So, we have now reached the ninth issue of my attempt to extract the
best (in my highly subjective estimate) of Tolkien related
'goings-on' on the 'net. This issue is a little delayed, for which I
apologize: an unfortunate combination of business both in the
on-line Tolkien world and in my own work and private life -- there
are, after all, times when, against all rational logic, other things
must be prioritized before Tolkien . . .
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
= = = = News = = = =
Tuesday, 4 January 2011, "Iran to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien's
Just a curious little bit of information out of a country that is
not exactly known for its openess to Western culture. Iran's
Association of Children and Teenager's Authors celebrated Tolkien's
birthday, and the Fantasy Academy of Iran held its first session
this winter on assessing Tolkien's work.
DB, Thursday, 6 January 2011, "Words by JRRT"
David Bratman discusses music that is not only inspired by Tolkien's
work, but which actually sets music to Tolkien's words. It appears
that the Tolkien Estate has adopted a policy of not allowing anyone
to do this any longer (apparently this was done 'some years ago'),
leaving the Danish/English Tolkien Ensemble to be the last to set
music to Tolkien words and publish -- at least for some time.
H&S, Sunday, 9 January 2011, "The Tolkien Collector no. 31"
Wayne and Christina announce that issue no. 31 of _The Tolkien
Collector_ is 'almost ready for posting to subscribers.'
JC, Thursday, 20 January 2011, "A new trend on Youtube - Reading the
books by JRR Tolkien"
Apparently fans reading out of Tolkien's books has become a new
trend on YouTube. Pieter gives some examples and some background.
PC, Sunday, 23 January 2011, "Overview of JRR Tolkien related news
from last week"
Pieter Collier has begun to make a weekly overview of
Tolkien-related items in the news. Some of these items will also
appear on my list, but most probably will not. You can find these,
and other articles that I do not include here, in the archives of
Pieter's _Tolkien Library_ website:
'Trotter', Sunday, 30 January 2011, "Year's Work and Review of
Links to a number of articles by Tolkien in various Oxford
publications -- unfortunately one does need to have access rights
(and I don't know how to get that).
DAA, Sunday, 30 January 2011, "Wormwood indexed, also Avallaunius,
Faunus and Tolkien Studies"
Douglas A. Anderson announces an on-line database of magazines that
has now indexed some journals that he is involved with, including
_Tolkien Studies_. The database is available at
= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
ArwenAmidala, Saturday, 1 January 2011, "Survival of the
A collection of four 'reaction papers' addressing some very
different aspects of Tolkien's work, _The Lord of the Rings_, _Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight_, _The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún_,
_The Children of Húrin_, _The Silmarillion_ and probably other stuff
that I have already forgotten ;) Quite interesting -- there are
some things that I don't necessarily agree with, which I consider a
high quality, since, at least in this case, it shows that the
analysis and opinions are not merely indifferent.
BC, Monday, 3 January 2011, "Tolkien and the sea-yearning -- the
meaning of Earendil"
The two key passages, in my opinion, are
I think Tolkien regarded the sea longing as an aspect or
representation of saintliness, where sainthood is
conceptualized as being a link between the earthly and
heavenly realms, the saint as intercessor for humankind
He [...] wrote about those individuals (and races) who
were subject to this sea-yearning, and seemed to accord
them the highest esteem -- yet I would guess Tolkien
himself did not directly share this yearning, which is
why he wrote comparatively little about the sea itself,
and even less about the experience of sea-going.
It is a very interesting idea, and I should very much like to hear
your comments on this.
AH, Monday, 3 January 2011, "Wagner and Tolkien Thread: Strange Ring
Andrew continues his investigations into similarities, parallels, or
whatever we wish to call it, between Wagner and Tolkien. Personally
I don't like Wagner, and I am aware that this makes me more
sceptical than I would probably otherwise be, but I do try to keep
an open mind, and Andrew's posts are generally quite interesting.
BC, Friday, 7 January 2011, "The essential meaning and purpose of
the Notion Club Papers"
Bruce Charlton is moving on from the specific to the general.
Admitting that he has been brooding obsessively (his own words!)
over the Notion Club Papers (NCP), he takes a stab at the ultimate
intention behind the text. In essence he thinks that the NCP was
supposed to establish the link between the mythical world of his
legendarium and the modern world: a replacing of the Eriol /
DB, Saturday, 8 January 2011, "the Inklings in fiction"
Announcing an update of his list of fictionalisations of Inklings,
either individually or as a group, David Bratman has a list that is
much longer than I had thought, currently ranging from 1933 to
BC, Saturday, 8 January 2011, "Curing the 'vulgarization' of England
-- from Smith of Wootton Major"
Continuing from his entry on "[t]the essential meaning and purpose
of the Notion Club Papers", Bruce Charlton here combines his ideas
on what Tolkien was trying to achieve with the Notion Club Papers
with what is know about Tolkien's thoughts on his short story 'Smith
of Wootton Major'. As usual Charlton's observations are interesting
BC, Friday, 21 January 2011, "An imaginary completed Notion Club
Papers -- form and character"
This was a busy day on Bruce Charlton's blog. In this first entry on
this day he shares some ideas and thoughts on what a the Notion Club
Papers might have looked like if Tolkien had ever finished them --
the ideas presented here are then built upon in the following
entries published on this Friday.
BC, Friday, 21 January 2011, "Who is Dolbear? A wizard/ angel/
messenger from Faery"
A good thing about Charlton's Notion Club Papers blog is that he
normally uses a title that actually tells you what he is discussing
in the entry -- an old-fashioned virtue, I know, but I like it ;-)
Dolbear is a character in the Notion Club Papers, and Charlton here
ponders the significance of this character, speculating that he may
be a kind of messenger from Faërie or a human link to Faërie. This
links to some of the things that Charlton said in earlier entries
this month about the inhabitants of Faërie actively seeking to renew
the links between Faërie and the world of humans.
ArwenAmidala, Friday, 21 January 2011, "In which I argue against the
Professor with great fear and trepidation."
ArwenAmidala discusses the _Battle of Maldon_ and Tolkien's
interpretation. Taking into account Tolkien's propensity for
rhetorics[*], I am not convinced that she is actually arguing so
much against Tolkien. It appears to me that Tolkien's main point was
that the use of _ofermod_ is meant negatively, and it does not
appear that she disagrees with this. (Of course, to a Dane it is
very hard to imagine that the word could be positive: the Danish
word _overmod_ does mean excessive pride / self-confidence /
[*] See for instance also the essays by Michael Drout and Tom
Shippey in LotR Plaza's Scholars' Forum:
BC, Friday, 21 January 2011, "The Notion Club Papers -- why England,
It will not have escaped the notice of the observant reader that I
am rather fond of Bruce Charlton's Notion Club Papers blog. A part
of this is that he often comes up with ideas and thoughts that I
would not have thought of myself. Of course that also means that I
am often not convinced by his arguments, but it is nonetheless
interesting to see his ideas. This entry, in which he discusses the
reasons why the Notion Club Papers are set in Oxford, England, is a
good example of ideas that are interesting and thought-provoking
even though I don't think he is entirely right.
AH, Saturday, 29 January 2011, "Langon -- The Mouth of Melko -- Some
Etymological Detective Work"
An interesting piece of analysis by Andy Higgins -- Langon, the
Mouth of Melko, indeed!
= = = = Reviews = = = =
Remember to keep an eye on <http://www.mythsoc.org/reviews/> where
the Mythopoeic Society is publishing review -- many of which have
previously appeared in either _Mythprint_ or _Mythlore_. This month
we got, among others, Jason Fisher's review of Dimitra Fimi's 2009
book, _Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits_
that first appeared in _Mythlore_ 111/112 (Fall/winter 2010).
Wednesday, 5 January 2011, "Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative
Process by Arne Zettersten"
Not so much a review, actually, but rather a bit of reminiscing
about meeting Arne Zettersten (and others) along with an
announcement of Zettersten's upcoming book.
AH, Saturday, 15 January 2011, "_Looking for the King -- An Inklings
Novel_ By David Downing -- A Review"
There has been a bit of attention for this particular book. The
author is professor of English at Elizabethtown College and a
well-known Lewis scholar, and the dialogue he gives to the inklings
is drawn from what they have actually said or written. Andy Higgins
is positive about the book, though not as overwhelming as Pieter
Collier was (see the transactions for November 2010).
JF, Monday, 24 January 2011, "Middle-earth and Beyond -- first
More information on the upcoming collection edited by Kathleen Dubs
and Janka Kašcáková, _Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World
of J.R.R. Tolkien_. Another collection of critical essays on
Tolkien's work, arguing that it is different because the editors say
so. Thinking of the volumes that sit unread on my shelves, I think
it's going to take a couple of positive reviews to convince me to
buy this volume.
JF, Friday, 28 January 28 2011, "The Bones of the Ox"
Following in the tradition that I have established of including
announcements of books in the review section, we have here Jason
Fisher's announcement that his book (as editor and contributor),
_The Bones of the Ox": J.R.R. Tolkien and Source Criticism_ is
forthcoming. This is one book that I am fairly sure that I will buy,
if nothing else then because Jason describes its purpose as being in
part 'to explain and justify source criticism as a valid critical
approach to Tolkien's works'. Being somewhat wary of source
criticism myself (it _can_ be done very well, I think, but there are
many examples where it is not), a book that sets out to justify it,
and to 'lay out a systematic methodology for how it ought to be
conducted' will be a good opportunity to get a vocabulary to express
what I think is good and useful about source criticism and to
express my own critique of source criticism (the bad kind).
= = = = Interesting discussions = = = =
AH, Saturday, 8 January 2011, "The History of Middle Earth -- A
Chapter by Chapter Exploration"
This is not the discussion in itself, but it inspired by a kind of
'Chapter of the Week' concept sprung from the Tolkien course given
by Dimitra Fimi. Unfortunately they have chosen to use Facebook for
this extremely interesting project, and the discussion interface on
Facebook is abominably bad, so my expectations for this are not too
high (already the amount of posts for each chapter seem to be
petering out). Still, there is some intersting comments in some of
the first chapters, and Dimitra Fimi has contributed some comments.
Various, "Master of Words, by Words Mastered"
The thread is started in December, but I have not become aware of it
before January. The overall theme is to explore the relationship
between Tolkien's philological work and his fictional work. One of
the things that seem to be emerging is a view of Tolkien not as a
family man, a philogist, a poet and an epic author, but as one whole
person whose personality found outlets in various ways. The main
focus, however, is Tolkien's relationship to words and language and
how this has influenced all his work.
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
Comments, idle thoughts, curious articles and what-nots that don't
really fit in any of the other categories that I have created.
3 January 2011, "Becoming J.R.R. Tolkien"
A nice enough little piece on Legacy.com about some of Tolkien's
sources of inspiration. There is nothing new or controversial here
(though it is not entirely precise in all details), and I include it
mostly as an example of the tributes to Tolkien on the occasion of
BC, Wednesday, 5 January 2011, "A superhero Fellowship of the Ring"
Charlton is playing with the idea of creating a more high-powered
fellowship to take the Ring to Mount Doom. Personally I disagree
strongly with his assessment of Sam, but it's a funny idea in any
Justin Olivetti, Friday, 7 January 2011, "The Road to Mordor: The
A tribute to the Professor from a gamer of 'The Lord of the Rings
On-line' game, detailing for other gamers a quest-chain within the
game that is a tribute to Tolkien. Perhaps one ought to try out this
game one day . . .
JDR, Friday, 7 January 2011, "A Tolkienian Puzzle"
In essence John Rateliff is asking what made Tolkien choose to
abandon the prose format of _The Book of Lost Tales_ and adopt the
narrative poetic format of the _The Lays of Beleriand_. He spends a
bit more thought on it, but doesn't come up with any suggestions.
PC, Friday, 7 January 2011, "Avoid Bying Fake Tolkien Signatures on
Sound advice from Pieter Collier, who not only advises you to avoid
the fake signatures (I could have done that), but also on how you
can go about at least reducing the risk of buying a fake Tolkien
BC, Sunday, 23 January 2011, "Free-will, purpose, prophecy and
providence in Tolkien"
Quoting from 'The Quest of Erebor' as published in _Unfinished
Tales_, Bruce Charlton makes the following statements:
The Lord of the Rings is permeated by a deep understanding
of the Christian concept of how free-will is compatible
with with purpose, prophecy and providence.
When such matters seem seem paradoxical, or merely muddled,
this is well worth pondering.
I agree on this (obviously -- I have myself spent quite some time
pondering this), and though I don't really think that a blog is an
appropriate medium for that discussion, I do hope that Charlton will
take up the thread in another blog entry.
AH, Sunday, 23 January 2011, "To Have and To Have Not"
Andy Higgins is learning Finnish and in that connection he shares
some thoughts on how the idea of 'to have' is phrased in some
PC, Monday, 24 January 2011, "The amazing art of bookbinding"
Pieter Collier has made a series of articles on bindings for
Tolkien's books, where he looks at some absolutely fabulous bindings
-- the good thing is that the price of these is so high that it is
likely to stay outside my reach forever: that way I can read the
articles without getting any 'my precious' urges ;-)
So far this series comprises:
"The Lord of the Rings -- Part 1"
"The Lord of the Rings -- Part 2"
PC, Monday, 31 January 2011, "The most expensive copies of The
Hobbit in the World -- Association Copies"
Following up on his articles on rebound (and very expensive) copies
of Tolkien's books, Pieter here goes through some of the most
expensive copies of _The Hobbit_ that have been sold on auctions --
the top scorer being sold at a staggering £60,000!
Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
- /Reaper Man/ (Terry Pratchett)
I have forgotten to add the "preview" part to all the tinyurl links
- I am sorry! They all, in my intention, refer to the URL that is
immediately above the tinyurl (I can, of course, not entirely
guarantee that I have made no mistakes).
It is the theory which decides what can be observed.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
There is a parallel of sorts between the sea-longing of the Elves and
the longing of Men for something beyond the world, which longing is
tied tightly to their mortality. The sea-longing entices (many? most?
nearly all?) Elves out of Middle-Earth over the seas on the "straight
road" to Aman. The longing of Men entices (all but one: Tuor?) Men out
of Arda entirely, to a destination unknown to the living.
Tolkien never tells us anything much about /either/ race's journey.
The "highest esteem" in which he holds BOTH journeys may be based
mainly on that of Men: after all, this is presumably their trip to
heaven. The sea-journey of the Elves to Aman is almost a pale
imitation of Men's journey to God.
I'm sure there is more to say on this, but I feel I'm getting too
close to starting some speculation on Tolkien's real-life religious
Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
"Most books didn't say 'And then they refused to give up, no matter
how sensible it would have been, because that would've been too
embarrassing'; but a great deal of history made a lot more sense that
way." [Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality]