Sunday 2 September 2012

Tolkien Transactions XXVIII

August 2012

While July was a month of scouting (and a new job), August has, for me, very much been a Tolkien month. The climax was of course going to Loughborough for Return of the Ring 2012, but also the inevitable preparations as well as the aftermath of the conference have set its mark on the entire month.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: News
2: Essays and Scholarship
3: The Return of the Ring
4: Reviews and Book News
5: Other Stuff
6: Rewarding Discussions
7: In Print
8: Web Sites
9: Sources

= = = = News = = = =

Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News, Thursday, 2 August 2012, ‘Halton libraries join Tolkien reading project’
Actually the Reading Agency was looking for five reading groups to read The Hobbit in celebration of its 75th anniversary, but never mind :) This sounds great, and I hope that the five reading groups will do some interesting blogging on Tolkien's book.

Faine Greenwood, globalpost, Saturday, 11 August 2012, ‘"Hobbit’ pub sued by movie company, holds fundraiser"
Hmm — if I said I was surprised, I wouldn't be telling the truth, exactly. Perhaps one should chip in, hoping to get the thing into court to see if Saul Zaentz' company really does have the rights to sue like this.

DB, Saturday, 11 August 2012, ‘slow news day’
Having missed the opportunity of announcing the contents of the next issue of Tolkien Studies, all David Bratman has to add this time is that the printed copies should be coming out soon (I'm still waiting for mine, though).

JDR, Monday, 13 August 2012, ‘I Talk to a Reporter’
A seemingly well-prepared reporter has been speaking with John Rateliff — I am curious to see the final piece when it is released (no hints at the topic, but I suppose it's a fair guess that Tolkien and The Hobbit are at the heart of it . . .)

Jason Major, Universe Today, Tuesday, 14 August 2012, ‘"The Hobbit’ Author Gets a Crater on Mercury"
So, if you should find yourself in the neighbourhood of Mercury, you might decide to pay the Tolkien crater a visit . . .

Max Eddy, International Science Times, Tuesday, 14 August 2012, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien Honored With A Crater on Mercury's North Pole’
This version of the story doesn't even mention the other eight artists acknowledged with Mercurian craters . . .

Owen Thomas, Business Insider, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘Facebook Investor Peter Thiel Just Revealed What A Huge ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Fan He Is’
The essence of the story is that Peter Thiel has used Tolkien-inspired names for a number of legal entities. My main reaction is to wonder how different our perceptions are — I thought something like ‘well, wouldn't we all?’ ;-)

Oxford Times, Thursday, 30 August 2012, ‘A feast of Hobbits at ready’
About Oxonmoot — I wish I could go . . .

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

NMB, Wednesday, 1 August 2012, ‘Tolkien’s Icelandic Trolls’
A very nice piece on the possible Icelandic origin of the trolls in The Hobbit. If Arndis (an Icelandic au pair in the Tolkien family) had been telling the Tolkien children about these trolls, then Tolkien's statement in the book that his audience probably knows that trolls turn to stone if hit by sunlight is not all coy (as Rateliff finds), but rather a very reasonable expectation vis à vis his original audience. Also, I seem to recall this being a feature also of other trolls of Scandinavian folktales. This story is followed up by John Rateliff (see below for August 9th).

JM, Friday, 3 August 2012, ‘Tolkien's Metaphysics of the Music’
This month takes us through a discussion of Platonic and Augustinian influences (in part 5), as well as Boëthius and Nietzsche, to discussions of what McIntosh sees as ‘misreadings’ of the Ainulindalë by earlier commenters (I certainly agree with him that the Music itself has no creative force), to the beginning of his own Thomistic reading (this month ending with part 14). Jonathan McIntosh seems determined to convince us of the pre-eminence of St. Thomas Aquinas as a philosophical source for Tolkien's work — I am convinced about St. Thomas being a source, but I am not sure that I can follow McIntosh with the pre-eminence. Still, I am learning a lot by following his blog, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Verlyn Flieger, LotR Plaza, Wednesday, 8 August 2012, ‘The Theorist of the Fairy-Tale’
An essay by Verlyn Flieger about Tolkien as a theorist of fairy-tales, both as expressed in his famous essay, ‘On Fairy-Stories’ and as expressed in his fiction. A must-read!!

