Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.

Tolkien Transactions XLVI

Skip to first unread message

Troels Forchhammer

Mar 13, 2014, 6:09:38 PM3/13/14
February 2014

This issue is already horribly delayed, so I need to finish this and
get it out 'as is'. I have skipped several things that I would
normally have commented upon, but given the lateness, I hope this
will be acceptable ...

These transactions are posted to the usenet newsgroups
rec.arts.books.tolkien,, and alt.books.inklings, and
the usenet version can be accessed at
These transactions are also posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry
into the books): <>
and on LotR Fanatics Plaza in the books forum:

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the
following headlines:
1: Tolkien Reading Day
2: The Great War
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: The Blog Roll
10: Sources

= = = = Tolkien Reading Day = = = =
Tolkien Reading Day, 25th of March, is fast approaching, so I will
include this March update from Marcel Aubron-Bülles where he lists a
number of the events that are available to Tolkien enthusiasts and
casual by-passers alike

MB, Thursday, 6 March 2014, "Tolkien Reading 2014 -- Event calendar,
Find the Tolkien Reading Day event closest to you -- and attend it!

= = = = The Great War = = = =

The Great War, or the first world war, began in 1914, a hundred
years ago this year. The BBC has set up a web-site a web-site, and
will be transmitting programmes and adding material to this web-site
throughout the four years from the centenary of the break-out of the
war to the centenary of the peace:
You can find much on this site that is of interest also to
understanding the general context of English society in this

The influence of the Great War on Tolkien's writings has been
explored by John Garth in his brilliant book, _Tolkien and the Great
War_, as well as in various essays and papers and recently also on
his blog. However, we should expect that this will be explored again
(not least when we come to the centenary of the Battle of Somme and,
in Tolkienian circles, the centenary of his first Lost Tales), and
we can hope that the explorations will add details to the publicly
available knowledge of Tolkien in and after his experiences in the
trenches in France.

Under this heading, then, I will collect some of the pieces that are
bound to appear on this topic.

BBC, Thursday, 20 February 2014, "King Edward's School, Birmingham:
JRR Tolkien's Schooldays"
A short piece centering on King Edward's School and Tolkien's circle
of friends, the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, including a reading
of a letter sent to Tolkien by the then headmaster, and father of
Tolkien's friend, Rob Gilson, after Tolkien had written condolances
upon the death of Rob Gilson in the war.

Andy Richardson, _Birmingham Mail_, Sunday, 23 February 2014,
"Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings battle scenes were inspired by WW1
Just a few facts, again centered about King Edward's School and the
circle of friends there to which Tolkien belonged.

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
I don't think you need me to point out the many intriguing headlines
on old Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian culture, so I will just point
out one that have stuck out more than usual for me:
"The very first Anglo Saxon toast?" (12 Feb) -- recorded by Geoffrey
of Monmouth the idea of drinking to the ruler's health of course
echoes in Éomer's joyful greeting when seeing Théoden outside
Meduseld, "Westu Théoden hál!" as well as in the Notion Club papers
where the king in the Anglo-Saxon story greets the skald saying,
"Westu hal, Ælfwine"

PC, Tuesday, 11 February 2014, "Important letter regarding the
publication of The Lord of the Rings on auction"
A letter sent by J.R.R. Tolkien to one Cotton Minchin, parts of a
draft of which was used for letter no. 187 in _The Letters of J.R.R.
Tolkien_, has been up for auction. Pieter has transcribed the letter
and offers both images and transcription here (allowing the reader
to catch any errors themselves, though Pieter has done an excellent

JGa, Thursday, 13 February 2014, "Sam Gamgee and Tolkien's batmen"
Reflections from John Garth following some comments from the letter
discussed above. Anything John Garth writes about Tolkien's early
life is definitely always worth reading.

= = = = Commentary = = = =

Fr. Angelo, Monday, 10 February 2014, "Is Tolkien's Fantasy
It appears that an anonymous Catholic priest has argued that
Tolkien's fantasy (and particularly _The Lord of the Rings_) is not
Catholic. This, then, is a refutal of that argument by another
Catholic (who would, it appears, not particularly agree with Tolkien
in his views about the Faith). Though not myself a Catholic and
generally very wary of overly Catholic readings of Tolkien, I
nonetheless found that there are interesting elements in this
measured defence of the Catholicism of Tolkien's _The Lord of the

Alison Flood, _The Guardian_, Tuesday, 11 February 2014, "JRR
Tolkien advised by WH Auden to drop romance"
An interesting letter that Tolkien wrote to to Allen & Unwin in 1955
has come up for auction. In this letter Tolkien reports from a
letter he had received from W.H. Auden in which the latter urged him
to drop the romance between Arwen and Aragorn, based on the galleys
that Auden had been able to read before _The Return of the King_ was
finalised. Auden, however, appears not to have had access to the
'Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen' given in appendix A, without
which I think that there is a good chance that I, too, would agree
with Auden's assessment.

Fr. Longenecker, Wednesday, 12 February 2014, "Was Tolkien an
Another piece written in reaction to (but not as an explicit
response to) the argument against the Catholicism of Tolkien's

Kendall Wild, Wednesday, 19 February 2014, "The curse of the ring"
The foolish Roman ring theory again ... :-( I do very much wish
that we could lay this idea to the grave -- at least until such a
time that there can actually be produced any shred of evidence that
would support it. The evidence that is available very strongly
suggests that Tolkien _never_ went to the dig site of Collingwood's
excavation (he is not on the list of visitors) and there is not a
shred of evidence that he ever knew of the "Senicianus" ring, which
is not mentioned in the report for which he contributed a
philological discussion of the name "nodens". That something is "not
impossible" is a very far cry from saying that it is likely -- it
is, in actual fact, not impossible that the London metropolitan area
will tomorrow spontaneously jump a metre into the air by a process
known as quantum tunnelling, but it is, admittedly, extremely
unlikely. Based on the current _actual_ evidence (as opposed to
speculation) this theory appears only marginally less unlikely.

Karl Seigfried, Thursday, 20 February 2014, "TOLKIEN ARCHIVES FIELD
TRIP, Part One"
An interesting tale about a field trip to the Marquette with his
students. Also see part 2 (linked from part one)

= = = = Reviews and Book News = = = =

HG, Wednesday, 12 February 2014, "Science of Middle-Earth: New
Paperback Edition"
What it says, really. The second edition of Gee's _The Science of
Middle-earth_, hitherto only published as e-book, will now also
become available in paperback. My review of the book is available on
my blog:

JF, Friday, 14 February 2014, "A Brief History of The Hobbit"
Announcing an abbreviated edition of Rateliff's _History of the
Hobbit_ ...
See also JDR, Friday, 28 February 2014, "A brief history of 'The
Where John Rateliff tells about this upcoming book.

JGa, Monday, 17 February 2014, "The Tolkien brothers in Bumble
John Garth's review of _Black and White Ogre Country_ by Hilary
Tolkien, little brother of JRRT, reproduced on the occasion of 120
anniverary of Hilary Tolkien's birth. Garth's appreciation of the
hints of a lost world that lie hidden in the reminisces of Hilary
Tolkien is evident, and having tried myself to relate to my own
children the sense of growing up in a world before the internet
where homes without television sets were not uncommon, I, too, can
appreciate that sense of a long lost world that lies in these "Lost
Tales of Hilary Tolkien".

AS, Monday, 17 February 2014, "The Tolkien Encyclopedia & Reader's
Diary: A Look Back"
Occasioned by the release of "The Tolkien Encyclopedia" in a
paperback edition, Anna Smol takes a look back on contributing to
the encyclopedia itself, and on the high-quality reader's diary that
is an indispensable additional resource when using the

= = = = Interviews = = = =

Susan Cahill, _Talking Books_, Newstalk, Monday, 17 February 2014,
"Conjuring fantastical worlds"
Ronan Breathnach, Saturday, 15 February 2014, "Hobbits and high
Starting about 21'50" is an interview with Helen Conrad-O'Briain,
Gerard Hynes and Darryl Jones who have edited (Conrad-O'Briain and
Hynes) and contributor (Jones) to the book _J.R.R. Tolkien: the
Forest and the City_, presenting the papers from the homonymous
conference in Dublin in the autumn of 2012. Well worth the roughly
20+ minutes with many astute observations.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

JGi, Friday, 7 February 2014, "The House Of Tom Bombadil"
Four hobbits approaching the house where Tom stands waiting ...

JGi, Sunday, 9 February 2014, "Evening In The Shire."
Another of Joe Gilronans charming Shire paintings.

Jef Murray, Wednesday, 26 February 2014, "The Arkenstone"
Bilbo presenting the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elvenking.

Jef Murray, Wednesday, 26 February 2014, "A Canticle for Elessar"
A beautiful painting -- I suppose of Arwen in Lothlórien haunted by
the memory of her dead husband, Elessar.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

MB, Tuesday, 25 February 2014, "Update your blogroll to include some
great Tolkienists"
A select list of Tolkien blogs that I am both humbled and extremely
proud that my own Parma-kenta has been deemed worthy to be included

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're
interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is
something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit
with a monthly theme. This month I have (due to the lateness of my
posting) decided to skip the usual summaries -- try reading also the
other posts: you are almost guaranteed to find something interesting

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (S&H), "Too Many Books and
Never Enough"

Jason Fisher (JF) -- "Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish"

Pieter Collier (PC), "The Tolkien Library"

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA), "Tolkien and Fantasy"

John D. Rateliff (JDR) -- "Sacnoth's Scriptorium"

Marcel Aubron-Bülles (MB), "The Tolkienist"

David Bratman (DB), "Kalimac"
and the old home:

John Garth (JGa), "John Garth"

Jenny Dolfen (JD), "Jenny's Sketchbook"

Holly Rodgers (HR), "Teaching Tolkien"

Anna Smol (AS), "A Single Leaf"

Various, The Mythopoeic Society

Morgan Thomsen (MT), "Mythoi"

Emil Johansson (EJ), "LotR Project Blog"

Michael Martinez (MM), "Middle-earth"

Bruce Charlton (BC), "Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers"

= = = = Sources = = = =

No new sources in February 2014

For older sources, see <>

Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

It is the theory which decides what can be observed.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
0 new messages