Monday, 24 September 2018

Oxonmoot, Day 2

Oxonmoot 2018 – Friday, 21 September

The 81st anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit!

Being at a moot or convention of any kind is at least as much about the social parts as about the special contents (such as lectures, shows, workshops etc.), so the day really does start over breakfast, which can inevitably be enjoyed in good company – often with new-found friends.

The day-time programme at this year's Oxonmoot offered two separate tracks of lectures and papers, an art-room, a dealers' room and various workshops ... of course on top of just good company in the hospitality room or elsewhere around college (if you do not take a quick trip into town).

I started out in the Investcorp Auditorium, hearing Fiona Tomkinson speaking on “Total War and the Eschatology of Peace: Tolkien between Hegel and Levinas”. Unfortunately I was a couple of minutes late, and in the business of finding a chair and getting settled I missed a couple of key definitions that were invoked several times throughout. Overall, however, the talk did seem promising, and I would like to get a copy of the paper in order to understand and assess it better.

The next session was run by the Maggie and Mike Percival (who also organised the pub quiz on Thursday evening). The session was a preparation for a quiz they plan to run at Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham. Once more, I move that all questions about adaptations be precluded from Tolkien Society quizzes for not being about “the life and works of Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE” as per our objectives according to our Constitution (obviously this has nothing to do with my utter inability to answer such questions ... 😉). More seriously, I look forward to seeing the results come August next.

After the break (and the much-craved cup of coffee), I enjoyed Colin Duriez talk in the Nissan Lecture Theatre on “Affinities between Dorothy L. Sayers and the Inklings circle of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Charles Williams”. Duriez was careful to speak of “ affinities/“ such as may arise from moving in the same circles and admiring each others' work rather than making any claims to direct literary sources. Duriez focused on Sayers' relationship with C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, both of whom she is known to have been a personal friend with, though of course he also brought up Tolkien's personal distaste for the the later Peter Wimsey books featuring Harriet Vane, though Tolkien had liked the early stories quite well. I was a bit surprised to hear that Miss Sayers only visited Lewis and Williams by invitation, having heard an anecdote from Mr and Mrs Reynolds, stalwarts of the Tolkien Society, who had met Anne Spalding, who was Williams' landlady during the war, and whom he asked to tell her he wasn't at home, when a rather fan-girlish Miss Sayers turned up unannounced at Mr Williams' lodgings.

Taking a bit of time off Oxonmoot matters to sort out a couple of private e-mails brought me to lunch, after which I settled down in the Intercorp auditorium for a set of afternoon sessions starting with Murray Smith on “Farmer Giles and George – Two monarchs and their royal houses compared and contrasted”. For me, this was more an excellent introduction to the House of Hannover than anything else, but the references to the unwritten sequel to Farmer Giles of Ham were both excellent and a welcome reminder to check up on more things.

Then Ian Spittlehouse spoke on “The Wright Stuff, Part Two. ‘The E.D.D. and E, M, and W’”, which continued on from a talk Spittlehouse had given at Oxonmoot two years ago (featuring, among other things, a Minecraft reconstruction of the house of the Wright family). In this part, Spittlehouse focused on the English Dialect Dictionary (EDD) (link to search at, of which Tolkien's later tutor, adviser, and friend, Joseph Wright, was the editor. Spittlehouse mentioned a number of dialect words from the dictionary that also appear in Tolkien's writings, starting at the letter A with “Attercop” and moving on from there through a number of interesting words, hinting at a possible source without explicitly claiming it (given Wright's influence on Tolkien, it seems highly likely – almost inevitable – to me that Tolkien would have known the EDD, though that alone does, of course, not make the EDD the source (or even a source) for every dialectal word that Tolkien used which also appear in the EDD.

Last Seamus Harnill-Keays from the local historical society in made the claim that the Buckland we know on the east marches of The Shire was inspired, not by Buckland in Oxfordshire, but by Buckland estate in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. The evidence was, in my mind, very flimsy, and relied too much on “might-of-been” and “could-of-been” suppositions and a willingness to embrace random similarities as evidence (just how many do you think have drowned in England when going boating after a very wet party ...?).  While the evidence is, admittedly, also too insufficient to reject the hypothesis, it is also much too insufficient yet for me to do other than ask for (far) more evidence.

The last period of sessions, I spent going to the Art Room and the Dealers' Room (conveniently placed in the same building). The Tolkien-inspired artists in the Art Room comprised (going round counter-clockwise from the entrance), Ruth Lacon, Ted Nasmith, Tsvetelina "Elmenel" Krumova, Jay Johnstone, Pauline Baynes, Stephen Walsh, Anke Eissman, and Soni Alcorn-hender.  Most of these are of course well-known and admired and need no further introduction, so I will simply let you take a look at my snaps (quite deliberately not showing the individual works in a good quality – click through to the artists' own web-sites). See my photos at the end of this post.

Towards the end of the afternoon, college was flooded with the participants of the now regular Dwarven Beard Workshop – Dwarves (of all genders) sporting fine beards, both long, short and ... well ... special ...  It really is such a joy to see the creativity that Oxonmooters can exhibit in constructing their Dwarven beards.

At dinner on Friday we did the toasts as per the ancient Rules (well, perhaps more like guidelines ...), to the Queen, to absent friends (yes, I was thinking of you!) and to “The Professor!” – toasting the Professor with three hundred other people at an Oxonmoot is ... well, special.

After dinner, we all waited round for the Masquerade and the “ents” –the little performances, or entertainments, of varying kinds that are put on by members of the Oxonmoot. None of this is, of course, professional, but all are enjoyed in the good spirit of the moot, though of course one may at times find one's attention wandering when it proves difficult to keep up with a long reading of own poetry (I find it increasingly difficult to sort out background noise and focus on just one source of sound, which makes it near impossible for me to follow a reading once the level of the ‘buzz’ in the room begins to rise).

We had some both hilarious and wonderful performances from both Masquerades and Ents, ending with A Elbereth Gilthoniel in polyphonic song so beautiful I still get goosebumps when writing this up three days after ...

Pictures by Ruth Lacon (left) and Ted Nasmith (right)

Art by Tsvetelina Krumova, “Elmenel”
See See note 1

Art by Jay Johnstone

Art by Pauline Baynes (left) and Jay Johnstone (right)

Art by Stephen Walsh

Art by Anke Eißmann

Art by Soni Alcorn-Hender, “Bohemian Weasel”

Note 1:  Despite what I said above, I'm going to add a couple of words about the art of Tsvetelina Krumova because most of it is of a different kind from most of the other Tolkien-inspired artists we know and love. Tsvetelina Krumova mainly works with calligraphic art, where the text itself is the artwork, and for a word-lover such as me, there is a particular pleasure in seeing the words made into art at more than one level. Also, her maps are stunning examples of what might have been hanging on the walls in e.g. Bag End (in the spirit of Tolkien's Book of Mazarbûl facsimile pages, where the text transcribes into English. Back

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Oxonmoot, Day 1

Oxonmoot 2018 – Thursday, 20 September

I had arrived at St. Anthony's on Wednesday evening, and so had the whole day on Thursday – of course in order to be able to spend some more time in the Tolkien – Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries. On Wednesday evening, I had also found out that Harm Schelhaas (from the Netherlands) was in town and had a ticket for the exhibition at the same time slot as I had, so we set out together from St. Anthony's to have a bit of breakfast on the way to the Weston Library where the exhibition is.

Coming in with Harm proved a real boon (thank you very much, Harm!) as he had already visited the exhibition and could point out many of the highlights (including two or three errors – one being two swapped translations in the interactive Elvish stands, and others related to the 3-D map thing (I later also found the erroneous claim that all the Dwarf-names in The Hobbit were taken from the Elder Edda [the list of Dwarves in Völvuspá]).

Having thus been introduced to some of the highlights (and some of the “notice this” features and exhibits), I set out to go through the exhibition.

Starting with the parts showcasing Tolkien's life from childhood to world-famous author, which were very nice, but ultimately didn't add much new to neither knowledge or understanding of Tolkien's life.

Seeing the original fan-letters from young Terence Pratchett, from Iris Murdoch and not least from (as she was then) Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Margrethe was quite an experience, though of course their existence and (at least most of) their contents were known, there is something a bit more magical about being in presence of the original (that same feeling of enchantment and awe filled me, both as a physicist and a Scout, when standing in front of that original World Scout Badge that Neil Armstrong brought to the moon).

And that particular magic was my main take-away from the exhibition, even despite the many, many wonderful small details that could be gleaned from the exhibits.

The artwork that is on display is well preserved: the colours are still full and vibrant, and the details are sharp. I was in many cases struck by the size of them – the originals are generally smaller than I had thought, making the detail even more impressive (and yes, I probably ought to have known based on the various books that often state the size of the original, but the actual meaning of those measures often doesn't really register until I stand before the actual original).

Much of the artwork is of course well-known, so – besides the enchantment mentioned above – the particular experience of seeing them in the exhibition mainly contributed two things for me:
  • An overview coming from being able to see the entire piece with related pieces next to them. This is especially true of the many maps that have been reproduced in black and white with varying success in the History of Middle-earth series. 
  • The ability to correlate between different pieces. I particularly wanted to take a look at all the images that Tolkien had done of Elvish architecture (not that there are very many of them) and correlate them.
This brings me to some of the main points, I came away with (yes, I did manage to get some things out of it, despite being in that enchanted state nearly throughout).

