The second Tolkien Society Seminar of 2021 will be held online on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July 2021 on Zoom.
About the Seminar
The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short academic conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The online setting of the 2020 seminar saw an increased interest with over 400 attendees from 37 countries. We are delighted to be running another online seminar that will be free for all.
Call for Papers
While interest in the topic of diversity has steadily grown within Tolkien research, it is now receiving more critical attention than ever before. Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien. How do adaptations of Tolkien’s works (from film and art to music) open a discourse on diversity within Tolkien’s works and his place within modern society? Beyond his secondary-world, diversity further encompasses Tolkien’s readership and how his texts exist within the primary world. Who is reading Tolkien? How is he understood around the globe? How may these new readings enrich current perspectives on Tolkien?
Representation is now more important than ever and Tolkien’s efforts to represent (or ignore) particular characteristics requires further examination. Additionally, how a character’s identity shapes and influences its place within Tolkien’s secondary-world still requires greater attention. This seminar aims to explore the many possible applications of “diversity” within Tolkien’s works, his adaptations, and his readership.
Papers may consider, but are not limited to:
- Representation in Tolkien’s works (race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, religion, age etc.)
- Tolkien’s approach to colonialism and post-colonialism
- Adaptations of Tolkien’s works
- Diversity and representation in Tolkien academia and readership
- Identity within Tolkien’s works
- Alterity in Tolkien’s works
Papers and Abstracts
Cordeliah Logsdon – Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings
Using Gondor as a basis for a closer examination, this paper outlines the presence and function of transgender realities within Tolkien’s work in ways the privileged reading of the text ignores or dismisses. Most specifically, Denethor, Finduilas of Dol Amroth, the Ruling Stewardship of Gondor as a concept, and the trajectory and timeline of Gondor’s development are examined. In the process, this paper demonstrates the way reading against the grain provides a crucial expansion of the way both fans and academics currently engage with and think about Tolkien’s work.
Clare Moore – The Problem of Pain: Portraying Physical Disability in the Fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien
Though J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendarium portrays numerous characters with various disabilities, scholarship has primarily focused on Frodo, such as Michael Livingston’s ‘The Shell-shocked Hobbit’ and Verlyn Flieger’s ‘Frodo’s Body’, which analyze Frodo’s physical and psychological injuries in light of Tolkien’s experience in World War I. Studies focused on characters from The Silmarillion, such as Irina Metzler’s ‘Tolkien and disability’ and Victoria Wodzak’s ‘Tolkien’s Gimpy Heroes’, utilize the social model of disability discourse in their analyses.
The social model of disability theory analyzes how societal structures treat people with disabilities, and counters a strict medical model of disability. However, more recent disability theorists argue that a strict social model does not account for the role of physical pain attached to some disabilities. Current disability study has not resolved the role of pain in understanding, analyzing, and representing disability in society or literature. This unresolved tension is also present in Tolkien’s work.
This paper will analyze how Tolkien portrays pain in relationship to physical disability in the legendarium. Frodo experiences physical pain from his injuries, but this pain is subservient to—and inherently connected with—his psychological trauma. He also departs the story before a sustained account of living with chronic pain is portrayed in detail. Beren experiences several injuries, but Tolkien does not portray a vivid experience of physical pain even after Beren’s most severe injury—the loss of his hand—and indeed Beren dies shortly after his injury. The primary characters whose post-injury experiences are documented for a considerable amount of time are Maedhros and Morgoth, where Tolkien describes physical pain at the moment these injuries are received, hints at sustained pain after the fact, but does not portray their experiences of living with chronic pain in detail.
