Issue no. sixty …
This should, of course, have been the fifth anniversary issue, but due to my three-month hiatus last year, the fifth anniversary was actually well-past before I discovered it.
I have – well, more or less 😉 – taken this month off from Scouting, which can probably be seen in the timeliness of publishing this, and in the thoroughness of this issue. I am afraid you shouldn’t expect this state to last.
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 headlines:
3: Essays and Scholarship
5: Reviews and Book News
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: In Print
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
|Tolkien’s Silmarillion – Turin and Glaurung
by Helge Balzer
Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Smaug to go into space’
Features discovered by NASA’s New Horizons mission on Pluto and its moons will be proposed named after fictional characters and locations, including some of Tolkien’s.
See also David Dickenson, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘Naming features on Pluto’
Troels Forchhammer, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Five years! (and a couple of months …)’
Celebrating the fact that 7 May 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of my first ‘Tolkien Transactions’ post to rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien.
Daniel Helen, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘John Garth to teach Mythgard course on “Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth”’
As it says, really …. And remember that Tolkien Society members get a discount on Mythgard courses! (Unfortunately we don’t get a discount on the time needed … maybe some day.)
Mythgard Institute, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Fall 2015 Courses Open for Registration’
Besides the course taught by John Garth mentioned above, this offering includes an introductory course on Anglo-Saxon taught by Michael Drout and Nelson Goering, and a Star Wars course taught by Amy Sturgis.
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Sunday, 26 July 2015, ‘The Hobbit among top primary school book list’
It may say something about the national focus of this list that I only knew of five or six of these books, and have read only four of them. A Danish list might include one or two of the titles here (I think that Alice and/or Pooh might make it to the top-twenty on a similar Danish list), but probably neither Tolkien or Lewis (though fantasy would still feature on the list – it would merely be Nordic books).
CitizenNews, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Tribute to Tolkien’s Hobbit farmer Maggot at Bamfurlong’
Mostly for fun – but if you should happen to pass Bamfurlong Lane near Gloucester, you might want to check this tribute to Farmer Maggot (just don’t start accepting any claims to literary inspiration …)
Jeremy Hazan, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Montreal Now Has A “Hobbit” Themed Public Garden’
Is that Smaug hovering over Bag End? Though more in the curious end, I am sure I’ll want to visit this public garden if I visit Montreal 🙂
13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference’, Northeast Tolkien Society
Anna Smol, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘A Look Back at The New York Tolkien Conference’
Myla Malinalda, Friday, 3 July 2015, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference 2015’
4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015’, The Tolkien Society
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’
6 – 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015’
Medievalist.net, Monday, 6 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 1’
Medievalist.net, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 2’
Medievalist.net, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 3’
Medievalist.net, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘The Medieval #Twitterati at #IMC2015’
Gerard Hynes, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘Leeds!’
17 – 19 July 2015, Internet, ‘Midsummermoot’
Maria Messer, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘For the Love of All Things that Grow: Trees and Ents in Middle-earth’
Rachel Took, Saturday, 18 July 2015, ‘Midsummer Moot Day 2: Picnic Day’
Valdís, Saturday, 18 July 2015, ‘Midsummer Moot Picnic Day: Food, Friends, and Fellowship’
Rachel Took, Sunday, 19 July 2015, ‘Welcome to day three of the Midsummer Moot!’
Myla Malinalda, Sunday, 19 July 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: The Artist, The Scholar, The Legend’
Info on upcoming events (as of 1 August)
31 July – 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘ MythCon 46’, Mythopoeic Society
Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Mythcon 46 Schedule’
John D. Rateliff, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘My Schedule at MythCon’
6 – 9 August 2015, The Greisinger Museum, Jenins, Switzerland, ‘Omentielva Enquea’
15 – 23 August 2015, Velike Lašče, Slovenia, ‘Slovene Tolkien Society – Grand Annual Meeting’
2 – 26 September 2015, Sheffield, UK, ‘Artshow: Evil in the Shining Light’
3 – 4 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary, ‘5th International Tolkien Conference in Hungary’, Hungarian Tolkien Society
5 – 6 September 2015, Sarehole, Birmingham, ‘Middle Earth Festival 2015’
Formerly known as ‘Middle-earth Weekend’
10 – 13 September 2015, St Antony’s College, Oxford, ‘ Oxonmoot 2015’, The Tolkien Society
See also the interview by our bookings officer, Francesca Barbini, with the Oxonmoot chair, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘The Tolkien Society’s Oxonmoot – A Word with Elena Krysova’
5 – 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015’
21 – 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA’
Anna Smol, Tuesday, 30 June 2015, ‘Call for papers: Tolkien Studies at PCA/ACA, March 2016’
25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society’
17 – 19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society’
|Sketch: Tuor and the Swans
by Jenny Dolfen
Another advantage of supporting Jenny Dolfen on Patreon is getting to see
sketches (and even concept drawings) of upcoming artwork. The downside
is of course having to wait for it to be finished …
Jonathan Brown, Tuesday, 5 November 2013, ‘Listen! Beowulf opening line misinterpreted for 200 years’
I realise the article is about 1½ years old, but still … Hwæt? Tolkien, by the way, stayed true to tradition with his translation starting “Lo! the glory of the kings of the people of the Spear-Danes in / days of old we have oft heard tell, …”.
See the actual paper here (pdf): George Walkden, English Language and Linguistics 17, no. 3(2013) : 465-488, ‘The status of hwæt in Old English’
Leslie Megahey, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘Watch: Leslie Megahey talks about “Tolkien in Oxford”’
Leslie Megahey was the producer of the 1968 BBC documentary Tolkien in Oxford and he was invited to talk about this at the 2015 AGM of the Tolkien Society. The video is rich in little nuggets, but at points also terribly frustrating as what seems to be some of the best has had the audio removed due to copyright (which is still owned by the BBC).
Renée Vink, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘The Parentage of Gil-galad’
An investigation of the textual history of the parentage of Gil-galad. An article from Lembas Extra 2012.
Michael Flowers, Monday, 6 July 2015, ‘Tolkien’s Hemlock Glade’
The first of a series of posts on the Tolkiens’ 1917-18 sojourn in East Yorkshire after he was sent home from the Somme with trench fever (and had got out of hospital). The link is to part 1: the later parts of this can be found from there. The whole series is indeed very interesting.
I have followed Flowers’ arguments on the dating of the incident of Edith dancing among hemlocks near Roos in 1917, and I do think that he has now built a very strong case, and I am convinced that the period he identifies is by far the most likely.
In this series, Michael Flowers adds quite a lot of new and interesting geographical and biographical details to our knowledge about the Tolkien’s stay in East Yorkshire, making this an excellent piece of biographical research.
The one blemish that, in my view, mars this series of posts is the persistent attempts to draw up random connections between this or that feature of East Yorkshire and Tolkien’s work. In my firm opinion, such direct links between elements of Tolkien fiction and his various sources are generally alien to Tolkien’s writing (this is a problem that is also seen in a number of source studies – even quite good source studies). The few places where such connections do exist, Tolkien either acknowledged them himself (such as Edith Tolkien dancing at Roos), or they are very obvious (the Germannic inspiration to the Rohirrim).
Janet Brennan Croft, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Beyond The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Other Works for Children’
An article from World Literature Today (Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan. – Apr., 2004), pp. 67-70) introducing some of Tolkien’s other children’s stories: Roverandom, the Letters from Father Christmas, Farmer Giles of Ham, Mr Bliss, and Smith of Wootton Major (though I’m not sure I’d categorise the latter as a children’s story, though it can, like all of Tolkien’s fiction, be enjoyed by children, it is not, in my opinion, written for children).
Michael Flowers, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘Sketch of Tolkien Re-discovered after 70 Years’
Michael Flowers writes about a sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien by F.A. Farrell that was published in The Advocate in August 1934. The whole story of The Advocate, of Tolkien and particularly of Farrell, Glasgow’s official war artist during WWI, is very interesting.
