Tolkien Transactions XIX
November has been scouting month: with three weekends to plan,
prepare, execute and evaluate since the last issue of my
transactions, I have had preciously little time for reading up on
Tolkien matters, and no time to participate in on-line discussions
= = = = News = = = =
Failblog, Tuesday, 1 November 2011, "WIN: If by my life or death I
can protect you, I will. You have my Ford!"
Just for fun . . . :)
Pat Reynolds, _The Return of the Ring_ , Sunday, 6 November 2011,
"The Adventures of Tom Bombadil"
A notification that 2012 will see the fiftieth anniversary of the
publication of _The Adventures of Tom Bombadil_, and a call for
attendees of _The Return of the Ring_ to be inspired by this fact to
submit papers based on one or more of these poems.
H&S, Wednesday, 9 November 2011, "Geek Out!"
Christina and Wayne write that they have been interviewed (by
e-mail) for a blog appearing on the CNN blog _Geek Out!_, and they
post here their full answers to the questions they were asked.
Anika Chin, CNN _Geek Out!_, Wednesday, 9 November 2011, "2012, the
year of the Hobbit"
The blog post that Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond mention in
their own blog post listed above. The blog post focuses on their new
book, _The Art of the Hobbit_ and the reception of new posthumous
Tolkien material in the 'fan' community in particular.
Pat Reynolds, _The Return of the Ring_, Sunday, 13 November 2011,
At 'The Return of the Ring' we'll also be celebrating the 30th
anniversary of _Mr. Bliss_
Beth Staples, _Kennebec Journal_, Monday, 21 November 2011, "Play
inside Hobbit Hole"
Mostly in the group of curiosities, this is a piece about a man who
builds and sells hobbit-hole-inspired wooden huts.
Zoe Chamberlain, _Sunday Mercury_, Wednesday, 23 November 2011,
"Nostalgia: Tolkien's Birmingham"
While little of what is in this article will be news to anyone
familiar with Carpenter's _Biography_ or Garth's book on Tolkien's
early life and much less to anyone familiar with Maggie Burns' work
on Tolkien's relationship with Birmingham, it is nonetheless nice to
see a reasonably accurate article on this subject in a general
_Journal Pioneer_, Thursday, 24 November 2011, "Lord of the Rings
presented in symphony"
The Dutch composer Johan de Meij's Symphony No. 1, 'The Lord of the
Rings', will be performed in Charlottetown, Nove Scotia, on December
1st. by the UPEI Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Karem J.
Simon. Does anyone know this symphony (incidentally it is available
on Spotify which has become available in Denmark now)? Or what about
any reviews? I hope that the _Journal Pioneer_ will be so kind as to
provide a review after the concert, but it would be great to hear
from others as well.
Craig Fraser, _West Edmonton Local_, Saturday, 26 November 2011,
"Last Alliance spends evening in Rivendell, talk with 'Tolkien
It sounds as though the 'Last Alliance' student group of the
University of Alberta in Edmonton had a tremendous day.
Adam Godnik, _Barnes and Noble_, Monday, 28 November 2011, "The
author and critic on the impossible choice of reading favorites."
Author and critic, Adam Godnik, lists _The Lord of the Rings_ among
his three most favourite books, but the poor man seems to be rather
ashamed of it. Is he so thoroughly brain-washed with the ideas of
what Shippey calls the 'literati' that he doesn't dare trust his own
David Bratman responds to Godnik's article on his blog, here:
= = = = Essays, Scholarship and Criticism = = = =
David B. Hart, _First Things_, Friday, 12 November 2010,
David B. Hart is, as far as I know, not known as a Tolkien scholar
(he is a theologian), and it is perhaps not surprising that a piece
on Tolkien's political views -- in particular one connecting them to
contemporary politics -- come from outside the realm of established
Tolkien scholars. Whether one agrees or disagrees (the quotations
are correct, but the interpretation of them may not be) it is an
interesting piece regardless.
David Oberhelman, _The Mythopoeic Society_, Monday, 7 November 2011,
"Mythopoeic Awards: Call for Nominations"
Perhaps not scholarship in itself, but awards for, among other
things, scholarship in Inklings studies. What work deserves an award
in Inklings Studies?