V. Elizabeth King – “The Burnt Hand Teaches Most About Fire”: Applying Traumatic Stress and Ecological Frameworks to Narratives of Displacement and Resettlement Across Cultures in Tolkien’s Middle-earth
Refugee narratives and displacement are key themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, with nearly every race and ethnicity in Middle-earth experiencing some type of forced displacement. Inherent to refugee narratives is trauma exposure, and Tolkien himself furnishes descriptions of character behavior and cognition (e.g., Maedhros, Aragorn, Frodo) that map symptomatically onto modern constructs of traumatic stress. Because psychological research indicates traumatic stress disproportionately affects displaced individuals and because experiences of displacement in Tolkien’s legendarium are epidemic, the power and centrality of the refugee narrative in Tolkien’s work must be considered. However, while some scholars have studied Tolkien’s personal- and legendarium-based writing on war and its stressors, these themes are generally only examined in light of Tolkien’s own experiences and personal beliefs. While these are important points that were likely influential in Tolkien’s representations—as he wrote, after all, “the burnt hand teaches most about fire”—the ways in which displacement and traumatic stress function differently across cultures within the legendarium, and how those differences may impact reader experience, are unexplored.
This paper, therefore, proposes to integrate knowledge from refugee and stress research with Tolkien’s texts to address the following: the social-ecological impact of displacement and trauma on cultural groups and associated individuals; how differing cultural and historical responses to displacement modulate outcomes across groups, and, finally, associated implications for cultural meaning-making, personal decision-making, and interethnic interactions. Primary topics of interest for this study are the impact of childhood and prolonged trauma on Elrond’s lifecourse in Middle-earth; differences in occupation and colonization practices post-displacement in the Sindarin princes of the Silvan elves; and continuous displacement and trauma exposure in dwarven communities. Because Tolkien both implicitly and explicitly acknowledges the existence of traumatic stress in Middle-earth, an application of this different but related analytical lens may be illuminating.
Sara Brown – The Invisible Other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-Women and the ‘Feminine Lack’
Female Dwarves, or Dwarf-women, are notably absent from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. Throughout the histories of the Dwarves, including the Appendices to ‘The Lord of the Rings’, Dwarf-women are mostly unseen figures, featured only in relation to the male Dwarves, and never encountered in the narratives themselves. Unable to construct their own identity other than that of not being male, the only distinctiveness offered to Tolkien’s Dwarf-woman is fashioned through simple biology: they are female and may bear children.
Reading Tolkien through Julia Kristeva, Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler, this paper posits that Tolkien’s female Dwarves are the ‘invisible women’ of the legendarium, exploring their marginalisation and their consequent situating as the abject ‘Other’.
Sultana Raza – Projecting Indian Myths, Culture and History onto Tolkien’s Worlds
This paper will explore similarities between Indian culture and Tolkien’s worlds. Examples will include archetypes, such as the reluctant kings and stewards from the Ramayana, who can be compared to Aragorn and the Steward of Gondor. Also, animal helpers such as special horses, and Hanuman (the monkey god who could fly), and the Eagles of Middle-Earth. Special, magical herbs can be found in Ramayana too, like King’s foil in Lord of the Rings.
There are some parallels between the heroes of Mahabharat, (such as Abhimanyu) and the Fellowship. Can the wise, yet irascible Indian sages (Rishis) may have something in common with wizards such as Gandalf? In the Mahabharat, can Rishi Dronacharya’s later acts be compared to that of Saruman’s betrayal?
Philosophical parallels can be found between Indian myths and Tolkien’s sub-created worlds. Furthermore, there are resemblances between Sindarin, and Welsh. It should be noted that similarities between Sanskrit, and the Gaelic family as a whole are still being studied, as they are all part of the Indo-European branch of languages. Other Indian concepts and social/familial structures can be discerned in Tolkien’s works as well.
Regarding history, there are a few uncanny parallels between the life of Noor Jahan (1577–1645, a Mughal empress), and her niece, Mumtaz Mahal (1593–1631, for whom the Taj Mahal was built), and the stories of Galadriel and Arwen. Like Lúthien, Noor Jahan was able to rescue her husband when he was held hostage by a traitor. Aragorn was able to unite various peoples of Middle-earth to fight evil. The Mughal emperor, Akbar (1542-1605) first conquered many of the smaller kingdoms, but by integrating them into his court, he was able to unite the different religious factions of his vast and stable empire. Therefore, one can easily find parallels between Indian myths, culture and history and Tolkien’s works.
