Monday 6 April 2015

Tolkien Transactions LVI

March 2015

Besides much else that has happened in March, I need also to somehow mark the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, or Pterry to many of his fans. Much has been posted about Pratchett in the weeks since he passed away, but as with Tolkien, he leaves his work behind.
Tolkien once wrote that
nowhere does time ‘fly’ so fast compared with daily experience as when sitting and drinking and conversing with dear friends in an inn
If the Universe is, after all, a just place, there will be an inn beyond the Circles of the World – a timeless variant of the Bird & Baby, where a seat will have been made for Pratchett.

See also the following comments:
Daniel Helen, Thursday, 12 March 2015, ‘Terry Pratchett, Tolkien fan and fantasy author, has passed away and
Marcel Aubron-Bulles, Friday, 13 March 2015, ‘AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER. How Discworld shaped my life: Remembering Sir Terry Pratchett (or rather, PTERRY.)
‘Pratchett was lost!’ Said Troels, ‘It is hard indeed to believe that one of so great wisdom, and of power – for many wonderful things he did among us – could perish, and so much lore be taken from the world. Are you sure of this, and that he did not just leave you and depart where he would? Yet, do not despair, for we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Namarië!’

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.
And of course all of the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or, indeed, any other implication of responsibility) :-)

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

‘Speed Now This Feathered Shaft’ by Jenny Dolfen
Speed Now This Feathered Shaft
by Jenny Dolfen

= = = = Tolkien Reading Day = = = =

The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Today is Tolkien Reading Day!
Featuring a number of Tolkienists reading favourite passages related to this year's theme of friendship.

Personally, I did a reading in the Copenhagen fantasy & SF book shop, Fantask. I had chosen to read from The Children of Húrin telling the story of the friendship between Túrin and Beleg Cúthalion, from their meeting in the woods of Doriath (told only in passing by the narrator) through to Túrin's arrival to Nargothrond after Beleg's death. I chose this reading in order to focus on some of the less known texts, and to highlight a side of Tolkien's work that often gets overlooked by his critics. All in all the reading itself took about 1½ hours, to which I added a break in the middle (sitting right next to the Pratchett shelves, that break did cost me a couple of books).

Anna Smol, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘International Tolkien Reading Day: Theme of Friendship

Sean Kirst, Thursday, 26 March 2015, ‘Sunday, Tolkien Reading Day in greater Syracuse: Keeping it rolling in the town where it was born

Emily Hewett, Metro, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Tolkien Reading Day 2015: How well do you know The Lord Of The Rings – THE QUIZ

Robin Jenkins, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Happy Tolkien Reading Day! The author had links with Gloucestershire

Joseph Bradford, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Today Is Tolkien Reading Day, How Are You Celebrating?

Kassondra Granata, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Celebrate Tolkien Reading Day With These Six Resources

A couple of the usual collections of inspirational quotations attributed to Tolkien have not met the standard required here and have been omitted. NEVER use a quotation you have found on the internet until you have verified it! And if they do not provide a proper source (at least book and chapter), then don't bother at all.

= = = = News = = = =

Zach Weiner, Tuesday, 3 March 2015, ‘SMBC - Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Just for fun! Forget about those pesky eagles – there are other alternatives ...

Michael Erard, Saturday, 7 March 2015, ‘“Ka Hopita”: Hawaiian translation of “The Hobbit” coming soon
I have never myself been terribly interested in the details of translating Tolkien, but I do think it is interesting to see how translations of Tolkien's work are appearing in some odd languages, where one can expect the translation to be used more as an aid to learning the language through a familiar story than as a way of encountering the story. Personally I prefer to eschew translations if I am at all capable of struggling through a book in the original language, as a translation will never be a fully accurate representation of the original.

Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 18 March 2015, ‘Middle-earth Weekend to return in Birmingham
Now called the Middle-earth Festival, the event returns after a hiatus to celebrate the links of J.R.R. Tolkien to Sarehole Mill, Moseley Bog and the surrounding area.

Yorkshire Post, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Video: Lord of the Sings as Leeds hears lost Tolkien ballad
On how one might also celebrate the acquisition of a collection of Tolkien-related material (the Gordon-Tolkien collection) ... singing The Root of the Boot. Oh, and of course also about the collection and the poem itself ...
See also:
The Independent, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Singing students remember Tolkien
Western Daily Press, Friday, 19 March 2015, ‘Students start to follow route of JRR Tolkien

Dave Higgens,Times of Malta, Monday, 23 March 2015, ‘Singing in tribute to Tolkien

= = = = Events = = = =

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 12 April 2015, Norfolk Arms Hotel, Arundel, ‘AGM and Springmoot 2015
See also Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 22 March 2015, ‘Tolkien documentary producer Leslie Megahey to be Guest of Honour

10 - 12 April, Burlington, Vermont, ‘Tolkien in Vermont: Medieval Verse Narratives

Tom Shippey, 15 April 2015, Arizona State University, Tempe, ‘Politics in Tolkien: What We Can Learn From Hobbits

‘The Wizard's Tale’ by Jef Murray
The Wizard's Tale
by Jef Murray
Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft, 1 - 3 May 2015, ‘Tolkien Seminar 2015: On Fairy-stories

14 - 17 May 2015, Kalamazoo, Michigan, ‘International Congress on Medieval Studies
See also: John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 11 March 2015, ‘KALAMAZOO! (Tolkien at Kalamazoo)

24 - 27 May 2015, Koszalin University of Technology, Poland, ‘Medieval Fantasy Symposium 2015

Northeast Tolkien Society, 13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference

The Tolkien Society, 4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’

6 - 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015
See particularly Dimitra Fimi, Sunday, 8 February 2015, ‘Tolkien, Fantasy and Medievalism at IMC Leeds 2015

17 - 19 July 2015, Spokane, Washington, USA, ‘Tolkienmoot 2015

Mythopoeic Society, 31 July - 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘MythCon 46
See also John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 11 February 2015, ‘Scholar Guest of Honor, Mythcon 2015
And Monday, 16 February 2015, ‘Mythcon 46 updated Call for Papers

6 - 9 August 2015, The Greisinger Museum, Jenins, Switzerland, ‘Omentielva Enquea

Hungarian Tolkien Society, 3 - 4 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary, ‘5th International Tolkien Conference in Hungary

5 - 6 September 2015, Sarehole, Birmingham, ‘Middle Earth Festival 2015
Formerly known as ‘Middle-earth Weekend’

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2015

5 - 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Andrew Higgins, February 2015, ‘In Dembith Pengoldh
A highly recommendable article by Andrew Higgins about the very earliest stages of Tolkien's construction of Elvish languages, circa 1915 – 1920.

Anna Smol, Monday, 2 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Dimitra Fimi on Folklore and “Sellic Spell”
Focusing on Tolkien's Sellic Spell in particular, and on Beowulf in general.

Melvyn Bragg et Al., BBC, Thursday, 5 March 2015, ‘In Our Time: Beowulf
A discussion of Beowulf with Laura Ashe, Clare Lees, and Andy Orchard (the current Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford). There are some very interesting points being made (at least for those of us, who have not been taught Beowulf in school or university).

Sherrylin Branchaw, Friday, 13 March 2015, ‘Contextualizing the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien on Literary Criticism
In this second article from the on-line peer-reviewed journal of Tolkien Research, Sherrylyn Branchaw discusses how we might understand Tolkien's various writings on literary criticism and reconsile those with his own practices. This warning to read Tolkien's comments with the context in which they were supposed to be understood in mind follows other work in recent years that propound similar healthy scepticism to a too-literal reading, but Branchaw's article collects the threads nicely, and provides an excellent holistic analysis.

Anna Smol, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: John D. Rateliff, the Hobbit manuscripts, and Tolkien archives
One of the very nice thing about this series from Anna Smol is that she keeps finding things that I didn't know existed – but it is perhaps even better when she posts things that I probably wouldn't have searched for in the first place such as, in this post, the films from the Bodleian and the Marquette (and of course, while context is definitely far from everything, it does matter ...).

University of Leeds, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Collection highlights JRR Tolkien's time at the University of Leeds
Announcing that the University of Leeds has acquired a ‘collection of letters, poems and prose’ including six letters, eleven manuscripts and two books, one of which is a first edition copy of The Hobbit which Tolkien dedicated to Gordon and his family.
See also Elizabeth Ott, Thursday, 14 August 2014, ‘This Just In: A Tolkien Black Swan
In which Ott describes the rare Songs for the Philologists that had, at that point, been recently acquired by the University of Virginia Library.

Anna Smol, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Tolkien Studies at PCA 2015
The PCA conference will probably be over before I get these transactions posted, but reports are unlikely to be up, so for this month the list of Tolkien sessions will have to suffice. Even though I have no interest in neiter fan studies nor the study of adaptations, there are quite a number of sessions, I'd love to hear more about (here's to the wish that the presenters will put up their papers on the 'net ...)

Douglas A. Anderson, Tuesday, 31 March 2015, ‘An updated checklist of Tom Shippey on J.R.R. Tolkien, and Corrections to the printings of TOLKIEN ON FAIRY-STORIES
... I think the headline says it all, really.

