You never really know when J.R.R. Tolkien was joking in some subtle, philological way or if serendipity guided his choice of words. We have found so many interesting stories and associations behind his words that whole generations of future scholarship may have yet to unveil many of the secret references that influenced Tolkien’s writing.
As someone with only minimal training in etymological research I strive to avoid the more complicated discussions about which words arose when, but I cannot help but fall off the cliff into the seas of speculation from time to time when I come across something interesting.
My travels up and down the Oloremalle this week have been quite busy! On ‘my day’ job front we are on stage rehearsing the opening two productions of the 2014 Glyndebourne Festival – Der Rosenkavalier (Strauss) and Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky) with the opening Festival weekend looming in middle May (when yours truly puts on his DJ (tuxedo for Americans!) and spends the summer thanking, and thanking and thanking all of the supporters who make the Glyndebourne Festival possible). There is nothing like being on a train from Brighton at 1am in your DJ and I-pad!
The new website of the Tolkien Society does not only look great it also offers a wealth of information you can use for your reading and learning pleasure.
Visiting the Studying Tolkien page you will have several options to choose from:
- Reading suggestions: What to read from Tolkien and on Tolkien
- Topic suggestions: If you are a student interested in Arda and beyond you’ll find many of those
- Study Packs: Yes, introductory materials on writing, runes, Anglo-Saxon or The Hobbit
- Essays: providing background on Tolkienian themes, sources of his inspiration and important facts
- Where can I learn more about J.R.R. Tolkien? Obviously with us but also with a wide range of online courses
So check out your local library for interesting titles, get your interlibrary loan on for some of the more uncommon works and start reading. Or buy the books. Or ask a friend. There are many Tolkien fans out there happy to help.
And why not share your experiences with us? We love reading Tolkien, too.
There is a small village in the heart of Ohio — I don’t know its name — but it has a connection to J.R.R. Tolkien and it was, in fact, the complete inspiration for Middle-earth. Don’t believe me? Just wait — one day that village will have a Tolkien festival, local taverns will name themselves for Tolkien place-names, and the county tour books will mention that Tolkien once mailed a letter that was received by a friend of a friend who had a connection to someone in or near Ohio sometime in the late 1950s.
After twenty years of participating in online discussions about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, I feel no need for a retrospective. I rather feel like a traveler on Bilbo’s ever on-going road. Nearly every day I receive new questions from people who reveal a deep delight in Tolkien’s work that goes beyond “I loved this story” and “this book is so cool”. The journey of discovery extends beyond discovering a lost street map for Tharbad or a name list for the Maiaric warriors of the Host of Valinor. These things in themselves matter little to most people but are precious shiny objects for a dedicated few who immerse themselves in a corner of Middle-earth.