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.
My knowledge of Jef is from our rather limited on-line interactions, and though he always appeared to me kind and generous, I would have nothing to add to that. I was, however, quite moved by the nuanced reaction that Ted Nasmith posted on Facebook on 4 August 2015, and which he has kindly permitted me to reproduce here:
I’ve only just learned of the tragic passing of Mr. Jef Murray, a friend and respected artistic colleague. I’ve known Jef since the early 2000s when we met at The Gathering of the Fellowship II in Toronto.
Jef and I, despite sharing a love of Tolkien, developed a wary relationship intellectually, finding ourselves on opposing sides of political discourse, and with lively differences on religion and social issues. In ongoing emails we struggled to reconcile our opinions and hash out understandings against the backdrop of today’s overly poisonous social/political climate, but worked to reach gentlemanly solutions and at worst agreed to disagree if reconciliation was beyond us.
We saw in some ways mirror images of one another in ourselves; high strung, reactive, sensitive types, passionate about the societies we live in and the means to achieving meaning in our lives. Neither of us wished to suffer the other’s foolishness gladly, but recognized that our conduct in managing that tension was of higher import than scoring points, and through it we forged a personal, if wary, bond which I believe we both valued and strove to protect.
In a time when we can retreat into our respective camps and find support easily within our own political or religious ‘tribe’, the ability to reach across the liberal-conservative divide (a truly stupid, futile, and unnecessarily toxic one as it’s become!) is the more critical, forcing you to confront your prejudices and emotion-driven views and expand your insight into what motivates or troubles those in the opposing camp.
I’m proud to call Jef a friend, fellow artist, scholar and colleague, and deeply mourn his loss. My deepest condolences to Lorraine and Jef’s family and close friends. He was a very lively and dedicated voice and talent in our community, and he leaves an impressive legacy. I’m truly saddened that he has left us, it’s simply too soon! I’d like to think he is now free to roam the width and breadth of Middle-earth and Valinor with his canvases and songs. May he arrive on those exalted green Shores under a swift sunrise. Farewell!
by Jef Murray
In addition to Ted Nasmith’s words of farewell, Jef’s wife has posted on the Georgia Bulletin web site. Lorraine V. Murray, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Journey to the land beyond time’
Many will also have known the former Tolkien Society Treasurer, Rikki Breem, who died on Wednesday 12 August after a long illness. An obituary is available on the Tolkien Society website.
These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta
(Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site. They are my highly personal view of what I have found the most interesting to report, and is obviously a reflection of my own tastes, interests, and network.
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
David Oberhelman, Sunday, 2 August 2015, ‘Mythopoeic Awards: 2015 Winners Announced’
The award that interests me, personally, the most is, of course, the Mythopoeic Award in Inklings Studies. Here Robert Boenig won the award with his book, C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012). Among the finalists to this award were three Tolkien-related books: Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey edited by John Wm. Houghton, Janet Brennan Croft, Nancy Martsch, John D. Rateliff, and Robin Anne Reid (McFarland, 2014, John Garth’s Tolkien at Exeter College: How an Undergraduate Created Middle-earth (Exeter College, 2014), and Christopher Tolkien’s edition of Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014). Perhaps it wouldn’t be quite fair to give the award to an Inkling who has edited a book by another Inkling … 🙂
Mythgard Institute, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Introduction to Anglo-Saxon’
A class on Anglo-Saxon (or Old English) taught by Michael Drout and Nelson Goering. Remember that members of The Tolkien Society get a deduction on the course price at Mythgard Institute.
Mythgard Institute, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth’
Taught by John Garth, this class investigates the relations between Tolkien’s works and the two world-wars that he lived through and served in (at the Somme in WWI and at home in WWII).
