Sunday 18 May 2014

Tolkien Transactions XLVIII

April 2014

This issue of my Tolkien Transactions is already much delayed, and there is, I think, no reason to delay it any further. It does seem to me that I must have missed some things at the start of the month, but though I have tried to look back, it is a feature of my RSS reader that posts that I have marked as unread nonetheless disappear from sight after little more than a month.

All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

These transactions are posted to the usenet newsgroups rec.arts.books.tolkien,, and alt.books.inklings, and the usenet version can be accessed at
These transactions are also posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books):
and on LotR Fanatics Plaza in the books forum:

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: The Blog Roll
9: Sources

= = = = News = = = =

Daniel Helen, TS, Wednesday, 16 April 2014, ‘Beowulf Launch Party’
On the on-line launch party for Tolkien's Beowulf translation that the Tolkien Society organises along with others.

Shaun Gunner, TS, Sunday, 20 April 2014, ‘Inaugural Tolkien Society Award Winners’
The winners of the first Tolkien Society Awards — congratulations all!

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
As usual, I don't think you need me to point out the many intriguing headlines on old Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian culture, so I will just point out ones that have stuck out more than usual for me:
‘The Concept of Time in the Medieval World View’ (2 Apr) — The concept of time is of course also hugely important in Tolkien's Faërie, so this article is quite interesting, though I would have liked to see even more about the meeting of secular time with eternity.
‘Returning the King: The Medieval King in Modern Fantasy’ (5 Apr) — A 2012 Master's Thesis.
‘Theories of the Nonsense Word in Medieval England’ (8 Apr) — A Ph.D. dissertation from Princeton, 2013 ... confusticate and bebother these scholars ... :-)
‘Old Norse Influence in Modern English: The Effect of the Viking Invasion’ (12 Apr) — I guess there was just no way that I could leave out something with that headline, was there ;)
‘Enabling Love: Dwarfs in Old Norse-Icelandic Romances’ (27 Apr) — On the role of dwarfs in medieval and later folklore — including a role as enablers of love.
‘Boethius’s Misguided Theodicy: The Consolation of Philosophy’ (28 Apr) — Anicius Boëthius is often mentioned in relation to Tolkien. Though I think it is often because Boëthius offers a philosophical foundation that is medieval and yet relatively accessible to a modern audience, it is nonetheless relevant for the student of Tolkien to also keep an eye out for insights into the medieval religious philosophy represented by e.g. Boëthius.

Susan Abernethy, Friday, 18 March 2014, ‘Offa, Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia’
You do know, I trust, that Tolkien identified himself as Mercian or Hwiccian, but how well do you know the history of Mercia and Hwicce? My own knowledge is certainly not above appreciating a bit of a history lesson on King Offa of Mercia.
Jef Murray
Echoes on the Road

AH, Monday, 21 April 2014, ‘Travels on the Oloremalle — The Musings of a Tolkien Researcher’
Andrew Higgins has started blogging on the Tolkien Society web-site, calling his series of blogs the ‘Travels on the Oloremalle’ (referring to the Olórë Mallë — the Path of Dreams — in The Book of Lost Tales). Andy is doing a Ph.D. on the earliest stages of Tolkien's mythology, and his bloggings are a must-read for anyone interested in the genesis and emergence of the Middle-earth mythology.

Shreyas Warrier, Thursday, 24 April 2014, ‘Guest speaker explores the mysteries of Tolkien’
A report from a speech by Maria Cecire on ‘Unfashionable Creatures: Tolkien’s 1931 Curricular Reforms and the Fantastic Imagination’ at Brandeis University.

MM, Tuesday,29 April 2014, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien Slept Here’
Being of a scientific persuation myself, I might wish for just a bit more justification / confirming evidence (in the Bayesian sense) than just getting the hypothesized cause before the proposed effect, but otherwise I largely agree with what Martinez has to say here.

Andrew Higgins, Wednesday, 30 April 2014, ‘Travels on the Oloremalle — Questing for The Leaf-Mould of Tolkien's Mind’
Here Andrew, in addition to talking about his current projects, gives some excellent resources for someone interested in trying to understand something of the mind-set of the literature with which Tolkien grew up and which he studied while at university (perhaps it would be more appropriate to describe it in the plural — the many mind-sets of many authors that all form a part of that leaf-mould of the mind in which Tolkien's works grew).

= = = = Commentary = = = =

Josh Jones, Wednesday, 2 April 2014, ‘Read an Excerpt of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1926 Translation of Beowulf Before It's Finally Published Next Month’
Along with an introductory discussion of the poem, Jones compares a few lines from Tolkien's alliterating translation that are, IIRC, known from Michael Drout's work on Tolkien and Beowulf, to Heaney's 1999 translation.

Mabel Slattery, Saturday, 5 April 2014, ‘Why J.R.R. Tolkien's Beowulf translation is one of the best things to happen to literature’
A coherent argument from someone who is not herself a fan of Tolkien's fiction, but a huge fan of his work on Old English.

Sean Michaels, National Post, Tuesday, 22 April 2014, ‘On J.R.R. Tolkien’
‘This is what sets [Tolkien's] Middle Earth [sic] apart from [...]: those lands have fine yarns, but they never taught me anything about myself.’ Need I say more? This is exactly what sets Tolkien's work apart: it allows the attentive and thoughtful readers to learn something about themselves!

