Well, I’m back …
After a hiatus of three months, I return with the Tolkien Transactions for the month of November 2014. This means that I have skipped the transactions for August through October, except for the few bits that I had prepared before I got too busy, and the few bits that are too good to miss out on 🙂
The latter – the pieces from August through October that are too good to miss – will probably be appearing over the next couple of issues … just because.
All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or
any other implication of responsibility) 🙂
This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following
3: Essays and Scholarship
5: Reviews and Book News
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: The Blog Roll
Oh, and a very merry Yule to everybody!
|Joe Gilronan, 2014-11-28
First Snowfall, The Shire
The Tolkien Society ‘News’
Do remember to regularly check – or, even better, subcribe to – the news from the Tolkien Society. This is one of the most exhaustive sources of various news about Tolkien (and more or less related matters, including news about Peter Jackson).
Daniel Helen, Friday, 1 August 2014, ‘BBC launches online guide on Tolkien and the Great War’
The first I saw about the BBC iWonder guide on The Lord of the Rings and WWI:
Various, BBC, ‘How was The Lord of the Rings influenced by World War One?’
An elementary guide to the question raised by the title. I remain unconvinced with regards to the implications of the Nazgûl part (the latter half of part 3), but overall the guide is fine as far as it goes.
Daniel Helen, Monday, 4 August 2014, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses returns September 2014’
About the on-line courses taught by Dr. Dimitra Fimi.
David Emerson, Mythopoeic Society, Sunday, 10 August 2014, ‘Mythopoeic Awards: 2014 Winners Announced’
Congratulations to all the winners, but of course particularly to Jason Fisher for winning the Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies with his book, Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays.
Oxford Today, Friday, 15 August 2014, ‘Farewell, Tolkien’s Tree’
The story of the final defeat of the Pinus Nigra in the Oxford Botanic Garden, known for being a special favourite of Tolkien’s, hit just about the turn of July, with this being released in mid-August. See also the news from the Tolkien Society on 30 July, Tolkien’s favourite tree to be cut down.
David Oberhelman, The Mythopoeic Society, Thursday, 30 October 2014, ‘Mythopoeic Awards 2015: Call for Nominations’
Members of the Mythopoeic Society have until February 1st to nominate books for the 2015 Mythopoeic Awards. If you are not a member yet, then hurry off to http://www.mythsoc.org/join/ to join.
Mythgard Institute, , ‘Mythmoot II Proceedings’
Proceedings (a mix of abstracts, full texts and videos) from the second Mythmoot.
ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ‘Politics in Tolkien: What We Can Learn From Hobbits’
A guest lecture with Tom Shippey to be held on 15 April 2015. If you know of anyone going, or if you find a report from this event elsewhere, I would love to know about it.
Highlights with some Tolkien connection from November:
“The Hero’s Journey: Beowulf, Film, and Masculinity” – In her bachelor thesis from Arizona, Katherine Marie Ismeurt looks at The Hero’s Journey: Beowulf, Film, and Masculinity. (2 November)
|Jef Murray, 2014-11-29
Simon Cook, Wednesday, 6 August 2014, ‘Scef or Scyld? (Tolkien’s English Mythology revisited)’
Despite the obvious attraction of a theory that sets my home area at the centre of much of Tolkien’s imaginative work (I do live on Zealand, a mere 15 km from the presumed site of Heorot – less than 10 miles), I do not rush to embrace Cook’s theories. Or, perhaps rather, I am willing to accept them as a contributing factor in that complex network of influences and inspirations that, along with a healthy dose of original, sub-creative genius, brought about Tolkien’s fiction, but I hesitate to assign a greater importance to these influences than to many of the other.
Michael Flowers, Monday, 11 August 2014, ‘In Tolkien’s Genuine Footsteps’
A well-written blog/essay on Tolkien’s connections to East Yorkshire and particularly the Holderness area and Roos. It is good to see these actual connections emphasised in a time where we are faced left and right with fallacious claims of connections to the Burren, to Ethiopia or to Pawnee legends – claims based on spurious reasoning. In this case, the research, however, is solid, and we still get to add details to our understanding of these connections as e.g. Michael Flowers builds on earlier research by Carpenter, Garth and Mathison.
John Garth, Wednesday, 24 September 2014, ‘Middle-earth turns 100’
In celebration of the 100 years anniversary of Tolkien’s poem, The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star, John Garth writes, inspiringly as always, on the beginning and emergence of Tolkien’s legendarium – adding a particular discovery about the name Lowdham that I will encourage you to read in Garth’s own words.
Jonathan S. McIntosh, Monday, 3 November 2014, ‘Elvish modal metaphysics: no possible worlds?’
It’s been a while since his last post, but Jonathan McIntosh has now posted an interesting question on his Flame Imperishable blog. It is, admittedly, of the rather metaphysical sort (there’s a reason I like his posts so much), with some interesting (albeit tenuous) connections to certain aspects of physics (I’m thinking of various interpretations of quantum physics).
There is also an interesting connection to letter #153 in which Tolkien writes about sub-creation as “a tribute to the infinity of His [God’s] potential variety” (I have quoted more from the letter in a comment to the blog post).
Simon J. Cook, Tuesday, 4 November 2014, ‘On disciplinary sin’
A meta-comment here from Simon Cook on the tendency to approach Tolkien studies from a very narrow disciplinary perspective. Simon Cook’s commentary here is mainly addressed at the English literary criticism approach to reading and understanding Tolkien, but I think it is applicable also to other approaches. For my own part, I know that I am likely to exaggerate the effect of Old Norse mythology on Tolkien’s work, but I am aware of it, and I think that is an important step, and next we need scholars to start looking for the evidence and ideas that would actually falsify their own theories.
Simon J. Cook, Thursday, 6 November 2014, ‘What is a Hobbit?’
This idea is intriguing, and the probability that there is something of Rhys’ ideas floating around somewhere in Tolkien’s Hobbits seems to me large enough to at least warrant some further study. I am, however, somewhat sceptical of the phrasing: “Did Tolkien discover Hobbits in the pages of Rhys’s writing on Welsh fairies?” to which Cook answers affirmatively. I find this an exaggeration given what also know about Wyke Smith’s Snergs and Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt. It does seem likely that Tolkien had found bits and pieces in various sources, and that these combined in his mind with something of his own to become Hobbits; that is, that Tolkien discovered the Hobbits in his own mind, but that some bits of pieces of the Hobbits come from other sources, possibly including Rhys’ aborigines.
Jason Fisher, Tuesday, 5 August 2014, ‘Bad puns can be hobbit-forming’
Full marks to Jason Fisher for his ability to imagine a time when the hobbit/habit pun was still fresh. In this post he traces the pun as far back as possible, with the earliest use discovered so far being from April 1955.
Jason Fisher, Monday, 3 November 2014, ‘Jonah and the Colocynth’
Following the publication of Tolkien’s translation of Jonah in Journal of Inklings Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2 (October 2014), Jason Fisher here offers the first comments, which are related to the translation of a single word. “I would always rather try to wring the juice out of a single sentence, or explore the implications of one word than try to sum up a period in a lecture, or pot a poet in a paragraph.” indeed!
See also Judith Wolfe, Friday, 1 August 2014, ‘Tolkien’s Jonah Text’ and John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 20 November 2014, ‘Tolkien’s Jonah’
Dwight Longenecker, Thursday, 13 November 2014, ‘Quickened to Full Life by War: Tolkien’s Redemption of the Trenches’
I am not sure that I agree with everything he says, but I do find Longenecker’s perspective on the relations between Tolkien’s Great War experiences and his mythological vision to be interesting (admittedly some of my scepticism may be due to some simplifications – Longenecker, I think, is not writing to Tolkien students such as myself, but to a more general audience).
Michael Martinez, Thursday, 20 November 2014, ‘Silmarillion Simulations: Boldly Writing What Tolkien Never Wrote’
Michael Martinez discusses the idea of ‘what The Silmarillion might have looked like, “had Tolkien finished it”” concluding that not only were Tolkien unable to complete The Silmarillion, but we have little to guide us to where it might have gone, had Tolkien worked on it longer than he did. Amen to that! Personally I think the idea of a ‘canon’ of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, however attractive, is producing more harm than good, and I would rather have people see Tolkien’s work as a beautiful evolving whole.
Jane Ciabattari, Thursday, 20 November 2014, ‘Hobbits and hippies: Tolkien and the counterculture’
“Between the lines” is the title of this column … beyond the lines might be a better name for this, but it seems to be the month for this kind of thing. Whence came, for instance, the idea that pipeweed is hallucinogenic? On the plus side is the aspect of explaining to a younger generation the fascination of the hippies with Tolkien’s work, on the negative side is the apparent endorsement of the hippie reading of The Lord of the Rings.
Kelly Bulkeley, Huffington Post, Thursday, 20 November 2014, ‘Tolkien’s Future Vision of Lucid Dreaming’
A commentary in a main-stream media outlet that comments on Tolkien’s The Notion Club Papers is, in and of itself, interesting enough to warrant mention. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the commentary appears level-headed and doesn’t try to read more into Tolkien’s story than the text can actually support.
Michael D.C. Drout, Tuesday, 25 November 2014, ‘How to Read J.R.R. Tolkien’
A link to Michael Drout’s October 2014 lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. To be watched!
Judith Wolfe, Friday, 1 August 2014, ‘Tolkien’s Jonah Text’
The news that Tolkien’s translation of the Book of Jonah, which he made for the Jerusalem Bible, will be published in the Journal of Inklings Studies in October.
See also Daniel Helen, Saturday, 2 August 2014, ‘Tolkien’s translation of Jonah to be published’
|Jef Murray, 2014-11-29
Sam at Caradhras
Catholic World Report, Thursday, 30 October 2014, ‘The Political Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’
Despite warning that “Every interpreter is tempted to remake Tolkien in his or her own image.” this seems exactly what Dr. Richards is bent on doing himself in his book, The Hobbit Party. Like most (all?) other one-sided attempts at interpretative criticism, Richards’ views suffer from a strong confirmation bias. This, of course, does not mean that everything that he says is wrong (most of it probably isn’t); only that this interview suggests that he has never stopped to ask himself whether there might be other likely explanations than the ones he favour. Based on this interview (and some other bits and pieces) I certainly do not feel tempted to spend any money on this book.
Joseph Pearce responds to comments in the above interview on Tolkien and the idea of distributism, Thursday, 6 November 2014, ‘Distributism in the Shire: The Political Kinship of Tolkien & Belloc’
And the authors, Jay Wesley Richards and Jonathan Witt respond to Pearce’s comments here, Monday, 10 November 2014, ‘Tolkien vs. Belloc on Distributism: A Response to Joseph Pearce’
Whatever one’s views, a good and envigorating discussion.
Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, Monday, 3 November 2014, ‘New Tolkien Projects, Part Two’
If I wasn’t conscientously writing up things chronologically, this piece would have made the top! Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond here announce that they are making a follow-up volume to the book The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the next one to be The Art of The Lord of the Rings. Woohoo! To be published some time in 2015.
Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, Friday, 14 November 2014, ‘Tolkien and the Goths’ disaster’
A review of the recent biography, Tolkien by Raymond Edwards. Howse is fairly positive of this new biography, though he doesn’t say what, if anything, it adds to the knowledge available from reading the books by Humphrey Carpenter (J.R.R. Tolkien: A biography and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien), by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond (The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide) and by John Garth (Tolkien and the Great War). Before buying new biographical works, I think it is necessary to know what they add to our knowledge – and, frankly, if they do not add anything new (White, Grotta, …) then I am not spending my money on them.
Shaun Gunner, Tuesday, 25 November 2014, ‘New book by Patrick Curry: Deep Roots in a Time of Frost’
A short description of the new book by Patrick Curry that has been published by Walking Tree Publishers as the 33rd book in their Cormarë series. Also see the book’s page at the publisher’s site: Deep Roots in a Time of Frost: Essays on Tolkien
David Bratman, Wednesday, 26 November 2014, ‘Published Tolkien drafts and annotations in book form: a quick guide’
An excellent overview of the publications of annotated editions and drafts and associated papers for all the books Tolkien published in his life. Having just received Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond’s new edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, I will have to find their 1999 edition of Farmer Giles of Ham in order to complete my set.
Project Muse: Tolkien Studies Vol. 11, Friday, 28 November 2014, ‘Volume 11, 2014’
The table of contents for volume 11 of Tolkien Studies and electronic access for the lucky people with Project Muse access to the journal.