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Tolkien artist Jef Murray has died’
Arwen, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Tolkien Artist Jef Murray Passes Into the West’
Mark Sommer, Thursday, 6 August 2015, ‘Tolkien fans morn loss of Middle-earth artist Jef Murray’
MrCere, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘Tolkien artist Jef Murray: March 17, 1960 – August 3, 2015’
|The Noontide of Valinor
by Jenny Dolfen
Sam Matthew, Daily Mail, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘Don’t call it a Hobbit house! Tolkien lawyers threaten couple over campsite advert’
This story has been in a number of media this month. In essence, a couple tried first to launch a ‘hobbit hole’ experience in ‘Middle-earth’ with all the usual Tolkienian trappings. When approached by lawyers representing the two sides owning the rights (Middle-earth Enterprises and Warner Bros on one side, and the Tolkien Estate on the other side), the couple changed to advertising a ‘poddit hole’ in ‘Centre-earth’. The current incarnation uses ‘poddit hole’ and sports the name ‘Podditon’ referring to ‘halflings’ with map imagery that is very obviously inspired by the maps created for the New Line Studio films (which was again inspired by the maps created by the Tolkiens). Though it now speaks of Anglo-Saxon inspiration, the attempt to profit from the popularity of Tolkien’s work is nonetheless glaringly obvious.
Sadly the Tolkien Estate steals the headline, despite the fact that it was lawyers for Middle-earth Enterprises and Warner that have been the most heavy-handed, trying to get Kickstarter to close the crowd-sourcing campaign.
TOR.com, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘“Say goodbye to your Sam.” Watch Stephen Colbert’s Glorious Lord of the Rings Goodbye to Jon Stewart’
A nice reference, and one that displays a bit of actual insight into the story. And, yes, I think Jon Stewart has been absolutely brilliant in The Daily Show.
Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Friday, 21 August 2015, ‘New Tolkien Journal – Waymeet’
About the new on-line resource for teaching Tolkien – see also my comments last month.
Shaun Gunner, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘A new chapter: Tolkien Society and Sarehole Mill’
Announcing a new partnership between the Tolkien Society and Birmingham Museums Trust about Sarehole Mill. Great work!
Reports from past events
13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference’, Northeast Tolkien Society
4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015’, The Tolkien Society
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’
Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 19 August 2015, ‘2015 Tolkien Society Seminar a huge success’
31 July – 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘ MythCon 46’, Mythopoeic Society
David Bratman, Saturday, 1 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 1’
David Bratman, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 2’
David Bratman, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 3’
David Bratman, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘Mythcon supplemental’
John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 6 August 2015, ‘Back from Mythcon’
Info on upcoming events (as of 1 September)
2 – 26 September 2015, Sheffield, UK, ‘Artshow: Evil in the Shining Light’
Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Sunday, 30 August 2015, ‘Evil in the Shining Light: Tolkien exhibition in Sheffield, Sept 2-26, 2015’
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 September 2015, On-line, Mythgard Institute, ‘Tom Shippey: Myth in Modern Fantasy’
Free on-line lecture with Professor Tom Shippey.
19 September 2015, Champaign, IL, USA, ‘Urbana Theological Seminary’s Fourth Annual Tolkien Conference’
26 – 27 Septeber 2015, Castle Keep and Black Gate, Newcastle, UK, ‘Tolkien Weekend at Newcastle Castle’
9 – 12 October 2015, Hotel Maya, Alicanta, Spain, ‘Mereth Aderthad’
14 October 2015, Brisbane, Australia, ‘An Evening in Middle-earth’
5 – 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015’
|And he knew he had tarried overlong
by Jenny Dolfen
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’
Michael Martinez, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘The Curious Case of Cerin Amroth’
A discussion of possible sources of inspiration for the idea of Cerin Amroth with its two circles of trees with a single, huge, tree in the centre, and also for the image of the mallorn. While the idea of a hill-top surrounded by a circle of trees may not be so extraordinary as to raise questions about sources, the image of a hilltop crowned by two concentric circles of trees, and with a remarkable tree in the centre, might be special enough to warrant a search for possible sources, though one should, of course, never preclude invention by Tolkien – possibly a mere matter of expanding the older image of a circle of trees (for which Tolkien had a word, gorin → gwarin in the Gnomish Lexicon, The Book of Lost Tales 1, p.257, entry for ‘korin’)
Joseph Pearce, The Imaginative Conservative, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Chesterton, Tolkien and Lewis in Elfland’
It is well established that Tolkien and Lewis were in some ways inspired by Chesterton, and this interesting article by Pearce attempts to investigate that inspiration. Pearce does, however, seem to me to rather overreach his evidence, at least where Tolkien is concerned. When an argument is introduced with ‘evidently’ it does, in my experience, rarely mean that the thing is evident, but merely that the author wishes you to think so, and the same applies here: the claim that Tolkien’s use of the prison metaphor in his essay On Fairy-stories was inspired by Chesterton’s use of another prison metaphor seems to me to be not at all evident.
Dan Hennessy, Finger Lake Times, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘A WELL-ROOTED PERSPECTIVE: Fantasy of Tolkien, Lewis teaches historic lessons’
I do hope that Mr Hennessy got more out of reading the Zaleskis’ book on the Inklings that what is presented here, but it does illustrate one problem (in my opinion) with this kind of treatment: the protrayal of the Inklings as having a coherent common goal with their art, something which I think is contradicted by their disagreements (including of rather profound aesthetic disagreements – Tolkien is, for instance, known to have strongly disliked the Narnia books, and to have disliked all of Williams’ work). Much is made in these religiously pluralistic times of them all being Christian, but we also tend to forget that they represented a diversity in their religious beliefs and observances that was greater than we might expect given their time and place.
Lynn Forest-Hill, Saturday, 8 August 2015, ‘First meeting in August’
Follow the Southampton Tolkien Reading group down The Great River, Anduin, from Lothlórien to Amon Hen through the Breaking of the Fellowship. The following post then takes them into book III and the Three Hunters to their meeting with The Riders of Rohan.
Lauren Steussy, Monday, 10 August 2015, ‘George R.R. Martin: Here’s where Tolkien failed’
Martin’s critique of Tolkien’s story (which he is known to like, so let’s not take it more seriously than that) has been making the rounds. In essence, Martin finds that Tolkien should have said more about the details of Aragorn’s rule – explaining his tax policies, or the functioning of the economy, for instance (the latter does seem a tall order, seeing how poorly the cadres of economists are doing with the Primary World economy …).
Personally, I think that such elements as Martin appears to find missing in The Lord of the Rings would feel grotesquely misplaced in Tolkien’s work. The narrative aesthetics of Tolkien, in my opinion, simply do not work with that kind of petty details. Pratchett manages to include such elements in a clever and witty way in his Discworld books, but Pratchett’s narrative aesthetics (or style, if you prefer) are very different from Tolkien’s.
Nancy Marie Brown, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Did Tolkien Ever Go to Iceland?’
As Brown clearly points out, the answer to the rhetorical question of the headline is, no, Tolkien did not go to Iceland … and yet he was certainly inspired by Iceland – or, perhaps rather, by Icelandic culture, folklore, and history. In this place Iceland is quite different from many place that Tolkien did visit (or might have visited), but which didn’t inspire anything in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.
Gerard K Hynes, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘A Philologist’s Tale: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo’
In this excellent introduction to Tolkien’s newly published Story of Kullervo, Hynes summarises the plot and discusses how the story relates to Tolkien’s own life, to his Silmarillion mythology, and to The Lord of the Rings.
by Jenny Dolfen
Bradley J. Birzer, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien & The Fall of Arthur’
“A circuitous review”, Birzer calls this, and in this circuitousness there is much to agree with, but also some that I have to express disagreement with. I share Birzer’s enthusiasm for The Fall of Arthur and the other works brought out by Christopher Tolkien, as well as his gratitude towards Christopher Tolkien. My primary disagreement is with the view of the history of Tolkien studies that is presented, but I also would not go so far as to claim that “Christopher’s voice is becoming indistinguishable from his father’s”; I rather think that Christopher Tolkien, as any conscientious editor, carefully makes that distinction quite clear. Of course, Birzer may mean that Christopher Tolkien’s writing style is, in every way, very close to that of his father, and I’d be inclined to more agree with that, though the forty-two years that have passed since the death of JRRT have not passed over the son without leaving a mark, also on his writing style.