The maps – particularly those for The Lord of the Rings really ought to be more broadly available in better reproduction than what is given in the History of Middle-earth series (unfortunately it is not possible in the shop to purchase a reproduction of Tolkien's own map, but you can buy a copy of Christopher Tolkien's map with his father's and Pauline Baynes' annotations, and you can buy a copy of Pauline Baynes' map).

Rivendell. Tolkien never did much in the way of illustrating Elvish architecture and other results of Elvish craft, but he did do illustrations of Rivendell, which are fundamentally different from the way it is usually portrayed. Though I am not aware of any Tolkien drawings of e.g. Elvish furniture, interior decorations etc. I am convinced that Tolkien would not recognise the usual illustration (which I suppose is mostly Art Noveau in style) as depicting his Elvish cultures in Middle-earth. Tolkien did portray the city of Kôr (later renamed Tirion on the hill of Túna) on the shores of Aman (or, as one of these pictures is named, The Shores of Faery).
Looking at the symmetrical designs Tolkien did for his Elvish heraldic devices, at the images of Rivendell, and more broadly at what we know about Tolkien, I think that the Arts & Crafts movement would be a more likely source of inspiration for artists wishing to portray Tolkien's Elvish crafts and arts (though possibly the overloaded style of e.g. Arts & Crafts wallpapers would not be appropriate for larger surfaces – there would need to be some more free space, but without the Art Noveau curls etc.).

Oh, and I really like Tolkien's work in the Book of Ishness – marvellous! I shan't try to analyse or rationalise it, I just know that I like that work very, very much.

Having spent some 3 to 3½ hours at the exhibition (far too short, but one does need to move on), I visited the shop to buy a few souvenirs, and then moved on for some errands in town including ordering a wreath for the Enyalië to be laid down on behalf of the Copenhagen Tolkien Society, Bri (Bree).

Back at St. Anthony's it was time for registering, unloading, and a bit of dinner, and above all, for greeting friends both old and new.

The only Oxonmoot-related event on Thursday was the pub-quiz in the evening. Now, that was a diabolical quiz! The maximum number of points was 90, and the winning teams (we had a tie!) scored 64. Fortunately I had some very clever team mates, so we managed to score 58½ points, which I think was quite fine. Many thanks to the Percivals for organising this (though I would, of course, prefer that anything related to adaptations was banned entirely ... I have no chance of contributing to answering that kind of questions).

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Reading Experiences – Musings on a Facebook Question

In the Tolkien Society Facebook Group, a poster recently asked:
"We have to deal with it as if it were true", one of my favorite professors once said, and he meant how we should deal with fictional texts. It's now quiet a long time ago, but the professor was definetly not the kind of person who has a whim in his head. With other words, it's not a mere "pipe dream" (no matter one stands to the habit of smoking). As I see things, that's exactly the game every sentient reader plays anyway, and he does it in a most natural way. Now I want to ask you for your individual approach to fantasy. How would you describe the ratio between your reading experience and your everyday experience? Do you merge these realms of human experience, or do you keep them apart? I am genuinely curious to read your answers!

My answer to that question unfortunately had to weave through several layers, and quickly became much too long for any reasonable comment on Facebook.

Firstly, I have always felt that my experience as a reader of fiction is expertly captured by Tolkien in his essay On Fairy-stories, when he writes,
Children are capable, of course, of literary belief, when the story-maker's art is good enough to produce it. That state of mind has been called ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside. If you are obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking would become intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed.
‘On Fairy Stories’, in Tree and Leaf, Kindle edition

I have never been satisfied with the explanation of ‘willing suspension of disbelief’, though I am perhaps a bit more generous than Tolkien himself when it comes to ignoring minor discrepancies and inconsistencies (such as e.g. appear in The Lord of the Rings – see e.g. my old blog post ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as a Transitionary Work from February 2011), but as long as the magic, the enchantment, is ‘good enough’ as it were, I will remain enchanted, and if the enchantment is broken, I can often re-create it by thoroughly analysing the break.

I am not sure what exactly is required for the enchantment to work. The ‘ inner consistency of reality’ of which Tolkien speaks elsewhere in On Fairy-stories is a good starting point, though, as I have hinted above, a perfect consistency is probably neither necessary nor even desirable (and it is certainly not attainable).

Most story-makers (to borrow Tolkien's term) takes the approach of not altering the known reality too much, and I think this is a crucial point. If the reader ends up not being able to relate to the experience of the Secondary World, then Secondary Belief is, I think, not possible, or is only possible in another sense – the enchanted state might be attainable, but it would be another kind of enchantment than the one Tolkien describes, and which I enjoy.

Many people seem to believe that the introduction of magic into a world constitutes a massive violation of the natural laws, but in nearly any fantastic story that I have read, this has not been the case. Actually magic is usually merely a small lemma to the natural laws of our world – a minor addition of a way to harness the energy of the world, and possibly and additional source of energy.  Generally the effects of such magic fit very neatly within the natural laws of our own Primary World, if only we could direct the energy in the right way. Speaking as a physicist here, I have never had any problem seeing magic as simply an addition to our current understanding of nature, rather than a violation of it.

Where I have, however, encountered problems (in fantastical literature as well as in other genres – historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction) is in human behaviour. When an author insists on portraying one race as human, then I expect that race to act according to my experience with humans. Snape's mawkish death in the Harry Potter books was completely inconsistent with his portrayal in the preceding seven (almost) books, and thus did not come as a revelation for me, but rather broke the spell completely.  The seventh of the Harry Potter books remains the only one that I have read only once.

This idea of building on the recognisable, the familiar, when building your sub- creation, is something Tolkien mastered fully, though he doesn't seem to fully acknowledge his own achievement. Instead, in On Fairy-stories, he seems to think that the idea of the ‘inner consistency of reality’ is all there is to it, and if you do it right, you can create a world with a green sun 1 ... 

Another point is what happens when you put away the book.

Some readers appear to become, as it were, stuck in the enchantment, unable to fully escape it. Fairy-stories are full of warning against what happens when humans become stuck in Faërie, and I think that the same warnings ought to apply here. Personally, I find that I have a choice. It is difficult, when reading, to not come under the enchantment (though it can be done), and likewise it is difficult, when not reading, to become enchanted (though, again, it can be done). The Primary World, I prefer to address as the Primary World and with the solutions offered in the Primary World. I have no use for the idea that “everything was better in the old days”, when everything we know clearly shows us that it wasn't (it was , admittedly, simpler, but also much, much worse), and the solutions that applied a hundred years ago, are typically useless today. We cannot feed the world' s population by “going back to the earth” or some such nonsensical foolishness.

This might also be the reason — or, more likely, a part of what is a complex system of rational and emotional reasons — why I have so little patience with the whole idea of a ‘true’, or ‘canonical’, conception of Middle-earth . Such a conception is, for me, representative of the same unhealthy sort of escapism. I agree with Tolkien that the escape is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think his discussion of ‘Escape’ in On Fairy-stories ignores that there are also kinds of escapism that are unhealthy.

Having come this far, I think I had also better touch on some of my thinking (if that is not too large a word for my musings) about the relations between the Secondary and the Primary Worlds. From one perspective, this is of course a highly utilitarian perspective, that I would rather avoid, but from another perspective, it is fun to reflect a bit about it.

Fiction, of any kind, can never represent the full complexity of the Primary World.

If this statement seems puzzlingly obvious to you, it is because it is. The consequences of this, are, however, not necessarily obvious.

When a story-maker sets out to create a new detective mystery, the underlying assumption is that the story takes place in the Primary World, with the full complexity of that world in place. The story-maker doesn't need to say this, nor indeed to explicate the way the world works. This is not the case with fantastic fiction (and in this case I include science fiction), where the story-maker has to make explicit, either by showing or by explication, which of the elements that govern causality (from physical causality to phychological) in the Primary World that also apply in their Secondary World. This is important, because this means that the complexity of causality is up to the choice of the author.

I am, as implied earlier, a physicist. I have some knowledge of theory of science as well as experience with teaching science. One of the strongest features of modern science is the concept of the model. While the philosophical aim of science of course remains to uncover Truth, the practical aim of science is to create sequentially better models for predicting the behaviour of any (scientific) system in the Primary World, and the model is the crucial educational tool used to teach science. We start with very simple models – a mass moving at a given speed without any interactions. Then we begin adding interactions: constant acceleration in the same direction as the velocity (often as a model of gravity), several forces, non-linear systems (first in two dimensions, moving on a surface, then in three dimensions), more particles (point objects with mass, then bodies (extented objects with mass), etc. etc.

The key point here is that, for educational purposes, we always choose a model that is only just complex enough to encompass the elements (typically some sort of interactions) that we wish the students to study, and we choose a model that is designed to focus on the particular aspects of science, that we wish the student to learn about.

I would claim that the same is, to some extent, true for fantastic literature.

Fantastic literature, as I have argued above, is capable of working in a Secondary World of deliberately reduced complexity (as compared to the Primary World), both with respect to the scientific complexity and with respect to psychological complexity. Simply by virtue of this characteristic, the Secondary World of fantastic literature becomes a model, and as any literature worth reading has something to offer with respect to the human condition in the Primary World, it would follow that good fantastic literature offers a Secondary World that functions as a model of the human condition in the Primary World.

