, son of Bungo Baggins?
Aug. 30th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC)
from Baggins to Torbins
// So what would be the correct "Russian version" of Bilbo Baggins, son of Bungo Baggins? //

As for Bungo + -ovich, you are right, of course. It is a patronymic name (to add suffix "-ovich" in male case or "-ovna" in female case). If we say about Russify version of Bilbo Baggins (as a joke), but not Russian literary translation. As for "Russify" surname Baggins, I get lost...

I can say that about 15 (!) Russian translation versions of LOTR, that we have, offer different versions of surname Baggins. Several translations keep the original English-language names of the hobbits. Others translate the name in differnt way. The most popular translation (by Muraviev & Kistyakovsky) offers Mr. Torbins instead Mr. Baggins.

Torbins goes from an old-fashion word "торба / torba" that approximately means a "luggage".

There is translate version with Mr. Sumkins. Sumkins goes from a word "сумка / sumka" (literally "a bag"), but this Russian version/surname don't keep a set of sounds of "Baggins" (version "Torbins" has almost the same set of the letters).


Indeed, Russian literal versions have no "-ovich" in the hobbits' names. Such way to translation could change "language athmosphere" in a wrong way. Although, the hobbits say on Common language, they are a little foreingers to Russian riders. It is an important point.
Jan. 12th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
''I've come to the conclusion that either the Russians really don't GET Tolkien, or at best they definitely dismiss it as child's literature''

If they did, they'd be correct about 'The Hobbit' which is children's literature, originally written for Tolkien's own children. And the art is fundamentally Tolkienesque. I know all the newer fans of Tolkien have been weened on the Peter Jackson films, but originally, East and West, Middle-Earth was depicted in much the same fashion (though the style was not so whimsical for the adult works like LOTR) and the Russian teleplay (it is NOT a film as reported but quite a nice and well-designed teleplay that has to work on a teleplay budget) and the art for that edition of the Hobbit reflect how much people saw Tolkien's world, design-wise, in those days. Look at most Tolkien artists before the 90s. The overall aesthetics is similar to the teleplay and the art in that book, with the only major difference being the style of the art itself. Alan Lee's Bilbo dresses in much the same way as that Russian Bilbo, as did Tolkien's himself. Infact I think some newer fans best acquaint themselves with the artwork of Tolkien if they want a clearer picture of what the world looked like.
Jan. 12th, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
Well okay random internet stranger. But my point is - of all the people who might be counted on to take Tolkien at face value, it seems the Russians ought to be at the top of the list. These are the people that gave us Gogol and Bulgakov, after all.

I make no claims about the Jackson films, and my own love of Tolkien long predates them.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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