You can see the original article here
The Advocate, Thursday, 9 August 1934, ‘A Letter from London’
Michael Flowers’ article is also available at the Tolkien Society web site as ‘1934 Sketch of Tolkien Discovered’
Sue Bridgwater, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘The Steward, the King, and the Queen: fealty and love in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and in Sir Orfeo.’
Orignally published in Mythlore (no. 119/120, Fall/Winter 2012), this article discusses similarity in the narrative arcs of the Sir Orfeo poem and Tolkien’s large work involving characteristics of bonding.
Sue Bridgwater, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Staying Home and Travelling; Stasis versus Movement in Tolkien’s Mythos’
This paper stems from Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kašcáková (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010). I haven’t had the time to read it yet (beyond skimming the introduction), but I look very much forward to reading this paper, which appears to have at least a part of its basis, or starting point, in the idea that Faërie is something you need to travel to.
Emil Johansson, Monday, 27 July 2015, ‘Tolkien might have subconsciously given Hobbits even numbered birth years because he loved them’
Emil Johansson has once more been playing with the numbers that are available to us in Tolkien’s work. This time he has been looking at the birth years of characters (and for Hobbits also their death years) to see if there are any discernible patterns … and isn’t there, though! Some of the most noteworthy patterns are the preference for years ending in -0 – and particularly for -60 and -80. Other patters are the preference for even-numbered years, which is considerably stronger for Hobbits than for other races.
It is well known that there are psychological tendencies with respect to numbers – round numbers are, for instance, seen as more attractive at some level, and primes are … well, my personal favourite class of numbers, but a preference I seem to share with rather few people (come on! – how can 37 not be far more attractive and interesting than 36?!?). This may account for some of Tolkien’s preferences here, but the use of numbers is one that has been preciously under-studied (I know that Christopher Kreuzer did some work on it, which is in the proceedings from the 2005 conference), and so I hope that studies such as this one from Emil Johansson will help us discover and qualify the questions we can, and should, ask of Tolkien’s use of numbers.
Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Tuesday, 19 May 2015, ‘No, Ireland Did Not Inspire Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings’
“No, the Lord of the Rings was not inspired by the regions of Clare or Galway, not even in part.” – Well Said!
See also the undated article, Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, ‘J.R.R Tolkien And Ireland’
An excellent summary, discussing some of the complexities of Tolkien’s relations with the Irish lands, peoples, universities, myths, and language. Fine reading (though I should point out also that the history of the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings is somewhat more complex than what is described here), and there is even intelligent discussion in the comments (shock!).
James Moffett, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘Tolkien’s Dickensian Dreams’
James Moffett here, in my opinion unsuccessfully, attempts to argue that Tolkien was inspired by a specific chapter from Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. As a simple comparative study, it might have been mildly interesting, but adding the claim that “it is clear that particular aspects from the book have somehow found a way into Tolkien’s own method of writing” merely makes it unconvincing.
Since, however, Moffett himself states that this on-line version is “much abbreviated from the original”, I felt obliged to find this chapter, Chapter Xxix. The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton at Project Gutenberg. Having read it, I have to say that it makes me reject the idea more strongly. There are some surface commonalities, but in every instance these evaporate on closer inspection. Both Dickens’ story and Tolkien’s are rooted in Victorian (and, in Tolkien’s case, also Edwardian) fairy / goblin lore, but while this gives the two stories some common starting point, they quickly diverge at every point.
We cannot know if Tolkien ever read this particular chapter. We know that he disliked Pickwick (whether the character, as Moffett seems to believe, or The Pickwick Papers book, as suggested by Scull and Hammond and by the italization of the word in Letters), so he must at least have read some of the book, but we can only guess as to whether he finished it. Whether it influenced Tolkien in any way is, of course, not knowable, but the suggestions made here by James Moffett seems to me highly unlikely.
Joseph Bartram, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘A Tolkien Calendar – Part 2: The system of Ages’
Overall I have found these articles about the calendars quite good. They are well researched, and the mathematics of the calendric systems seems to check out just fine. I did, however, find some of the ancillary matters somewhat disappointing – particularly matters of nomenclature and orthography, which I have commented upon (at length) here (thread at LotR Plaza).
Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘June: last meeting’
Managing to finish the fifth chapter of book 2, ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dûm’ at their last June meeting, the commentary and discussions of the Southampton group remain as intersting as always. Later posts bring the reports through the Lothlórien chapters, ‘Lothlórien’, ‘The Mirror of Galadriel’, and ‘Farewell to Lórien’.
by Jenny Dolfen
Troels Forchhammer, Thursday, 9 July 2015, ‘On Tolkien’s Notes on “Fate and Free Will”’
Inspired by a discussion in the Tolkien Society Facebook group about Tolkien’s notes on fate and free will (published in Tolkien Studies 6, 2009), I decided to take some of my contributions to that discussion, clean them up and expand them a little in an attempt to spread the knowledge about this interesting document (and in the vain hope of possibly growing its readership just a bit).
Ben, Saturday, 11 July 2015, ‘Is Eru a good god? And why’
I agree that the questions that Ben raises in this post are interesting to look at, when trying to understand Tolkien’s Eru, the Author, as Tolkien often refers to him. However, I think that in order to undertake such a discussion, you need to look first at what is known about Tolkien’s own intentions, regardless of whether you think that Tolkien (both of them, actually – father and son) actually succeeded in transferring his intention to the page. Incidentally, there is also something relating to this in Tolkien’s late notes on fate and free will (see above).
Jeff LaSala, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘The Unquiet Voice of Saruman’
An excellent character portrait of Saruman. Though there is nothing new in this, it gathers the threads, and writes it up quite well, illustrating some of the depth of character that Tolkien (at some points eventually) created for Saruman, using Saruman to once more emphasise the important point that “nothing is evil in the beginning.”
Todd Leopold, CNN, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘WWI site offers hints of J.R.R. Tolkien’
Well, not really – at least not the specific site meant here (the caves at Bouzincourt), as John Garth points out when interviewed by CNN about this. Thanks to John Garth for setting setting things straight despite the obvious spin the journalist wanted to give this story.
Danièe Cybulskie, Medievalist.net, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Five Ways Gawain Kicks Lancelot’s Ass’
Tolkien, to judge by The Fall of Arthur, would agree that Gawain was the number one of Arthur’s knights.
Joseph Loconte, CNN, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘How C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien responded to ‘environmental holocaust’’
I have long been fascinated by the way Tolkien’s name and writings are being used – and too often grossly abused – for promoting various ideological agendas (political or otherwise). I admit it’s a strange fascination, because I usually dislike that kind of use, even when the authors seem to get Tolkien’s position at least mostly right, but there you go … sometimes what repulses us also fascinates us.
The present article, trying to wrap up Lewis, Tolkien and the Pope’s recent encyclical, is a fairly toned-down example of this. It doesn’t attempt to present us with a strained reading of Tolkien (the reading of Lewis feels a little more strained to me, but then I am not very familiar with Lewis), even if I am certainly not the first nor the only to warn against reading Tolkien as supporting the views of the enviromental movement of our time.
Barry Stead, Tuesday, 27 July 2015, ‘The Amateur Lord of the Rings’
In this piece, Barry Stead argues that Tolkien’s success is due to his being “an amateur writer”, not writing for money, but writing “like a sort of literary everyman”. While the point about the money isn’t entirely correct (though it wasn’t Tolkien’s primary source of income, he definitely was interested in that aspect), I think that Tolkien’s general lack of concern for “the need to be seen and to be seen to be contemporary or relevant” did eventually contribute to the stability of his success. However, the question of Tolkien’s success is far more complex, with many elements contributing (both negatively and positively) and, above all, interacting. Taking on the whole complex at once is too much, but addressing one element in isolation is not helpful either, and is likely to over-emphasise that particular element.