_Mythlore_, Monday, 7 November 2011, "Mythlore 115/116 Available"
Hopefully by the time I publish these transactions, this issue of
_Mythlore_ will have wound its way to my address. The announcement
also includes links to the contents of issue 115/116 and to a
downloadable supplement to the index, this supplement covering
issues 101/102 through 115/116.
BC, Tuesday, 8 November 2011, "What did Charles Williams bring to The Inklings?"
I'll admit up front to being out of my depth here -- I am not much
of a student of Plato, and I am completely unfamiliar with the work
of Charles Williams. However, given Tolkien's comments in his
letters about Charles Williams' work (and his resentment of the
perceived influence of Williams on Lewis' work), I think there is a
heavy burden of argumentation to lift in order to make the case for
Tolkien to adapt an idea from Williams.
MM, Wednesday, 16 November 2011, "Who was Narvi, the Maker of the
Doors of Durin?"
Interesting piece with some background on the Norse name, Narvi. I
am not sure that one can infer from the seeming import of the name
in Old Norse myths to the fame of Tolkien's Dwarven craftsman, but I
do agree that Narvi of Khazad-dûm must have been the best skilled
craftsman (in stone-work) at the time the doors were made, and
probably of very great skill if we believe the note that Celebrimbor
befriended him especially.
JF, Wednesday, 16 November 2011, "Beware the Neekerbreekers"
On the possible roots of the Neekerbreekers of the Midgewater
Marshes -- apart, of course, from the possibility that Tolkien had
actually experienced something of the kind: for my own part I
remember a particularly mosquito-plagued trek through some marshes
on our way to Kebnekaise in Swedish Lapland -- I'm willing swear
that some of the mosquitos were the size of small sparrows.
Otherwise I am, of course, predisposed towards the second part:
making the Neekerbreekers related to our '_Nøkke_' is just too good
to dismiss ;-)
DAA, Monday, 21 November 2011, "Dale Nelson's Summation on Tolkien
in pre-1970 blurbs"
Dale Nelson has sent a summation of his research into the question
of pre-1970 blurbs that mention Tolkien, and Douglas Anderson adds
some comments, including a 1955 comment by Basil Davenport on Naomi
Mitchison's blurb for _The Fellowship of the Ring_ calling it 'super
DAA, Tuesday, 22 November 2011, "Tolkien and the Newman
Tolkien was a member of the 'Newman Society' -- a society of
Catholic professors and other graduates of British universities
named for the founder of the Birmingham Oratory, John Henry Newman,
and Tolkien co-signed, as Honorary Vice President, a letter in 1949
registering protest over the the arrest of the Cardinal Primate of
Hungary by the Hungarian government.
CO, Wednesday, 23 November 2011, "Bilbo Builds His Resume 2"
After nearly two years, Professor Olsen is back with new episodes in
his series of podcasts on _The Hobbit_. This one covers chapters 9
and 10 ('Barrels out of Bound' and 'A Warm Welcome').
JF, Monday, 28 November 2011, "Tolkien's translation conceit -- new
Having discovered some interesting inscriptions on some of the
Hobbit artwork published in Hammond & Scull's new book, _The Art of
the Hobbit_, Jason goes on to analyse this, and has, I think, two
main threads of investigation / discussion going on in this very
interesting blog post.
- That Tolkien's translation conceit originated far earlier than
might otherwise be thought -- i.e. that is was a part of _The
Hobbit_ before this book was published.
- The wording of the moon letters from Thrór's map in Old Norse
Not being a linguist (not even in the ancient forms of my native
tongue), I am afraid that there is little I can do with respect to
the latter, but with respect the former Lingwë seems to me to be on
solid ground with his claim that Tolkien was using this conceit
already prior to the publication of The Hobbit. This, in my opinion,
would be quite natural for him, and it ties in well also with
Rateliff's claims that The Hobbit originally was more closely tied
up with The Silmarillion (more closely, at least, than Tolkien's
later comments might lead us to believe).
MM, Tuesday, 29 November 2011, "Is There a Source for the Tale of
the Two Trees?"
Very interesting. If you are already familiar with _The
Silmarillion_ and the history of the Two Trees, then you might want
to read the first paragraph and then move on to read just the last
four paragraphs. I don't remember hearing, before this, about the
Persian folklore/myth about the two Trees of the Sun and Moon.
Adam Godnik, _The New Yorker_, Tuesday, 29 December 2011, "The
Adam Godnik has previously (see above) listed _The Lord of the
Rings_ among his three most favourite books, but here he seems to
repeat many of the usual criticisms (imperceptive criticisms, in my
view) that are usually levied against Tolkien's book, while still
acknowledging its power to captivate the readers.
= = = = Book News = = = =
AH, _Mythprint_, Tuesday, 1 November 2011, "J.R.R. Tolkien's Double
Worlds and Creative Process"
'This review originally appeared in Mythprint 48:8 (#349) in August 2011.'
Andrew Higgins gives Arne Zettersten's book a warm review.
Attempting to summarize a summary, Andrew gives me the impression of
a warm biography from a colleague of Tolkien's whose focus is mainly
on Tolkien's professional side, but who has inevitably also
experienced the author. Zettersten's book is approaching the top of
my wish list, though I am still undecided whether to buy it in
English or in the Swedish original, _Min vän Ronald och hans
JDR, Wednesday, 2 November 2011, "The New Arrival: A TOLKIEN
Given Rateliff's well-known (at least to those who follow his blog)
dislike of Blok's art, the review of Pieter Collier's book seems to
me very fair. Rateliff repeats the adage that 'In the end there
truly is no arguing about taste,' but I am not sure that this is
entirely true: certainly the reviews of the 2011 Tolkien Calendar by
Ruth Lacon (in _Amon Hen_ #228 and on the Tolkien Library web-site)
have helped me appreciate Blok's art better.
PC, Sunday, 6 November 2011, "The 2012 Beyond Bree Calendar is now
What it says, basically. The calendar is illustrated by different
people (eleven are mentioned 'plus more' so presumably each month
has a new illustrator).
H&S, Sunday, 6 November 2011, "_Art of The Hobbit_ Published"
The other news about the release of Wayne Hammond and Christina
Scull's _The Art of the Hobbit_ belongs to last month's
_Transactions_, but short as it may be, this entry by Wayne and
Christina also provides a charming, albeit all to brief, glimpse
into the mind of the author or editor who has just released their
work to the scrutiny of the public. With authors so well known for
their devotion to verifiable fact and the rooting out of mistakes
and imprecision, it must of course have been frustrating to see the
many . . . shall we call them 'artistic liberties' . . . taken by
some of the journalists reporting on their book.
JDR, Monday, 7 November 2011, "THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT, second
John Rateliff takes a look at the second edition of his _History of
the Hobbit_, noting what has been changed (and what hasn't) and
asserting that the weight (it's a one-volume edition) is _only_ 1.29
kg . . . :-) I am having an extended internal debate whether the 32
pages of new material is enough to warrant buying the new edition --
which is mainly a question of what other Tolkien-related book it
will push out of my limited buying list.
Carina, "Carina's Craftblog", Thursday, 10 November 2011, "The Art
of The Hobbit"
High praise for, and some photos of, Wayne Hammond and Christina
Scull's _The Art of the Hobbit_.
JDR, Saturday, 12 November 2011, "The New Arrivals: ART OF THE
HOBBIT and MR. BLISS"
Not very much about _The Art of the Hobbit_ this time, and more
about the new edition of _Mr. Bliss_ that was released in September.
Rateliff praises the layout and calls the story a 'minor but amusing
little bit of Tolkien' though he also admits to never having 'really
warmed to _Mr. Bliss_'.
H&S, Sunday, 13 November 2011, "Harper Insider"
Perhaps mainly interesting for the completist collector, Wayne and
Christina note that 'the Harper Insider article includes the first
publication [...] of the verso of the picture Death of Smaug.'
JDR, Sunday, 13 November 2011, "THE ART OF THE HOBBIT"
So, Rateliff got round to writing about his second new arrival,
Hammond and Scull's _The Art of the Hobbit_, which he praises
_TheOneRing.net_, Tuesday, 22 November 2011, "'The Hobbit' Released
for First Time on Enhanced Ebook"
What it says . . .
JDR, Friday, 25 November 2011, "My Newest Publication: Volume 258"
One of John Rateliff's old essays, 'A Kind of Elvish Craft: Tolkien
as Literary Craftsman', which was previously published in _Tolkien
Studies_ vol. 6 (2009) has now been published in volume 258 of
_Twentieth Century Literary Criticism_. The occasion being that this
volume includes a section on the Inklings collecting a number of
essays on Inklings subjects. I find it somewhat odd that in the list
of suggested readings, Tolkien is represented with his 'Middle
English Vocabulary' but not with 'On Fairy-Stories', 'Beowulf and
the Critics' or other of his professional work.
JDR, Monday, 28 November 2011, "The New Arrivals"
John Rateliff comments briefly on two new books -- and on a third
book that he didn't receive. One is _War of the Fantasy Worlds_ by
Martha C. Sammon, which sounds promising, and the other is Oliver
Loo's _A Tolkien English Glossary_. Rateliff's comments about this
book being more helpful to readers to whom English is a second
language obviously hit a nerve, and I wondered if perhaps Mr Loo was
not himself a native speaker, but I haven't found any biographical
information on Mr Loo even at the website associated with the
= = = = Interviews = = = =
MM, Friday, 4 November 2011, "An Interview with Michael D.C. Drout"
Another interesting interview, this time with Michael Drout, who
says, for instance, that Gergely Nagy's essay, 'The Lost Subject of
Middle-earth', from _Tolkien Studies_ vol. 3 is, in Drout's mind,
probably the best article in the _Tolkien Studies_ series so far.
MM, Friday, 11 November 2011, "Christopher Tolkien, the
Silmarillion, and the Machine"
Thanks to Michael Martinez for pointing out these YouTube video
clips of interviews with Christopher Tolkien
MM, Friday, 18 November 2011, "An Interview with Douglas Charles
An interview with Doug Kane, author of _Arda Reconstructed_. This
long interview obviously focuses on _The Silmarillion_ and Doug
Kane's own work on it. Instead of trying to summarize all of this
interview in a few sentences, I will merely give my strong
recommendation to read it for yourself.
Urulókë, _The Tolkien Collector's Guide_, Monday, 21 November 2011,
"An Interview with Elwë at Telperion Books - new Tolkien bookstore
An interview with Steve, a.k.a. Elwë, about his new on-line
bookstore, Telperion Books, and on his career as a Tolkien
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
MM, Monday, 7 November 2011, "Was Beorn in the Hobbit a Were-bear?"
One of the good qualities for me about many of Michael's blog posts
is that I find them thought-provoking. Not so much because I
disagree, but because I often find that I think there is more to say
about the subject. Such is also the case here, where I should have
loved to come all the way around the _wearg_ (criminal / outlaw)
that got somehow transformed in Nordic languages to _vargr_ meaning
wolf, and also the use of Werwolf as a proper name, the origin of
the Greek word (Anglicized in lycanthropy) as, probably, a name for
a disease and pelt-wearing viking warriors (_Berserkir_ and
_Úlfhéðnar_). So thanks to Michael for setting in motion a long
train of thought.
MM, Wednesday, 9 November 2011, "The Captains Crazy of
An example of Michael Martinez when he is, in my humble opinion, at
his best. In this case an investigation of the strategic blunders of
the Elves and Men, and in the Noldor, in the Wars of Beleriand in
the last years of the First Age.
Katy Steinmetz, _Time Entertainment_, Wednesday, 16 November 2011,
"Elvish, Klingon and Esperanto -- Why Do We Love To Invent
An interview with Michael Adams who has edited the book _Elvish to
Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages_ investigating some of the
questions regarding invented languages. The comments are a bit
amusing, actually -- apparently a number of the Esperanto speakers
do not like to be lumped with the students of Klingon or Sindarin.
H&S, Saturday, 19 November 2011, "A Working Library, Part One"
Christina Scull has written this first part on the Tolkien library
of herself and Wayne Hammond -- on how they have collected the items
in their Tolkien collection and how it is organized. To any serious
student of Tolkien's work, this is stuff of which dreams is made
H&S, Monday, 21 November 2011, "A Working Library, Part Two"
In this second part of her article on their 'working library' on
Tolkien and related issues, Christina Scull writes about their books
on these related issues. One begins to understand the work and
dedication that has led to Christina and Wayne being recognized as
pre-eminent Tolkien scholars and probably the top scholars in
Jon Michaud, _The New Yorker_, Tuesday, 29 November 2011, "Tolkien:
Tedious or Tremendous?"
In comment to Adam Godnik's critical article (see above), Jon
Michaud takes a look at the history of Tolkien reviews and criticism
in _The New Yorker_.
= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =
LotR Plaza: "A Strong Sense of 'Place'"
I have mentioned this thread before, but it has continued with new
perspectives on the subject. Well worth reading!
LotR Plaza: "A one-man twentieth century alliterative revival"
A revival of an earlier thread -- very interesting to read, and with
some expert information on Germanic alliterative poetry.
LotR Plaza: "Kill count"
From humble beginnings, this thread moves on to offer some
= = = = In Print = = = =
_Mythprint_ Vol.48 no.10, whole no.351
From a purely Tolkien perspective, the highlight of this issue of
_Mythprint_ was a short piece by Mark T. Hooker on 'The Name
Bolger', which is another of these little word-studies that I so
love. In this case I was interested to find that the Danish 'bælg'
(these days only used in the compound 'blæsebælg' - a bellows (lit.
a 'blow-bag'), but it can also be found in archaic contexts as a
word for a sword scabbard) is cognate with the proud hobbit name.
_Amon Hen_ 232
Highlights this time are a short piece by Maggie Burns on Tolkien's
uncle Roland Suffield, and the new column, 'Christopher's Clippings'
(neat alliteration there!) which takes over from 'Jessica's Corner'
in listing media and literary references to Tolkien.
_Mallorn_ issue 52
From a very self-centred perspective, the important fact of this
issue of _Mallorn_ is of course my review of Phelpstead's _Tolkien
and Wales_. However, of actual interest I found Nancy Martsch's
editorial, 'Consider the Context', in which she carefully advices us
to _always_ consider the context in which Tolkien wrote or said
something, and that 'Tolkien's words aren't the Gospel. Tolkien
wasn't a prophet.' Well said! There are other articles that look
promising, but as I haven't had a chance to read them all, any
commentary on my part will have to wait.
This is another arrival that I haven't had time to look at yet
beyond scanning the list of contents. There are at least three
essays that look very promising, and I'm looking forward to finding
the time to read this _Mythlore_ (hopefully some time between
Christmas and New Year).
= = = = Web Sites = = = =
A new on-line book-shop focusing on Tolkien books and collectibles,
but also with items by other authors.
Whether or not one likes Michael Tolkien's writings as, I should
say, preciously little to do with whether one likes his
grandfather's. He is, however, J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson, and on his
website are some essays with personal memories of his grandfather.
Oxford University Podcasts
Numerous podcasts and podcast series from the University of Oxford.
Among these several of interest to a Tolkien student -- e.g. the
'Tolkien at Oxford' series:
= = = = 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
Pieter Collier (PC) -- "The Tolkien Library"
Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. -- "Wormwoodiana"
Corey Olsen (CO), "The Tolkien Professor"
David Bratman (DB), "Kalimac"
and the old home:
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
Henry Gee (HG) 'cromercrox', "The End of the Pier Show"
David Simmons (DS), "Aiya Ilúvatar"
Michael Martinez (MM), "Tolkien Studies Blog"
Michael Martinez (MM), "Middle-earth"
Troels Forchhammer (TF), "Parmar-kenta"
_Mythprint_ -- 'The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society'
_Amon Hen_ -- the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society
- and others
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.
If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you
haven't understood it yet.
- Niels Bohr (1885-1962)