Intertextuality and Iconography in Sergei Iukhimov’s Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings: Five Case Studies
J.R.R. Tolkien once remarked in a letter to his publisher that his friends had been so impressed by Pauline Baynes’ illustrations for Farmer Giles of Ham that they labelled his text a “commentary on the drawings”. This apparently light-hearted anecdote conceals an interesting truth: the relationship between text and image can be problematic and the reading of an illustration depends largely on the culturally acquired discursive precedents which an individual viewer brings to the act of looking. This situation may be further complicated when account is taken of any incidences of visual borrowing present within an illustration. The primary purpose of this article therefore is to identify and evaluate such incidences of visual borrowing and, by extension, intertextual meaning in five of Sergei Iukhimov’s Soviet era illustrations for Natalya Grigor’eva and Vladimir Grushetskij’s 1993 Russian translation of The Lord of the Rings.
I begin by defining the two distinct types of visual borrowing detectable within the Iukhimov case studies: general correspondence and direct visual prototype. I then establish my methodological approach, describing how semiotic and iconographic elements are synthesised to form a new interpretive model. Subsequent analysis of the case studies reveals a diversity of borrowed motifs, derived from sources such as frescoes, hagiographic paintings and manuscript miniatures. I also demonstrate how, in several case studies, certain borrowed motifs retain enough of their original iconography that, when combined with the new Tolkienian motif, give rise to polysemy. To conclude, I hypothesise that Iukhimov’s corpus functions most effectively when viewed as a visual affirmation of the plurality of images which existed outside of Soviet totalitarianism.
"Intertextuality and Iconography in Sergei Iukhimov's Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings: Five Case Studies,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 7:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol7/iss1/1