Featuring posts from Tolkien fans, artists, scholars and more

Taboo Tolkien: The Nordicist Claim on Middle-earth Refuted

I have in this war a private grudge ... against the ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler.I can’t possibly read all the defenses of Tolkien’s works against racism.  Too many people have been drawn into this neverending story of racist bias in The Lord of the Rings.  The accusations of racism resonate strongly with all of us, and I have even read a scholarly paper that attempts to break down the pro and con views into categories or types.  So I apologize to those of you who have raised the anti-Nordicist defense but I blame Google for making it impossible to find such arguments.

Nordicism is one of those words I only rarely stumble across.  I have no sympathies with people who think in terms of “race” and “purity” and other primitive rules of distinction.  I will have to teach myself to use words like Nordic, Nordicism, and Nordicist because these are terms that you can easily find in accusations made against Tolkien, or discussions of the accusations made against him. (more…)

seeking rapport with Colbert

You’ve seen Stephen Colbert on The Late Show criticizing the scientist who named a species of spider after Sméagol? It should have been Gollum, Colbert says, or better yet, how about Shelob? “This is sad,” Colbert concludes. It is, but the problem lies more with him.


Oxonmoot 2015 in Videos

This year’s Oxonmoot, held 10–13 September at St Antony’s College Oxford, was a great success. If you missed it, or you simply want to relive part of the experience, here are a few videos to whet your appetite.


Tolkien Transactions LXIII

October 2015

October has been a busy month, and November isn’t shaping up to be much better, so my commentary is a bit reduced – and in some cases links to interesting articles are just given without commentary.

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.


The Myth of the Tolkien Elf

Legolas: the 'perfect' elf.

Legolas: the ‘perfect’ elf.

Years ago when the first attempt to launch a licensed massively multiplayer game based on Middle-earth was still in process there was much debate among waiting players about whether they should be permitted to play Noldorin warriors.  Some people wanted the ability to swashbuckle their way across the landscape of Middle-earth and others feared the Player-versus-Player advantages that a “real” Noldo would have against, say, a Silvan Elf or a Dwarf.

The idea that you could play a Noldorin warrior capable of matching the great warriors of the First Age was both a tempting and fearful prospect, and yet now many games have come and gone and people routinely play god-like characters (or even gods in Smite!) without worrying about whether one character is too powerful for the game.  The engineering of the game is supposed to ensure there is balance. (more…)

Tolkien Transactions LXII

September 2015

The Tolkienian month of September starts with the anniversary of Tolkien’s 1973 death on September 2nd. It’s a moment for reflection, but it also quickly gives way to the anticipation for the Tolkien Society Oxonmoot and the joint birthday of Bilbo and Frodo (not going into the discussion of proper calendric translation here) on what is becoming known as ‘Hobbit Day’. The celebration in Bri, the Copenhagen Tolkien Society, was already on the 13th, and together with my daughter I partook in a very fine seven-course medieval / renaissance dinner on that day.


Evil in the Shining Light art exhibition

Having recently curated an exhibition of Tolkien-inspired art in Sheffield, South Yorkshire featuring a number of artists well-known to the society, and with many people unable to undertake the travel to see the show, I’ve put together this short video. It provides a general overview of the exhibition but also reveals something of the curation choices linked to the title Evil in the Shining Light by combining readings from Tolkien’s source text in combination with images of the exhibition.

Why you should join the Tolkien Society

It sometimes comes as a surprise to people online that the Tolkien Society isn’t just a Twitter account and a Facebook group, but a real charity you can join and support just like the National Trust or the Boy Scouts.

The Tolkien Society has well over 1,000 members in over 30 different countries, many of whom play a full and active role in the Society. So, as the world comes together to celebrate Hobbit Day, here are some of the reasons why you should join the Tolkien Society today. (more…)

here’s something I didn’t know

Next time you’re listening to the 1981 BBC radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, with its music in the English classical tradition written by Stephen Oliver, contemplate the bizarre but interesting fact that the composer was the uncle of John Oliver, of Last Week Tonight.

Tolkien Transactions LXI

August 2015

This month started with the very sad news of the sudden and unexpected death at 55 of Jef Murray, artist and writer of mythopoeic art, not least drawings and paintings inspired by Tolkien’s work, and very generously allowing me to use his Tolkien-inspired works to illustrate my posts on this blog.