Nicholas Birns – The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism
In Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, we are told that Arvedui, the last king of the line of Valandil in the North, takes refuge from the Witch-king in the collapse of the own kingdom of Arthedain in Third Age 1974, with the Lossoth. The Lossoth are polar-area Indigenous people clearly modelled on the Inuit, Sami, or Nenets. Arvedui lives for a short time and harmony and mutual assistance with them. Arvedui even gives the heirloom of his house, the Ring of Barahir, to the Lossoth, recognizing that they are kin enough to receive this ancient symbol of the Edain. Arvedui is able to be intersectional, at least temporarily, and recognize the racial diversity of Middle-earth, that non-whites there, in Eliza Farrell’s words, “contribute their own worth.” That the Lossoth know and feel situated in their own physical environment environment in a way Arvedui does not helps save the king’s life. Yet Arvedui’s poignant story is ultimately mobilized into the genealogy of Aragorn’s kingship and a Númenórean restoration, indigeneity reinscribed into an avatar of settler-colonialism rather than valued for itself. The story of the Lossoth thus at once reveals the tantalizing potential of diversity in Tolkien’s represented world and a corollary tendency for conventional valuations of whiteness and hierarchy to reassert themselves. Yet, as in the cognate role played by the people of Ghân-buri-Ghân in the War of the Ring, the momentary appearance of the Lossoth is still meaningful. This is particularly so as they are geographically positioned at the extreme north and west of Middle-earth, the two compass-points that Tolkien elsewhere values as an analogue for his own Europe. Thus the Lossoth operate as an internal brake upon Eurocentrism. They show that resistance to evil cannot be channelled through one model of identity, belonging, or power.
Kristine Larsen – The Problematic Perimeters of Elrond Half-elven and Ronald English-Catholic
While Tolkien (when pressed) identified most closely with his original character Faramir, there are in fact many similarities between Tolkien and Elrond. This essay utilizes the concept of liminality, alterity, and the “queer” (as defined by the privileged majority of their respective cultures) to explore the myriad parallels between author and creation. Points of similarity include belonging to a minority population, being an orphan and a twin/near twin, and the deep impact of close homosocial relationships. Issues of self-identification (especially important for individuals who reside at the boundary between dichotomous groups) also point to a close connection (perhaps completely subconscious) between Tolkien and Elrond Half-Elven.
Cami Agan – Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
The First Age philosophical dialogue between Finrod Felagund and Bëoran Andreth offers a brief glimpse into ways the diverse Peoples of Middle-earth may speak to one another across difference. Through Finrod and Andreth, we see how the inhabitants of Arda can bridge the gap of experience, knowledge, and difference to achieve not only personal connection but indeed visionary potential.
While the text reflects Tolkien’s concern for “the immortality (and death) of the Elves; . . . the Fall of Men and the length of their early history” (Morgoth’s Ring viii), the dialogue also reflects the struggle of two people, who although they may long for connection and understanding, frequently talk at cross-purposes, feel belittled, or refuse the claims of their partner. Both Finrod and Andreth must take the words of the other “on faith,” must respect the lore of the other as valid and indeed inspiring, and finally must see one another in new and at times revelatory ways. Significantly, it is the knowledge or lore of Andreth who “teaches” or enlightens Finrod about the possibilities for a transformed, healing future not only for Men and Elves but indeed for all Arda.
As the conversation moves, Finrod contemplates the foundational subjects from the viewpoint of Andreth. Though he corrects Andreth’s at times nearly blasphemous claims, Finrod’s empathy brings him the vision of the ways in which humans may be the healers of Arda and the salvation of the Eldar. Like the brief moments of peace and cooperation Finrod Felagund has facilitated elsewhere in the Great Tales, this discussion emphasizes the Elf-lord valuing difference, the voice of the Other: a woman, a human, a mortal, as he embraces their lore above even his own.
Christopher Vaccaro – Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
The Silmarillion is J. R. R. Tolkien’s work in which his Christian upbringing and influence can be seen through the story and the characters. From the song that brings Arda to life to Morgoth’s fall, the book is part of an original pre-history to Middle-Earth and an allegory to Christian’s mythology. In The Lord of the Rings preface, Tolkien comments about the difference between applicability and allegory, and how the reader is free to read it according to his point of view. Therefore this paper aims to read The Silmarillion character Manwë as an archetype of the rightful and lawful leader. For this manner, we will compare him to Xangô, the Orixá from the African-Brazilian religion Umbanda according to the concepts of the archetypal literary criticism. The reason why we trace a comparison between a literary character and an Orixá is to show that archetypes are not reserved to myths, dreams, arts and old religions. Instead, it still lives in our daily lives, especially in religion, even though we can not see it sometimes. Manwë is described as the noblest between the Valar and the one who understands Iluvatar’s purpose. Because of that, he is chosen as the King. He commands the winds and the air and represents justice. In Umbanda, the Orixás represent an aspect of nature and human psychology. Therefore, Xangô represents lightning and thunder, and justice. He is King among the Orixás because he was able to unify all nations. We also can see this archetype in other mythological characters, such as Zeus and Odin. The cultural differences in the archetype representation and the fact that it still is worshipped show us that perhaps the need for a rightful leader is part of the human psyche whether in art or religion.
Sonali Chunodkar – Desire of the Ring: An Indian Academic’s Adventures in her Quest for the Perilous Realm
In the first part of this proposed presentation, I hope to share my experiences of being a second-generation Tolkien researcher in India. I will compare my experiences with that of a first-generation Indian researcher who wrote his own Ph.D. dissertation on Tolkien in the late 1980s. While discussing how issues like access and dialogue or the difficult possibility thereof shaped our respective research, I will highlight the current promising possibilities of a global dialogue for current and future Tolkien researchers—best exemplified by The Tolkien Society’s open-to-all online seminars. The second part will discuss the kinds of knowledge that Indian readers are expected to possess for engaging with Tolkien’s works. I will examine an interesting epistemic possibility where a reader “mis-reads” certain objects in Tolkien that also exist in the primary world albeit in the West as fictional ones that belong only in his secondary world. The third part will dwell on Tolkien’s reception in India, where his works have had to contend with a rich pre-existing mythological-historic-fantasy literary culture, the influence of which can be noted in the lukewarm reception of his recent Marathi and Bengali translated editions. However, the popularity and monetary success of Peter Jackson’s films provided renewed creative, economic impetus to Indian movie and television producers and fantasy-fiction novelists in English. While popularizing Tolkien’s works among English-language Indian readers, Jackson’s films nonetheless cemented the image of Tolkien as a British English writer who wrote only about white people. I will instead emphasize the need to unlearn such received imagination so that we can all appreciate Tolkien’s radical description and the implications of Sam with his “brown hands” being elected mayor of the Shire that is peopled by the “browner”-skinned Harfoots, who are “the most normal and representative variety of Hobbit and far the most numerous.”
Robin Reid – Queer Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!
This presentation is part of a larger project I began in 2018 that asks the question of how fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium who are atheists, agnostics, animists, or part of New Age movements interpret his work. Using a mixed methodology approach, I administered an online survey (approved by my university Institutional Review Board) asking for basic demographic information and respondents’ answers to open-ended questions. The questions allowed respondents to describe their beliefs or lack of belief; their experiences with and responses to organized religion, if any; their history of reading and of interpreting Tolkien’s work, and their responses to the tendency in popular and academic thought to assume that Tolkien’s Christian beliefs must shape readers’ interpretation of his work.
I circulated information to groups interested in Tolkien on social media and collected 113 completed surveys between December 1, 2018-January 31, 2019. In my first round of analysis, I identified three groups, based on how they answered the first question: Atheists, who make up 44% of the respondents, Agnostics, 30%, and a third group, who make up 26%. The third group were those who identified connections to a range of specific religious, spiritual, or philosophical movements (acknowledging the fuzzy boundaries between those concepts). This last group includes animists as well as pagans, polytheists, one “nominal” Buddhist,” one “Recovering” Catholic, one Deist as well as humanists and sceptics.
This presentation will focus on how the 34% of the respondents who identified themselves as asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, or queer and their responses to the questions about their experiences with religious institutions; their favorite work(s); what makes Tolkien’s work important to them, and how they deal with the assumption that his religious beliefs play a significant role in interpreting his work.
