Tolkien Transactions XXXIV

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Troels Forchhammer

Mar 2, 2013, 4:46:37 AM3/2/13
February 2013

February has been marked by a period of calming of the onslaught of
Tolkien-related news-items that has marked the previous months --
otherwise I would probably have had to give up trying to present
this, as I ran into a combination of off-line obligations in the
latter half of the month that left me with nearly no time to pursue
Tolkien-related matters on-line.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the
following headlines:
1: News
2: Essays and Scholarship
3: Commentary
4: Reviews and Book News
5: Interviews
6: Tolkienian Artwork
7: Other Stuff
8: Rewarding Discussions
9: In Print
10: Web Sites
11: Sources

= = = = News = = = =

Lynn Maudlin, MythCon, Tuesday, 5 February 2013, "Douglas Anderson,
Scholar Guest of Honor"
Douglas Anderson is confirmed as "Scholar Guest of Honor" at MythCon
44. I am always trying to tell myself that limitations of time,
money and other obligations are good for me as they give me
something to dream about :-)

Lynn Maudlin, Friday, 22 February 2013, "Mythcon 44 (July 2013):
Progress Report 1 Available"
If you already know that you will be going to Mythcon this July, you
have probably already seen it. Otherwise taking a look in the
progress report might convince you to consider it seriously (unless
the price of going is prohibitive -- like, if you are, for instance,
from Denmark).

JF, Tuesday, 26 February 2013, "A new blog - Teaching Tolkien"
On the arrival of a new blog in the Tolkien 'blogosphere' -- this
one, as indicated by the name, devoted to the use of Tolkien in
teaching, specifically in basic education (by which I mean the first
ten years of school ... roughly; school systems being so very, very
different from country to country it is impossible to make any hard
limits). Thank you very much for that link, Jason!

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

NMB, Wednesday, 6 February 2013, "Making Middle Earth"
On the meaning, in the _Edda_ of the Old Norse word _Mi�gar�r_ as
used by Snorri in the Norse creation myth. As Brown notes, the
latter part, _gar�r_, can refer both to the fence itself and to that
which has been fenced in (and derived meanings such as
'fortification'), and she notes that Kevin Wanner suggests that
Snorri's meaning may have been the former -- the fence itself, so
that the _Mi�gar�r_ is the fence running down the middle ... Since
_Mi�gar�r_ is usually translated Middle Earth, it is interesting
also in a Tolkien-related context (though it is, of course, quite
clear what Tolkien meant by Middle-earth).

JF, Sunday, 10 February 2013, "Did Tolkien coin the plural
It is usually said that Tolkien coined the plural 'dwarves' himself,
but did he? Jason has found some intriguing examples predating
Tolkien's use, and there are more in the comments. And with all due
respect to Nelson (in the comments -- remember to read them), I
would say that more examples (in works that Tolkien is likely to
have known) confirms the idea of borrowing more than the idea of
several independent coinings, though of course Tolkien's description
of this usage as originally 'a mistake of grammar' points in the
other direction (though I suppose one could argue that such a
mistake also becomes easier to make if one has a model to follow for
The inspiration for Jason's post was a post, from just a few days
before, by John Rateliff on the use of "dwarves" by Roger Zelazny as
certain proof of borrowing from Tolkien:
JDR, Thursday, 7 February 2013, "Zelazny's dwarves"
While I'd agree that Tolkien is the most likely source for Zelazny,
he is evidently not the only possible source, and we cannot claim
definite proof.

NMB, Wednesday, 13 February 2013, "Snorri the Hobbit?"
Nancy Marie Brown has had a Tolkienian month :-) Referring to a
book (linked in the post -- also see under websites below), that
argues that Hobbits share some characteristics with the the old
Norsemen, Brown argues that Snorri Sturluson, the Edda writer, would
himself have made an excellent Hobbit, even down to the lack of
courage. I am not sure to what extent I'd buy any kind of 'source'
argument on this, but the comparison is interesting (also, and
perhaps more specifically, the more general comparison in the book
by St. Clair) and I think a fruitful path of investigation could be
found without claiming the vikings a direct source for the Hobbits
(to what extent, for instance, might Tolkien have let his admiration
of the old northern literature influence his picture of the rural
West Midlands Englishmen that were the more direct source for the

EJ, Saturday, 16 February 2013, "An Interactive Analysis of
Tolkien's Works"
I know I am prejudiced: I love Tolkien and I love statistics, but
... wow! Emil has made a page here that begins a stylometric
analysis of Tolkien's best-known works. There are word-count metrics
(including a special page for characters), sentiment analysis,
character co-occurence network diagrams and other interesting
statistics. I hope that this will prove but the beginning of the use
of stylometric (or leximetric) analyses of Tolkien's works.
See also commentary by Marcel Aubron-B�lles, Sunday, 17 February
2013, "An Interactive Analysis of Tolkien's works -"
where Marcel does an enthused review of Emil's work above.

Karl E. H. Seigfried, Wednesday, 27 February 2013, "Tolkien's
Heathen Feminist, Part One"
Based on Tolkien's admiration for the 'noble northern spirit',
Seigfried here ties �owyn firmly to norse heathen tradition (at
least before she kisses Faramir). This being just part one of two,
it is perhaps unfair to criticize it for things not yet mentioned,
but I do hope that �owyn's change of heart will come up (where she,
in many ways seems to turn away from those aspects of the 'heathen
feminist' that Tolkien may have found inappropriate: she is still a
cup-bringer, but no longer a shieldmaiden).

= = = = Commentary = = = =

Il, February 2013, "The Hobbit Read-Thru"
Starting on the 2nd with his reading of chapter 8, 'Flies and
Spiders', in which Ilverai makes a comparison between Tolkien's
later statements in his essay 'On Fairy-stories' and the
circumstances surrounding Bombur's dream in this chapter. I don't
think the argument is entirely successful, among other things
because it fails to notice the special role of dreams generally in
Tolkien's stories. In a follow-up posting about the same chapter,
Ilverai takes a look at the connections between the _The Hobbit_ and
Tolkien's Silmarillion mythology (unfortunately I do not have the
time needed to write the detailed criticism that this post deserves
-- there is much in it that is good, but also a number of minor
errors that detract from the whole).

BC, Friday, 8 February 2013, "Tolkien nods: The saga of Trotter's
About Trotter, the Hobbit ranger, his clogs, and his feet ... I
quite agree with Charlton that Strider / Aragorn is a distinct
improvement on Trotter, though I am less affected about the story --
creativity usually takes one down a lot of blind alleys before
finding the right path through (just look at the many revisions of,
in particular, the central stories of Tolkien's mythology: Beren the
Elf captured by Tevildo, Prince of cats?).

BC, Saturday, 9 February 2013, "At what precise point did The
Hobbit-sequel change into Lord of the Rings"
While I fully agree with Charlton -- and Shippey that he refers to
-- about the pivotal nature of the ideas that are presented here, I
think the concept of identifying a single point as marking the
change of the second _Hobbit_ into _The Lord of the Rings_ is
mistaken. Still, there is some value in identifying the various
points at which Tolkien has an idea that opens up an imaginative
space for him (and in identifying the idea itself as well as how
that particular idea opens up new narrative possibilities, such as
Shippey does in the essay Charlton quotes from).

David A. King, Thursday, 14 February 2013, "'The Hobbit': A Failed
Cinematic Journey"
Whether one agrees or disagrees with King's assessment of Jackson's
first _Hobbit_ film (I don't agree in every respect myself), his
comments on Tolkien's story are well worth reading (although I am
not sure I agree that the journey "there and back again" is really a
quest -- at least from Bilbo's perspective).

H&S, Sunday, 17 February 2013, "Tolkien Notes 4"
Some various notes including comments on Tolkien-related articles in
the October 2012 issue of _Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine_
and details about the ship and route that Mabel Tolkien and her two
boys, Ronald and Hilary, took when travelling from South Africa to

BC, Thursday, 21 February 2013, "Was Tolkien not a niggler?"
Based on the history of _The Lord of the Rings_ Bruce Charlton
reaches the conclusion that Tolkien wasn't really a natural niggler
(as Tolkien claimed). Looking more broadly at Tolkien's writings, I
come to the opposite conclusion: Tolkien was very much a niggler.

JDR, Monday, February 2013, ""Taking the Part of Trees" (Post Number
One Thousand)"
Congratulations to John Rateliff with his thousand blog posts, and
thanks for them!
His story about relating early to Tolkien's stories because they
take the part of the trees is interesting, just as is his point that
we all respond to these books in different ways. Another example of
the different responses are the various films - and here I don't
just mean that some like a film and others dislike it, but rather
that, regardless of our overall reactions, the aspects that each
dislike or like are so different.

MB, Wednesday, 27 February 2013, "How to misappropriate a gardening
picture. Enter: Clarence Elliott. Exit: J.R.R. Tolkien."
A very nice picture of one Clarence Elliott in his greenhouse taken
by Valerie Finnis has often been misrepresented as being of J.R.R.
Tolkien. It isn't, and Marcel here sets things straight -- though of
course we can only hope that the information will disseminate even
wider than the mistake ...

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

JF, Monday, 4 February 2013, "Vinyar Tengwar #50"
_Vinyar Tengwar_ no. 50 is coming soon! Yay!

MB, Wednesday, 6 February 2013, "Henry Gee for free in the UK:
Download 'The Science of Middle-earth' -- on February, 6th only"
The special offer is of course long past when you read this, but if
you haven't read the review, you should. Marcel's approach to the
book is of course different than mine: he was reading the original
version with the eyes of a translator and Tolkienist, while I was
reading the second edition with the eyes of a scientist and
Tolkienist, but while our approaches to the book differ, we both
agree that it is a highly recommendable read.

Vibeke Rutzou Petersen, Tuesday, 19 February 2013, "Honegger,
Thomas, and Fanfan Chen, eds.: Fastitocalon. Studies in Fantasticism
Ancient to Modern: Immortals and the Undead."
Vibeke Petersen reviews vol. 2 of _Fastitocalon: Studies in
Fantasticism Ancient to Modern_, the scholarly journal edited by
Fanfan Chen and Tolkien scholar Thomas Honegger. This issue seems
not to have any directly Tolkien-related articles, but, based on
Petersen's review, several of the articles take up various subjects
that are related to Tolkien's fantastic writings -- particularly a
number of articles dealing with the use of 'undead' creatures
(zombies, vampires, revenants etc.). Petersen's review is from a
March 2012 issue of _Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts_ that has
been made available on-line at the date given above.

JF, Tuesday, 19 February 2013, "Recent publications"
About some Tolkien-related essays by Jason Fisher himself that have
been published recently. In the comments it would seem that another
very interesting volume might be in the planning.

"HorseLover3000", Thursday, 21 February 2013, "The Hobbit by J. R.
R. Tolkien - Review"
As they write on the site, these reviews are "by kids for kids" and
that is, of course, quite obvious when reading this review of _The
Hobbit_. We are not here dealing with a scholarly analysis or an
adult review, but a short and immediate reaction by one of the
book's intended audience. If it sometimes seems difficult to
recapture that elusive feeling of reading Tolkien's children's tale
as a child, reviews such as this may help.

= = = = Interviews = = = =

Carl E. Olson, _The Catholic World Report blog_, day, February 2013,
"Tolkien and Lewis at the Movies"
"An interview with Dr. Richard Purtill, author of books about J.R.R.
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis." For me the most interesting part of this
was the insight revealed in the answer to the last question, "What
do you think Tolkien would have thought of the films?", including
the final comment, "I'm not sure what he'd think about my books."
This is not to reflect badly on Purtill, who seems to know what he
is talking about, but rather to say that he does indeed know Tolkien
well enough to realise that Tolkien probably would have been averse
even to much of the modern analysis / criticism of his works (and
most likely also to the idea of these transactions).

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Various, February 2013, "The Brothers Grimm"
The fan-art galleries on John Howe's web-site have run a
Grimm-brothers theme this month. As usual it is a mixed pot of
different styles and, let's be frank, levels of skill, but also as
usual it is well worth taking a look.

JD, Sunday, 3 February 2013, "E�rendil the Mariner"
"_�ala �arendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended_"
Though here shortly before being sent over Middle-earth for Men,
this envisioning of E�rendil holding Elwing, still in the shape of
the gull, to his breast is nonetheless captivating.

