Never Mind the Russian and the Log Houses–

Filed under:Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on April 24, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

on this Russian map of The Hobbit–stuff is in the wrong place and rivers are running the wrong way. And what’s with all the castles? You can decipher what everything is supposed to be–there’s the lake, there’s Mirkwood, there’s Rivendell, there are the Misty Mountains, even the Carrock is there–but it’s like they didn’t even look at the orientation or detail of the original. A cruise through the other foreign-language maps is interesting–many of them have things in the right place, but not all. Since I can’t read Russian, I can’t tell from the compass rose if up is north. If up is actually east, that would be a bit better (because Mirkwood, the mountains, and the Shire are all to the far west of the Lonely Mountain), but it still wouldn’t be correct.

What’s the big deal? you’re thinking if you’re not a Tolkien fan. But it makes a difference to the commonality between readers–i.e. if you imagine Bilbo’s (or Frodo’s) journey so differently from how I imagine it that he’s even going in a different direction, that makes a difference not only to how we interpret the books but also in how we will view the forthcoming movies. Maybe a small thing, but interesting.

Also, of course, it makes a huge difference in that it’s a deviation from how Tolkien devised it. And he’s the boss.


  1. The compass is the typical, N,E,S,W configuration. Although what looks like a lake is actually a forest…maybe that’s the confusion. Hopefully, the next time I see you I can’t point it out to you.
    Maybe this is why I never got into Tolkien as much as others, I was never keen on the details of where everything is exactly is.
    Hope that helps.

    Comment by Petitedov — April 25, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  2. Thanks, that does help. Do you mean the big thing in the middle, that is outlined like a lake but has trees in it, is a forest? I hope so, because that’s what it’s supposed to be. The thing above it, to the left of the mountain, should be a lake.

    Comment by Anwyn — April 25, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  3. A professor of mine once told me that while she was on some sort of teaching exchange in Russia in the early 80s, a student pulled her aside and asked, “Has Tolkien written anything new lately?”

    Comment by Bumble — May 12, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  4. The map compass is also off, because the page top is oriented to east. Admittedly, it is just as the Dwarves would have done it, but that is indeed not as how Tolkien did the map of Wilderland. It’s not the worst offender though; the one Spanish-language map from the linked set is abstract to the point of uselessness.

    Comment by fallohide — August 11, 2011 @ 9:29 am

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace