Monday 3 June 2013

Tolkien Transactions XXXVII

May 2013

The time I am spending on composing these transactions is steadily growing, and at times I need to rethink how I do things. It may be only 20 minutes or so per day (in average), but start multiplying that — and sometimes life conspires to make me a week or two behind schedule . . .. So, I'm going to try to cut back a bit on the commentary, and for some of the long-standing blogs that I have been commenting on regularly, I will only comment if there is something that particularly catches my eye — really, you should be following them yourself without further prompting from me! (I will start to put the links back in the posts, though).

In addition to the changes mentioned above, I have, this month, also decided to drop a couple of the usual sections, though these may be back next month.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: The Fall of Arthur
2: News
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Tolkienian Artwork
7: Other Stuff
8: Just For Fun
9: Web Sites
10: Sources

= = = = The Fall of Arthur = = = =

The Big Thing this month in Tolkien circles was of course the long-expected publication of Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur. The existence of this work has, of course, been publicly known for years (at least since Carpenter's biography), and speculations have abounded. The last period up to publication has seen a few new speculations being published on the internet:

Ruth Lacon, Wednesday, 20 March 2013, ‘On The Fall of Arthur: Pre-Publication Speculation By a Longtime Student’

Sørina Higgins: Friday, 26 April 2013, ‘Arthur, Adapted’

The book has of course been described and explained on official home pages:

The Tolkien Estate:

Harper Collins Publishers:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing House

Following publication, we have of course seen a number of reviews of the book. Here I would emphasize the reviews by John Garth and David Bratman as those that I have enjoyed most, both being both thorough and very perceptive:

John Garth, Thursday, 23 May 2013,

David Bratman, Tuesday, 28 May 2013, ‘it's just a flesh wound’

But these are of course not the only reviews available. A selection of other reviews follows here:

Tish Wells, Thursday, 23 May 2013, ‘At last, we get Tolkien's take on King Arthur’
Quite short, but still with a few quotations.

Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, 23 May 2013, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's ‘Fall of Arthur’ and the path to Middle-Earth’,0,7954386.story
A somewhat longer and more perceptive review that also includes some longer quotations from the poem as well as some background.

JDR, Thursday, 23 May 2013, ‘The Fall of Arthur’
Quite short and with just a few comments.

Felicity Capon, Friday, 24 May 2013, ‘Tolkien's epic about the legend of King Arthur published for the first time’
Not a very long review and referring mostly to information released by Harper Collins and the review by John Garth.

Ethan Gilsdorf, Friday, 24 May 2013, ‘Unpublished Tolkien Epic The Fall of Arthur Is Released’
If not for the picture of a page of the poem, one would be unsure if mr. Gilsdorf had read the book at all (well, one is still unsure whether he has read it, but at least he has it). This piece is mostly a reference to information from elsewhere including the Tolkien Society and the American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Finally there has of course also been quite a number of simple news articles about the release of the book. The following are just a few samples, but generally these brief stories do not add anything to the information that can be gleaned from the above, and they are here in general presented without comment.

Arwen, Tuesday, 21 May 2013, ‘New Arthurian Epic By Tolkien Released This Thursday’

‘Greendragon’, Wednesday, 22 May 2013, ‘Tolkien's ‘The Fall of Arthur’ comes out tomorrow, May 23rd’

MB, Thursday, 23 May 2013, ‘'The Fall of Arthur': J.R.R. Tolkien's take on the Arthurian legends’

The Oxford Times, Thursday, 23 May 2013, ‘Tolkien epic published for the first time’

Gregory Cowles, The New York Times, Friday, 31 May 2013, ‘Inside the List’
Tolkien is back in the top-ten on The New York Times' list of bestselling hardcover fiction ...

= = = = News = = = =

Oloris Publishing, Wednesday, 1 May 2013, ‘Happy Birthday to us!’
Well, happy birthday to Oloris Publishing — hopefully there will be many more!

JF, Thursday, 2 May 2013, ‘Mythprint Editorial: Schedule Change’
Mythprint is changing from its earlier monthly schedule to a quarterly schedule, and Jason Fisher here announces and explains this decision. If you are not a member of the Mythopoeic Society and a subscriber to Mythprint and Mythlore, you really should become that.

Chris Willmott, Solihull Observer, Thursday, 9 May 2013, ‘Celebration of Tolkien’
About Middle-earth Weekend that was held on 11th and 12th May at Sarehole Mill.

James Cartledge, Birmingham Mail, Sunday, 12 May 2013, ‘Another magical weekend in Middle Earth [sic]’
About the Middle-earth Weekend at Sarehole Mill, and with a wonderful gallery of pictures.

TNT, Sunday, 12 May 2013, ‘The Tolkien Society’
At the Middle-earth Weekend, this news team got hold of the new chair of the Tolkien Society, Shaun Gunner, for a talk about things Tolkien.