JDR, Sunday, 10 February 2013, "Tolkien Computer Art"
A commentary on the January issue of _Imagine FX_ where the theme is
illustration of Tolkien's world. See also the magazine web-site:

JD, Tuesday, 13 February 2013, "The Oath has been awakened ..."
The link is to the second of two posts about this piece, of which
the first shows the first (linked from this post) stages of the work
on the painting and this one shows the finished work. The painting
shows the seven sons of F�anor riding -- presumably against

JD, Sunday, 17 February 2013, "The harp no longer sings"
Maglor in some undefined future, where the memory of the High Elves
has all but faded and "where music no longer brings consolation".

John Howe & Alan Lee, Sunday, 24 February 2013, "The 2013 Tolkien Calendar"
A collage of a number of pencil drawings in a collaborative piece
for the 2013 Tolkien Calendar.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

EJ, Friday, 1 February 2013, "A timeline of the Dwarves in the
Well, what it says, really :-) A timeline for the thirteen dwarves
who take Bilbo on the Quest of Erebor. For the six of them that do
not appear in _The Lord of the Rings_ on the "Line of the Dwarves of
Erebor as it was set out by Gimli Gl�in's son for King Elessar" we
have no year of birth, and for five of those six there is no known
year of death (Ori is known to have died with Balin's colony in

Mythopoeic Society, Saturday, 9 February 2013, "Web Content Editor
The Mythopoeic Society needs a web content editor, and I haven't
heard that the position has been filled, so if you would like a
unique opportunity to contribute to Tolkien (and general Inklings
and mythopoeic) fandom, this is your chance ...

EJ, Friday, 8 February 2013, "Timeline of the Elves in Tolkien's
I'm a little in doubt where to put Emil's infographics, so they end
up here. This time a graph showing the divisions of the Elves in
time -- a bit more detailed than the rough graph in _The
Silmarillion_. Now also available as a poster that you can hang on
your wall and thus never be in doubt as to whom the Falmari were

Amy H. Sturgis, Sunday, 10 February 2013, "I'm going to the Shire -
and you can, too!"
Essentially an announcement that Amy Sturgis has been invited as
guest scholar to the third Long-Expected Party, a Tolkien-themed
event to be held in Kentucky in the summer of 2014.

Unknown, Sunday, 10 February 2013, "Join the Army, See Middle Earth"
Just for fun!

EJ, Monday, 11 February 2013, "What kind of morning is it?"
Also just for fun :-)

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

"What did Sauron think Aragorn thought he was doing?"
On the last day of February, Steuard Jensen asked this question in
rec.arts.books.tolkien and about what Sauron thought
Aragorn intended with the attack on Mordor after the victory before
Minas Tirith, and the ensuing discussions are proving very

"devoid of history"
A quite interesting thread based on the history = progress idea that
underlies social Darwinism.

"Barrow Wight's ritual"
A thread about the purpose / intention of the Barrow Wight's ritual.
This made me go search for references and gave me an opportunity to
collect my thoughts on the topic, which was quite rewarding for
myself, at least.

"In Defense of Ungoliant Being a Maia"
An attempt to justify the view that Ungoliant, in the published
_Silmarillion_ is definitely a Maia.

= = = = In Print = = = =

_Beyond Bree_, February 2013
Apart from Mark Hooker's 'Would a Hobbit by Any Other Name be as
...' column (this month the word is 'Ortherworldly'), _Beyond Bree_
is this month dominated by reports and reviews. Of the _Hobbit_
film, of Corey Olsen's book, of a music CD (_The Elder Days_ by
Galadhrim), of Judith Klinger's _Sub-creating Middle-earth_ (a
Walking Tree book), of a Russian TV-production of _The Hobbit_, and
on 'The Return of the Ring' where Bruce Leonard finishes his report
with the closing ceremonies.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

"Gallery Package - J.R.R. Tolkien"
Pictures of J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien at 76 Sandfield Road in 1961.
Photographs taken by Pamela Chandler in the garden and in the study.
Also a few other pictures. Wonderful!

Gloriana St. Clair, "Tolkien's Cauldron: Northern Literature and The
Lord of the Rings"
A book that "studies the sources of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the
Rings" arguing that "Tolkien was a scholar of Old Norse literature
and much of his work in the Lord of the Rings is informed by his
knowledge of old Norse mythology, Eddic poetry, and saga. Tolkien's
use of these sources enriched this complex story of Middle-earth."

Teaching Tolkien
Holly Rodgers

= = = = Sources = = = =

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

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not
imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They
laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed
at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the
- Carl Sagan
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