If the story-maker has successfully created his Secondary World, then it will allow her ... him ... to use it for a study of precisely those aspects of the human condition in the Primary World that he wishes for the reader to, if not exactly learn about, then at least reflect on and that way become wiser about. This is of course not an easy thing to get right: When we complain that a story is too ‘black and white’, as we often say, in its portrayal of good and evil, then we need to ask ourselves if that is because the story enables – or urges, even – the reader to reflect about the very nature of Good and Evil in a way that makes us wiser on our own perception of what is good and what is evil? Very often the complaint will arise, when this is not the case, and be a result of a model that has been simplified too far for the intended reader, who then feels that the story lacks relevance with respect to the human condition of the Primary World.

This lack of relevance can of course also occur if the reader engages in a story that has a far too complex model for that reader's prior understanding of the aspects implicitly discussed in the story.

Striking this balance of complexity of the Secondary World portrayed in a story is another of the balances that need to be taken into account.

Yet another balance is that of story vs. ‘message’. I put the word in quotation marks because I use it in a rather more broad sense, than is perhaps usual. I say above that the successful Secondary World will urge us to reflect about some aspect(s) of the human condition of the Primary World. It is this urging that I am referring to as the ‘message’. When it becomes unbalanced, and the urging to reflect on the Primary World becomes too strong, it will quickly be perceived as what is, more usually, called a message: that the story-maker wishes the reader to adopt a particular view, or in some other way agree with the story-maker (as this is perceived by the reader). This is the balance that has to be found: between staying relevant to the reader, and not imposing on the reader or the reading. The reflections on the story's relevance to the Primary World should not be forced upon the reader while still in the process of reading, lest they destroy the enchantment. Instead, I think that the ideal is that they come naturally after a while, when the book has been put away and the reader is once more firmly rooted in the Primary World.

I will stop here, though I might some day return to these thoughts with a discussion of why Tolkien is such a master in this. For now, let me just briefly hint that a part of the explanation is that he has successfully created a Secondary World containing within one story a multi-layered model that, as we might say, ‘just keeps giving’...

1 Actually a green sun isn't all that difficult  – all you have to do is nothing! Human sight would only seem affected for an observer coming suddenly to such a world from a world with, e.g. a sun like our own. return

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Tolkien Transactions: A Break

I have done some serious thinking, and I have, with regret, decided that I need to take a break from producing my Tolkien Transactions.

With increasing responsibilities elsewhere, I have less time for my Tolkien interest, and I am forced to prioritise firmly with both Tolkien and other spare time activities (such as my Scouting).

As an example of the reasoning, I have yet to find time to read the last couple of Tolkien books (The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun and Beren and Lúthien), making it even more difficult to justify to myself the time I spend on the transactions, and this realisation has helped me make this decision.

If everything works out as hoped, I will soon be able to share the Feedly board, I use to organise my transactions, and so you can follow that board to see what would normally be the long list of articles for my transactions (i.e. including items that would not end up in my transactions). Watch this space, where I will keep you updated when I know more.

I hope that you will understand this decision, and whatever may happen with the Feedly board, I hope to return to the blog transactions when time allows.

In the meantime, I wish you an excellent summer!  Unless you're south of the Equator, in which case I wish you a fine winter :-)


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Tolkien Transactions LXXXI

May 2017

Things have been rather hectic again, so I have decided to mostly go about things the easy way and use the intro I get in my feed reader, just citing the first something characters of the post. Everywhere where the description is given as “<text> […]”, the <text> is from the blog post itself. In a very few cases, I have added something or done a comment myself, but these are the exceptions. If this works well, I might choose to use this feature a bit more often, though of course I do hope to find time to comment myself.

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

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

Lótessë (Yén 15, Loa 1)
by Tsvetelina ‘Elmenel’ Krumova
Lótessë corresponds roughly to the month of May.
Enjoy it in full size in Elmenel's calendar.

Beren and Lúthien

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Tuesday, 02 May 2017, “"Beren and Lúthien" Waterstones Events: An Evening With Alan Lee
“ Waterstones, national bookseller of the UK, is hosting a series of Beren and Lúthien events close to the book's publication. You can read more about them here:®ion=&author=332510 " Celebrate the launch of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Beren and Lúthien" with Alan Lee, the book's illustrator and the man behind much beautiful and iconic Tolkien artwork, […]”

Starts at 60, Friday, 05 May 2017, “A powerful long-lost story from JRR Tolkien
“Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and […]”

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Monday, 15 May 2017, “Beren and Lúthien Tease

John Garth, New Statesman, Saturday, 27 May 2017, “Beren and Lúthien: Love, war and Tolkien's lost tales
“For Second Lieutenant J R R Tolkien the dance in the glade inspired a fairy tale, written that same summer in hospital, after a relapse of Somme trench fever. To call it a difficult birth would be the understatement of a century: it has taken 100 years […]”
John Garth reviews the new Tolkien book with his deep understanding of the story and of its gestation and evolution.

John Garth, The Telegraph, Sunday, 28 May 2017, ‘The man who brings Tolkien to life
An interview with Alan Lee by John Garth. Requires login, but is more than worth the effort of creating the account!!

Tom Beer, Newsday, Tuesday, 30 May 2017, “What's new: A classic Tolkien tale, …
“BEREN AND Lúthien, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The legend of a mortal man (Beren) who loves an immortal Elf (Lúthien) and captures a precious Silmaril jewel in order to win her hand, appeared again and again in Tolkien's writings about Middle Earth, beginning […]”

Liza Graham, NPR, Wednesday, 31 May 2017, “'Beren And Lúthien' Reflects Tolkien's Real Life Love Story
“One night in December of 1993, I stood in a frost-bound churchyard in Wolvercote, near Oxford. The tombstone in front of me bore the names of Edith Mary Tolkien and her husband John Ronald, but underneath each name was another: "Lúthien" and "Beren.". […]”


Thrice He Rose
by Jenny Dolfen
Iowa Public Television, Wednesday, 1 March 2017, ‘IPTV Presents Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest For Meaning

Sandy Elliot, Cherwell Online, Monday, 01 May 2017, “Tolkien and 'the problems of another place'
“I do not know precisely, or even approximately, how many hours of my life have been passed watching The Lord of the Rings. Just watching each of the three films once in their theatrical cut amounts to about twelve hours of screen time. […]”

Jordan Harris, Express and Star, Monday, 15 May 2017, “Over 90000 people visit JRR Tolkien exhibition in Staffordshire
“The Exhibition, which was launched at the Museum of Cannock Chase in March 2016, is led by the Haywood Society, supported by Staffordshire Libraries and Arts, and largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. […]”

Jennie Ramstad,, Tuesday, 30 May 2017, “The Rio Theatre gets geeky with Dungeons & Dragons comedy and Tolkien burlesque
“On Friday (June 2) weary workers can celebrate the end of the week with Lord of the Schwings, a night of burlesque inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Presented by the Geekenders and Kitty Glitter, the evening will feature silly, sexy routines […]”


Reports or comments on past events
23 May 2017, East Yorkshire, ‘Centenary Tour of Tolkien's East Yorkshire’, Michael Flowers
Michael Flowers, Tuesday, 23 May 2017, “Centenary Tour of Tolkien's East Yorkshire

1–4 June 2017, National Conference Center, Virginia, US, ‘Mythmoot IV: Invoking Wonder’, Mythgard Institute
David Bratman, Saturday, 3 june 2017, ‘Moria with the lights turned on

Info on upcoming & on-going events (as of 15 June)
11 May – 8 July 2017, Gallerie Arludik, Paris, ‘John Howe’, Gallerie Arludik
John Howe, Thursday, 20 April 2017, ‘Paris, May 11, 2017

16–18 June 2017, Waddow Hall, Clitheroe, Lancashire, ‘The Middle-earth Beer & Music Festival’, The Ale House Clitheroe

24 June 2017, East Yorkshire (Hull), ‘JRR Tolkien Shire Safari’, Phil Mathison, Michael Flowers

2 July 2017, Hilton Leeds Hotel, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2017’, The Tolkien Society – The theme this year will be “Poetry and Song in Tolkien's works”The Tolkien Society, Sunday, 14 May 2017, “Programme announced for The Tolkien Society Seminar 2017

3–6 July 2017, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress’, University of Leeds, Institute for Medieval Studies
Anna Smol, Friday, 19 May 2017, “Tolkien sessions in Leeds, 2017

28–31 July 2017, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA, ‘Mythcon 48’, The Mythopoeic Society
Lynn Maudlin, Monday, 08 May 2017, “Mythcon 48 Progress Report Published

10–13 August 2017, California State University, East Bay, Hayward Campus, USA, ‘Omentielva Otsea: The Seventh International Conference on J.R.R. Tolkien's Invented Languages’, Omentielva

21–24 September 2017, St. Anthony's College, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot’, The Tolkien Society

3–5 November 2017, Chaska, Minnesota, USA, ‘Tol-Con’, Tol-Con Committee

9–10 November 2017, Greenville, South Carolina, USA, ‘Celebrate Tolkien’, Dan Cruver
Andrew Moore, Greenville Journal, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘In November, the armies of Middle Earth will invade downtown Greenville

1 June – 28 October 2018, Weston Library, Oxford, ‘Tolkien – Maker of Middle-earth’, Bodleian Libraries

Essays and Scholarship

“J.R.R. Tolkien” on
“Tolkien Studies” on
A sampling of papers uploaded to in May (-ish ... probably ... or thereabouts, the exact upload date is generally not available). Unsorted. Where a paper is indicated as having been previously published in a journal, this is included here:
Robert T. Tally Jr., Popular Fiction and Spatiality: Reading Genre Settings (ed. Lisa Fletcher), ‘Tolkien's Geopolitical Fantasy: Spatial Narrative in The Lord of the Rings
Eric Gilhooly, In-formarse 56, ‘Death and the Numenoreans: Is This Life All There Is?
Rune Tveitstul Jensen, University of Oslo thesis, ‘The Role of Trees in Shakespeare, Tolkien and Atwood
Lisa Chinellato,, ‘Nostalgia and homesickness: a manifestation of the yearning for a better, ‘primitive’ life in J.R.R Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"
Simon J. Cook, Tolkien Studies 13, ‘The Cauldron at the Outer Edge: Tolkien on the Oldest English Fairy Tales
Liuwe Westra, Lembas 2017, ‘There and Back Again – but Whence?
Diego Klautau, Ciberteologia vol. 2 no. 8, ‘Evil and Power. The symbolism of the One Ring in " The Lord of the Rings "
Olga Polomoshnova,, ‘Let It Shine

Dimitra Fimi, Monday, 1 May 2017, ‘How Social Media Has Helped my Research (or, the kindness of strangers!)
Or perhaps ‘how modern technology expand the opportunities of scholars&rsdquo;.

John Edwards,, Sunday, 07 May 2017, “Did everyone believe in religion in medieval Europe?
“ One common idea about medieval Europe was that everyone were firm believers in religion. […]”

Dimitra Fimi, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 8 May 2017, ‘Dimitra Fimi - Tolkien and the Art of Book Reviewing: A Circuitous Road to Middle-earth
Video of Dimitra Fimi's excellent presentation at the 2016 Oxonmoot.
See also Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 17 May 2017, “Tolkien and the Art of Book Reviewing: A Circuitous Road to Middle-earth
“ The Tolkien Society has just uploaded on YouTube my talk for Oxonmoot 2016, titled: “Tolkien and the Art of Book Reviewing: A Circuitous Road to Middle-earth”. I thought, therefore, that it would be a good idea to publish the text of the talk and slides too. The talk focuses on Tolkien's three book reviews on “Philology” for The Year's Work in English Studies , published between 1924 and 1927. […]”

Annalisa Palmer, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Wilderness, Faerie, and Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
“ French Arthurian romances, like those of Chrétien de Troyes, often gloss over particulars of geography. Other romances involving Sir Gawain, in particular, follow suit; contrary to this, fitt II of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (SGGK) highlights specific geography of Northern England. Certainly, scholars elaborated on “Þe wyldrenesse of Wyrale” before (see Elliott and Rudd), […]”

Annalisa Palmer, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Chrétien and the Silent Majority
“ “Well I didn't vote for you” Silence versus speech, namely question and answers, serves as one of the central conceits of Chrétien de Troyes' The Story of the Grail (Perceval ). Perceval begins the story as an uncouth youth who states whatever he wishes, and as indicative of most bildungsroman narratives, he matures, but he matures into silence. […]”, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Thousands of Vikings were based at Torksey camp, archaeologists find
“ A huge camp which was home to thousands of Vikings as they prepared to conquer England in the late ninth century has been uncovered by archaeologists.[…]”

John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 31 May 2017, “Reinventing the Wheel? (Tolkien's sources)
“So, while I was at Marquette on my most recent research trip, the name Holly Ordway came up as someone who had what looks to be an interesting book in the works: TOLKIEN'S MODERN SOURCES. I wasn't able to find out too much about it, other than this brief description: “My current project is a literary-critical study, Tolkien's Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, to be published“ […]”

Farewell to Lorien
by Peter Xavier Price
An older piece from 2002 that I wanted to bring to your attention.


Shawn E. Marchese, Prancing Pony Ponderings, Sunday, 16 Apr 2017, “Smells Like Elf Spirit
“ In an early Prancing Pony Ponderings essay, I made brief mention of the following passage in The Hobbit … ‘Hmmm! it smells like elves!’ thought Bilbo, and he looked up at the stars. They were burning bright and blue. (The Hobbit, p. 45) … and quickly skipped past the questionable implications of “elf-smell.” […]”

Alan Sisto, Prancing Pony Ponderings, Sunday, 30 Apr 2017, “Túrin: “Simple Twist of Fate”? or “Freewill”
“ Yes, I referenced both Bob Dylan and Rush in the title of this essay. Fair warning: that may very well be the essay's high point. After all, philosophers have been debating – without a certain answer – the nature of free will for centuries, and I'm unlikely to solve it here. (Spoiler alert: I don't really try.) But it's such a fascinating subject […]”

Stephen C. Winter, Monday, 1 May 2017, ‘Legolas and Gimli in Minas Tirith
“On the morning after the great battle Legolas and Gimli are eager to find Merry and Pippin. “It is good to learn that they are still alive,” said Gimli; “for they cost us great pains in our march over Rohan, and I would not have such pains all wasted.” And so they make their way up through the city towards the Houses of Healing and as they do so they ponder this greatest of cities and see […]”

John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 03 May 2017, “A Certain Resemblance
“So, after trips and scheduling conflicts and illness, we finally managed to get the Monday night D&D group together for another session of Ravenloft last week and again this week.* During the first of these we explored a place we'd been chased out of once and now got chased out of all over again; during the latter we actually snuck into (and back out of) Castle Ravenloft itself, […]”

Bruce Charlton, Thursday, 04 May 2017, “The universal realm of the dream world in The Notion Club Papers - Tolkien's personal beliefs and experiences
“Sleep experience, especially dreaming, lies near the hart of The Notion Club Papers (NCPs). One aspect of this is that there are multiple references to the idea that the dream world is a realm of experience which is universal - in other words, dreaming is a single, vast domain - with distinctive qualities, different from the waking state - that is potentially accessible by all people. […]”

Grant P. Hudson, Clarendon House, Monday, 08 May 2017, “Galadriel and Tolkien's Imagination
“ The character of Galadriel is an instance of Tolkien's retroactive imagination at work. Not originally envisaged in his first tales of Middle-earth, Tolkien, having written her into a key role inThe Lord of the Rings, felt compelled to weave her history backwards into the tapestry of that earlier set of stories - a process which he did not complete, leaving us with various sometimes contradictory […]”

Tom Hillman, Friday, 05 May 2017, “Aglæca
“ There was just something about the word aglæa -- 'awesome opponent, ferocious fighter' as the DOE defines it -- that seemed familiar. From the first time I encountered it in Beowulf , it rang a bell. There the poet most frequently uses it to describe Grendel or the Dragon as, according to the gloss in Klaeber, ' one inspiring awe or misery, formidable one, afflicter, […]”

John D. Rateliff, Sunday, 07 May 2017, “Echoes of Eowyn
“So, recently I came across a passage I'd found years ago and never been able to re-locate. I had been reading the first (and, so far as I knew at that time, only) volume of Ursula Dronke's edition, with extensive commentary, of THE POETIC EDDA, Volume I: HEROIC POEMS […]”

Stephen C Winter, Monday, 08 May 2017, “Legolas and Gimli Speak of The Greatness of Aragorn, The Heir of Isildur.
“ So it is that Legolas and Gimli meet and speak with Merry and Pippin in the gardens of the Houses of Healing. And there the Elf and the Dwarf tell of the mighty ride of the Dunedain and the hosts of the Dead through the valleys of Gondor through Lebennin to the mouth of the Great River at Pelargir. […]”

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Monday, 22 May 2017, “«debt of £700 and upwards due to me by my Brother» Brothers Daniel and John Tolkien!
Here is, as you might say, the smoking gun! Congratulations – and thank you – to Ryszard Derdzinski for keeping at it and digging out the evidence.
I have been critical of Ryszard Derdzinski's premature conclusion that Mr Daniel Tolkien and Mr John Tolkien were brothers, which I think was based on not considering other possibilities and concluding on rather shaky evidence. However, with the addition of this document (the last will and testament of Mr. Daniel Tolkien), the totality of the evidence is now sufficient to say that other (identified) options are now much less likely than the possibility that they were indeed brothers.
Do not forget to also check the many other interesting posts that Ryszard has made during this month (see the link to the May archive in the blog roll at the bottom of these transactions).

Shawn E. Marchese, Prancing Pony Ponderings, Sunday, 14 May 2017, “Pity and Fear: the Tragic Tale of Túrin
“ It's been three weeks since Alan and I finished our trilogy of episodes on the story of Túrin Turambar in The Silmarillion, and no one is looking forward to Tuor showing up on the podcast more than I am. But before we say farewell to the son of Húrin, I still wish to explore the idea of Túrin as a tragic hero, as I promised to do […]”

Stephen C Winter, Monday, 15 May 2017, “Gandalf Thinks About the Weather
“ We can forgive Gandalf for mixing not just two but three metaphors because of who he is. Perhaps he mixes them deliberately in order to leave his hearers in no doubt about the point that he is making. The hearers are the lords of the allies gathered at the gates of Minas Tirith. […]”

Middle-earth Reflections, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Glorfindel: the power of white light (II)
“The rider's cloak streamed behind him, and his hood was thrown back; his golden hair flowed shimmering in the wind of his speed. To Frodo it appeared that a white light was shining through the form and raiment […]”

Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom 2012, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “First in May
“ 13.5.17 At our first meeting in May we were without Ian but were joined by Julie again, so 6 of us tackled the issues raised by ‘Mount Doom&rquo;. This led to a discussion heavily influenced by theological matters, with occasional references to World War One. […]”

Quickbeam / Bregalad
by Peter Xavier Price
John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 18 May 2017, “Gygax Tolkien-bashing
“ So, just before leaving for Kalamazoo I got a message from my local Barnes & Nobel that an item I'd pre-ordered had come in: RISE OF THE DUNGEON MASTER: GARY GYGAX AND THE CREATION OF D&D by David Kushner (text) and Koren Shadmi (art). Essentially this is a biography in graphic novel form, with word balloons sometimes representing the biographer's narration or commentary […]”

Stephen C Winter, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Gandalf Speaks of a Time to Risk Everything
“ I never thought that I would ever quote Lenin in this blog but there is no doubt that he was a man who knew how to recognise and then to seize opportunity when it came. […]”

Tom Hillman, Tuesday, 23 May 2017, “Things You Find In Grammar Books

Middle-earth Reflections, Tuesday, 23 May 2017, “Language notes /// On Galadriel.
“Lady Galadriel, who is so poetically and very precisely described by Sam in his conversation with Faramir, came to become one of the pivotal characters in Tolkien’s mythology. […]”

Allya Whiteley, Den of Geek UK, Friday, 26 May 2017, “The little known fairy stories of J R R Tolkien
“In 1938/39 JRR Tolkien was just beginning the task of writing The Lord Of The Rings. He was a meticulous writer and rewriter, building his world one detail at a time […]”

Stephen C Winter, Monday, 29 May 2017, “The “Hopeless Journey” of the Armies of the West.
“A few days after the great battle the armies of the West gather once more upon the Pelennor Fields in order to march towards the Morannon, the same Black Gate that Frodo and Sam saw upon their journey to Mordor and realised was impossible to enter. Tolkien describes the march as a “hopeless journey”, one that must end in inevitable defeat and death, […]”

Lynn Forest-hill, Southfarthing Mathom 2012, Tuesday, 30 May 2017, “Last Meeting in May
“ 27.5.17 Only four of us managed to get to the meeting today, partly on account of train cancellations, music festivals, and general Bank Holiday demands. However, Chris had sent some thoughts on the chapter(s) we had planned to discuss. Because Ian had been away for our last meeting we revisited some topics discussed then, so Carol's comments on these were included last time. Laura opened proceed”

Reviews and Book News

Abe Kenmore, The Guilfordian, Monday, 1 May 2017, ‘Professor Caroline McAlister presents story on Tolkien's life

Brenton Dickieson, Wednesday, 03 May 2017, “John Lawlor's Memories and Reflections on C.S. Lewis
“ I have just had the delightful experience of reading John Lawlor's book, C.S. Lewis: Memories and Reflections (1998). Prof. Lawlor was an undergraduate student of C.S. Lewis' before and after WWII before continuing on to do his graduate work with J.R.R. Tolkien. […]”

Douglas A. Anderson, Sunday, 07 May 2017, “Beginnings and Endings
“Some recent events have got me looking back upon how I got started in this field. I first read Tolkien in the summer of 1973, and for the next few years I looked for anything similar to Tolkien to read. There were some notable successes, like Lord Dunsany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Clark Ashton Smith, and Patricia A. McKillip. […]” – About four bibliographical resources from the late seventies that stand out still.

John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, “festschrift flyer (Flieger)
“ So, I'm happy to announce that A WILDERNESS OF DRAGONS: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF VERLYN FLIEGER now has a publisher, Gabbro Head Press. Primary editing has now been all but completed. The book still needs a second editorial pass, plus an introduction and index. We're hoping for a publication date before the end of the year. Here's the flyer I'm distributing here at Kalamazoo, […]”

DB's Data Base and nal de jour, Thursday, 11 May 2017, “scholarly book review
“ Tom Shippey, Hard Reading: Learning from Science Fiction (Liverpool University Press)
Tom Shippey is, of course, the renowned Tolkien scholar, famous for his lucid explanations of what Tolkien was actually trying to do, and his robust denunciations of critics who carp at Tolkien from positions of cluelessness as to either his intent or achievement. […]”

Douglas A. Anderson, Monday, 22 May 2017, “A New Issue of ORCRIST!
“Orcrist no. 9, dated April, but published May 2017 The J.R.R. Tolkien Society at the University of Wisconsin--Madison was founded in 1966. It has met continuously for over fifty years. It also published eight issues of a journal, Orcrist, with issue one dated 1966/1967 and issue eight dated 1977. Orcrist has been dormant for forty year, but now, at long last, issue nine has just been published! […]”

Anna Smol, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Forthcoming: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger
“ I'm very happy to announce that one of my essays will be part of a festschrift for Verlyn Flieger, a renowned Tolkien scholar and someone I admire very much. The book, A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger, is edited by John Rateliff. […]”

David Bratman, Thursday, 25 May 2017, “publications ahoy
“After too long an absence from other scholarly venues than the one I edit for, I got to finalize the texts of two papers today, OKing the final tweaks from their editors. Both are fairly short, but it's good to have them out. And for one of them, it means I get to be in this. […]”

John D. Rateliff, Friday, 26 May 2017, “The Inklings Book of Arthur
“So, last week I learned about the Go Fund Me drive for Sørina Higgins' project THE INKLINGS AND KING ARTHUR, a collection of about twenty essays looking at the Arthurian works of Tolkien, Lewis, Wms, and Barfield. Apparently the book is done but permissions ran higher than expected, hence the fund drive to fill in the gap. […]”

Andrew Higgins, Tuesday, 30 May 2017, “Building Imaginary Worlds (2012) by Mark J.P. Wolf and Revisiting Imaginary World (2016) edited by Mark J.P. Wolf
“Book review of Building Imaginary Worlds (2012) by Mark J.P. Wolf and Revisiting Imaginary Worlds (2016), edited by Mark J.P. Wolf, reviewed by Andrew Higgins.”

Tolkienian Artwork

Šárka Škorpíková, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 1 March 2017, ‘Nenuial (Lake Evendim)

Miruna Lavinia, DeviantArt, Monday, 01 May 2017, “Hobbits resting

The Prancing Pony
by Tomás Hijo
Currently available as a poster at reduced price
… I have already bought mine.
Tomás Hijo, Monday, 08 May 2017, “The banner of Lake Town

Joe Gilronan, Fine Art America, Tuesday, 09 May 2017, “Late Evening Bag End

Tomás Hijo Art, Tuesday, 09 May 2017, “The banner for King Théoden of Rohan

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, “Lúthien Tinuviel

Tomás Hijo Art, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, “Westu hál, Théoden, King of Rohan

Rhett Whittington, DeviantArt, Friday, 12 May 2017, “Gandalf Progression

James Turner Mohan, DeviantArt, Friday, 12 May 2017, “Going Treeish

Joe Gilronan, Fine Art America, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Good Morning

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Finrod

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Orodreth

Tomás Hijo Art, Thursday, 18 May 2017, ““The man in the moon”: As they have never landed in, I have sold only...

‘Aegeri’, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 17 May 2017, “Cirith Ungol

‘Suwi’;. DeviantArt, Wednesday, 17 May 2017, “The King of the Golden Hall

Miruna Lavinia, DeviantArt, Thursday, 18 May 2017, “The passing of the Elves

‘Aegeri’, DeviantArt, Monday, 22 May 2017, “Mirkwood

Peter Xavier Price, DeviantArt, Thursday, 25 May 2017, “Quickbeam/Bregalad

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Friday, 26 May 2017, “Ard Gallen

‘Ellthalion’, DeviantArt, Saturday, 27 May 2017, “Sigurd, sigurd

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 31 May 2017, “Princess of Nargothrond

James Turner Mohan, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 31 May 2017, “Beren and Lúthien (WIP)

Story Internal (Ardalogy)

Austin Gilkeson, Tuesday, 09 May 2017, “Smaug vs. Durin's Bane: Who Would Win in the Ultimate Dragon/Balrog Showdown?
“ No question animates the mind of a young speculative fiction fan more than “Who would win?” It's a question that provokes our firmest cultural loyalties and the lizard part of our brain that enjoys nothing more than smashing action figures together. It's a question that's lead to untold hours of heated discussion, ruined hundreds of friendships, and earned billions of dollars at the box office […]” (And which, Troels adds, is particularly uninteresting.)

Michael Martinez, Thursday, 11 May 2017, “How Long was the Voyage from Middle-earth to Valinor?
“ Q: How Long was the Voyage from Middle-earth to Valinor? ANSWER: This is one of those questions that can be answered in two ways. One way is a trick response, although probably technically correct. The other way is highly speculative[…]”

Michael Martinez, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Did the Black Riders Reach Hobbiton in Less Time than Gandalf on Shadowfax?
“ Q: Did the Black Riders Reach Hobbiton in Less Time than Gandalf on Shadowfax? ANSWER: Last year a reader asked me if I could explain an apparent discrepancy between the reported time for the Nazgûl's journey to Hobbiton versus Gandalf's […]”

Michael Martinez, Monday, 29 May 2017, “Answers Too Short for their Own Articles
“ Q: Was Celebrimbor Fëanor's only grandchild? ANSWER: A reader asked for clarification about how many grand-children Fëanor had. To the best of my knowledge, so far as I know, Celebrimbor was the only third-generation Fëanorian to live in Middle-earth. […]”

Good Morning
by Joe Gilronan

Other Stuff

Bruce Charlton, Tuesday, 02 May 2017, “Our destiny is to become both conscious and free - Owen Barfield in a nutshell...
“Owen Barfield's nature and achievement is usually under-sold by a partial, and therefore misleading, summary; that states his goal was to prove by evidence that human consciousness had evolved; and that this was achieved mainly via 'philological' investigations into the changing meaning of words. […]”

Dennis Wise, Thursday, 04 May 2017, “Chuck Willias -- the "Last Magician" or the "Third Inkling"?
“ I'm not a fan of Charles Williams, but Grevel Lindop's biography of him, Charles Williams:The Third Inkling , has been widely praised, even winning a Mythopoeic award for Inklings Studies last year. About the only criticism of Lindop's book I've seen concerned it's name. Tolkien scholar David Bratman, for example, has argued that calling CW "the third Inkling" unfairly puts CW into the shadow […]”

Tom Hillman, Monday, 08 May 2017, “Dreams of Beowulf
“ Sometimes I have the coolest dreams. The other night I fell asleep at my desk (as one does) leaning on my hands, trying to hold my head up and stay awake, so I could finish my daily reading in Beowulf. […] ”

Joshua Dudley, Observer, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, “People Who Podcast: Improv Meets Tolkien Adventures in 'Hello From the Magic Tavern'
“This is People Who Podcast, where we talk to the people behind some of the most fun and interesting podcasts available today. Why do they make their shows? What do they love about them? And is podcasting actually a viable career option […]”

David Bratman, Friday, 19 May 2017, “another one to cross off his list
“I confess I've never read much of the criticism of F.R. Leavis. What I have read was enough to demonstrate that, rather to my surprise, Frederick Crews' famous "Simon Lacerous" parody - "Another book to cross off your list" - isn't much of an exaggeration. Leavis really was that brutally waspish - or waspishly brutal. […]”

Grant P. Hudson, Clarendon House, Monday, 22 May 2017, “The Importance of Proofreading
“Have you ever been so moved by a piece of literature or so persuaded by an essay that you immediately changed your own views either of the world or regarding the topic it addressed? Have you ever re-read something just because it was so wonderful that you couldn't get enough of it? To tell you the truth, I often re-read my favourite books for just that reason […]”

Signum University, Friday, 26 May 2017, “Announcing Anytime Audits
“Signum University is proud to announce a new feature: Anytime Auditing! This is a brand new way of allowing people to access to our graduate-level courses whenever they like. […]”

Grant P. Hudson, Clarendon House, Tuesday, 30 May 2017, “C. S. Lewis: Allegory and Symbolism
“ Quite apart from the use of a commonplace wardrobe as a portal to a different world, and the introduction of a ‘re-booted’ God figure join the form of Aslan, Lewis used other symbology in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. […]”

Rewarding Discussions

Maria Messer, Middle-earth News, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, “Join Our Hobbit Book Club in June!
“All month long in June, Middle-earth News will host a book club were we will read Tolkien's The Hobbit. Ever wanted to discuss a scene or dialogue in The Hobbit? Something in the novel you […]”

Other Reading

Web Sites

Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese, The Prancing Pony Podcast
Centred about the podcast done by Shawn E. Marchese and Alan Sisto, the site also includes much other content than just the podcast episodes. This includes the Prancing Pony Ponderings, which is a blog with short essays (usually related to the topics of contemporary podcasts).

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.
by Jenny Dolfen

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from May 2017

Dimitra Fimi, ‘Dr. Dimitra Fimi
Archive of posts from May 2017

Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish
Archive of posts from May 2017

Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy
Archive of posts from May 2017

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from May 2017

John Garth, ‘John Garth
Archive of posts from May 2017

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from May 2017

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from May 2017

Andrew Higgens, ‘Wotan's Musings
Archive of posts from May 2017

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from May 2017

Edmund Weiner, ‘Philoloblog
Archive of posts from May 2017

Robin Anne Reid, her blog
Archive of posts from May 2017

Annalisa Palmer, her blog
Archive of posts from September 2016

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
News archive

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.)Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
Archive of contributions for the on-going volume 4, issue 1

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from May 2017

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from May 2017

Various, The Mythopoeic Society, ‘The Horn of Rohan Redux
Archive of posts from May 2017

Sue Bridgwater, ‘Skorn
Archive of posts from May 2017

Tom Hilman, ‘Alas, not me
Archive of posts from May 2017

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from May 2017

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from May 2017

Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Archive of posts from May 2017

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, ‘Expressions of Substance
Archive of posts from May 2017

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, ‘Tolknięty
Archive of posts from May 2017

Stephen C. Winter, ‘Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings
Archive of posts from May 2017


New sources in May 2017
Alan Sisto & Shawn E. Marchese, ‘Prancing Pony Ponderings

For older sources, see

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Tolkien Transactions LXXX

April 2017

Once all the reporting is done, there are always the finishing touches to put in – pictures, checking that there is no descriptions left merely as “description” (the default used in the macro I use), and not least writing up these opening comments, usually complaining about my lack of time ….
Well, I am busy. No doubt about that, but these days I am generally busy with things I like to do, so I can't really complain (there have, however, been periods over the past year or so where my paid job has taken up more time and effort than I am paid for). This mostly involves my family, my paid job and my volunteering for the Guide and Scout movement (in that order) before I get to allocate time for my studies and discussions of the life and works of professor J.R.R. Tolkien. That of course means that these transactions, along with any other discussions of Tolkien, are done when the time is there.
But no matter how much time I spend, I would never be able to guarantee anything about newness, completeness, or relevance of the contents here (or, indeed, any other implication of responsibility), so these come without any guarantees of anything other than idiosyncrasy :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

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

A Flower in the Grey North
by Peter Xavier Price


Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 16 April 2017, ‘10th anniversary of The Children of Húrin, Sunday, 16 April 2017, ‘Researchers bring Old Norse language back to JORVIK Viking Centre

University of Arkansas, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘Honors College to Launch 'Retro Readings' with Course on Tolkien

The Reading Agency, Friday, 21 April 2017, ‘Talking fiction? Research reveals our reading habits and hang-ups
Lying about having read that book? This survey shows that “One quarter of 18-24 year olds (25%) admit to having lied about reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, when they have in fact just watched the film.” Not merely 25% of those who make the claim, but 25% of the total ... puts the many claims about the films bringing in millions of readers in a slightly different light, I think.
See also, Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, c|cnet, Sunday, 23 April 2017, ‘Are you lying about having read the 'Lord of the Rings' books?

Daniel Helen, Tuesday 25 April, 2017, ‘Winners of The Tolkien Society Awards 2017 announced
Congratulations, all!

‘Alice Greenleaf’, Middle-earth News, Thursday, 27 April 2017, ‘Soundtracks of Middle-earth

From the Barrow-Downs
by Graeme Skinner


Reports or comments on past events
25 March 2017, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day 2017’, The Tolkien Society
This year's theme was ‘Poetry and Songs in Tolkien's Fiction’

8 April 2017, Burlington, Vermont, ‘Tolkien in Vermont’, Tolkien at University of Vermont
Anna Smol, Wednesday, 29 March 2017, ‘Tolkien in Vermont 2017: Romance in Middle-earth

12–15 April 2017, San Diego, California, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference’, PCA / ACA
Anna Smol, Thursday, 6 April 2017, ‘Tolkien Studies at PCA/ACA 2017

21–23 April 2017, Warwick Arms Hotel, ‘Springmoot and AGM 2017’, The Tolkien Society
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 10 April 2017, ‘Mark Atherton to be guest of honour at Annual Dinner

Info on upcoming & on-going events (as of 1 May)
11 May – 8 July 2017, Gallerie Arludik, Paris, ‘John Howe’, Gallerie Arludik
John Howe, Thursday, 20 April 2017, ‘Paris, May 11, 2017

Thrice He Rose
by Jenny Dolfen
11–14 May 2017, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, ‘International Congress on Medieval Studies (K'zoo)’, Western Michigan University, Medieval Institute
John D. Rateliff, Tuesday, 7 March 2017, ‘Tolkien Sessions at Kalamazoo

31 May 2017, Waterstones, Oxford, ‘An Evening with Alan Lee’, Waterstones & HarperCollins
Daniel Helen, Tuesday, 11 April 2017, ‘HarperCollins announce Beren and Lúthien launch events

1 June 2017, Waterstones, Picadilly, ‘An Evening with Alan Lee’, Waterstones & HarperCollins

2 June 2017, Waterstones, Exeter – Roman Gate, ‘An Evening with Alan Lee’, Waterstones & HarperCollins

1–4 June 2017, National Conference Center, Virginia, US, ‘Mythmoot IV: Invoking Wonder’, Mythgard Institute