H&S, Wednesday, 8 August 2012, ‘New Addenda and a Reply’
New addenda and corrigenda to several of their books, including a new page for The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — remember to pay attention to Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull's ‘Addenda and Corrigenda’ pages when you're using their books (this is an extraordinarily fine service that we should be very grateful for — also remember to advise Wayne and Christina when you find errors or omissions from their books, so that your findings can benefit the whole of the Tolkien community). The reply is to comments in the Mythprint review of The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

JDR, Thursday, 9 August 2012, ‘An Icelandic au pair?’
John Rateliff's follow-up to Nancy Marie Brown's blog-post about ‘Tolkien's Icelandic Trolls’ (see above for August 1st). Rateliff adds some interesting comments about photos which corroborate Arndís' memories and Tolkien's knowledge about Icelandic troll stories, but overlooks, in my opinion, the importance of the knowledge of Tolkien's audience (relative to his own knowledge).

JDR, Friday, 10 August 2012, ‘More on Arndis Thorbjarnardottir’
Following up a bit more on the story about Arndís and her recollections about her stay as au pair in the Tolkien household.

JF, Friday, 10 August 2012, ‘Esgaroth — what’s in a name?’
Some speculations about the name ‘Esgaroth’ — be sure to also read the comments! I love this kind of word-games regardless of whether or not they are ‘correct’ in terms of the history of the word in Tolkien conscious or sub-conscious mind (I strongly suspect that it is not).

Talelmarhazad, Grey Havens Group, Thursday, 16 August 2012, "Tolkien's Mysterious ‘Shipwreck of Love"’
The idea that there is a something autobiographical about the love between Faramir and Éowyn is, of course, wholly speculative (and, since the analysis here points at another love interest than Edith, not likely to meet with the approval or help of the Tolkien Estate). I can't quite decide whether to merely reject the idea or to see it as at least a remote possibility.

BC, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘Timing and causes of the breakdown of Tolkien and Lewis's close friendship and alliance’
I have said it before, and will probably need to say it again, but the reason I I like Dr. Bruce Charlton's blog so much, and recommend it so frequently, is not that I agree with everything he says, but because his posts usually make me think even when I, as is often the case, disagree — this, in my view, is a very valuable thing that helps me learn and grow. As the title says, this blog post discusses the whys and whens of the cooling of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I think the word ‘breakdown’ is probably an exaggeration both because it implies something more sudden than was the case, and because it suggests a more complete break than I think was the case. Of the arguments that Charlton put forth, I think he exaggerates the issues of Tolkien's health in the period he discusses — at least I read the Chronology for the years in question quite differently (there's the teeth, yes, but I see no indication of any kind of ‘psychological breakdown’). I do, however, not doubt that the other causes that Charlton mentions were important contributants to the cooling of the friendship between the two authors. He mentions Tolkien's reaction to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (I have to say that I rather agree with Tolkien on that one), Tolkien's work on revising/editing LotR and The Silmarillion and getting them published.

Kelly Cowling, Friday, 24 August 2012, ‘Trio of One: Valentinian Soul Types in The Lord of the Rings’
I'm afraid that I am running a little too late with my transactions to get through a long text of Jungian psychology and gnostic symbolism, neither of which are analytical frameworks for which I usually have much patience anyway. Still, the piece does look interesting, so I will certainly read it when I find the time.

Erin Heffernan, The Marquette Tribune, Thursday, 30 August 2012, ‘Frodo lives at Marquette with Tolkien course and lecture series’
On a Tolkien course at the Marquette — where they can draw on their archives of Tolkien's drafts and manuscripts for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Mr. Bliss.

JF, Friday, 31 August 2012, ‘Shadows of the past’
Out of the blissful waters of forgetfulness comes an interview with Daniel Grotta, author of the first book-length biography in English (generally considered to be very bad and full of factual errors). There's quite a bit to this post, including a link to a new issue of the Festival Journal (the journal associated with the Festival in the Shire).

= = = = The Return of the Ring = = = =

Demosthenes, Friday, 3 August 2012, ‘Return of the Ring hosting massive Tolkien art exhibit’
About the impressive array of Tolkien-inspired artists and artwork on exhibition at the Return of the Ring conference.

David Godsall, Loughborough Echo, Friday, 10 August 2012, ‘Lord of the Rings fans invited to JRR Tolkien conference at Uni’
The local news telling about the conference . . .

JD, Wednesday, 15 August 2012, ‘Loughborough Log: Day One’
For most of us, this was day zero, the day before the day . . .
The following three posts by Jenny also deal with the Return of the Ring in Loughborough, and they are all very readable — you really, really should go read them!
Day two (16 August)
Day three (17 August)
Day four and five (20 August)

JV, Examiner, Thursday, 16 August 2012, ‘Return of the Ring conference opens with Tolkien art exhibit’
A piece on the impressive art exhibition

AW, Thursday, 16 August 2012, ‘Loughborough’
More a comment on the town than on the conference.

John DiBartolo, Middle-earth News, Sunday, 19 August 2012, ‘Peter Jackson, Alan Lee, John Howe Greetings to the Tolkien Society From New Zealand’
The video that was sent to the Return of the Ring.

JD, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘Loughborough Pictures’
Pictures from the conference — this deserves to be mentioned separately (though unfortunately merely photographs, not Art by Dolfen).

BBC, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘In pictures: Return of the Ring Festival’
Eight pictures from the Return of the Ring.

AW, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘Loughborough’
This would be the very brief not of ‘I'm back’ :)

John DiBartolo, Middle-earth News, Friday, 24 August 2012, ‘Return of the Ring 2012 Wrap-up Interview’
A nice video interview with deputy chair, Shaun Gunner.

TF, Saturday, 25 August 2012, ‘The Return of the Ring’
My own report from the Return of the Ring.

Emil Johansson, Tuesday, 28 August 2012, ‘Return of the Ring 2012’
Emil Johansson's pictures from the conference. Take me back, they do . . .

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

Holly Ordway, Mythlore, Wednesday, 1 August 2012, ‘Mythopoeic Narnia’
I really think that the final paragraph of Ordway's excellent review of the book by Salwa Khoddam says it all:
Probably the best way to look at Mythopoeic Narnia is
as the rough draft of a future book. The strengths of the
book are genuine, but remain largely conceptual; the
problems of the book are numerous and, in total, serious.
The problems could be addressed in an overhaul of the
book, but are more than sufficient to make it impossible
to recommend the book as currently published.

Sara Brown, Mythlore, Saturday, 3 August 2012, ‘Tolkien and Wales’
Sara Brown wrote the Mythlore review of Carl Phelpstead's book on Tolkien and Wales, and it is reprinted here. Brown is overall positive despite pointing out a couple of weaknesses (I cannot agree with her comments regarding linguistic terms — I certainly have no linguistic training, but I found all such terms to be sufficiently explained in the text, including the ones she specifically mentions).

David Oberhelman, Mythopoeic Society, Sunday, 5 August 2012, ‘Mythopoeic Awards: 2012 Winners Announced’
Announcing the 2012 winners of the Mythopoeic Awards. Of particular interest here is the winner of the award in Inklings Studies, Tolkien and Wales by Carl Phelpstead (see the Mythlore review elsewhere, as well as my review on Parma-kenta in August 2011). Congratulations to Carl and the other winners!

JDR, Saturday, 11 August 2012, ‘And the Winner Is . . .’
Following up on the announcement of Carl Phelpstead winning the Mythopoeic Award in Inklings Studies . . .

Asbury University, Monday, 13 August 2012, ‘Asbury prof finishes book on ‘The Hobbit’ ahead of movie based on Tolkien classic’
More on the upcoming The Christian World of The Hobbit by Devin Brown and about the author (see also the interview with the Tolkien Library reported in the Transactions for May).

Various, the Mythopoeic Society, Monday, 20 August 2012, ‘Acceptance Remarks — 2012’
The acceptance remarks from the winners of the 2012 Mythopoeic Awards.

PC, Tuesday, 21 August 2012, ‘Beyond Bree Calendar 2013: Evil in Middle-earth’
About the 2013 Beyond Bree calendar.

PC, Sunday, 26 August 2012, ‘The fifth Beyond Bree Award was given to Mark T. Hooker’
More information about the Beyond Bree Awards, about Mark T. Hooker (and his work on Tolkien) and on Beyond Bree.

Nancy-Lou Patterson, Mythlore, Wednesday, 29 August 2012, ‘How Thin is the Crust’
An old, 1979, very enthusiastic review of The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C.S. Lewis and edited by Walter Hooper.

Janet Brennan Croft, Mythlore, Friday, 31 August 2012, ‘Various Scholarly Journals’
Reviews of North Wind #29 (on George MacDonald), VII #28 (on the Inklings) and Tolkien Studies #8. A sober recounting of the contents of the various articles.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

JD, Wednesday, 1 August 2012, ‘Grand Old English Wash Brush or: Painting of Maglor’
I'll readily admit that some of the technical stuff about the differences between various types of brushes, colours etc. is lost on me, but the thoughts that go into the picture are well worth reading, and the finished picture is amazing.