David Obehelman, Tuesday, 14 May 2013, ‘2013 Mythopoeic Award Finalists Announced’
The finalists for the 2013 Mythopoeic Awards. My own interest focuses on the scholarship awards, with three very strong Tolkien-related candidates among the finalists for the Award in Inklings Studies: Tolkien and the Study of His Sources by Jason Fisher (ed.), Green Suns and Faërie by Verlyn Flieger and Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen. Supposing that the two books on Lewis are of the same quality, this is a very strong field, and I wish all the authors the best — I am just very, very happy that it doesn't fall on me to pick a winner among those.
See also David Bratman's comments and further thoughts, Friday, 17 May 2013, ‘applying an elephant gun’
in which we learn a little (though no titles) of some of the other nominees for the scholarship awards, and how Bratman's reaction has influenced his proposed paper for this year's Mythcon.

Hilary Gavan, Beloit Daily News, Friday, 17 May 2013, ‘Students celebrate world of Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'’

Culture 24, Monday, 20 May 2013, ‘Magical Books: from the Middle Ages to Middle-earth at Oxford's Bodleian Library’
About the exhibition at the Bodleian, which also features the manuscript to The Fall of Arthur. See also the item in last month's transactions.

Tyburn Mail, Tuesday, 21 May 2013, ‘Ring o' roses: Brum wins Chelsea Flower Show Award with nod to Tolkien’

EJ, Wednesday, 29 May 2013, ‘Orc suspected of assault on 11 year old boy’
Definitely one of the weirder pieces of Tolkien-related news .... It turns out that the story is about an 11 year old boy who felt ‘assaulted’ when held still by a helper dressed as an Orc at a medieval fair in Leksand, Sweden.

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Laurin666, Friday, 10 May 2013, ‘Bloomsbury Auction items - Tolkien May 30 2013’
About the auction of Tolkien items from the library of T.P Dunning, many with inscriptions by the author.
See also Carl F. Hostetter, Monday, 13 May 2013, "Re: Quenya inscription: ‘Sí man i-yulmar men enquantuva?"’
In which Carl Hostetter provides an interesting linguistic analysis of one of these inscriptions.

Mythopoeic Society, Saturday, 11 May 2013, ‘Call for Papers: Women in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien’
Also mentioned last month, but as the book is to be published by the Mythopoiec Press, here is the more direct link. I look very much forward to this book, which takes on one of the criticisms that are often levelled at Tolkien's work. I hope that Emil Johansson's statistics at the LotR Project page will be of help to some of the authors for this volume., Wednesday, 15 May 2013, ‘The Meaning of the Middle Ages: Fans, Authors, and Industry’
A report from a paper read by Helen Young (University of Sidney) at Kalamazoo (in the session ‘Tales after Tolkien: Medievalism and Twenty-First-Century Fantasy Literature I’). I will not produce a summary of a summary, but encourage you to see how Young deals with medievalism in fantasy fiction after Tolkien. Other summaries from Kalamazoo, including reports from the ‘Tolkien at Kalamazoo’ sessions, can be found at

JM, Friday, 17 May 2013, ‘Tolkien, Plato, and Derrida: A Différance that makes a Difference’
I have a feeling that there is something very interesting hiding in this post, but that my own lack of familiarity with philosophy prevents me from seeing it clearly.

JM, Saturday, 18 May 2013, "The Counter-Nihilism of Tolkien's ‘Leaf by Niggle"’
I am not convinced by this short piece that McIntosh is not himself guilty of the nihilistic approach of explanatory discourse that he refers to — while Niggle didn't finish his huge painting, it was precisely Niggle's perception of the Tree as individual ‘being’ that made his work possible (and his neighbours' failure to perceive it that way that would eventually destroy the great work, leaving just a single leaf).

JM, Tuesday, 21 May 2013, ‘Nihil ex Creatione: On the Invention of Darkness out of Light in Tolkien's Ainulindalë’
Inspired by the astute observation that ‘Darkness’ in Tolkien's sub-creation does not exist until after Light had come into existence (with the Vision in Ainulindalë), McIntosh investigates some of the philosophical aspects of this.

Alan Meban, Friday, 24 May 2013, ‘A journey in reconciliation? CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien’
Report and recordings from a presentation by Rev. Mercia Malcolm on C.S. Lewis, the second part of which focuses on his relationship with Tolkien.

DAA, Monday, 27 May 2013, ‘Joanna Russ's Version of THE HOBBIT’
The fascinating tale of a stage-adaptation of The Hobbit by Joanna Russ. As Anderson notes, ‘Russ did the honorable thing and asked Tolkien’ even though he was very critical of her effort. See also the further comments in Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond's ‘Tolkien Notes 7’.

= = = = Commentary = = = =

Raymond Edwards, The Tablet, 12 January 2013, ‘I owe it all to Father F’
PDF File! The Tablet is a Catholic magazine, and its 12 January issue this year had on page 12-13 an article about Tolkien's relationship with Father Francis Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory. Though there is little in this article that is not covered in more depth elsewhere (notably José Manuel Ferrández Bru's article in Tolkien Studies VIII as well as John Garth's book, Tolkien and the Great War and of course Scull & Hammond's J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide — all of which the article quietly owes something), this article may serve as an introduction to the importance of Fr. Francis, who became the guardian of the Tolkien boys after the death of their mother, Mabel Tolkien, in 1904 when John Ronald was 12 years old.

HR, Friday, 3 May 2013, ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’
It is well-known that The Hobbit is really for reading out loud, but many overlook the qualities of The Lord of the Rings as a reading-out-loud book. What happens when a teacher decides to free the students of the task of deciphering the written code and free their minds to focus on the spoken word? Obviously they react to the text in other ways. Holly Rodgers even took her students outside for a reading by herself of ‘The Ring Goes South’ and found the experience rather different from their usual reading in the class-room.

MB, Wednesday, 22 May 2013, ‘As shown on — More mistaken Tolkien quotes’
Marcel Aubron-Bülles' series about ‘Things Tolkien has never said, done, written or had anything to do with’ is becoming a work of considerable learning in the tracing of the origin of the various errors and misattributed quotations. This article, going through the quotations on ‘’ attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien, gives a nice overview of the status of many of these.

Ilverai, 26-27 May 2013, ‘Reading the Hobbit’
Three posts this month dealing with two chapters of The Hobbit, ‘On the Doorstep’ and ‘Inside Information’. Ilverai's comments are as usual interesting enough to make reading them worthwhile even where (or perhaps particularly where) I disagree with his interpretation.

H&S, Wednesday, 29 May 2013, ‘Tolkien Notes 7’
The seventh of their collections of short notes, in which Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond deal with the nomination for the Locus Award of their book The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, with Tolkien letters on auction, with The Fall of Arthur and comments on Joanna Ross' Hobbit as discussed by Douglas Anderson on his blog.

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

John Garth, Friday, 26 April 2013, ‘The Alphabet of Rúmil & Early Noldorin Fragments’
John Garth's review (originally published in Tolkien Studies no. 2) of Parma Eldalamberon issues 13 and 14. This review contains elements that are worthy of reading for their own sake, independently of the work they review, analysis of aspects of Tolkien's creative process:
Christopher Wiseman had once told him, ‘The completed work is vanity; the process of the working is everlasting... Just as the fugue is nothing on the page; it is only vital as it works its way out....’ [....]. But these records of ever-shifting taste and technique in language and script invention testify to a belief in creativity as process.
Indeed, and though Garth doesn't say so himself, I strongly believe (and would like to think that Garth also believes) that this is also the case with the evolution of the whole mythology from the first poems to the late texts: it is the creative process that is the important, not the completion of the work other than, perhaps, as the idea of a completed work.

Oloris Publishing, Wednesday, 1 May 2013, "Announcing 'Anglo-Saxon Community in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Ring"'by Dr. Deborah A. Higgens"
About the forthcoming, autumn 2013, publication of the book mentioned in the headline by Dr. Deborah Higgens, currently resident of The Kilns, Oxford.

Oloris Publishing, Wednesday, 1 May 2013, ‘Wrath, Ruin and a Red Nightfall: Explore familiar vistas through a new lens in the latest volume of the Oloris Art Series’
Another birthday announcement informs of the 2014 release of Tolkien-inspired art by John Cockshaw.

DB, Friday, 10 May 2013, ‘Tolkien Studies 10: an announcement’
With the other editors of Tolkien Studies away for the Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies (see e.g. John Rateliff's blog for a list of events that we have missed, those of us who couldn't be there), David Bratman got the task (honour?) of announcing the list of contents for the upcoming tenth volume of Tolkien Studies. The list of articles is impressive and promising, though we would of course all have liked to see the publication of some original material (whether hard-to-get like ‘The Name Nodens’ in vol. 4, or hitherto unpublished like the Kalevala papers in vol. 7) I think this volume looks to be a strong issue.

Oloris Publishing, Friday, 10 May 2013, ‘'From The Shire To The Sea' to be Published by Oloris Publishing’
On the 2014 publication by Oloris of a book containing Tolkien-inspired art by Joe Gilronan. Gilronan's art is often quite attractive, but when you look closely there is a lack of clarity that both gives the picture a dream-like air and, I have to confess, occasionally bothers my eye. Still, it might very well be worth buying the book to get a chance to get more familiar with Gilronan's art and thus come to appreciate it better (this approach has certainly worked for me with respect to Cor Blok's artwork).
See also Joe Gilronan, Saturday, 11 May 2013:

Tolkienseminariet, Tuesday, 14 May 2013, ‘11 april 2013’
For those who read Swedish, here is an excellent series of short reviews of Tolkien-related books from 2012 by ‘Tolkienseminariet’. I also look forward to seeing what Beregond (Anders Stenström) has found in the Nobel Library.

Edward J. Kloczko, Mythprint, Friday, 17 May 2013, ‘The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien’
Though very impressed with Tolkien's artwork, Kloczko seems less impressed with the editorial work by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond than many others — including those who have included this book among the finalists for the 2013 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies.

PC, Wednesday, 22 May 2013, ‘Tolkien Calendar 2014 will be illustrated by Jemina Catlin’
Well — what the title says, really ... :-)

Diana Pavlac Glyer, Wednesday, 29 May 2013, ‘Invitation to a Smackdown’
Diana Glyer responds to a review of her book on the Inklings, The Company They Keep. It may seem a meta-level too far, but the responses here are actually a good way to approach the original review.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

JD, Monday, 6 May 2013, ‘The Darkening of Valinor (and other odds and ends)’
A sketch of the center-piece of a commision work titled ‘The Darkening of Valinor’: Fëanor holding dead Finwë in his arms, rage building against Melkor who killed Finwë and the Valar who kept Fëanor from Formenost when Melkor attacked to steal the Silmarils and kill Finwë.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Lynn Forest-Hill, Wednesday, 15 May 2013, ‘First meeting in May’
The Tolkien Reading Group of the Southfathing Smial (Southampton) is reading Egil's Saga. I wonder if my Danish pronunciation of ‘Egil’ is ‘correct’ (that is, would match the Old Icelandic pronunciation which Egil would have used himself)? There are a lot of interesting comments from the reading group — see also the following post, ‘Last meeting in May’.

Anahita Hoose, Monday, 20 May 2013, ‘Tolkien the modernist? The origins of The Hobbit’
A report on a talk that the Oxford Tolkien Society, Taruithorn, were given by Mark Atherton, author of There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit. Atherton's talk draws on his research for his book, and this report provides an interesting apetizer for those who have not yet got hold of it (through buying or borrowing).

Hawke Robinson, Friday, 24 May 2013, ‘Issue 14 of Other Minds Magazine Just Over the Next Rise’
About the work on issue 14 of Other Minds Magazine, which is ostensibly nearing completion.

= = = = Just For Fun = = = =

EJ, Wednesday, 1 May 2013, ‘The Periodic Table of Middle-Earth’
Emil Johansson, the Swedish chemistry student behind the LotR Project web site, has merged his academic field with his love for Tolkien to create this periodic table of Tolkien characters.

Peter Woit, Thursday, 16 May 2013, ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’
Though obviously not at all for fun as such, the inclusion here is mostly for fun. There has been some talk about the cultural penetration of Tolkien's work in the modern world, citing for instance the popular ‘Hobbit’ nickname for the Homo Floresiensis hominid as well as other references. Well, here it appears that a talk at a symposium on the LHC results (run by the Nobel Foundation) has claimed that ‘string theory is Sauron's Ring of Power!’ That idea is just too good for a physicist to just passively overlook :-)

XKCD, Wednesday, 29 May 2013, ‘Doors of Durin’
‘So what's the Elvish word for "Frenemy"?’ ...

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

The on-line blog bulletin / journals of a couple of Tolkien Society smials:

Taruithorn Mirovor — ‘The online magazine of the Oxford Tolkien Society’

Southfarthing Mathom — ‘The new blog for the Tolkien Reading Group (Southampton UK)’

= = = = Sources = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme, but I will here note the number of Tolkien-related posts in the month covered by these transactions (while the number of posts with a vaguer relation — e.g. by being about other Inklings — are given in parentheses).

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (S&H), ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’
1 (1) Tolkien-related posts in May

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’
No posts in May

Pieter Collier (PC), ‘The Tolkien Library’
2 items in May (both referred to above)

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA), ‘Tolkien and Fantasy’
1 post in May (referred to above)

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’
5 (+2) Tolkien-related posts this month

Marcel Aubron-Bülles (MB), ‘The Tolkienist’
8 Tolkien-related posts in May

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
and the old home:
3 Tolkien-related posts in May (all referred to above)

Jenny Dolfen (JD), ‘Jenny's Sketchbook’
3 Tolkien-related posts in May

Holly Rodgers (HR), ‘Teaching Tolkien’
10 Tolkien-related posts in May

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
4 (1) Tolkien related posts in May

Morgan Thomsen (MT), ‘Mythoi’
No posts in May

Bruce Charlton (BC), ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers’
9 (12) posts in May 2013

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’
No posts in May

For more, see

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