All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and
relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)
= = = = Sources = = = =
John D. Rateliff (JDR) - "Sacnoth's Scriptorium"
Jason Fisher (JF) - "Lingwë - Musings of a Fish"
Michael Drout (MD) - "Wormtalk and Slugspeak"
Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) - "Too Many Books and Never
Pieter Collier (PC) - "The Tolkien Library"
Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. - "Wormwoodiana"
Corey Olsen (CO), "The Tolkien Professor"
David Bratman (DB), "Calimac"
Larry Swain (LS), "The Ruminate"
'Wellinghall', "Musings of an Aging Fan"
Various, 'The Northeast Tolkien Society' (NETS), "Heren Istarion"
Bruce Charlton (BC), "Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers"
Andrew Higgins (AH), "Wotan's Musings"
Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Troels Forchhammer (TF), "Parmar-kenta"
_Mythprint_ -- 'The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society'
_Amon Hen_ -- the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society
- and others
= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
BC, Thursday, 9 December 2010, "Tolkien and the 'good German' -- The
Lost Road fragment"
This is one of those things where I can't quite decide what to say.
Did Tolkien consciously intend this correspondence, or is it rather
along the lines of the One Ring in LotR, about which Tolkien said
You can make the Ring into an allegory of our own time, if
you like: an allegory of the inevitable fate that waits for
all attempts to defeat evil power by power. But that is
only because all power magical or mechanical does always so
(_Letters_ #109 to Stanley Unwin, July 1947)
Would Tolkien say something similar about the attempt to read into
his writings about Númenor under the rule of Sauron (_de facto_ if
not _de jure_) an allegory of Germany under the rule of Hitler? I am
tempted to believe that he would say roughly the same, though he
might agree that it was further towards the fore of his mind in the
latter half of the 1930s because of the Nazi regime in Germany.
AH, Tuesday, 21 December 2010, "Richard Wagner and J.R.R Tolkien The
Forgers of their Rings"
It should, I believe, be fairly easy to demonstrate that Tolkien
could not have been entirely unaffected by Wagner's Ring -- it is
well known that he read _Der Ring des Niebelungen_ in 1934, and it
seems unlikely that he would be completely unaffected by that. It
is, however, a quite different matter to suggest that the Master
Ring in _The Lord of the Rings_ is just an adaptation of Wagner's
Ring of the Niebelungs. The former claim can, as I suggested, be
argued convincingly while the other can be dismissed also with
relative ease, but between these is a scale of possible levels of
inspiration that we can, as far as I am aware, not resolve with the
available evidence. I would, however, be more comfortable with this
whole discussion if it would not contain so many repetitions of
logical fallacies (variations of _post hoc ergo propter hoc_) or
insults (imply that Tolkien would have been unable to independently
arrive at the Ruling Ring). It is most likely that Tolkien did get
the general idea of an omnipotent ring from Wagner, but it is also
_possible_ that he didn't.
H&S, Friday, 24 December 2010, "Christmas Addenda"
Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond announce their posting further
addenda and corrigenda to several of their books on Tolkien. The
addenda and corrigenda itself can be found on their web-site at
A word of gratitude is in its place for the great work Wayne and
Christina are doing -- not least for continuing to update their
published work with new information.
= = = = Reviews = = = =
The Mythopoeic Society regularly releases reviews on the internet
some time after their appearance in _Mythprint_ or _Mythlore_. In
December, we have seen the release on the internet of the following
_Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits_ by
Dimitra Fimi; reviewed by Mark T. Hooker
_Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern: Immortals
and the Undead_ edited by Thomas Honegger and Fanfan Chen; reviewed
by Janet Brennan Croft
_Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien_ by
Hilary Tolkien, edited by Angela Gardner; reviewed by David
= = = = In Print = = = =
December has been a good month for reception of the printed material
from the British Tolkien Society and the Mythopoeic Society: In
addition to the monthly bulletins, _Amon Hen_ and _Mythlore_, I have
received _Mallorn_ issue 50 and _Mythlore_ issue 111/112.
Unfortunately I have yet to find the time to read _Mythlore_, so a
commentary on that will have to wait.
Vol. 47 No. 12 December 2010 Whole No. 341
Not much about Tolkien in this month's edition of _Mythprint_ -- but
of course there is lot in the latest _Mythlore_. However, though S.
Dorman is speaking explicitly of Lewis in his article,
"Fictionalizing Lewis", the points made can with ease be transferred
to Tolkien, who has also been a subject of fictionalizations in
recent years. In the article Dorman reaches the conclusion that it
is _perhaps_ all-right ('ethical') for an author to fictionalize 'a
person made by God in primary creation', 'if his or her craft is
good enough to coordinate the elements of story inclusive of such
characterization.' However, Dorman also hastens to assert that
'there is no license to defame, distort, or otherwise abuse a real
person.' I wonder if the recent fictionalizations of Tolkien can live
up to the high standard Dorman sets -- and whether they should
rather not have been, if they don't?
This semi-centesimal issue is certainly a worthy tribute to the
journal and the society. The 52 pages are packed with stuff
reflecting the wealth of interests found in the Tolkien Society:
Paintings and drawings based on Tolkien's work, poetry fan-fiction,
commentary and more scholarly articles fill the journal. I admit
that not all of these categories suit my own interests, but the
quality of those that do suit my interests is a reliable guide, then
everything in this issue of _Mallorn_ is of very high quality
A few highlights:
The editorial is provided by Marcel Bülles who writes about the
future of Tolkien 'fandom' in 'Envisaging the Future'. Marcel makes
two bold proposals, both of which I think ought to be carried
through: paid employees to deal with the day-to-day business of the
Society (freeing voluntary resources to more rewarding tasks), and
Arda*Con 2020, the world-convention of Tolkien societies . . ..
While Marcel Bülles tried to envisage the future, Charles E. Noad
tells of the early days of the Tolkien Society from the earliest
groupings of Tolkien fans about 1960 over the first informal start
of the Tolkien Society in 1969, the 'formal beginning of the
society' on 15 January 1972 and on to the resignation from the board
of Mrs Vera Chapman -- better known in the society as Belladona
(Took) -- in 1976, which, to Charles Noad at least, marks the end of
the 'early years'.
In other contributions Maggie Burns writes about Tolkien and
Birmingham (clearly the childhood in the Birmingham area had a
profound influence on Tolkien, but I can't help my scepticism from
asserting itself forcefully when I see claims of unattested 1:1
correspondences between fiction and real life, such as those implied
for Perrot's Folly), Simon Barrow on fantasy literature (a minor
grievance here is that he appears to equate quality with popularity)
and Chad Chisholm looks into Gandalf's skills at rhetoric. Mike
Foster has interviewed Tolkien's grandson, Simon, about both his
grandfather, but mainly about his own careers as solicitor,
barrister and writer of crime fiction.
_Amon Hen 226_
The high point, for me, in this issue of _Amon Hen_ was Charles
Noad's article on another Collingwood--Tolkien connnection found in
a new (1992) edition of Collingwood's _The New Leviathan, or Man,
Society, Civilization and Barbarism_. David Derr's inquiry into the
nature of Gandalf was also interesting; in particular the
recommendation that 'the reader visit William Loos' web page'
(though the reference unfortunately is to the mirror at
<http://www.faqs.org>), whereas I was more sceptical of the attempt,
in the second part of the article, 'to draw a parallel between
Tolkien's character Gandalf [...] and the person of Jesus of
Nazareth, and I strongly disagree with the conclusion that Tolkien
'through the power given to the fictitious character of Gandalf'
demonstrates (whether apparently or not) 'the parallel power that
was wielded in the real person of Jesus of Nazareth' -- this is, in
my opinion, almost as bad as 'five wizards=five senses'.
Another thing I wish to emphasize is the advert for 'Return of the
Ring' in Loughborough August 2012: <http://www.returnofthering.org/>
(I _have_ booked -- what about you?)
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
JDR, Friday, 10 December 10 2010, "Build Yr Own Dodo"
As John Rateliff puts it, 'You just knew that someone devoted to
minutia like this was probably a Tolkien fan' and Adam Savage (of
_Mythbusters_ fame) proves it by showing, briefly, a map of
Middle-earth that he drew himself. The talk itself is about
something else, and the map appears only for a couple of seconds
(2:48 - 2:50), but the whole thing is interesting enough in itself,
even without the Middle-earth map (it is difficult to gauge the
size, but unless his writing is very small, the map is quite
If you are uninterested in Rateliff's description and just want to
see the clip, it can be found here:
AH, Saturday, 11 December 2010, "Tolkien Studies for 2011"
Andrew Higgins announces that he will be back more regularly in
2011, 'exploring several areas of Tolkien Scholarship', and then he
goes on to provide a more in-depth description of the contents of
issue #19 of _Parma Eldalamberon_.
H&S, Sunday, 12 December 2010, "Fifteen Years"
I normally don't include the more personal blog entries in these
collections, but Christina Scull's look back at the fifteen years
since she moved to the US with Wayne Hammond not only has a charm
deserving advocacy, but also has a certain amount of
Tolkien-interest embedded such as a list of some of the work that
Wayne and Christina have done during these years, including links to
podcasts about _Roverandom_ in particular and Tolkien in general.
JF, Wednesday, 15 December 15 2010, "Word of the Day: Fart"
We do agree, I trust, that anything to do with Old English
(Anglo-Saxon) etymology is on-topic in a Tolkien context? :-) Even
so, this has to be said to be on the light side . . .. Apparently
someone had the audacity to address Jason as 'an old fart' on the
occasion of his fortieth birthday. Now I am left wondering if modern
Danish 'prut' derives from Old Norse _freta_ (I doubt it -- this is
more likely the now archaic 'fjært') or French _péter_ or something
entirely different . . . (the Dictionary of the Danish Language
marks it as onomatopoeic, though it also refers to similar
onomatopoeic words in French and Low German).
AH, Monday, 20 December 2010, "I've discovered the works of Edward
Plunkett The 18th Baron of Dunsany"
Not directly related to Tolkien, but it is worth recalling that
Dunsany is mentioned as one of Tolkien's sources.
BC, Sunday, 26 December 2010, "My hopes for The Notion Club Papers
-- separate cover publication"
A dream . . .
Bruce Charlton presents his dream that one day, the Notion Club
material, including the Lost Road and presumably also the Fall of
Númenor, will be published in a single volume. I actually like the
idea of ordering the _History of Middle-earth_ material topically
instead of chronologically, though I am not sure that this is the
best way to do it (though I think Charlton is possibly right that
the Lost Road / Notion Club material might be able to sell in such a
Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis
best suited to open the way to the next better one.
- Konrad Lorenz