Tom Shippey, Saturday, 1 August 2015, ‘Deep Roots in a Time of Frost (2014) by Patrick Curry’
A review of Patrick Curry’s book, Deep Roots in a Time of Frost – Essays on Tolkien. Unlike the traditional template for reviews, by which the majority of the review is a summary of the contents of the book, Tom Shippey engages with Curry’s book, discussuing the themes of Curry’s book, and at places discussing with Curry’s book. My overall impression is that Shippey finds Curry’s book to not be entirely satisfactory, but still very much worth engaging with (and that is, I suppose, not a bad thing for literary criticism).
Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘Two books, two conferences, and other news’
Though this post is also listed for the report on the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, it also needs to be highlighted here for the information on the upcoming edition of Tolkien’s A Secret Vice – edited by Andrew Higgins and Dimitra Fimi herself. This post also contains various other bits of news that will be of interest.
Deirdre Dawson, Journal of Tolkien Research, Sunday, 9 August 2015, ‘Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien (2015) ed. Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan’
Dawson gives a very positive review of this collection edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie Donovan. The book has long been on my list, but a review such as this makes it climb further up.
Kwame Opam, The Verge, Monday, 10 August 2015, ‘One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s unfinished stories will finally be published this year’
This has been the month when various news-outlets have picked up on the impending publication of Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo edited by Verlyn Flieger. Most articles seem to merely rewrite the press release from HarperCollins, including the claim that this has never been published before, but I have here collected four pieces that seem to get their basic facts right.
For certain information about contents, see the reviews elsewhere …
Alison Flood, The Guardian, Wednesday, 12 August 2015, ‘JRR Tolkien’s first fantasy story to be published this month’
Katia Hetter, CNN, Wednesday, 12 August 2015, ‘Early J.R.R. Tolkien work to be published’
Husna Haq, Christian Science Monitor, Thursday, 13 August 2015, ‘Hitting bookstores soon: J.R.R. Tolkien’s first fantasy story’
The Telegraph, Wednesday, 26 August 2015, ‘JRR Tolkien’s first story is ‘undeniably his darkest work’ say experts’
Hannah Sanders, BBC, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Kullervo: Tolkien’s fascination with Finland’ (including video of Verlyn Flieger and interview with John Garth)
Jamie Crick, BBC Oxford, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Drivetime’
Featuring audio from the video with Verlyn Flieger and an interview with Dimitra Fimi. The section on Tolkien’s Kullervo starts at about 1:22:50 and lasts for some 6 minutes.
John D. Rateliff, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Kullervo’
by Jenny Dolfen
Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘New Society publication: Journeys & Destinations’
A new Peter Roe booklet, Journeys & Destinations is now available from the Tolkien Society. The bookliet is the proceedings from the 22nd Tolkien Society Seminar (2009). The booklet will soon be available also as an e-book.
Jason Fisher, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘A standalone edition of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun – in Serbian!’
About Tolkien’s poem, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun and its recent publication in a bi-lingual Serbian / English publication. Besides the poem itself, this includes an extensive essay by the editor, Aleksandar Mikić, which Fisher describes as “probably the most thorough the lay has ever received in a long but often overlooked life.”.
Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Friday, 14 August 2015, ‘Interview: John Garth on Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth’
An interview with John Garth, who will, when I post this, have started teaching his on-line classes on ‘Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth’ for Mythgard Institute. The classes sound very interesting, indeed – not least the promise of “examining Tolkien’s responses to 1930s totalitarianism, the Spanish Civil War, and the alteration of the urban and rural environment under the demands of war and of returning servicemen.”
Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Tuesday, 18 August 2015, ‘Interview: Nelson Goering on Anglo-Saxon’
Another interview with one of their up-coming teachers, Nelson Goering, who is teaching ‘Introduction to Anglo-Saxon’ together with Michael Drout. The interview touches on the love for language and words – philo-logos – and for the study of languages and words, philology.
Francesca Barbini, Scififantasy Network, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Shaun Gunner On The Tolkien Society’
An interview with Shaun Gunner about the Tolkien Society. Kudos to Shaun for his efforts to improve the Tolkien Society’s on-line, and especially social media, presence. There is one quotation in particular that seems to me to hit the nail right on:
It’s important to remember that the Society is not anti-film, just very very pro-book! As such, the Society’s future will be determined by Tolkien and his books, rather than Jackson and his films.
