The time has come for a new issue of my attempt to extract the best
or most interesting (in my highly subjective estimate) of
Tolkien-related events this past month. This month I have ignored a
lot of things that haven't really caught my interest, including a
legion of reports and 'news-items' about the current project to do a
cinematic adaptation of _The Hobbit_. Still, as usual, please chime
in with interesting stuff that you have found elsewhere!
All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and
relevance -- and in particular about any implication of
= = = = Sources = = = =
John D. Rateliff (JDR) - "Sacnoth's Scriptorium"
Jason Fisher (JF) - "Lingwė - 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
_Mythprint_ -- 'The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society'
_Amon Hen_ -- the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society
- and others
= = = = News = = = =
Josh Tyler, November 30, 2010, "Riddles In The Dark: 4 Big Story
Problems Peter Jackson Must Solve To Make The Hobbit"
This is the only piece of news related to the Jackson films that I
am going to put in this month's issue of _Tolkien Transactions_ --
the rest, while some of it has been amusing, has failed on to be
either interesting or essential. Josh Tyler obviously knows his
_Hobbit_ well enough to write intelligently about it (even if he
overestimates the distance between the Lonely Mountain and Lake Town
just a bit: the actual distance was some 40 - 50 miles), and he
discusses four major problems that any adaptation will face.
PC, Tuesday, November 30, 2010, "Interview with Dr. Alison Milbank
author of Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians"
Actually this was posted on October 22 2007, but Pieter called
attention to it again on November 30 this year, and I found it
interesting enough to include here. As the title suggests, Pieter
has interviewed the author of _Chesterton and Tolkien as
Theologians: The Fantasy of the Real_, Dr. Alison Milbank. As with
so many other academics, she appears to really come to life when the
interview falls on her academic pursuits including the topic of her
book. Of course one shouldn't buy a book based on what the author
has to say about it, but based on this interview, it is certainly a
book that I will look for more information about -- I hope to find
some detailed reviews because this sounds quite promising.
Lisa Hutchinson, Evening Chronicle, Friday, November 26, 2010, "JRR
Tolkien inspired by family in Newcastle"
This is the story about Tolkien's aunt, Grace Mountain (née Tolkien)
whose grave has been discovered during a clearing-up in the
Newcastle graveyard where she lies with her husband. The existence
of Aunt Grace in Newcastle is no surprise to any reader of
Carpenter's biography or of Hammond and Scull's _Companion and
Guide_: 'During school holidays Ronald and Hilary often stay with
other relatives. Among these are two of their father's sisters (see
*Tolkien family), Aunt Grace who lives in Newcastle with her husband
William Mountain and their children Kenneth and Dorothy, and Aunt
Mabel who lives at Abbotsford 69 Wake Green Road, Mosely, Birmingham
with her husband, Tom Mitton and their children.' vol I,
_Chronology_, 1904, p.10. The further claims in the article of very
specific inspirations taken from these visits to the Mountain family
are, however, not very convincing. Wellinghall comments, 'Someone
please tell me this is a spoof'
JDR, Tuesday, November 23, 2010, "Salmon Rushdie on Tolkien (et al)"
Comments on an article in _Wall Street Journal_ by Salman Rushdie
'on five fantasy authors who appeal equally to young readers and
also adults.' Rushdie includes Tolkien along with Carroll, Barrie,
Pullman and Haddon (since John Rateliff admits to the same, I am
unashamed to admit that I don't know Haddon). Rateliff also includes
a link to Rushdie's article if you wish to see the original.
Various, November 2010, "Cancelled - Wheelbarrows at Dawn: Memories
of Hilary Tolkien"
This relates to the cancellation by the publisher, ADC Publications,
of the book _Wheelbarrows at Dawn_ by Angela Gardner and Neil
Holford. The announcement by the publisher contained the following,
'Despite many revisions and changes made at the insistence of The
Tolkien Estate it appears that The Tolkien Estate will seek to take
court action to prevent the release of this book regardless.' and
the Estate has responded (e.g. through Wayne and Christina), saying
that 'it had no issue with the publication of the book providing the
material in question - affecting only 20 pages out of a total of
some 300 - was removed.' According to one of the authors (posting
under the name of Déagol), the issue was related to the copyright
value of Tolkien's letters, which seems such a sad issue to be
allowed to stop the project.
DB, Saturday, November 6, 2010, "Glen GoodKnight"
David Bratman's obituary for Glen GoodKnight, the founder of the
Mythopoeic Society. There are more obituary blogs linked from
Bratman's blog and more can be found elsewhere including e.g. the
Los Angeles Times:
GoodKnight is also remembered in issue 340 of _Mythlore_ (Vol. 47
No. 11) which is a special issue dedicated entirely to his memory.