= = = = Commentary = = = =

‘Yavanna’ by Jef Murray
by Jef Murray
Lynn Forest-Hill, Tuesday, 3 March 2015, ‘Last Meeting in February
The Southfarthings are reading The Fellowship of the Ring – follow them as they discuss their way from Bree to Rivendell (chapters 9 through 12 of book I) three meetings, including the two meetings in March (see the two posts following this)

Ben ‘Ausserebel’, Sunday, 15 March 2015, ‘This Children of Hurin, God, and Pride
Ben offers some thoughts about The Children of Húrin in this post. I quite agree that this story deserves to be better known (albeit there is some very excellent scholarship done on Túrin such as West's ‘Túrin's Ofermod’ in Tolkien's Legendarium or Nagy's ‘The Great Chain of Reading’ in Tolkien the Medievalist). Ben writes about the ethic ambiguity in this tale with its mix of especially Finnish and Norse sources and ethics, but unfortunately he spends more time criticising the approach taken by Corey Olsen than he does expounding his own analysis. It has been quite a while since I listened to the lectures Ben refers to, but as I recall it, I would agree that Olsen's analysis tended towards the overly simple, albeit, as has been pointed out excellently by Branchaw this month, we really ought to understand the context in which the lectures are given.
Ben continues his criticism of Olsen's analysis as being overly simple in the following post, though there referring to a podcast I do not think I've heard. One point that strikes me in this case, however, is the discussion of death as the Gift of Ilúvatar. Far too many commentators (including scholars) tend to forget that the Gift is primarily one of freedom – of freedom from the Music “which is as fate to all things else” and that it is merely “one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it” – death, thus, is not the gift in and of itself, but is inextricably tied with the freedom and the greater fate (to make everything “in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest”).

C Mountford, The Sentinel, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Did Staffordshire inspire Tolkien's Middle Earth?
I really do not know, but it did certainly inspire some minor aspects of Middle-earth, particularly in it's first telling in The Book of Lost Tales. However, not nearly as much as they would like you to believe (I will admit that I find it frustrating how these things tend to go way beyond the known facts, which in this case are interesting enough in themselves, and into the realm ... well, claims with an even more tenuous relation to facts than mere speculation; presumably just to be able to claim some sort of causal connection between Tolkien's best-known works and some particularly loved place or story ...)

Russ Linton, Friday, 27 March 2015, ‘There's a Vulcan in My Tolkien
For Russ Linton the news of the death of Leonard Nimoy eventually sent him through Nimoy's famous (or should that be infamous?) rendition of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins on to a quest for Tolkien-related music – a search that he has written about here.

Anna Smol, Saturday, 28 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Dawn Walls-Thumma on transformative works
I generally have very little patience for studies of ‘Tolkien fandom’, and, paraphrasing Tolkien, I admit that ‘I am a man of limited sympathies (but well aware of it), and [fan fiction] lies almost completely outside them’. I have read, and enjoyed, a few pieces of fan fiction, but I do so in sympathy for the author of the fan fiction, and in spite of it being fan fiction. Also, I firmly believe in the supremacy of the author within his own sub-creation as the only common ground worth discussing – I generally find other people's ideas about how they think things ought to be within Tolkien's sub-creation to be quite uninteresting, whereas an well-argued idea about how Tolkien might have thought they were can be very interesting.
With this starting point, it will be no surprise that I found little that resonated with me in this talk, and the best I can say is that at least I have absolutely nothing against others doing what they like as long as they'll allow me to ignore it (and no, I don't think it is inferior – it is just not my thing at all; inferior work is being done, and unfortunately also published, within all approaches, but so is superior work).

Elise Ringo, Tuesday, 31 March 2015, ‘They Are No Men: Tolkien's 6 Most Bad-Ass Forgotten Ladies
It would be presumptuous of me to say that Elise Ringo (the name makes me presume it's a woman) misses the point with this article, but I can hopefully say that she doesn't address the point that I would find the more interesting. When she emphasises six strong female characters from Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium (Lúthien, Haleth, Idril, Aredhel, (Tar-)Ancalimë, and Galadriel), she picks six characters of legend, only two of which (Lúthien and Galadriel) were ever fleshed out in a more detailed portrait, and all of whom are portrayed in what in Northrop Frye's system would be the romantic or high mimetic modes. This means that they are all larger than life – worthless as exemplars of gender or race. Tolkien did have a problem portraying women, but obviously not one that extended to women of legend. Éowyn was omitted from this list, but she, too, is (mostly) portrayed in the high mimetic mode and too far removed from the reader (at least if the reader has a realistic view of her- or himself) to provide a role model. The few women we do get that are closer us – e.g. Ioreth of Gondor, Rose Cotton and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins of the Shire – are all portrayed very sketchily, making them feel as much as charicatures of women roles than as actual and living characters. The effect is that (at least in the three big ones – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) there are no strong women who have that sense of being realistic people. Personally I think it is possible that Tolkien, consciously or sub-consciously, avoided writing ‘real’ because he wasn't good at it (whether he realised this or not, I couldn't say).

