It was with great glee that I greeted the release of the one-volume 50th Anniversary Edition of The Lord of the Rings, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. At last! I thought. A definitive edition, with everything corrected — and one whose pagination is consistent on both sides of the pond, in both its hardcover and its paper editions!
Well, it hasn’t turned out quite that way, of course. There are already variant typesettings,† and not everyone has embraced the extent of Hammond and Scull’s corrections.‡ And, of course, there is no guarantee that further editions sporting more corrections and spiffier page numbers (or with no page numbers at all, say, in a new e-book) will not crop up.
So, although I have no reluctance in considering Hammond and Scull’s one-volume 50th Anniversary Edition (with corrigenda) the definitive text, I offer the following citation scheme to the community, so that passages can be found regardless of edition. Three simple rules can cover the totality of the main text:
Let’s ditch the “volume.” We all know that The Lord of the Rings was published in three volumes for practical reasons, not literary.
Since we’re familiar with the chapter numbers, let’s keep them and display them as two digits. And since they reset at “1” in each of the six books, let’s retain the book numbers; with only six of them, they can be represented with one digit.
Let’s discount titling and headings, but count everything that looks or acts like a paragraph as a paragraph, and number them with a three-digit number, since many chapters have more than 99 paragraphs.
Thus, though the first paragraph of each chapter is not indented, it is still a paragraph; each stanza of a poem is a paragraph; if a poem or line of poetry is included within an official paragraph, we nonetheless count it as three; LR §1.08.083 – 1.08.085 for example:
They begged him to come at least as far as the inn and drink once more with them; but he laughed and refused, saying:
Tom’s country ends here: he will not pass the borders.
Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!
Then he turned, tossed up his hat, leaped on Lumpkin’s back, and rode up over the bank and away singing into the dusk.
This gives us a simple consistent way to refer unambiguously to any passage within the novel. With the further decision to treat all preliminary material as if it belonged to a putative BOOK ZERO and the appendices as if they were books A through F, we would be done — if only the appendices were presented in a consistent way that lent themselves to such a scheme.
Appendices A, E, and F are clearly divided into major sections which have, themselves, historically been listed in the table of contents. I treat these as ‘chapters,’ so LR §A.1 refers to ‘The Númenórean Kings’ and A.2 to ‘The House of Eorl,’ for example. For appendices B, C, and D, I omit the “chapter” number, since it would always be 1.
Since Appendix A, particularly, is long — and since subdivisions are fairly clearly represented in the text — it would be a shame not to use them in the numbering scheme (and thereby forcing even more paragraph-counting), and so I use their own numbering (when it exists) or an abbreviated form of their titles for further levels of reference; thus, A.1.iv for ‘GONDOR AND THE HEIRS OF ANÁRION’. For consistency’s sake, the same procedure is followed in other appendices with such subsections.
Finally, in lists of years or rulers, the year or ruler is used in place of an imposed paragraph number; e.g., B.SA.0750 for the annal for S.A. 750 in ‘The Tale of Years’. And though it can make for somewhat long citation numbers, full dates are used when appropriate, such as B.TA.3019.03.25: again, this uses existing labelling to generate a citation which refers unambiguously to the (short) paragraph in question. Note that the dates are constructed in a big-to-little format: Age, year, month, and day.*
This is all perhaps somewhat less intuitive than for the main text of the novel, but it’s all clearly presented here with citation numbers shown in blue on the right side of each entry.
‡ See, for example, John D. Rateliff’s use of the 1991 one-volume edition illustrated by Alan Lee, partly because ‘it predates certain post-authorial changes’ (The History of the Hobbit, p. xxxiii). ↩
* See XKCD (#1179):