HERMIT

Lord of the Tolkien Estate Speaks

In a rare interview, J.R.R. Tolkien’s reclusive son expresses concern that his father’s new posthumous book, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, which is written in verse, will “put off” fans. Christopher Tolkien, 84, who now lives in France, conducted an interview with the Guardian in a way characteristic of Thomas Pynchon: via fax. Tolkien père’s book, released Tuesday, is a 500-stanza poem modeled on a 13th-century Norse manuscript, a subject he taught at Oxford. When he was a child, Tolkien says, his father paid him two pence for every mistake he could find in The Hobbit. And had his father had lived to see 150 million copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings sell worldwide, he "might have been in turns delighted, charmed, amused, puzzled, disquieted, baffled, indignant, but, finally, comprehensively astounded.”