Alison Flood, The Guardian, Tuesday, 5 May 2009, ‘Christopher Tolkien answers questions about Sigurd and Gudrún’
This old interview was again brought to my attention recently, and I thought it was appropriate to also remind others of its existence.
|Jef Murray, 2014-11-29
The Pony & the Mage
Vidya Venkatesh, The Williams Record, Wednesday, 12 November 2014, ‘Librarian found love, career through Tolkien’
A delightful interview with Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond. I will not summarise – read the whole thing yourself (if you haven’t yet)
John D. Rateliff, Tuesday, 25 November 2014, ‘A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT arrives’
On the arrival of an advance copy of the abbreviated version of Rateliff’s History of the Hobbit, the shorter version, A Brief History of the Hobbit is aimed people who “found the size of the full version intimidating” – which presumably cannot include many of my own readers … 😉
Sue Bridgwater, Saturday, 29 November 2014, ‘Back to the past – Simon J. Cook on Tolkien and History’
A short review of Simon J. Cook’s new e-book single, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lost English Mythology, which is out on Kindle. Sue Bridgwater finds that “Cook has opened up an insufficiently explored aspect of the development of Tolkien as a scholar and writer” and urges “anyone truly interested in Tolkien’s work” to read it. Well, I have a high respect for Sue’s opinion, but Cook’s book was on my reading list even before this.
Jef Murray, Wednesday, 8 October 2014, ‘Scatha the Wyrm’
One of the less depicted of Tolkien’s great worms, it is good to see Jef Murray also tackling this.
Joe Gilronan, Friday, 28 November 2014, ‘First Snowfall The Shire’
a very nice seasonal picture from Joe Gilronan depicting Hobbit children playing in the snow and a presumably well-known staff-carrying figure in grey.
|Jef Murray, 2014-11-29
Jef Murray, Saturday, 29 November 2014, ‘The Conversation’
A meeting of two of the Wise on the greenway a day on Mid-year’s Day in SR 1418 …
See also this eponymous sketch from Wednesday, 8 October 2014, ‘The Conversation’
Jef Murray, Saturday, 29 November 2014, ‘Fireside Journeys’
Though the fireside traveller in this case appears to be a Hobbit, I am sure that we can all recognize this mode of travelling when we find ourselves under the enchantment of Tolkien’s sub-creation.
Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 3 August 2014, ‘German Tolkien Seminar 2015’
On the 2015 seminar of the German Tolkien Society, with the theme ‘On Fairy-stories’.
See also Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 3 August 2014, ‘Call For Papers: German Tolkien Society Seminar’
David Bratman, Saturday, 9 August 2014, ‘Mythcon, day 1’
David Bratman’s reports from MythCon. There is more Tolkien-related stuff in the reports from later parts of MythCon – see the reports from day 2, and from days 3 – 4.
BBC Radio 4, Sunday, 26 October 2014, ‘Hope in the Darkness’
The BBC Radio 4 ‘Sunday Worship’ on 26 October was broadcast from Merton College and featured also an exploration of Tolkien’s life and spirituality by Pref. Alister McGrath. The bodcast is no longer available, but transcript can be found at the page.
Emil Johansson, Tuesday, 18 November 2014, ‘The Age of Characters in the Lord of the Rings’
An infographics by Emil Johansson of the LotR Project
These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you’re interested in
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that
I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However,
you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog
has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection.
Pieter Collier, ‘The Tolkien
Monthly archives not available – see the main URL above for a list of recent posts.
Various, Southfarthing Mathom — The blog for the Tolkien
Reading Group (Southampton UK), The Southfarthing Smial
In the time since August, the Southfarthings have finished Unfinished Tales and started (again) on The Lord of the Rings. Follow the Southfarthing Mathom for interesting and enlightening commentary on Tolkien-related books.
Archive of posts from August 2014
Archive of posts from September 2014
Archive of posts from October 2014
Archive of posts from November 2014
Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf’
Tolkien Studies at Popular Culture Association 2015 meeting (01 October).
Simon J. Cook, Ye Machine
Simon J. Cook’s blog, Ye Machine, is one of the best new things to happen in the Tolkien blogosphere for a long time (along with the new website of the Tolkien Society with the diverse posts).
Archive of posts from August 2014
Archive of posts from October 2014
Archive of posts from November 2014
|Jef Murray, 2014-10-08
Scatha the Wyrm
New sources in November 2014
For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html