Joel Merriner – Hidden Visions: Iconographies of Alterity in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings
Alterity can be described as the state of being different or other, however this rather simplistic definition belies the complex symbiosis of familiarity and Otherness which the term embodies. From a Tolkienian perspective, a form of East-West alterity is understood to have arisen from the geopolitical divide of the Cold War and its resulting influence on matters of translation. Because of the erroneous assumption of the Soviet Bloc censor that The Lord of the Rings constituted a veiled allegory of totalitarian east versus democratic west, prospective Eastern European Tolkien translators were impelled to create abridged or hybridised versions of the trilogy, works which today may appear at once familiar and yet alien to the western reader.
Unsurprisingly, this model of Soviet Bloc alterity also extended to encompass visual depictions of The Lord of the Rings, particularly those created by illustrators of 1980s translated editions from Russia and Poland. Decoding the diverse, often cryptic illustrations contained within these books requires an interpretive approach tailored towards the understanding of three types of visual alterity identifiable from the region; motif borrowing, original creation and a form of semiosis referred to as dislocation. This paper examines the work of a trio of illustrators whose images for The Lord of the Rings epitomise the second form of alterity, original creation, a phenomenon typified by the incorporation of iconographies (subject matter) new to Tolkien illustration. The illustrators in question are Jerzy Czerniawski (Poland), an individual who imbues his Middle-earth portraits with the enigmatic imagery of the Polish counter-culture poster; Gennady Kalinovsky (Russia) whose illuminated Cyrillic initials conjure Ringwraiths and Wargs and Sergei Iukhimov (Ukraine), whose Brutalist architectural settings form the sinister dwelling places of Barrow Wights, Balrogs and Orcs. Through the study of their artwork, I will reveal hidden details about the visual language of freedom.
Eric Reinders – Questions of Caste in The Lord of the Rings and its Multiple Chinese Translations
Question of race in Tolkien’s works include references to Swarthy Men or Easterlings, the values associated with skin-colour and eye-type, and the moral geography of Middle-earth, wherein West and North is good and beautiful; East and South is bad and ugly. The famously blunt director Hayao Miyazaki wrote, “if you read the original novels you can also tell that the people being killed are really Asians and Africans.” Here I examine these issues in the context of the multiple translations of Tolkien into Chinese. I consider translations for the China and Taiwan markets by Zhu Xueheng, Deng Jiawan and her collaborators, Wu Gang, and several translators of the Yilin Press editions. How do the translations deal with the clear coding of dark or “sallow” skin, “slant” eyes, and the general hostility to the East? For example, “Swarthy Men” results in a range of options: switching to their proper name, the Haradrim; the use of terms such as yeren (wild people); or literal translation: heifuren (black skinned people). Dealing with “slant-eyed” (goblin-soldiers) the Chinese translators chose not to edit out the racist slur which has been applied to East Asians. Two translations go straightforwardly with “eyes slanting” (xiediao) while a third has “eyes very small” (xixiao). The returning hobbits see some “squint-eyed and sallow-faced” men, clearly belonging to a certain physical type or race. The translations again are matter-of-fact, such as “hanging slanted eyes, waxy-yellow faces,” diaoxie yan, lahuang lian. In translating “Easterlings,” its diminiutive suffix is eliminated, with dongfang de renlei, “humans of the East.” and dongfangren, “Eastern people.” To what extent do Chinese readers see that coding, and perceive it as anti-Chinese or anti-Asian? How do the translations mediate the implications of these racial categories? How do Tolkien’s terms interact with common Chinese racial and post-Colonial attitudes?
Dawn Walls-Thumma – Stars Less Strange: An Analysis of Fanfiction and Representation within the Tolkien Fan Community
Fanfiction and other transformative works provide one mode by which fans from marginalized groups extend and repair texts to better represent more diverse people and perspectives, a process that Una McCormack terms “reparative reading.” While poor representation of diverse groups is endemic within literary and media texts, Tolkien’s works are often singled out for their problematic representations of gender and race–and silence on sexuality–making his canon fruitful territory for transformative works by fans that not only recognize the existence of women, people of color, and queer characters within Middle-earth but transform the canon to recast Tolkien’s stories from their perspectives.