TF, Friday, 3 August 2012, ‘Glorfindel(s) I miss you!’
A reaction to Shaun Gunner's article in Amon Hen no. 236 with the same title. Shaun raises the question of where the great story-internal discussions have gone, and I follow up with some of my views on these discussions. In essence I think we ought to find some new topics for our great discussions, as Elven wings and Balrog Ears are difficult to take seriously now, whereas there are some very interesting story-internal discussions that could still be taken up (even if we cannot ultimately decide the ‘truth’ we may all learn something valuable in the process).

BC, Sunday, 5 August 2012, ‘The greatest mystery of C.S Lewis's life - is it so mysterious?’
Speculations on the nature and causes of C.S. Lewis' otherwise mysterious attachment to Mrs Janie Moore (‘Minto’). Bruce G. Charlton speculates that Lewis was servicing Mrs Moore as penance for a sexual relationship (before his becoming a Christian), and that this had a profound negative effect on C.S. Lewis' brother, Warnie. As I don't know much about Lewis at all, I can't really comment on these speculations.

Ivona Elenton, Grey Havens Group, Sunday, 5 August 2012, ‘The Kingdoms of Middle Earth in Sweden’
An account of at least four of the Tolkien Societies in Sweden.

Kelly Cowling, Grey Havens Group, Saturday, 11 August 2012, ‘On Feelings and Magic: Eliot, Williams and Tolkien’
From Eliot to Williams, to Kelly Cowling herself and with references to Tolkien. I wonder, however, if Cowling has spoken with trained scientists about this — if so, I will have to merely say that they have been trained in another scientific tradition than I. this post succeeds reasonably, I think, when it applies itself to analyse literature, but not so well when it applies itself to an analysis of human beings.

H&S, Monday, 13 August 2012, ‘Homeward Bound and Down to Earth’
Christina Scull relates the last of the tale of Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond's trip to England, including their return to Williamstown, and the recent book additions (some of which have Tolkien connections).

JDR, Thursday, 16 August 2012, ‘"Modern America has virtually no use for the modern British children's book’ (What Hath Harry Wrought?)"
A bit of commentary on the comment (quoted in the title) by Humphrey Carpenter in 1985 — a mere decade before His Dark Materials and the Harry Potter series . . .

DB, Saturday, 18 August 2012, ‘another attempt at explaining the same ...’
David Bratman has been caught up in a discussion and made some comments about Peter Jackson — I rather like David Bratman's way of saying things, and though I think that the Jackson trilogy are great as simple action-adventure films, I also do agree with Bratman on their status with respect to Tolkien's story.

BC, Tuesday, 21 August 2012, ‘Is there anything *like* Tolkien?’
No, there is not anything quite like Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, is Charlton's conclusion, and I agree. It is, however, possible to list a number of works that share some similarities with Tolkien's grand work.

Don Burns, Sacramento Press, Thursday, 23 August 2012, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series explored at Central Library programs’
Don't you just love when the title line says it all? All I have to add is that it is the Sacramento Public Library — if you're in the area, perhaps you should check out the details (though the timing will probably make it difficult for most people with a regular job).

JV, Friday, 24 August 2012, ‘Rivendell depicted in enormous LEGO diorama’
Lego is amazing, and it's no surprise that they're making heaps of money! Now, how do I lobby for them to do a Tolkien-themed corner in Legoland (the original, of course - in Billund, Denmark) ;-)

APOD, NASA, Friday, 24 August 2012, ‘Moon Meets Morning Star’
Ithil meets Eärendil . . . beautiful!

JD, Friday, 24 August 2012, ‘Messy Eärendil sketch’
Another thing of, at least potential, beauty. So far, as Jenny Dolfen says, a ‘messy sketch’, but I agree that it would be very nice to have some more artwork featuring Eärendil, and I'll look forward to see what she may make of him in finished artwork.

JDR, Monday, 27 August 2012, ‘The New Arrival: Stella Mills' HROLF KRAKI’
On the saga of Hrolf Kraki and its relations to Tolkien's work.

Imogen Reed, Tolkien Library, Wednesday, 29 August 2012, ‘Fifteen Places Tolkien Fans should Visit before they Die’
I agree with most of what Imogen Reed lists here, though I have no use for New Zealand in a Tolkien context (I'd like to visit New Zealand, but that has nothing to do with my interest in Tolkien's work, to which the country has no connection at all). Since the countryside of the Somme has been restored over the past century, I wonder if anyone knows where one should go to get a feeling of the place that Tolkien experienced? Where does one go to get an impression of what life at the Somme front in 1917 was really like?

JDR, Friday, 31 August 2012, ‘hrolf kraki, con't’
With some more about the edition of the Saga of Hrolf Kraki that Rateliff has got hold of: translated by Tolkien's student, Stella Mills, and this edition with a foreword by Priscilla Tolkien about the personal friendship between Stella Mills and the Tolkiens, but also the intriguing information that John Rateliff is ‘just starting to sketch out an article on JRRT and his lifelong support for women's higher education.’ I'll look forward to that one!

PC, Friday, 31 August 2012, ‘Tolkien Library Guest Post Guidelines’
Guidelines for those who would want to post a contribution to the Tolkien Library website.

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

‘Glorfindel(s), I miss you!’
Based on Shaun Gunner's article in Amon Hen 236, we had a good discussion of why the great story-internal debates have petered out without being replaced by new debates.

‘Northhalde Tré and the Evil North’
Though much of the good stuff was posted in July, I didn't really notice this thread until August. The topic is medieval inspirations for locating the fortress of evil (Utumno and Angband in Tolkien's works) in the north.

‘The nature of the three elven rings’
A discussion of the Three Rings that sort of drifts into other aspects, such as the nature of the invisibility effect of the other Rings of Power and such.

= = = = In Print = = = =

Beyond Bree August 2012
This issue opens with a long review of Christopher MacLachlan's Tolkien and Wagner: The Ring and Der Ring by Jim Allan, who doesn't like the book very much, finding that while it ‘is not without value in places’ it generally displays a large confirmation bias to the point of making its author appear gullible. Beyond Bree continues with a review of a book owned by the Tolkien children, The Starry Heavens from 1933, news about The Hobbit films and merchandise, and a review of a trailer for the Hobbit film. Mark Hooker (winner of the fifth Beyond Bree Award — see above) backs up a claim of additional knowledge to add to a Mythlore article on the origins of the word ‘Hobbit’ in the first of a series (this time on the artillery piece ‘a hobit’), and Dale Nelson continues his series on the ‘Days of the Craze’ with an article on ‘Henry Resnik on Tolkien and Tolkien Fandom’. The newsletter is rounded off by the usual letters, references, notices and finally a couple of original poems by Geoff Davies (Last of the Ring Bearers) and Matthew Amish (Distant Shores are Calling).

Mythprint vol.49 no.6/7, August 2012, whole no. 361
This issue of Mythprint is filled with four reports from this year's Mythcon, which again seems to have been an enjoyable affair. In addition to the Mythcon reports, there is a review of the comic-book biography of Tolkien by Marcel Aubron-Bülles, who finds that the book, unsurprisingly, doesn't offer anything to a serious Tolkienist, but also that it ‘might be a good and easy read’ for young people with an awakening interest in the man behind the tale.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Artwork, Illustrations and Sketches by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen's (remember that she's German — the "J" is pronounced roughly as the consonant sound of English "Y") Tolkien-inspired art is wonderful! I shan't be linking to every sketch (though probably to every finished work) that she posts, but go check out her work for yourself.

The Tolkienist
Blog by Tolkienist Marcel R. Aubron-Bülles — hopefully he will soon have something to post there rather than just the announcement that something is coming . . . (c'mon, Marcel!)

J.R.R. Tolkien's ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the Scottish Border
A web-site by Christine Ahmed looking into connections between Tolkien's book and the Scottish Border. Interesting material enough for long study here.

José Manuel Ferrández Bru
The website of Tolkien scholar José Manuel Ferrández Bru, who has studied particularly the influence of Tolkien's guardian, Fr. Francis Morgan. So far the website is in Spanish only, but I'm hoping that it will appear in English soon (it promises so, but how soon is 'soon'?)

= = = = 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 Enough’

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’

Andrew Wells (AW), ‘Musings of an Aging Fan’

Various, ‘The Northeast Tolkien Society’ (NETS), ‘Heren Istarion’

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

Marcel R. Aubron-Bülles (MB), ‘The Tolkienist’

Andrew Higgins (AH), ‘Wotan's Musings’

Various, The Mythopoeic Society

Henry Gee (HG) ‘cromercrox’, ‘The End of the Pier Show’

Jonathan S. McIntosh (JM), ‘The Flame Imperishable’

Morgan Thomsen (MT), ‘Mythoi’

Steuard Jensen (SJ), ‘Strings, Rings, and Other Things’

John Howe (JH)

Jenny Dolfen (JD)

Nancy Marie Brown (NMB), ‘God of Wednesday’

Josh Vogt (JV), ‘Tolkien Examiner’

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

Beyond Bree — the newsletter of the Tolkien Special Interest Group of the Americal Mensa

- and others