The time has come for a new issue of my attempt to extract the best or most interesting (in my highly subjective estimate) of Tolkien-related events this past month. This month I have ignored a lot of things that haven't really caught my interest, including a legion of reports and ‘news-items’ about the current project to do a cinematic adaptation of The Hobbit. Still, as usual, please chime in with interesting stuff that you have found elsewhere!
All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance — and in particular about any implication of responsibility :-)
= = = = Sources = = = =
John D. Rateliff (JDR) — “Sacnoth's Scriptorium”
URL = http://sacnoths.blogspot.com
Jason Fisher (JF) — “Lingwë — Musings of a Fish”
URL = http://lingwe.blogspot.com
Michael Drout (MD) — “Wormtalk and Slugspeak”
URL = http://wormtalk.blogspot.com/
Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) — “Too Many Books and Never Enough”
URL = http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/
Pieter Collier (PC) — “The Tolkien Library”
URL = http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/
Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. — “Wormwoodiana”
URL = http://wormwoodiana.blogspot.com
Corey Olsen (CO), “The Tolkien Professor”
URL = http://www.tolkienprofessor.com
David Bratman (DB), “Calimac”
URL = http://calimac.livejournal.com/
Larry Swain (LS), “The Ruminate”
URL = http://theruminate.blogspot.com
‘Wellinghall’, “Musings of an Aging Fan”
URL = http://wellinghall.livejournal.com
Various, ‘The Northeast Tolkien Society’ (NETS), “Heren Istarion”
URL = http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com
Bruce Charlton (BC), “Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers”
URL = http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/
Andrew Higgins (AH), “Wotan's Musings”
URL = http://wotanselvishmusings.blogspot.com
Various, The Mythopoeic Society
URL = http://www.mythsoc.org
Mythprint — ‘The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society’
URL = http://www.mythsoc.org
Amon Hen — the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society
URL = http://www.tolkiensociety.org/
- and others
= = = = News = = = =
Josh Tyler, November 30, 2010, “Riddles In The Dark: 4 Big Story Problems Peter Jackson Must Solve To Make The Hobbit”
URL = http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Riddles-In-The-Dark-4-Big-Story-Problems-Peter-Jackson-Must-Solve-To-Make-The-Hobbit-21954.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2u4lps5
This is the only piece of news related to the Jackson films that I am going to put in this month's issue of Tolkien Transactions — the rest, while some of it has been amusing, has failed on to be either interesting or essential. Josh Tyler obviously knows his Hobbit well enough to write intelligently about it (even if he overestimates the distance between the Lonely Mountain and Lake Town just a bit: the actual distance was some 40 - 50 miles), and he discusses four major problems that any adaptation will face.
PC, Tuesday, November 30, 2010, “Interview with Dr. Alison Milbank author of Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians”
URL = http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/Chesterton_and_Tolkien_as_Theologians.php
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/yfdjlyz
Actually this was posted on October 22 2007, but Pieter called attention to it again on November 30 this year, and I found it interesting enough to include here. As the title suggests, Pieter has interviewed the author of Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians: The Fantasy of the Real, Dr. Alison Milbank. As with so many other academics, she appears to really come to life when the interview falls on her academic pursuits including the topic of her book. Of course one shouldn't buy a book based on what the author has to say about it, but based on this interview, it is certainly a book that I will look for more information about — I hope to find some detailed reviews because this sounds quite promising.
Lisa Hutchinson, Evening Chronicle, Friday, November 26, 2010, “JRR Tolkien inspired by family in Newcastle”
URL = http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2010/11/26/jrr-tolkien-inspired-by-family-in-newcastle-72703-27721961/
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2b4nktq
This is the story about Tolkien's aunt, Grace Mountain (née Tolkien) whose grave has been discovered during a clearing-up in the Newcastle graveyard where she lies with her husband. The existence of Aunt Grace in Newcastle is no surprise to any reader of Carpenter's biography or of Hammond and Scull's Companion and Guide: ‘During school holidays Ronald and Hilary often stay with other relatives. Among these are two of their father's sisters (see *Tolkien family), Aunt Grace who lives in Newcastle with her husband William Mountain and their children Kenneth and Dorothy, and Aunt Mabel who lives at Abbotsford 69 Wake Green Road, Mosely, Birmingham with her husband, Tom Mitton and their children.’ vol I, Chronology, 1904, p.10. The further claims in the article of very specific inspirations taken from these visits to the Mountain family are, however, not very convincing. Wellinghall comments, ‘Someone please tell me this is a spoof’
URL = http://wellinghall.livejournal.com/784914.html
JDR, Tuesday, November 23, 2010, “Salmon Rushdie on Tolkien (et al)”
URL = http://sacnoths.blogspot.com/2010/11/salmon-rushdie-on-tolkien-et-al.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/35ewtxw
Comments on an article in Wall Street Journal by Salman Rushdie ‘on five fantasy authors who appeal equally to young readers and also adults.’ Rushdie includes Tolkien along with Carroll, Barrie, Pullman and Haddon (since John Rateliff admits to the same, I am unashamed to admit that I don't know Haddon). Rateliff also includes a link to Rushdie's article if you wish to see the original.
Various, November 2010, “Cancelled — Wheelbarrows at Dawn: Memories of Hilary Tolkien”
URL = http://www.tolkienguide.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=flat&type=&topic_id=1311&forum=9
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2fcg22z
This relates to the cancellation by the publisher, ADC Publications, of the book Wheelbarrows at Dawn by Angela Gardner and Neil Holford. The announcement by the publisher contained the following, ‘Despite many revisions and changes made at the insistence of The Tolkien Estate it appears that The Tolkien Estate will seek to take court action to prevent the release of this book regardless.’ and the Estate has responded (e.g. through Wayne and Christina), saying that ‘it had no issue with the publication of the book providing the material in question — affecting only 20 pages out of a total of some 300 — was removed.’ According to one of the authors (posting under the name of Déagol), the issue was related to the copyright value of Tolkien's letters, which seems such a sad issue to be allowed to stop the project.
DB, Saturday, November 6, 2010, “Glen GoodKnight”
URL = http://calimac.livejournal.com/481261.html
David Bratman's obituary for Glen GoodKnight, the founder of the Mythopoeic Society. There are more obituary blogs linked from Bratman's blog and more can be found elsewhere including e.g. the Los Angeles Times:
URL = http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-glen-goodknight-20101114,0,496766.story
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/39lfuot
GoodKnight is also remembered in issue 340 of Mythlore (Vol. 47 No. 11) which is a special issue dedicated entirely to his memory.
MD, Sunday, October 31, 2010, “Frivolous But Fun Piece in the Washington Post”
URL = http://wormtalk.blogspot.com/2010/10/frivolous-but-fun-piece-in-washington.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/37vfczf
Michael Drout tells about the genesis of the piece below, and argues the points he makes there.
MD, Sunday, October 31, 2010, “Dept. of What If: Would hobbits go on strike?”
URL = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102905847.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/37b9zj2
A brief piece, called by its author ‘frivolous, but fun’, on various labour aspects of Middle-earth. I suppose that some of it may be due to some specific references to the USA labour market, and the rest may be due to my lack of humour, but I'm afraid the fun goes over my head — cheap laughs or not. Actually I find Drout's explanation of this piece from his blog (see above) more amusing than the piece itself :-)
= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
AH, Saturday, 20 November 2010, “Tolkien Myth in Context Unit Seven Discussion Question”
URL = http://wotanselvishmusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/tolkien-myth-in-context-unit-seven.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/3a2ppjf
Andrew is back at his blog with a long piece about his love for Tolkienian linguistics and how it has developed. Andrew mentions Carl Hostetter's paper ‘Elvish as She is Spoke’ (originally appearing in _ The Lord of the Rings 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder_ edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull) as pivotal for his own interest in Tolkien linguistics, and he ends by sketching the direction he hopes that Tolkien lingustics will move in.
BC, Saturday, 20 November 2010, “How similar are Dolbear & ‘Humphrey’ Havard? John Havard's opinion”
URL = http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-similar-are-dolbear-humphrey-havard.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/3yjmb29
Charlton's Notion Club Papers (NCP) blog continues to be an interesting source of knowledge, ideas and theories about the NCP — regardless of whether you agree on the individual hypotheses suggested. Charlton appears to be fascinated by the idea that the members of the fictional club were modelled on members of Tolkien's real club, the Inklings. Charlton has, accordingly, been in contact with a son of one of the Inklings, John Havard, son of Robert ‘Humphrey’ Havard, and this seems to put a limit to how far the inspiration / modelling goes.
JF, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, “Bagshot in Tolkien and Rowling”
URL = http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/11/bagshot-in-tolkien-and-rowling.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2dmevf2
One of the things that have always fascinated me about Tolkien's writings is his obvious love of words. From the Hobbit's ‘Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!’ over the list of royal names of Rohan all with a meaning in the ‘king’, ‘ruler’, ‘leader’ category, to — well, to wherever it may lead us. Jason investigates the word Bagshot that appears in both Tolkien (Bagshot Row just below Bag End) and Rowling (Bathilda Bagshot, magical historian and friend of the Dumbledores). The further comments contributing details about the etymology — or rather the theories about the etymology — of ‘Bagshot’ are also very interesting.
JF, Monday, November 15, 2010, “Some Contributions to Middle-earth Lexicography: Hapax Legomena in The Lord of the Rings”
URL = http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=239540
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vto34m
Jason looks into 9 rare words in The Lord of the Rings — 8 of them appearing just once (thus being, as Jason tells us, Hapax Legomena), and one of them twice (a Dis Legomena). Four of these words stem from Germanic sources and the remaining five illustrate, according to Jason, Tolkien's Christianity ‘absorbed into the story and the symbolism’ of LotR. If you haven't read this yet, then go read it!
Jason has announced also announced this on his blog:
JF, Tuesday, November 30, 2010, “A new essay”
URL = http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-essay.html
BC, Monday, 8 November 2010, “Another Ramer-Tolkien parallel identified — The Land of Pohja painting”
URL = http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/another-ramer-tolkien-parallel.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vlab6z
The underlying theory here is, of course, that the character Ramer in Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers (NCP) is a representation of the author himself in some way (this is, I think, associated to the further idea that the Notion Club is modelled on the Inklings to the extent that individual characters are modelled on individual Inklings). That the Ramer dialogue that Charlton quotes refers to the same image that is pictured in The Land of Pohja is, I would say, quite certain.
BC, Friday, 5 November 2010, “The Notion Club Papers as Tolkien's self-therapy”
URL = http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/notion-club-papers-as-tolkiens-self.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/267ygwt
In this blog-post, Charlton takes his outset in his idea, presented in October, that Tolkien suffered from a nervous break-down about the time when he wrote The Notion Club Papers (NCP). He then argues that, for Tolkien to have insisted on writing the NCP at such a time, when he was also extremely busy, the writing itself must have been therapeutic for Tolkien, and Charlton then goes on to look at which elements of the NCP that might have had this therapeutic effect for Tolkien.
BC, Friday, 5 November 2010, “The Notion Club Papers are Tolkien's Charles Williams novel”
URL = http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/notion-club-papers-are-tolkiens-charles.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/36dsat4
As the title says, this posting introduces the idea that The Notion Club Papers (NCP) is inspired by or for some other reason resembles Charles Williams' work. Charlton notes that the NCP ‘are structured like a C.W. novel — a novel about how the supernatural and mythical breaks through into normal everyday life.’ He goes on to discuss some of the surrounding aspects of the NCP, but in the end I must admit that I remain unconvinced. I am, however, admittedly influenced by Tolkien's own statement in e.g. Letters no 159 that ‘I do not think we influenced one another at all!’ Quite possibly this idea is better evaluated by someone less prejudiced.
JF, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, “The jaws of Carcharoth”
URL = http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/11/jaws-of-carcharoth.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vdp68x
Perhaps primarily interesting to those with an interest in Tolkien's invented languages and not least the process of their genesis. Jason Fisher discusses the multiple etymologies for ‘the mightiest wolf that would ever walk the world’, Carcharoth as it is called in the published version of The Silmarillion, or Karkaras as the name is in The Book of Lost Tales.
= = = = Reviews = = = =
DB, “The Fantastic Horizon”
URL = http://www.mythsoc.org/reviews/fantastic-horizon/
Though not particularly about Tolkien, and even less about other Inklings, Bratman nevertheless feels that this book, The Fantastic Horizon: Essays and Reviews by Darrell Schweitzer should be of interest for Inklings scholars and fans. As Bratman starts out by saying, the fantasy field ‘needs a polemicist’, and after mentioning Tom Shippey and Lin Carter, he claims that ‘The best polemicist in the field today may well be Darrell Schweitzer.’ I'm not sure that my book budget will allow me to include this, but it is likely that I will end up ordering it from the library one day.
DAA, Sunday, November 14, 2010, “Weird Words”
URL = http://wormwoodiana.blogspot.com/2010/11/weird-words.html
Review of Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon by Dan Clore. This is apperently — hopefully — the first of a series of weird words collected by the author. This review reprints the full entry for the word nodens (of Tolkien relevance). This work would seem a treasure trove for anyone who, like Lord Peter Wimsey, finds it so easy to get drunk on words that they are seldom perfectly sober.
Anthony Burdge, Friday, November 12, 2010, “The Lonely Mountain Band: Beyond the Western Seas”
URL = http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com/2010/11/lonely-mountain-band-beyond-western.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/2cusb55
Anthony Burdge (with comments from Jessica Burke and Namiko Hitosubashi) is enthusiastic about the album Beyond the Western Seas by The Lonely Mountain Band, saying that he and Jessica ‘I count it as important as Ted Nasmith’s Hidden Door, The Fellowship’s In Elven Lands, and Brocelïande’s Starlit Jewel.’ I hope the Lonely Mountain Band knows how to value praise from the praiseworthy.
Anthony & Jessica, Thursday, November 11, 2010, “Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel”
URL = http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com/2010/11/looking-for-king-inklings-novel.html
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/3abfec2
Not so much a review, I suppose, but Anothony and Jessica here post “the official press release, book trailer, and information on the author David C. Downing.” I would be very interested to hear from other people who have read the book, to hear their opinion.
PC, Friday, November 5, 2010, “Review: Looking for the King”
URL = http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/955-Looking_for_the_king.php
Tiny URL = http://preview.tinyurl.com/23yz7n7
Pieter Collier gives a very positive review of David C. Downing's Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel. Pieter is positive enough to make me seriously consider buying this book myself.
= = = = Other Stuff = = = =
I seem to have forgotten to renew my membership of the Mythopoeic Society in time to receive the latest issue of Mythlore — I have remedied the situation at once, but it will of course be a while before I receive the journal.
And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left he path of wisdom.
— Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)