Tolkien Expo: A Journey to Middle-earth at the BNF, visit in pictures

TOLKIEN AT THE BNF - The National Library of France immerses us in the imagination of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings through nearly 300 manuscripts, drawings, engravings, weapons.

Tolkien Expo: A Journey to Middle-earth at the BNF, visit in pictures

TOLKIEN AT THE BNF - The National Library of France immerses us in the imagination of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings through nearly 300 manuscripts, drawings, engravings, weapons... Visitor trail, ticket office, all to know.

[Updated October 24, 2019 at 12:52 p.m.] Until February 16, 2020, the BNF presents the largest exhibition to date in France on the protean work of J.R.R. Tolkien, immersing us in his most famous works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings which have been the subject of film adaptations directed by Peter Jackson. The exhibition is presented as a kind of journey in Middle-earth, from the Shire to Mordor. Ready to follow Frodo the Hobbit's quest to destroy the One Ring before it is taken by Sauron, the Dark Lord?

The exhibition features many of Tolkien's original manuscripts, some carefully handwritten, others illustrated with Tolkien's drawings or Alan Lee's watercolors. Also featured are maps designed by Tolkien or his third son, Christopher Tolkien, a former Royal Air Force pilot. Nearly 300 pieces in total have been loaned mainly by the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford and the Marquette University Libraries, and constitute the heart of the exhibition.

At the same time, a selection of exceptional pieces from the collections of the BNF, among others, provides a context for this artistic and literary creation: weapons, medieval manuscripts, engravings, illuminations... The exhibition presents in particular four magnificent and gigantic Aubusson tapestries. In the last room of the exhibition, photographs show Tolkien's life in Oxford with his family.

A fertile and discreet author, J.R.R Tolkien marked the collective unconscious with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. 4 years after his birth, his father died on February 15, 1896. John then left his native country for England. His mother died when he was 11 years old. Tolkien is then taken in by Father Francis Morgan.

In 1910, he entered Oxford University. The following year, Tolkien discovered the Kalevala, a collection of poems from Norse mythology, which inspired The Gesture of the Children of Húrin. In the summer of 1911, he met Joseph Wright, professor of comparative philology (a science that deals with language from a historical point of view). Curious and on the lookout for new idioms, he reads the Kalevala in its original version. He creates languages ​​like Quenya, influenced by Finnish. In 1919, he graduated and worked on the development of the Oxford dictionary. He became an assistant professor at the University of Leeds. His academic work is recognized, he thus obtains a chair of Anglo-Saxon language at Oxford in 1925 then, in 1945, a chair of language and English literature which he occupies until 1959.

Renowned philologist, on September 21, 1936, it was at the age of 44 that Tolkien wrote his first novel: The Hobbit. The story takes up Germanic mythology and the novels of the Round Table. From the outset, Tolkien's universe is magical, magical, populated by astonishing characters such as elves or dwarfs.

Twenty years later, Tolkien is at his peak with the publication of The Lord of the Rings. Fourteen years are necessary for him to write this mythical and essential work. But the conditions of publication do not please Tolkien. Indeed, the price of paper was high at the time. The book is therefore divided into three parts in order to sell it better. The first two volumes were finally published in 1954 and were a real success with the public and critics. In 1955, after a delay due to the completion of the map (by Christopher, his son who followed his directions) and the appendices, the last part of The Lord of the Rings was published.

The author and publisher are surprised by the increase in sales. So much so that, thanks to Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is selling considerably. The success is such that fan clubs are created all over the world. It is the consecration for Tolkien, it is translated into fifty languages.

In 1959, Tolkien retired. In 1963 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Exeter College and an Emeritus Fellow of Merton College. A perfectionist, he devotes all his time to correcting The Lord of the Rings and especially to reviewing the Silmarillion, which he does not seem to have resolved to complete. In 1967, he was nostalgic, the years passed, he was no longer very young and his melancholy influenced Smith of Wootton Major. On August 28, 1973, he went to Denis Tolhurst in Bournemouth and fell ill the next day. He was sent to hospital and eventually died at age 81 on September 2, 1973. He is buried in Oxford with his wife. It is to his son Christopher that the heritage of the major texts returns. This one can finally publish Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and Legends and the History of Middle Earth series.