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

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, Sunday, 1 March 2015, ‘Art of The Lord of the Rings Pre-Order
The excellent news that the next book by Hammond and Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is now available for pre-order, with expected publication date on 13 October. at first look it seems that the Houghton Mifflin edition is on pre-order also on, but this may merely be a temporary thing.

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, Saturday, 7 March 2015, ‘Art of The Lord of the Rings Update
Announcing the UK edition by HarperCollins to be published on 8 October this year ...

Nancy Marie Brown, Tuesday, 24 March 2015, ‘Trolls: An Unnatural History, by John Lindow
A review of a book by John Lindow that takes a look into the history of the Troll. This might be a good place to start for anyone wanting to know more about the background also for the Olog-hai of Tolkien's works.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘The Wizard's Tale
A painting of tale-telling in Middle-earth ...

‘The Ring Goes South’ by Jef Murray
The Ring Goes South
by Jef Murray
Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘The Ring Goes South
A painting of Gandalf and Frodo, presumably during the journey west of the Misty Mountains (somewhere in Eregion would be my guess).

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Yavanna
A sketch of Yavanna.

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Uinen
A sketch of Uinen.

Jenny Dolfen, Sunday, 29 March 2015, ‘Speed now this feathered shaft
A watercolour of Fingon getting ready to shoot Maedhros to release the latter from the pain of his imprisonment by Morgoth.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Andrew Higgins, Sunday, 1 March 2015, ‘Well....I am Back!
After completing his Ph.D. on ‘the Genesis of Tolkien's Mythology’ (see also last month), Andrew Higgins has returned to his own blog, Wotan's Musings. With the projects Andy Higgins is sketching in this post, it would seem a good idea to follow his blog and his profile closely.

David Bentley, Birmingham Mail, Monday, 9 March 2015, ‘Moseley nostalgia: 21 atmospheric images show past of Tolkien's “lost paradise”
21 images from Moseley Village, from circa 1914 up to 1992.

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

Ursula Le Guin, Monday, 2 March 2015, ‘95. “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”
It is perhaps not entirely fair to hide this in the discussions section, but Ursula Le Guin has in two posts reacted to some statements by Kazuo Ishiguro regarding the fantasy genre in general. The two posts (numbers 95 and 96) are Le Guin's side of the discussion, but with links to Ishiguro's statements.
If only all internet discussions were conducted with this kind of attention and readiness to acknowledge a misunderstanding.

LotR Plaza, , ‘Book of Lost Tales Readthrough?
A read-through discussion of The Book of Lost Tales, which has so far covered the foreword and the first chapter.

= = = = In Print = = = =

Tolkien Studies XI
March saw my copy of Tolkien Studies XI finally arriving. The story behind this is, I hope, amusing enough to justify sharing it. I ordered my copy in the latter part of November, knowing that it was a little delayed, and about New Year, I started noticing that several friends had received their copies – including friends in Europe, but I wanted to give it ample time before writing West Virginia University Press about the problem.
Between this and being quite busy overall, I didn't really get around to writing them, but on 18 March Andrew Higgins wrote something on the Tolkien Society Facebook Group that made me remember again, and that made me write them at 14:42 (all times are Danish, or CET). They quickly promised to send a new copy, and after a bit back and forth, at 17:42 I got confirmation that it would be taken care of.
All of this, as the times will suggest, happened while I was at work, but when I arrived home that evening, I found the my copy, which must have been under way since about New Year, waiting for me. I immediately wrote the nice people at the WVU (at 19:23), and they were fortunately able to stop the new copy from being sent. But what a strange turn of events!

I have, of course, remained busy, and have not had time to read the whole volume yet, but I have managed to read Verlyn Flieger's contribution, ‘But What Did He Really Mean?’, in which she addresses some of the questions where Tolkien seems to be saying two opposing things about his own work – the question of conscious Christianity, the question of the independent reality of Elves and Faërie, and (interestingly) Faërian drama. Flieger's paper is more nuanced and balanced than what I have seen elsewhere, and as usual she seems to understand Tolkien's intentions, and Tolkien's struggles, better than nearly all others.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Wheaton College, The Marion E. Wade Center, ‘Audio and Video on Tolkien
Various talks on Tolkien from the Marion E. Wade Center – well worth listening to!

Mythgard Institute, ‘The Book of Lost Tales, Part II
A lecture series with Corey Olsen and co-lecturers about The Book of Lost Tales II (the last two lectures to be held in April).

‘Uinen’ by Jef Murray
by Jef Murray

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself 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. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from March 2015

Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy
Archive of posts from March 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from March 2015

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from March 2015

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Archive of posts from March 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from March 2015

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from March 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from March 2015

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from March 2015

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from March 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from March 2015

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from March 2015

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from March 2015

= = = = Sources = = = =

No new sources in March 2015

For older sources, see

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