Jef Murray
The Knighting of Gimli
Daniel Hannan, Monday, 28 April 2014, ‘Supposing him to be the gardener: Sam Gamgee, the Battle of the Somme and my Great Uncle Bill’
Perhaps not terribly interesting from a Tolkien perspective, but still a good way to approach Faramir's commnet, ‘You are a new people and a new world to me. Are all your kin of like sort? Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardeners be in high honour.’

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

PC, Saturday, 26 April 2014, ‘Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings’
The question of religious meaning in Tolkien's work is probably always going to be contentious because people will insist on reading their own meaning into his work, and thus tend to either exaggerate or understate the importance of Tolkien's own faith in shaping his work.
Sometimes it is merely a matter of language — I am often far more comfortable with a statement that ‘this is what I get from reading it’ compared to the claim that ‘this is what Tolkien intended us to get from reading it’.
In any case, I have long since found that a bit more than a passing knowledge of medieval Catholic philosophy is invaluable when trying to carefully excavate deeper layers of Tolkien's work.

AS, Sunday, 27 April 2014, ‘Dictionnaire Tolkien review in Medievally Speaking’
Commenting on her review of Dictionnaire Tolkien from Medievally Speaking (see last month), Anna Smol takes up on the question of the translation and reception of Tolkien's works in other languages. This is indeed an interesting topic. Most of the discussion that I know of looks at single languages (comparing translations, discussing translation choices etc.) and it could be interesting to see a thorough study of translations in general (there is Allan Turner's contribution, ‘A Theoreticl Model for Tolkien Translation Criticism’ in the book Tolkien in Translation (ed. Thomas Honegger, Walking Tree Publishers, Cormarë series no. 4).

= = = = Interviews = = = =

Philipp Rhensius, Der Spiegel, Monday, 7 April 2014, "J. R. R. Tolkien und der Erste Weltkrieg: ‘Mordor erinnert an Schlachtfelder und Schützengräben"’
An interview, in German, with John Garth, about his book, Tolkien and the Great War, which has been published in German. The description of the TCBS core as believing with ‘jugendlichem Übermut’ that they could help change the world through Art sticks out — if the interview was conducted in English, I suspect that Garth did not use ofermod to describe the TCBS, but it might not be wholly inappropriate.

Corey Olsen, Wednesday, 16 April 2014, ‘Listen In - Dr. Robin Reid Interview’
An interesting interview with Dr. Reid who will be teaching a course on the cultural studies and audience reception approaches to Tolkien's work.

Stacia Joy, Thursday, 3 April 2014, ‘Author/Illustrator Interview: Jenny Dolfen and 'Darkness Over Cannae'’
A good interview with Jenny Dolfen — mostly about her newest project, ‘Darkness over Cannae’, but of course it is not possible to avoid Tolkien entirely.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Graeme, Saturday, 12 April 2014, ‘Where are we?’
The two ‘lost’ blue Wizards ...

MB, Wednesday, 16 April 2014, ‘A wealth of art at HobbitCon’
On the Tolkien-inspired art at HobbitCon — and yes, those artists really are good!

Jef Murray, Thursday, 24 April 2014, ‘The Knighting of Gimli’
Gimli being knighted by Galadriel — an interesting way of showing the bond between the two.

Jef Murray, Friday, 25 April 2014, ‘Echoes on the Road’
A scene from Three is Company where one of the three Hobbits (Frodo? He's a bit sturdy, as Frodo was when they set out, and seems the older of the three) is looking behind them with some concern, listening, I think, for the sound of hooves.

Joe Gilronan
A Stroll Through The Shire
JGi, Sunday, 27 April 2014, ‘A Stroll Through The Shire’
Is that Bilbo taken a stroll? Or perhaps a young master Frodo who has gotten used to being the master of Bag End ...

Jools, Monday, 28 April 2014, ‘The Grey Wanderer’
A knitted Gandalf ... and he's a wonder!

JD, Tuesday, 29 April 2014, ‘It's a GO! Darkness over Cannae on Indiegogo!’
Though strictly speaking not Tolkien, I can break my own rules as often as I like, and there was no way that I would not mention Jenny Dolfen's brilliant ‘Darkness over Cannae’ project, that is doing a pre-order/fundraiser at Indiegogo:
This promises to be a both interesting and beautiful historical novel, so get yourselves there and help bring even more perks to the supporters :-D

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Brian Sibley, Thursday, 17 April 2014, ‘Here There be Dragons’
A single Tolkien-inspired work, but otherwise also a fantastic gallery of artwork from a book of art by Ian Miller — including dragons, and ‘the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever cost of peril.’ Though not (at least not all of them) Fáfnir, Miller's dragons do make the world a richer place.

Dean Burnett, The Guardian, Thursday, 24 April 2014, ‘Here be dragons: the science of the flying fiery reptiles’
Posted on the day after St. George's day, this article on dragons in general seems highly appropriate. Looking at the plausibility of dragons is, of course, a bit of good fun, but as Tolkien also knew, there is something incredibly attractive about the idea of the Dragon — something that leaves the world both richer and more beautiful for being.

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
This month, being late and all, I've just reduced the list to those who have posted in April (whether Tolkien-related or not), without giving details on posts not discussed above.

Pieter Collier (PC), ‘The Tolkien Library’

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’

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

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’

Jenny Dolfen (JD), ‘Jenny's Sketchbook’

Anna Smol (AS), ‘A Single Leaf’

Various, The Mythopoeic Society

The Tolkien Society (TS)

Southfarthing Mathom

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’

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

= = = = Sources = = = =

No new sources in April 2014. For older sources, see

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