So, October. That's my birthday month, and I treated myself to a
couple of new Tolkien books: _The Art of the Hobbit_ by J.R.R.
Tolkien edited by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, _A Tolkien
Tapestry: Pictures to accompany The Lord of the Rings_ by Cor Blok
edited by Pieter Collier, and _Parma Eldalamberon XV_ - 'Si Qente
Feanor & Other Elvish Writings_. They have now all arrived, and I'm
looking forward to get more acquainted with them (having so far only
found time for a brief perousal of each). I've saved a little for
Flieger's _Green Suns and Faerie: Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien_, but
that was unavailable when I ordered.
Also, I have finished reading Jason Fisher's book, _Tolkien and the
Study of his Sources_ -- another very good book overall (though also
with a few examples of less excellent scholarship).
Reviews of all will be forthcoming on my blog, _Parmar-kenta_:
>, when I find the time.
But the Tolkien Transactions is (mainly) about the internet and what
is going on there that I have found interesting.
= = = = News = = = =
Pat Reynolds, _The Return of the Ring_, Sunday, 2 October 2011,
"Special Guest: Jef Murray"
What it says . . .
Pat Reynolds, _The Return of the Ring_, Sunday, 9 October 2011,
"Special Guest: Ted Nasmith"
Again, as per the headline.
Rene van Rossenberg, Wednesday, 12 October 2011, "25th Anniversary
of Tolkien Shop Report"
A brief report from the silver anniversary of the Tolkien Shop: the
only (physical) store in the world dedicated entirely to Tolkien.
For the shop itself see <http://www.tolkienshop.com/
= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
Matthew R. Bardowell, _Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts_,
Friday, 1 January 2010, "J. R. R. Tolkien's creative ethic and its
This brilliant source study investigates, as the title suggests, the
influence of the Finnish Kalevala on Tolkien's writings, but does so
at another level than much other source criticism. Bardowell looks
into the thematic content by studying the ethics of creation that
underlie the two works and comparing these, he concludes that
Tolkien was indeed influenced by the Finnish epic. The beauty of
this is that regardless of whether, or how far, you agree with
Bardowell, you can probably learn something about Tolkien by reading
this article: if nothing else, it can be read as an excellent
example of comparative criticism.
AH, Sunday, 2 October 2011, "Across the Bridge of Tavrobel"
Andy Higgins has been on a trip to Great and Little Haywood and
Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire in search of Tolkien's Tavrobel
from _The Book of Lost Tales_, and he claims to have stood on the
'Bridge of Tavrobel' though he is not sure that he really did see
Gilfanon's house, the 'House of the Hundred Chimneys' when looking
at Shugborough Hall.
MM, Monday, 3 October 2011, "Why is Middle-earth Segregated in The
The segregation here seems to refer to the (relative) isolation of
the communities that Bilbo and the Dwarves pass through: the Shire,
Rivendell, Beorn's house, the Elvenking's halls and Lake Town. Of
all these only the last two seem to have some kind of communication,
whereas in _The Lord of the Rings_ it is evident that these
far-flung pockets of civilisation are all in communication, even if
there is no regular post-service outside the Shire.
JF, Sunday, 9 October 2011, "The Poros and the Bosphorus"
Jason Fisher proposes a speculative Primary World derivation of the
name of the Poros -- the river that flows from the Ephel Duath into
the Anduin and forms the southern border of Ithilien -- by
suggesting the Greet word _Poros_, the last element of Bosphorus.
Jason's hypothesis certainly seems possible to me, but it will
require stronger evidence to finally convince me (and even stronger
evidence to convince me that it was a deliberate choice by Tolkien).
The ensuing discussion in the comments to the blog is quite
interesting as well, so be sure to read the comments also.
AH, Sunday, 9 October 2011, "Be Very Qwiet, I am Hunting Tolkienian
Andy Higgins is hunting Tolkien's use of woodwoses in his fiction -
a very interesting study that includes occurences in the Anglo-Saxon
sources that Tolkien worked with.
BC, Tuesday, 11 October 2011, "From Hobbit-sequel to Lord of the
Rings - the role of The Notion Club Papers"
Bruce Charlton here argues that the Lewis / Tolkien agreement that
led to the space trilogy for Lewis and to the _Lost Road_ and the
Notion Club Papers_ for Tolkien was, for _both_ authors a turning
point that led their mythopoeia in new directions. The further claim
that _The Lord of the Rings_ would never have become other than a
new _Hobbit_ -- a book of the same style as _The Hobbit_ -- without
the impetus from _The Lost Road_ and _The Notion Club Papers_ and
that Tolkien's evolving Silmarillion mythology had less to do with
the 'growing up' of the _Hobbit_ sequel seems to me to require
Lynn Forest-Hill, Wednesday, 19 October 2011, "Tolkien and Bevis:
romancing the foundation of myth"
Another excellent contribution to the 'Scholars' Forum' series at
_The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza_ website, Forest-Hill
discusses the role of medieval romances in general as inspiration
for Tolkien, and that of _Bevis of Hampton_ in particular.
MM, Wednesday, 19 October 2011, "Were There Two Thrains in the
Original Hobbit or Just One Thrain?"
A discussion that has, at times, been conducted with some heat,
Martinez here ends on the conclusion that 'J.R.R. Tolkien
accidentally created two Thrains in the first edition of The Hobbit
and he had to both acknowledge this error and fix it in the next
edition'. This seems to me a fair representation of my understanding
also -- I might have wished to stress the inadvertent nature of the
accident, but that's mere dressing. Another way to have fixed the
error could of course have been to remove the superfluous Thrain,
but I think that Tolkien was more apt to invent a story that made
the error not an error but an oversight: 'Ooops, did I forget to
tell you more about that _other_ Thrain (whom I had no idea
existed)? Sorry about that, but here goes:' ;-)
= = = = Book News = = = =
Damien Bador, _Mythprint_, Tuesday, 4 October 2011, "Tolkien and
'This review originally appeared in Mythprint 48:7 (#348) in July
Damien Bador finds Phelpstead's book sligtly more academic in style
than I did, but he, too, is generally positive about _Tolkien and
JDR, Friday, 14 October 2011, "New Tolkien Calendar"
John Rateliff still doesn't like Cor Blok's art, but nonetheless has
bought the 2012 Tolkien Calendar in which it features.
JDR, Sunday, 16 October 2011, "The New Arrival: Ruud's Companion"
John Rateliff reviews Jay Rudd's _Critical Companion to J. R. R.
Tolkien: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work_ ending 'So, my
initial impression: an impressive achievement, but to be used with
some caution.' At $75 it may be a little too expensive for most
amateur enthusiasts such as myself: in particular with comments such
as this (also John Rateliff's comment that the commentary on _The
Hobbit_ that follows the plot summary 'is a bit eccentric').
Benedicte Page, _The Bookseller_, Monday, 17 October 2011,
"HarperCollins pre-empts Hobbit anniversary"
The big story is of course the publishing of _The Art of the Hobbit_
edited Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull that contains many
previously unpublished sketches and illustrations that Tolkien made
for _The Hobbit_, but this is accompanied by the release of a
single-volume revised edition of John Rateliff's _The History of the
Hobbit_, a pocket-sized _Hobbit_ and a 75th-anniversary boxed-set
edition of _The Hobbit_ along with _The Lord of the Rings_. All of
this is to start the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of _The
Hobbit_ next year.
The news are taken up in several other news-outlets, a few of which
PC, Wednesday, 19 October 2011, "HarperCollins pre-empts The Hobbit
The Tolkien Library story.
Paul Bignell, _The Independent_, Sunday, 23 October 2011, "Lost
Hobbit images get first showing"
This article contains a number of . . . shall we just say
'dramatic exaggerations' and leave it at that :-)
Alison Flood, _The Guardian_, Monday, 24 October 2011, "Tolkien's
Hobbit drawings published to mark 75th anniversary"
Associated with this article from _The Guardian_ is also a
gallery of some of the pictures from the new book.
This is just a small sampling of the many articles on the beginning
of the celebrations of next year's anniversary, most of them
focusing on _The Art of the Hobbit_: congratulations to Christina
Scull and Wayne Hammond for their achievement -- the book is a
delight (so far I have only had time to skim the book and enjoy the
AH, Sunday, 23 October 2011, "From Dragons and Swords to Motor Cars
Andy Higgins makes me want to read _Mr Bliss_! His investigation
into Tolkien's use of 'Gaffer Gamgee' draws on published letters
(nos. 76 and 257 being the primarily relevant, but also nos. 144 and
184), but it is mainly his enthusiasm about the story itself that I
find contagious (my immune system being particularly weak against
that kind of contagion).
= = = = Interviews = = = =
MM, Friday, 14 October 2011, "Interviews With The Scholars"
Michael Martinez here introduces his commendable new series of
e-mail interviews with known Tolkien scholars.
MM, Friday, 14 October 2011, "An Interview with Janet Brennan
A very interesting interview ranging in topics from the personal
(first encounter with Tolkien) over reflections on the state of
Tolkien scholarship today to the interpretative.
MM, Friday, 21 October 2011, "An Interview with John Rateliff"
An excellent interview that, naturally, focuses on _The Hobbit_
along with the two editions of John Rateliff's book.
MM, Friday, 28 October 2011, "An Interview with Wayne Hammond and
The interview with Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull is far-ranging
and highly interesting. It obviously touches on the newest book from
their hand, _The Art of the Hobbit_ as well as the earlier _J.R.R.
Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator_ and a number of the other books,
essays, papers and not least falsifications that they have
contributed to the study of Tolkien.
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
Byron Jennings, Friday, 2 September 2011, "Is that a fact?"
What I found particularly interesting in a Tolkien context about
this blog (that has a completely different focus) is the description
attributed to Carl Weiman about the different views of novices and
experts. While the terms are, of course, debatable when applied to a
wholly different field of study, I think there is a useful reminder
in the distinction between those who seek 'a catalogue of facts' and
those who 'sees patterns, relationships and organization but has no
catalogue of true statements.' I argue that these views do exist
also in Tolkien studies and that they are to some extent
incommensurate (though I think also that it is a more gradual
transition and only the end-points, which very few occupy, are truly
incommensurate), and that it often useful in a discussion to realize
what is the starting point, the perspective, of the other
MM, Wednesday, 21 September 2011, "The Much Bemusing Bloggery of
Online Tolkien Scholarli"
Martinez shares a list of various blogs and websites that he
considers 'people who, in [his] opinion, have something credible and
interesting to say about J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle-earth, or some of
his linguistic or other classical interests.' There was a few blogs
and sites there that I didn't have on my lists (thanks, Michael!),
and though many of these seems to only occasionally have something
to say that will appear here, some of them will doubtlessly
eventually make the list of sources below (I follow many more blogs
and sites than those listed: the listed ones are only those that I
refer to regularly in this collection).
MM, Wednesday, 5 October 2011, "Did J.R.R. Tolkien Invent Orcs?"
I've been interested in the Orcs lately, and was interested to read
Michael Martinez' take on this question. I would add that it does,
of course, depend somewhat on what you mean by 'invent' and that
_The Hobbit_ wasn't the first time Tolkien mentioned Orcs. The Orcs
of _The Lord of the Rings_ derive elements from both the
MacDonaldesque goblins of _The Hobbit_ and the demonic Orcs of the
BC, Saturday, 29 October 2011, "Native language?"
Charlton comments on the idea of native language as described in
Tolkien's _Notion Club Papers_. See also the rewarding discussion
about the strong sense of _place_ below.
Jonathan McCalmont, _Boomtron_, Sunday, 30 October 2011, "DC: The
New Frontier . . . Stripp'd"
Out of the depth of a review of two new DC comic books rise this
In contrast, the world of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
supports the escapist fantasies of millions of adults
because though Tolkien's world is a world where magic
exists and good triumphs over evil, Tolkien also infused
his world with more 'realistic' thematic concerns such as
the cost that the good must pay in order to rid themselves
of evil. The departure of the elves and the scouring of the
Shire echo with the losses of the Second World War and so
make Middle Earth seem that much more real. By keeping one
foot in the real world, Tolkien ensured his creation
remained relevant to modern audiences in a way that
Cinderella simply is not. Thus Tolkien's work demonstrates
the balancing act that modern myths must perform: Make a
story simplistic and you make it irrelevant but make a
story realistic and you run the risk that it will no longer
provide a means of escape.
The review has more to say about escapism, and I find it interesting
though I do not agree with the view that 'the popularity of escapist
media derives from a deep-seated need to immerse ourselves in a
world that makes sense to us' (I believe the popularity derives from
them being a natural and rational -- perhaps even necessary -- means
of making the Primary World make sense to us).
Matthew Wright, Sunday, 30 October 2011, "Why Tolkien wouldn't be
published today -- and what that means for writers now"
While the blog post is interesting enough, there are, I think, two
things that the author doesn't quite get right. The first thing is
in the premise of the title -- Tolkien's _The Lord of the Rings_ was
extremely unlikely to be published also in the fifties, and while we
might discuss degrees of 'extremely unlikely' I think the reasons
that are listed are wrong: these things would also have prevented
publishing in 1954 -- if there is a smaller probability today of an
author such as Tolkien to get published, this is, I believe, more
due to changes in the company structure in the publishing industry:
it is, I deem, more likely to find the kind of willingness to accept
a loss in order to publish a prestige book in smaller, family-owned
publishing houses than in the huge companies of today. The other
thing that Wright, in my view, doesn't get quite right is the
popularity of _The Lord of the Rings_ prior to the release of the
paperback editions. LotR was actually selling extremely well for its
price and availability, and the main reason for the sales numbers to
soar in the mid-sixties was, I believe, the dramatic changes in
price and availability that associated the release of the Ace and
Ballantine paperback editions.
= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =
LotR Plaza: "A Strong Sense of 'Place'"
This thread investigates the strong sense of place in Tolkien's
writings. This includes specific places, but it also takes off where
Carl Phelpstead left in his investigation of Tolkien's general ideas
of regional identity in _Tolkien and Wales_.
RABT & AFT: "Elrond remaining in Rivendell"
This discussion has, as discussions in RABT & AFT are wont, wandered
down every possible by-road and side alley, including discussions of
the the One Ring, what Sauron knew and guessed about Aragorn (prior
to Aragorn joining the Company of the Ring) and the early history of
particularly the Three. Good stuff!
= = = = In Print = = = =
I was pleased to find, in _Mythprint_ issue 351, a small piece by
Mark T. Hooker on 'The Name Bolger.' Though I often find it
difficult to believe that Tolkien was actually conscious of all that
is suggested, I always like these word-games very much. In this
case the Hobbit name Bolger is tied to the Anglo Saxon _bælg_ which
is again related to Latin _bulga_. This immediately attracted my
attention as _bælg_ is in contemporary use in Danish where it is
used for pods (e.g. pea pods) and all such are called _bælgfrugter_
(_bælg_ fruits, pod fruits), and from the word for the bellows,
_blæsebælg_ (blowing _bælg_). It is also used for a sword scabbard,
though this is considered archaic and is these days only used in
poetry or deliberately archaisms. It would be a fine play on this
to have, in the Danish translation, Fredegar, as he collapses on the
doorstep of a house in the beginning of chapter 11 of _The Lord of
the Rings_, gasp as a bellows.
= = = = Web Sites = = = =
Tolkien Studies Blog, Michael Martinez
Sometimes you wonder how it could be that you had missed something
-- that is very much the case for me with Michael Martinez's blog on
(which is, as far as I know, not affiliated
with the scholarly journal in any way). Let that, then, be
Middle-earth Blog, Michael Martinez
Martinez also runs a Tolkien-related blog also on the Xenite site.
He is far too prolific for me to go through all the posts, and many
of them are addressed mainly at Tolkien students that are not
familiar with _The History of Middle-earth_, Tolkien's letters and
other stuff. Still, many of the posts do contain rather interesting
bits of information, and I can only recommend looking them over. In
these transactions, however, I will focus on those of his posts that
seem to me the most interesting.
According to one of the creators, 'Tolkien Index is nothing more (or
less) than a page index of names for publications by J.R.R. Tolkien
lacking an index (with a focus on Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar
Tengwar).' Currently the index covers PE 17 and 19, VT 6, 26, 45, 46
along with some things from _Quettar_ #13 and #14. Trusting that the
authors will continue the work, this promises to be a very valuable
= = = = 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.
The idea that time may vary from place to place is a
difficult one, but it is the idea Einstein used, and it is
correct - believe it or not.
- Richard Feynman