Michael Dirda, Washington Post, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘‘The Fellowship’ explores the spiritual roots of Tolkien and the Inklings’
A refreshingly critical review of the Zaleskis’ book about four of the Inklings, and though I suspect that I may fall into the category of “a devotee of any of the Inklings”, what I have so far read about The Fellowship has failed to make me wish to read it. Not that I reject the influence of Tolkien’s faith on his writings, but I frankly have a problem with book-length studies that apply such a very narrow perspective, and I very much prefer studies that take a more systemic view, taking the interplay of various influences into account. Oh, and Tolkien did not hate Lord Peter Wimsey until Gaudy Night – he actually quite liked Lord Peter until then (and he possibly loathed the wife that Dorothy Sayers conjured up for his detective even more).
See also a somewhat more positive review, John D. Davidson, Saturday, 11 July 2015, ‘Tolkien, Lewis, and a World Shot through with Meaning’
Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘New Tolkien book: The Story of Kullervo’
About the new Tolkien book edited by Verlyn Flieger. It will be interesting to see what it contains besides that which appeared in Tolkien Studies 7.
See also HarperCollins Publishers, ‘The Story of Kullervo’
and also Jay Johnstone, Friday, 10 July 2015, ‘Tolkien’s The Kullervo Published After 100 Years’
as well as Pieter Collier, Thursday, 16 July 2015, ‘The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Story of Kullervo’
by Jenny Dolfen
Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 5 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Calendar 2016 to be released this month’
This year’s calendar will feature artwork by Tove Jansson. For some background on Tove Jansson, I can recommend this piece by Morgan Thomsen from March 2012.
See also Pieter Collier, Tuesday, 28 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Calendar 2016: Illustrated by Tove Jansson’
Deniz Bevan, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Mini Book Reviews! Garth, Claypole White, Robinson, and Novak’
As it says, a mini (micro might even be more appropriate 🙂 ) review, in this case of John Garth’s Tolkien at Exeter College (along with three other books with no Tolkien connection)
Anna Smol, Friday, 31 July 2015, ‘Teaching Tolkien’s Works: new book and journal’
Introducing a new book edited by Leslie Donovan, Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Other Works (to be published on 1 August) and a new digital journal / web-site for Tolkien teachers (see Websites section.)
Jay Johnstone, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘Ted Nasmith on Life, Art, Tolkien & GRR Martin’
An interview with Ted Nasmith about … the topics stated in the headline 🙂
Graeme Skinner, Saturday, 4 July 2015, ‘Books, they open unexpected doors…’
“‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, goint out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”
Tomás Hijo, Thursday, 9 July 2015, ‘Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! Fell deeds awake: fire…’
A new cutting from Tomás Hijo showing Théoden riding over Orcs at the Pelennor Fields.
John Howe, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Dear Gandalf,’
It seems that John Howe’s Gandalf has been straying into places where he shouldn’t – and he has had the company of other of Howe’s pictures and paintings. If you admire someone’s work, the least you can do is to also respect the artist, regardless of the form of the art (don’t put long stretches of Tolkien’s work up on the internet either): the more you admire their work, the more inclined you should be to respect and support the artist. And lest anyone misunderstand about my usage here of images, I will take this opportunity to once again express my gratitute to Jenny Dolfen, Joe Gilronan, and Jef Murray, all of whom have very generously allowed me to use their images to illustrate my posts here.
Graeme Skinner, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘It’s not just a book…’
… it’s a Tolkien book (by the look of it), and that means a whole lot more than ‘just a book’ – it’s a very nice way to show it, and it is interesting to see which words Skinner has chosen (one of the first words to come to my mind was ‘enchantment’) 🙂
Jenny Dolfen, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘Portraits, portraits, portraits’
From Smaug and Azaghâl over Legolas, Celeborn, Celegorm, Celebrimbor and Maglor to Nerdanel and Amarië – and Baldr we get Jenny’s take on a number of characters.
|Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth
by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth’
An absolutely wonderful illustration of one of the key scenes in the tragedy of the Narn i Chîn Húrin. No wonder Túrin fell in love …
Carol, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Princess and the Pea’
Carol imagines the princess from the classic tale to be sleeping on a stack of books – good books.
Helge C. Balzer, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Silmarillion – Túrin and Glaurung’
“But in that moment Glaurung the fell issued from the gaping Doors of Felagund, and lay behind, between Túrin and the bridge. Then suddenly he spoke by the evil spirit that was in him, saying: ‘Hail, son of Húrin. Well met!’”
I really like the portrayal of Glaurung here – the evil spirit in him sort of shines through, and there is a hint of a massive size lurking behind the doors. Well done!
AJ Chimaera, Friday, 31 July 2015, ‘Picture Book’
The description here “that the pages come alive to depict the scenes within” the book reminds me strongly of Tolkien’s note E to his essay On Fairy-stories (§113, p.82 of the expanding edition).
Anna Smol, Sunday, 5 July 2015, ‘Ahhh, Oxford!’
Anna Smol reports on her visit to Oxford to study Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library. Unfortunately she doesn’t tell us much about the specifics of her research (only a single paragraph – without the slightest indication of whether we may expect a result from this research, and if so, where and when), but still an interesting post, not least for those of us, who haven’t visited Oxford on research purposes.
Michael Martinez, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘The Battle for Middle-earth Will Not be Carved in Stone’
Presuming that I understand him right, I agree with less than half of it half as much as it deserves … or, more to the point, I mostly agree or more with nearly all of it 🙂 I know that Michael Martinez and I agree on the problems inherent in simply finding a suitable quotation from Tolkien that you can get to say what you want it to say and then hold it up as ‘The Truth’, but as in most other cases, there is a balance to strike. Rejecting the simplistic ‘one truth’ views doesn’t mean that anything goes, and there is also the question of the burden of proof, which is, in practice, very often on the person arguing for a more nuanced and pluralist explanation – simply because it is so much easier to subscribe to a simple ‘one truth’ explanation.
Karl E. H. Siegfried, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Archives at Wheaton College, Part One’
A tale from one of the three main scholarly centres of original Tolkien material (the others being the Bodleian and the Marquette). A wonderful tale and nice photos as well – and who wouldn’t love to get a private viewing 🙂
Also see the second instalment, Karl E. H. Siegfried, Friday, 24 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Archives at Wheaton College, Part Two’
Ian Chant, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fanzines’
I have so far not been able to ascertain that the collection in question, the Hevelin Collection, also includes Tolkien fanzines, but I very much suspect that it does. However, the digitisation project appears to move on chronologically, and is still a goodly way from the publication of The Lord of the Rings.
Andrew Harrison, Friday, 24 July 2015, ‘Michael Moorcock: “I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist”’
I have debated whether to include this, or to ignore it. Truth be told, I had never even heard of Michael Moorcock until a few years ago when he came up as someone complaining about Tolkien – “Michael who??” was my reaction. I cannot claim to be truly widely read in science fiction or fantasy (not in the manner of many other Tolkien readers that I know). So, having never heard of Moorcock until in my forties, and never having read anything by him, I would probably be wiser to not run the risk of being snide and instead avoid commenting at all – but … 🙂
Let’s forget the ludicrousness of the accusation of fascism, hidden or open (there’s more to fascism than a love for your country and positive view of the absolute feudal monarchy). The thing that has always irked me about this kind of criticism is not the fallacy of the accusations in themselves, but rather the idea that it matters. I heartily dislike being preached to in a book (which is why I don’t enjoy Lewis’ Narnia books), but Tolkien certainly isn’t. And if the book avoids the traps of preaching or too obvious allegory (these often go hand-in-hand), I can enjoy good story-telling even if the book promotes a world-view that I find distasteful. This is, in my opinion, one of the great strengths of fiction literature – it enables a kind of dialogue with views that are in opposition with one’s own, making it possible to get at least some kind of understanding of how the world looks from that perspective, even if one doesn’t wish to adopt that view. This is something I would say that the world needs more of.
So it seems to me that Mr Moorcock is asking himself the wrong kind of questions. Why not ask why Tolkien is so very widely known and read? And why Tolkien’s work became defining for decades of fantasy novels that followed (though some of them have, admittedly, been quite bad, most have not)? Look at it as literature and ask literary questions instead of viewing it as a political manifesto, which it is not.
John D. Rateliff, Monday, 27 July 2015, ‘“Fails the Most Elementary Test of Historical Possibility”’
John Rateliff about a critical comment on his History of the Hobbit that he has found in the recent book by one ‘Elansea’ presenting what might kindly be described as a hypothetical alternative biography of Tolkien’s life (though my impression is that ‘fictional’ is more accurate than ‘hypothetical’). I am inclined to agree entirely with David Bratman’s comments.
Eduardo Oliveira Ferreira, Tuesday, 28 July 2015, ‘The Story of Kullervo and the Brazilian contribution to its publication’
Good to see that society activities such as these can contribute to the decision of publishing a translation of a new Tolkien work. I just hope that the Brazilian publisher will keep the idea of the dual-language edition – I believe that it is crucial to study (and discuss) Tolkien in his own language (it gives, for instance, the advantage of using his own critical vocabulary).
The National Archives of Malta, Thursday, 30 July 2015, ‘Reference letter by Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’
The National Archives of Malta have, on their Facebook page, published a letter of reference that Tolkien wrote for Mr Richard Hope in October 1938.
rec.arts.books.tolkien, , ‘Imaginary Past’
A discussion of whether Tolkien was successful in sub-creating a Secondory World ‘existing’ as an imaginary time of our own world, or if it would be better to view his Secondary World as ‘existing’ in an alternative world, much like Narnia in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
Also available from the Google groups web-interface.
by Jenny Dolfen
Amon Hen 254, July 2015
For members of the Tolkien Society, the chairman’s report and the Secretary’s report from the AGM will be of interest. Others may like the obituary for Sir Christopher Lee and the reviews of Mark Hooker’s The Tolkienæum (quite positive – nudging up the list) and David Day’s Tolkien: A Dictionary (not a positive review – the worst rumours are true, and this confirms my personal belief: never spend your money on a David Day product, unless you paint over the text and only enjoy the pictures). The issue is rounded off with some artwork (Jef Murray, Gordon Palmer) ‘Michael’s Miscellany’, a couple of letters and some various society matters.
Beyond Bree, July 2015
I found the July issue to be better than many other recent issues – well done! An announcement of the 2016 Beyond Bree Calendar is followed by an article on one of the artists used, the late Kay Woollard. Nancy Bunting then finishes her series offering a reading of the One Ring based on the work of Arno Gruen; though I have found the series interesting and knowledgeable, I have to say that it ultimately fails in its purpose of providing a more satisfying reading of the mechanism of the Master Ring than Shippey’s concept of addiction. In another intersting article, Mark Hooker writes on ‘Ignatian Spirituality in The Lord of the Rings’ inspired by a book by James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, which Hooker criticises in strong terms, while also indicating how the topic might be addressed in a far more thoughtful manner. A review by Ryder W Miller of MacLachlan’s 2012 Tolkien and Wagner: The Ring and Der Ring and the usual minor notes, lists, letters, poems, etc. fill out the remaining space along with a couple of examples of Kay Woollard’s art.
Gerard Hynes, ‘Fantasy and Philology: Worlds out of Words’
Gerard Hynes’ blog, which had been up for a couple of months before I discovered it.
Leslie Donovan (editor), ‘Waymeet for Tolkien Teachers’
Describing itself as “A digital journal for teaching J. R. R. Tolkien’s works and life in post-secondary schools” – the amount of resources found here or linked to is already quite impressive. This is really a brilliant resource – firstly, of course, for those teaching Tolkien, but also for others (e.g. those of us trying to further the educational objectives of the Tolkien Society).
These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you’re interested in Tolkien …
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. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.
Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien Society, ‘’
Archive of posts from July 2015
Pieter Collier, ‘The Tolkien Library’
See the front page for a list of recent posts.
New sources in July 2015:
Gerard Hynes, ‘Fantasy and Philology: Worlds out of Words’
For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html
Being either among the last of the baby boomers or first of the generation X'ers, I have now grown to become a father of four, an active Scouter, a physicist working as test and quality engineer ... and of course an amateur Tolkienist.