This paper will consider the historical and current use of fanfiction to address issues of representation in Tolkien’s canon. Historically, the online Tolkien fanfiction community has not been receptive to “reparative readings,” with authors who attempted to include more diverse perspectives often harassed by peers or subjected to gatekeeping and targeted campaigns by fandom institutions. After considering this historical context, I will use data from the 2015 and 2020 Tolkien Fanfiction Surveys to consider whether and how these values have changed over twenty years of a significant online fanfiction fandom. These surveys consider demographics, values, and behaviors as self-reported by writers and readers of Tolkien-based fanfiction. Results of the 2015 survey showed that, while the fandom was undergoing sometimes rapid evolution in norms around how diverse people from Tolkien’s canon were represented in fanfiction, these changes were not fully actualized in many fandom spaces. This paper will extend that analysis using the newly completed 2020 survey results to evaluate how values and practices around representation have changed since 2015 and how fans who themselves identify as part of marginalized groups use fanfiction to broaden the perspectives offered by and to correct racism, sexism, and homophobia found within Tolkien’s canon.
Danna Petersen-Deeprose – “Something Mighty Queer”: Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien
My project draws from intersectional feminist and postmodern queer theories as well as recent Tolkien scholarship to examine how Tolkien’s depictions of characters, relationships, and ways of loving and existing destabilize contemporary cishetero amatonormative structures. While I offer a queer reading, I do not focus on eroticism or romance; rather, I look at how various characters, relationships, and races complicate essentialist understandings of gender and cisheteronormativity.
Non-heterosexual partnerships, non-normative families, and non-traditional gender presentation are extremely common in Middle-earth. I begin my study by examining non-normative relationships, including Bilbo and Frodo as a non-traditional family; Sam and Frodo’s intimacy and the family they establish with Rosie; Legolas and Gimli’s partnership; and Sauron’s relationships with various powerful male figures, whom he often “seduces” by taking on a beautiful body.
Next, I examine how certain individual character traits and race-defining attributes challenge essentialist ideas of gender. I focus on the representation of dwarves, universally bearded and masculine-bodied; elves, virtually all smooth-cheeked with long flowing hair; the Ainur, who choose a body to match their innate “temper”; and humans and hobbits, zeroing in on Éowyn and Merry.
Finally, I examine the complicated relationship between queerness and virtue in Arda. The books repeatedly reinforce traditional gender roles, especially for female characters, but are simultaneously inhabited by diverse races that embody gender in a multitude of ways. And though Sauron’s feminized behaviour and non-normative relationships threaten Middle-earth at large, it is Frodo and Sam’s intimate queer relationship that literally saves the world.
Ultimately, I argue that while Tolkien may appear to reinforce gender norms and heteronormative ideals, he in fact destabilizes them. In Arda, Tolkien has envisioned a world with a wide range of diverse sexual, romantic, familial, and gender categories.
Martha Celis-Menzoda – Translation as a means of representation and diversity in Tolkien’s scholarship and fandom
Thanks to translation, the works of JRR Tolkien have reached a readership of millions in more than 50 languages. Naturally, the majority of the editions published in languages other than English belong to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. When we reach The Silmarillion, the list of languages starts slimming until gets very thin when dealing with lesser-known works, not to speak of Tolkien’s own translation of Beowulf or Sir Gawain. The same happens regarding Tolkien’s criticism, which rarely gets translated into other languages, based on the partial misconception that all scholars of an English language author must be proficient enough, not only to read their work, but also all the major works of criticism around it. In Mexico, the official language is Spanish, the language of colonization, but there are over 60 Mexican languages with over 300 dialect variations, and Tolkien’s works do not exist in any of them yet; and the same can be said about African languages, and many more. A more dialectic relationship must be promoted, since the works of fiction inspired by Tolkien’s works, and especially academic research and criticism works written in other languages rarely reach English-speaking fandom and scholars. The existence of a language implies the existence of a unique set of concepts and an entirely distinct worldview. The readers that belong to those unique cultures and traditions are missing most of Tolkien’s universe and great linguistic richness while, at the same time, the English-speaking world is missing most of the contributions that are being made in other languages, but many steps can be taken to reduce that gap by means of translation.