No matter what we, as individual members, may think of any film (I think it’s a pity that so many people these days tend to forget that there have been numerous film-adaptations of Tolkien’s work, many of which are no worse than Jackson’s in terms of representing Tolkien’s story), the Tolkien Society as a body does not have any opinion on them – because, in my opinion, they are in no way what we are about.
Francesca Barbini, SciFiFantasy Network, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘The Art Of Fabio Leone’
An interview with Fabio Leone, whose painting Ulmo appears before Tuor won the Tolkien Society award for best artwork in 2015.
Francesca Barbini, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘The Lord of the Grins’
An interview with Mark Egginton, who has written a Lord of the Rings parody called The Lord of the Grins that has been published for Kindle, and which will later appear in paperback from Oloris Publishing. While I have never really been attracted to parodies of Tolkien, Mark is a great guy and, of course, a member of the Tolkien Society.
Jenny Dolfen, Sunday, 2 August 2015, ‘The Noontide of Valinor’
In the middle, the Two Trees, in the frame, eight Valar (yes, Jenny, I still think the male Valar should have been beardless, but I do like it anyway 🙂 )
Jenny Dolfen, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘And he knew he had tarried overlong’
Tuor and the swans …
Graeme Skinner, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘A Hobbits Deco Pipe’
A fine way to enjoy your favourite pipeweed.
Jenny Dolfen, Monday, 17 August 2015, ‘Cuiviénen’
Finwë and Miriel and other of the Unbegotten in the starlight at the shores of Cuiviénen.
Wendy Pini, ElfQuest® the official page, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Goldberry from LOTR, 1972. #TBT’
A portrait of Goldberry in an early version of the characteristic style that would become famous by the Elfquest comic books.
|Three Hobbits A Fox And Supper
by Joe Gilronan
Joe Gilronan, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Three Hobbits A Fox And Supper’
The scene with the much-debated thinking fox from ‘Three is Company’ (LotR, book I, ch. 3)
Jenny Dolfen, Friday, 21 August 2015, ‘Nienna’
The weeping Valië
Morgan Feldman, Miruvor, Sunday, 23 August 2015, ‘A Lament for Tolkien’s Tree’
A different kind of art, but art nonetheless. A lament for the Pinus Negro from the Oxford Botanic Gardens that had to be cut down last year.
Jenny Dolfen, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Brothers’
Maedhros and Maglor riding through … Beleriand?
Claire Wilkinson, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Fire and Water’
Smaug … Long Lake … the Lonely Mountain in the background.
Jenny Dolfen, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Youtube, Twitter, and Periscope, oh my’
Because you’ll want to follow Jenny Dolfen on all the possible channels, of course. … yes, you will 🙂
Jenny Dolfen, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘Gold leaf, copper, and a redhead’
Jenny has been experimenting with copper leaf … on Maedhros. The result is certainly enjoyable.
Joel Lovell, Monday, 17 August 2015, ‘The Late, Great Stephen Colbert’
The point where this interview gets interesting (at least from a purely Tolkienian perspective) is near the end, when Colbert and Lovell discuss Colbert’s faith, and moves on to the loss of his father and brothers. Colbert speaks of “a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering” and about loving “the thing that [you] most wish had not happened.” When asked for explanation, Colbert cites Tolkien saying “What punishments of God are not gifts?” Though the letter Colbert refers to as the context is probably no. 153 to Peter Hastings (draft), this bit is probably a paraphrase from another letter, no. 212 (a draft continuation of a letter, no. 211, to Rhona Beare): “A divine ‘punishment’ is also a divine ‘gift’, if accepted, since its object is ultimate blessing, and the supreme inventiveness of the Creator will make ‘punishments’ (that is changes of design) produce a good not otherwise to be attained”. But this is in any case well remembered by Colbert.
See also Bishop-elect Robert Barron, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Stephen Colbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Henry Newman, and the Providence of God’
Simon Cook, Wednesday, 19 August 2015, ‘Albus Novus’
Just a short note on the random meeting of ideas in three short pieces of text
Miruvor, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Taruithorn Songbook’
Ahh … filks 🙂 That brilliant old tradition.
John Rateliff, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Tolkien & Lewis on BOOK-TV’
I think Rateliff sums it up quite well when he says that “The best thing about this, from my point of view, is that Tolkien and Lewis now have a high enough profile that a book about them merits more than an hour on C-SPAN.” On the other hand it would have been preferable if the occasion had been a book of a higher standard.
Skye Sonja Rosetti and Krisho Manoharan, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Simply Walking into Mordor: How Much Lembas Would The Fellowship Need?’
Referring on to an article in Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, Vol.4 (2015), from the University of Leicester.
I know that this may seem a little silly – and perhaps it is; it certainly doesn’t tell anyone anything useful about Tolkien’s work, nor does it tell us anything relevant about nutrition, but it does show how Tolkien’s work can be used as a useful model for student exercises in science (and one that is really good fun to work with, too!).
In many ways, I think this is relevant also to the way we might see Tolkien’s work on a more serious basis – you might say that Tolkien himself treated his own sub-created world as a model: a model in which he could try out new ideas on aesthtics (and not just linguistic aesthetics), ethics, theology, etc. Christopher Tolkien, in the foreword to The Silmarillion writes that his father’s legendarium “became the vehicle and depository of his profoundest reflections. In his later writing mythology and poetry sank down behind his theological and philosophical preoccupations: from which arose incompatibilities of tone.” To me, this reflects quite precisely the way we might use a model in the sciences: a representation of reality that is suitably simplified to allow a study of a few interactions, and I see no reason to limit this understanding to the interactions of the natural world that are studied by our natural sciences.
by Jenny Dolfen
LotR Plaza, ‘Are the Dwarves in The Hobbit really poorly developed or is my impression?’
A discussion about the premise expounded in the headline, but also touching on various interesting side-tracks from this.
LotR Plaza, ‘Orcs and Goblins?’
In origin a question about the difference, if any, between Orcs and Goblins in Tolkien’s legendarium, but getting into many intersting
Beyond Bree, August 2015
In this issue, I was interested to see the fifteenth instalment in Dale Nelson’s on-going series, ‘Days of the Craze’, this one promising to put ‘The 1965 Ace Books Reprint in Context’. It is curious that the Ace affair can still be a cause of some strife these thirty years later. Dale Nelson, however, avoids the contented questions, and speaks of the general book-reading climate of the time. Another interesting item is Kate Ebneter’s honest and precise review of Alex Lewis’ and Elizabeth Currie’s attempt to turn the biography of a fantasy author into a fantasy itself, J.R.R. Tolkien: Codemaker, Spy-master, Hero. One sentence sums it up nicely: “Ultimately the entire foundation of the book is a straw man of the authors’ creation”. Beyond Bree still retains the fanzine charm of diversity – moving between carefully set out analyses and comments displaying more enthusiasm than analytic (or even rational) faculty.
As I have discovered no new and fantastic Tolkienian web sites in August, I thought I might advertise a bit for the three best Tolkienian reference sites:
The best all-round Tolkienian reference-site available on the internet. This is very much due to the efforts of a group of dedicated admins, who have turned a usual fan-wiki (more enthusiasm than rigour) into a great resource, where new articles have proper citations, and where old articles are being upgraded to the newer standards.
The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
Don’t despair of the URL, this meta-FAQ compiled by Steuard Jensen is beyond a doubt the best Tolkienian FAQ available anywhere. Even if most of the entries are becoming dated, the treatment is still first-class. FAQs usually also attempt to give a good answers as possible to questions for which a proper answer (of the kind that can be printed in a reference work) cannot be found. This makes it possible to address a number of questions that cannot be dealt with e.g. in the Tolkien Gateway wiki.
FAQ of the Rings
The last site I will advertise is Stan Brown’s FAQ about the Rings of Power. This one dedicated to a specific topic within Tolkien’s legendarium is quite thorough in its approach, and like other FAQs it deals also with speculation, and like the meta-FAQ this one includes sources for the speculations.
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.
Various (Bradford Eden, ed.)
Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
of contributions for the on-going volume 1, issue 1
Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien Society, ‘’
Archive of posts from August 2015
No new sources in August 2015
For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html