MD, Sunday, October 31, 2010, "Frivolous But Fun Piece in the
Michael Drout tells about the genesis of the piece below, and argues
the points he makes there.
MD, Sunday, October 31, 2010, "Dept. of What If: Would hobbits go on
A brief piece, called by its author 'frivolous, but fun', on various
labour aspects of Middle-earth. I suppose that some of it may be due
to some specific references to the USA labour market, and the rest
may be due to my lack of humour, but I'm afraid the fun goes over my
head -- cheap laughs or not. Actually I find Drout's explanation of
this piece from his blog (see above) more amusing than the piece
= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
AH, Saturday, 20 November 2010, "Tolkien Myth in Context Unit Seven
Andrew is back at his blog with a long piece about his love for
Tolkienian linguistics and how it has developed. Andrew mentions
Carl Hostetter's paper 'Elvish as She is Spoke' (originally
appearing in _ The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor
of Richard E. Blackwelder_ edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina
Scull) as pivotal for his own interest in Tolkien linguistics, and
he ends by sketching the direction he hopes that Tolkien lingustics
will move in.
BC, Saturday, 20 November 2010, "How similar are Dolbear &
'Humphrey' Havard? John Havard's opinion"
Charlton's Notion Club Papers (NCP) blog continues to be an
interesting source of knowledge, ideas and theories about the NCP --
regardless of whether you agree on the individual hypotheses
suggested. Charlton appears to be fascinated by the idea that the
members of the fictional club were modelled on members of Tolkien's
real club, the Inklings. Charlton has, accordingly, been in contact
with a son of one of the Inklings, John Havard, son of Robert
'Humphrey' Havard, and this seems to put a limit to how far the
inspiration / modelling goes.
JF, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, "Bagshot in Tolkien and Rowling"
One of the things that have always fascinated me about Tolkien's
writings is his obvious love of words. From the Hobbit's
'Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!' over the list of royal
names of Rohan all with a meaning in the 'king', 'ruler', 'leader'
category, to -- well, to wherever it may lead us. Jason investigates
the word Bagshot that appears in both Tolkien (Bagshot Row just
below Bag End) and Rowling (Bathilda Bagshot, magical historian and
friend of the Dumbledores). The further comments contributing
details about the etymology -- or rather the theories about the
etymology -- of 'Bagshot' are also very interesting.
JF, Monday, November 15, 2010, "Some Contributions to Middle-earth
Lexicography: Hapax Legomena in The Lord of the Rings"
Jason looks into 9 rare words in _The Lord of the Rings_ -- 8 of
them appearing just once (thus being, as Jason tells us, _Hapax
Legomena_), and one of them twice (a _Dis Legomena_). Four of these
words stem from Germanic sources and the remaining five illustrate,
according to Jason, Tolkien's Christianity 'absorbed into the story
and the symbolism' of _LotR_. If you haven't read this yet, then go
Jason has announced also announced this on his blog:
JF, Tuesday, November 30, 2010, "A new essay"
BC, Monday, 8 November 2010, "Another Ramer-Tolkien parallel
identified - The Land of Pohja painting"
The underlying theory here is, of course, that the character Ramer
in Tolkien's _The Notion Club Papers_ (NCP) is a representation of
the author himself in some way (this is, I think, associated to the
further idea that the Notion Club is modelled on the Inklings to the
extent that individual characters are modelled on individual
Inklings). That the Ramer dialogue that Charlton quotes refers to
the same image that is pictured in _The Land of Pohja_ is, I would
say, quite certain.
BC, Friday, 5 November 2010, "The Notion Club Papers as Tolkien's
In this blog-post, Charlton takes his outset in his idea, presented
in October, that Tolkien suffered from a nervous break-down about
the time when he wrote _The Notion Club Papers_ (NCP). He then
argues that, for Tolkien to have insisted on writing the NCP at such
a time, when he was also extremely busy, the writing itself must
have been therapeutic for Tolkien, and Charlton then goes on to look
at which elements of the NCP that might have had this therapeutic
effect for Tolkien.
BC, Friday, 5 November 2010, "The Notion Club Papers are Tolkien's
Charles Williams novel"
As the title says, this posting introduces the idea that _The Notion
Club Papers_ (NCP) is inspired by or for some other reason resembles
Charles Williams' work. Charlton notes that the NCP 'are structured
like a C.W. novel - a novel about how the supernatural and mythical
breaks through into normal everyday life.' He goes on to discuss
some of the surrounding aspects of the NCP, but in the end I must
admit that I remain unconvinced. I am, however, admittedly
influenced by Tolkien's own statement in e.g. _Letters_ no 159 that
'I do not think we influenced one another at all!' Quite possibly
this idea is better evaluated by someone less prejudiced.
JF, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, "The jaws of Carcharoth"
Perhaps primarily interesting to those with an interest in Tolkien's
invented languages and not least the process of their genesis. Jason
Fisher discusses the multiple etymologies for 'the mightiest wolf
that would ever walk the world', Carcharoth as it is called in the
published version of _The Silmarillion_, or Karkaras as the name is
in _The Book of Lost Tales_.
= = = = Reviews = = = =
DB, "The Fantastic Horizon"
Though not particularly about Tolkien, and even less about other
Inklings, Bratman nevertheless feels that this book, _The Fantastic
Horizon: Essays and Reviews_ by Darrell Schweitzer should be of
interest for Inklings scholars and fans. As Bratman starts out by
saying, the fantasy field 'needs a polemicist', and after mentioning
Tom Shippey and Lin Carter, he claims that 'The best polemicist in
the field today may well be Darrell Schweitzer.' I'm not sure that
my book budget will allow me to include this, but it is likely that
I will end up ordering it from the library one day.
DAA, Sunday, November 14, 2010, "Weird Words"
Review of _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_ by Dan Clore. This
is apperently -- hopefully -- the first of a series of weird words
collected by the author. This review reprints the full entry for the
word _nodens_ (of Tolkien relevance). This work would seem a
treasure trove for anyone who, like Lord Peter Wimsey, finds it so
easy to get drunk on words that they are seldom perfectly sober.
Anthony Burdge, Friday, November 12, 2010, "The Lonely Mountain
Band: Beyond the Western Seas"
Anthony Burdge (with comments from Jessica Burke and Namiko
Hitosubashi) is enthusiastic about the album _Beyond the Western
Seas_ by The Lonely Mountain Band, saying that he and Jessica 'I
count it as important as Ted Nasmith's Hidden Door, The Fellowship's
In Elven Lands, and Brocelļande's Starlit Jewel.' I hope the Lonely
Mountain Band knows how to value praise from the praiseworthy.
Anthony & Jessica, Thursday, November 11, 2010, "Looking for the
King: An Inklings Novel"
Not so much a review, I suppose, but Anothony and Jessica here post
"the official press release, book trailer, and information on the
author David C. Downing." I would be very interested to hear from
other people who have read the book, to hear their opinion.
PC, Friday, November 5, 2010, "Review: Looking for the King"
Pieter Collier gives a _very_ positive review of David C. Downing's
_Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel_. Pieter is positive enough
to make me seriously consider buying this book myself.
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
I seem to have forgotten to renew my membership of the Mythopoeic
Society in time to receive the latest issue of _Mythlore_ -- I have
remedied the situation at once, but it will of course be a while
before I receive the journal.
And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left
the path of wisdom.
- Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Thanks for doing this; you clearly follow a great many more blogs
and whatnot than I do, though I do subscribe to several of them.
> Various, November 2010, "Cancelled - Wheelbarrows at Dawn: Memories
> of Hilary Tolkien"
> This relates to the cancellation by the publisher, ADC Publications,
> of the book _Wheelbarrows at Dawn_ by Angela Gardner and Neil
> Holford. The announcement by the publisher contained the following,
> 'Despite many revisions and changes made at the insistence of The
> Tolkien Estate it appears that The Tolkien Estate will seek to take
> court action to prevent the release of this book regardless.' and
> the Estate has responded (e.g. through Wayne and Christina), saying
> that 'it had no issue with the publication of the book providing the
> material in question - affecting only 20 pages out of a total of
> some 300 - was removed.' According to one of the authors (posting
> under the name of D�agol), the issue was related to the copyright
> value of Tolkien's letters, which seems such a sad issue to be
> allowed to stop the project.
As I recall, D�agol occasionally posted here a few years ago.
> Anthony & Jessica, Thursday, November 11, 2010, "Looking for the
> King: An Inklings Novel"
> Not so much a review, I suppose, but Anothony and Jessica here post
> "the official press release, book trailer, and information on the
> author David C. Downing." I would be very interested to hear from
> other people who have read the book, to hear their opinion.
> PC, Friday, November 5, 2010, "Review: Looking for the King"
> Pieter Collier gives a _very_ positive review of David C. Downing's
> _Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel_. Pieter is positive enough
> to make me seriously consider buying this book myself.
I've recently come across an informal interview with Downing: