It is such a little thing, the word “fellowship”, that one might not expect it to elicit so much commentary from so many learned and wise (or to draw administrative admonishment to be polite). A while, Jeffrey Ryan was walking down the yellow brick road and he stopped to ask on the Tolkien Society Facebook page about … well, here are his words: “So one thing I’ve been wondering, and I don’t think I’ve asked the group about this, why the books use the term ‘Company’ while the films use ‘fellowship’ to describe the Ring-bearer and his companions.” No one seems to have thought to ask Peter Jackson and his fellow writers to answer the question.
But the discourse about “company” versus “fellowship” drew my attention and got me to thinking about the uniqueness of the word “fellowship” in Tolkien’s Middle-earth fiction. You have various companies in The Silmarillion and you have Thorin and Company in The Hobbit and you even have the Venturers Guild in “The Mariner’s Wife” but nowhere do you find Tolkien using “fellowship” to refer to a group of companions except in The Lord of the Rings, and there he only uses it of the Company of the Ring. (more…)
There is nothing new, really. Except, perhaps, that I have managed (apparently without any permanent injury) to pass, as my children lovingly remind me, a farthing score decades …. Personally I like the slow polysyllabic distinguishedness to semicentenarian 🙂 Tolkien obviously featured on my wish list, and my own present for myself, Jenny Dolfen’s brilliant Songs of Sorrow and Hope arrived just a few days after, with more to appear at a later date. My pre-order of the second edition of Scull & Hammond’s J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide probably being last to arrive as it will not be released until September next.
Kel Richards is an Australian radio broadcaster and crime novelist who’s undertaking a series of classic “cozy” 1930s-style murder mysteries with C.S. Lewis as sleuth, interweaving detecting with conversations about mere Christianity. (The British publisher is an imprint of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, so the apologetics are intended as the real point.)
He contacted me a year ago because I maintain a bibliography of the Inklings as represented in fiction and he wanted to be entered on it. I ordered and read the first two books, which take place in a fictional locale somewhere in England, and reviewed them.
I guess Mr Richards was impressed with my perspicacity or something, because he asked if I would read over the manuscript of his fourth book, The Sinister Student, which at last takes place in Oxford and introduces Tolkien and more of the Inklings. (Warren Lewis had been in the first book as well.) Now the book has been published, with my name in the acknowledgments at the end, so I might as well report on it.
I begin to feel that I am copying Tolkien with my perpetual excuses about time – having too much to do and too little time to do it. But a lack of time (or, rather, an excess of things to do) is nonetheless a very real part of my life, so my usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) are as pertinent as ever (all errors, omissions, inaccuracies etc. are of course my own). One way that I indent to deal with this is to leave more entries uncommented, and merely trust that you can judge the merits for yourselves 🙂
I had these transactions something like 80% done before going to Oxonmoot, but couldn’t get the last bit finished due to my other preparations. Now, however, I wish to get it out – to get it off my mind, so that I can work on other things (such as e.g. a report from my first Oxonmoot). This means that most entries will appear without commentary, and that there will be things I ignore simply because I haven’t the time to dig out all my notes (if anything important turns up later, I will of course include it in a later issue).
We use trivia to prove our depth of knowledge in a given topic but also to introduce people to new ideas or to revive interest in old things. How many people do trivia contests motivate to read books or perform Internet searches? But what we choose to include in our trivia lists suggests our priorities or interests are biased, either toward the simplistic or the popular. “Hard trivia” is almost a non sequitur. Why is it “hard trivia”? Is not all trivia hard for the untutored audience?
Why do people focus on the more well-known details of Tolkien’s stories rather than dredge up the hard-to-find facts? Perhaps it is simply because we don’t want to humiliate ourselves, but maybe it’s a reflection of where reader interests lie. The people who make up trivia contests are no different from the people who participate in them. We all love the story and immerse ourselves in the details. And yet we paint those details with expectations and assumptions. (more…)