5 June 2017, Waterstones, Liverpool, ‘An Evening with Alan Lee’, Waterstones & HarperCollins

6 June 2017, Waterstones, Hull, ‘An Evening with Alan Lee’, Waterstones & HarperCollins

16–18 June 2017, Waddow Hall, Clitheroe, Lancashire, ‘The Middle-earth Beer & Music Festival’, The Ale House Clitheroe

2 July 2017, Hilton Leeds Hotel, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2017’, The Tolkien Society – The theme this year will be “Poetry and Song in Tolkien's works”

3–6 July 2017, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress’, University of Leeds, Institute for Medieval Studies
Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 30 November 2016, ‘Tolkien Sessions at IMC Leeds, July 2017

28–31 July 2017, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA, ‘Mythcon 48’, The Mythopoeic Society
Lynn Maudlin, The Horn of Rohan Redux, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘HUZZAH!!! Mythcon 48 Room & Board

10–13 August 2017, California State University, East Bay, Hayward Campus, USA, ‘Omentielva Otsea: The Seventh International Conference on J.R.R. Tolkien's Invented Languages’, Omentielva

21–24 September 2017, St. Anthony's College, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot’, The Tolkien Society

9–10 November 2017, Greenville, South Carolina, USA, ‘Celebrate Tolkien’, Dan Cruver
Andrew Moore, Greenville Journal, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘In November, the armies of Middle Earth will invade downtown Greenville

Amon Ereb
by Peter Xavier Price

Essays and Scholarship

“J.R.R. Tolkien” on
“Tolkien Studies” on
A sampling of papers uploaded to April (-ish ... probably ... or thereabouts, the exact upload date is generally not available). Unsorted. Where a paper is indicated as having been previously published in a journal, this is included here:
Jeffrey Bullins, Tolkien in Vermont conference paper, ‘Sounds in the Dark: Assimilation and Continuity in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Olga Polomoshnova,, ‘Fëanor and Melkor: so different, so alike
Gavin Holman,, ‘In the Land of Mordor Where the Shadows Lie: Good, Evil and the Quest in Tolkein's Middle Earth [sic]
Marian Makins, thersites 4 (2016), 199-240., ‘Memories of (Ancient Roman) War in Tolkien's Dead Marshes
Giovanni Costabile,, ‘Note concerning the Influence of Tolkien's scholarship on Arthurian Studies
Olga Polomoshnova,, ‘In the shadows of dark forests
Jason Fisher, in Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘Sourcing Tolkien's "Circles of the World": Speculations on The Heimskringla, The Latin Vulgate Bible, and the Hereford Mappa Mundi
Jason Fisher, Mythlore 35.1, Fall/Winter 2016, p.191-200, ‘A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Stuart D. Lee (review)
Jason Fisher, Mythlore 35.2, Spring/Summer 2016, p.171-175, ‘A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages, by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins (review)

Sketching the Stones
by Graeme Skinner
John Garth, Friday, 31 March 2017, ‘When Tolkien reinvented Atlantis and Lewis went to Mars
I know I also included this piece last month, but I didn't comment upon it (and I'll use the 1 April update as my excuse ;) ). Besides displaying Garth usual engaging and highly readable style of writing, it also showcases the careful attention to detail that makes Garth such an enjoyable and convincing author. And do remember to read also the later conversation in comments by David Llewellyn Dodd and John Garth, which is also very enlightening.

Jane Beal, Journal of Tolkien Research, Tuesday, 4 April 2017, ‘Tolkien, Eucatastrophe, and the Re-Creation of Medieval Legend

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Tuesday, 4 April 2017, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's Baptism Act!
Ryszard Derdzinski has posted a number of bits and pieces from his research into Tolkien's ancestry. Some of this relates to evidence of various Tolkiens (of that or similar spellings) in Prussia and modern Germany, other of it relating to the etymology of the name. Here, for the sake of brevity, I will only list those that I have found the most interesting and relevant to uncovering details about the ancestry of ‘our’ Tolkien.

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Wednesday, 5 April 2017, ‘Another proof of the East Prussian origin

John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 12 April 2017, ‘Appendices That Might Have Been
On a very interesting list of contents for The Lord of the Rings found at Marquette. Thanks to Christopher Tolkien diligent work, we do now have some idea of what all these items might have entailed, including those that did not end up in the final book. I am not sure that I find Rateliff's argument with regards to timing to be convincing, though – I would expect Tolkien to have cast his net quite widely in the first attempts immediately after giving up on the co-publication of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.

Andrew Latham,, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘Medieval Sources of Sovereignty: The Idea of Supreme Authority in Quanto Personam and its Glosses

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘Christian Tolkien in Creuzburg, 1750? Looking for this Christian Tolkien...

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘Michael Tolkien (1708–1795), "Bürger und Kürschner" from Danzig

by Tomás Hijo
Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘Daniel Tolkien, father of Johann Christian (Riesenburg 1811)

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, Friday, 21 April 2017, ‘The Tolkien Family Tree on – Why I think John B. Tolkien was born in Gdańsk
A good summary of the main results of Derdzinski's research into the origins of the Tolkien family. The research is very interesting, indeed, and looks quite promising, though the evidence provided so far is not quite as convincing as it may appear – as I also say in a comment to this post, there are in my view other scenarios that would explain the available evidence equally well, and which are, in my assessment, no less likely. But I encourage my readers to look through Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski's interesting posts on the topic and assess the evidence for themselves., Wednesday, 26 April 2017, ‘When did the Vikings start raiding England?
... earlier than the 793 attack on Lindisfarne, certainly.

John William Houghton, Journal of Tolkien Research, Thursday, 27 April 2017, ‘Neues Testament und Märchen: Tolkien, Fairy Stories, and the Gospel


Stephen C. Winter, Monday, 3 April 2017, ‘The King and The Healing of Faramir

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Monday, 3 April 2017, ‘Saruman's philosophy of war

Sketching the Stones
by Graeme Skinner
John D. Rateliff, Friday, 7 April 2017, ‘Just How Long is LotR Anyway? (word counts)
The answer to that question quite obviously depends on which words you count ...

Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom, Sunday, 9 April 2017, ‘First Meeting in April
The Southampton Tolkien Reading Group has now reached that last book of the narrative of The Lord of the Rings, this time discussing the first two chapters of book VI.

Stephen C Winter, Monday, 10 April 2017, ‘The King and The Healing of Éowyn
I usually find Winter's reflections interesting or even enjoyable, but this time I felt quite provoked by the dismissal of the northern spirit (to use Tolkien's term), claiming that it, “in the form that has come to us through the mythology of the North is ultimately bleak and without meaning.” It is quite fine that Winter himself finds it bleak and cannot find meaning therein, but Tolkien obviously didn't find it so, nor does millions of people today (far more than just those who consider themselves Ásatrú). The Danish priest (and historian, philosopher, and even philological thinker) N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783 – 1872) found a richness in that form that prompted him to use the mythology of the North to enrich his vision of Christianity in the North (Scandinavia). Having been raised in a culture strongly affected by Grundtvig's thinking to appreciate the richness and meaningfulness of the mythology of the North, I found Winter's comments here to be far off the mark.

Ben, Monday, 10 April 2017, ‘Tolkienian Eucatastrophe
Follow-up posts: Ben, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘Turin and Pridefulness
An analysis and a critique of some of the more usual attempts at explaining the story of Túrin in a manner that is compatible with Tolkien's conjecture of eucatastrophe (I call it a conjecture because I believe it to be false for fairy story as a whole, though it can be a useful lens through which to approach Tolkien himself). I have commented the second post (Turin and Pridefulness), and will here merely refer to that discussion. I look forward to the continuation in the hope that it will also address the questions I raise.

Jack Malvern, The Australian, Thursday, 13 April 2017, ‘From Terry Pratchett to Queen Margrethe: Tolkien's fan mail
In anticipation of the 2018 exhibition at the Bodleian, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, this article lists some notable people who wrote to Tolkien to express admiration for his fiction.

Matthew Hicks, Quora / HuffPost, Wednesday, 12 April 2017, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth: How Would The Silmarillion Have Been Different if Feanor Didn't Burn the Ships at Losgar?
Given what we know about the Elves being bound to the Music of the Ainur as fate, I am not sure that a question such as this is meaningful at all, and I would expect any proper discussion of such contrafactual questions to include at least a discussion also of this. I am rather unimpressed by this answer, even if I tend to agree that it would have no great impact on neither the story of the Quenta Silmarillion or on the history of the Wars of Beleriand.

Stephen C. Winter, Monday, 17 April 2017, ‘The King and The Healing of Merry

Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Monday, 17 April 2017, ‘Destroyer of Cities, Homer, Jrr Tolkien and George RR Martin

Gil-galad was an Elvenking
by Jenny Dolfen
Olga Polomoshnova, Monday, 17 April 2017, ‘«Alone of the Valar he knew fear»

Dennis Wise, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘Tolkien and . . . Igor Stravinsky?, Sunday, 23 April 2017, ‘Seven Things You Didn't Know About Medieval Dragons
Because, you know ... dragons! :)

Olga Polomoshnova, Monday, 24 April 2017, ‘The King's Leaf. A Guest Blog by Olga Polomoshnova.
Introduction by Stephen C. Winter.

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘Aragorn vs. Saruman

Eric Grundhauser, Atlas Obscura, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘The Movie Date That Solidified J.R.R. Tolkien's Dislike of Walt Disney
Mr Grundhauser has combined information from various sources to tell the story of Lewis' and Tolkien's visit to the theatre to see Disney's Snow White, throwing additional light on the contempt of Disney that shines through some of Tolkien's comments. Personally I understand their reaction to Disney's dwarfs &ndash the ridicule of Disney is, I think, even worse than the vilification of Grimm.
Trish Lambert, Tuesday, 2 May 2017, ‘Guest Post -- Trish Lambert -- Snow White and Bilbo Baggins
Though posted in May, this post is a direct response to the above article (and not merely reporting on it), and so deserves to be mentioned here.

Brenton Dickieson, Wednesday, 26 April 2017, ‘Ragnarök'n'roll! The Poetic Edda and Tolkien's Sigurd and Gudrún

Tom Hillman, Wednesday, 26 April 2017, ‘Barrow-wights, Ringwraiths, and William Morris (FR 2.ii.248)

Bruce Charlton, Friday, 28 April 2017, ‘How important were The Inklings to The Inklings?
A good question. And while I do think that Charlton overstates things when he thinks (with little evidence) that “it is clear that for Tolkien and Lewis the Inklings meetings were part of a broader cultural effort”, I also think Charlton is right in concluding that the answer depended a lot on which member you asked, and that the group was more important for Tolkien and Lewis than for the other members.

Tom Hillman, Sunday, 30 April 2017, ‘From Terrible Beauty to Beacon of Hope -- The Silmarils from Fëanor to Eärendil

Hobbiton. Gandalf's Search For A Burglar
by Joe Gilronan

Reviews and Book News

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Friday, 7 April 2017, ‘Upcoming Tolkien Books of 2017 [So Far...]

David Bratman, Tuesday, 11 April 2017, ‘Tolkien Studies 14: an announcement
Announcing the contents. Now for waiting with waning patience ...

Brenton Dickieson, Wednesday, 12 April 2017, ‘Approaching “The Silmarillion” for the First Time
Not so much a review as such, but more some advice on how to approach the book for first-time readers. One of the things that is abundantly clear is that readers vary quite a lot, and the advice that helps one reader get a good reading experience may destroy the experience of another reader. Therefore, any reading advice is good – the more the merrier – but sort it through carefully before taking it. As an example, on my first reading of The Silmarillion I found the Ainulindalë entirely enchanting an captivating, and didn't get bogged down at any point before I reached the Quenta Silmarillion proper …
See also this response / follow-up, Steve Hayes, Thursday, 13 April 2017, ‘On reading The Silmarillion

Fracesca T Barbini, Sci-fi and Fantasy Network, Wednesday, 12 April 2017, ‘A brand new edition and translation of Tolkien's Letters
A new translation of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien into Italian is to be published towards the end of the year.

John Garth, Friday, 14 April 2017, ‘Tolkien at Exeter College: Birth of a legend
Insofar as this is, as he claims, Garth blowing his own trumpet, at least he does so in an informative way, and lets us in on the trumpet-blowing right from the outset. And I can warmly recommend the booklet as well as the trumpet-blowing ...

Yorkshire Post, Friday, 14 April 2017, ‘Hobbit-forming: book launch celebrates Tolkien links with Yorkshre
More about the upcoming (but delayed ...) release of Beren and Lúthien.

Sue Bridgwater, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘Historical Principles
A response to The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver

Alicia Fox-Lenz, The Horn of Rohan Redux, Monday, 24 April 2017, ‘Mythlore 130 published

John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 27 April 2017, ‘New Arrivals
Comments (many of them very brief) on the following books: Tolkien and Sanskrit by Mark Hooker, Deep Roots in a Time of Frost: Essays on Tolkien by Patrick Curry, Wagner and Tolkien: Mythmakers by Renée Vink, The Magical World of J. R. R. Tolkien by Gareth Knight, On the Perilous Road: An Unauthorized Biography by Elizabeth Currie & Alex Lewis, John Ronald'S Dragons by Caroline McAlister, Tolkien's Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendour, & Transcendence in Middle-earth by Lisa Coutras, Tolkien, Self & Other: "This Queer Creation" by Jane Chance, Critical Insights: The Hobbit, ed. Stephen W. Potts as well as a few that are not directly about Tolkien.

Harley J. Sims, Mercatornet, Thursday, 27 April 2017, ‘The Silmarillion: tracing the roots of Tolkien's mythical universe

Amrit Sidhu-Brar, Miruvor, Saturday, 29 April 2017, ‘A move to Editors new, and the (very) late Hilary 2016 issue

Tolkienian Artwork

Jenny Dolfen, Sunday, 2 April 2017, ‘Thrice he rose
Fingolfin fighting Melkor ...

Jenny Dolfen, Tuesday, 4 April 2017, ‘Gil-galad was an Elvenking

Chris ‘QueenslandChris’, DeviantArt, Tuesday, 4 April 2017, ‘The Edge of the Wild
Wizard, Hobbit and Dwarves ...

Miruna Lavinia, DeviantArt, Thursday, 6 April 2017, ‘Smaug And Bard

Kitty L, SciFiFantasy Network, Friday, 7 April 2017, ‘Jay Johnstone's Tolkienography & Fantasy Art

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Friday, 7 April 2017, ‘King of the Valinorian Noldor

The Lord's Prayer
by Tsvetelina Krumova – Elmenel
Tsvetelina Krumova, Sunday, 9 April 2017, ‘The Lord's Prayer

Peter Xavier Price, Thursday, 13 April 2017, ‘Amon Ereb

Peter Xavier Price, DeviantArt, Friday, 14 April 2017, ‘A Flower in the Grey North
Peter Xavier Price's explorations of the Followers, the After-born, the Sickly, the Mortals, the Inscrutable of The Silmarillion are enchanting ...

Ted Nasmith, Saturday, 15 April 2017, ‘Battle of the Black Gate

Joe Gilronan, Sunday, 16 April 2017, ‘Hobbiton. Gandalf's Search For A Burglar

Elena Kukanova, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘Lorien

Abe Papakhian, DeviantArt, Wednesday, 19 April 2017, ‘The Horn of Boromir

Graeme Skinner, Thursday, 20 April 2017, ‘Sketching The Stones

W. Somers, DeviantArt, Sunday, 23 April 2017, ‘Frodo at Bag End

W. Somers, DeviantArt, Sunday, 23 April 2017, ‘Orcs, Trolls and Other Scary Things

Tomás Hijo, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘Balrog – Tolkien meets Goya

Graeme Skinner, Tuesday, 25 April 2017, ‘From the Barrow-Downs

‘Tobi’, John Howe: Flavour of the Month, Thursday, 27 April 2017, ‘What Happened To The Stone Trolls?

Elena Kukanova, Friday, 28 April 2017, ‘Celegorm

Story Internal (Ardalogy)

Olga , Wednesday, N April 2017, ‘Marriage divine
On the concept of marriage as applied to the Valar.

Michael Martinez, Monday, 10 April 2017, ‘Are There Taxes in Middle-earth?

Michael Martinez, Monday, 17 April 2017, ‘Who Ruled Minas Tirith When Aragorn Became King?

Jeff LaSala,, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘The Trial of Galadriel

Michael Martinez, Monday, 24 April 2017, ‘Who Were the Bearded Easterlings with Large Axes?

Sketching the Stones
by Graeme Skinner

Other Stuff

Bruce Charlton, Tuesday, 4 April 2017, ‘What is Myth? Answers from Tolkien, CS Lewis, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield
Quoting from a 1971 book on these four Inklings. The 1971 book reaches the conclusion that Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams, “… have used myth … but they have not really said why”, but for Tolkien, the amount of writings by Tolkien published since 1971 is so huge that this is now erroneous (one need just to turn to the published Letters), and I very much suspect that the same is true at least for Lewis. Tolkien's approach to myth is, however, in most ways far more prosaic and thus rejects the mysticism of Barfield.

Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 12 April 2017, ‘Literary Tourism: Wales, Land of Legends
About a new website for the literary tourist of Wales. And, yes, it does have links to both Tolkien and Fimi ...

Brian Sibley, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, ‘Hobbits and Lions and Emus, Oh My!
About the Barbara Remington cover design for the 1965 Ballantine paperbacks.

Deniz Bevan, Monday, 24 April 2017, ‘T is for... Tolkien

Rewarding Discussions

I have been asked where one can find good and rewarding discussions about Tolkien and his work these days, and how to conduct oneself in that connection.
Back when I started myself (in an earlier millennium …), the place to be was definitely the Tolkien usenet groups, rec.arts.books.tolkien (Google Groups link) and (Google Groups link). These were vibrant, high-volume groups with a number of highly knowledgable posters. About ten years ago, the groups suffered a concerted attack trying to disrupt them (not exactly spam, but high volumes of posts using the names and addresses of regular posters, and containing bits and pieces thrown together from posts all over usenet). During this attack a lot of regulars found other places to discuss Tolkien, and the volume of posts never really recovered.
In the first decade of the new century, a lot of Tolkien-related discussion fora sprang up all around. Places like,,, and others that I have forgotten or which no longer offer discussions took over as the World Wide Web (HTTP and HTML) took over from the older NNTP of usenet as the favoured places for discussion on the internet. Many of these sites (certainly the ones listed) still offer a place for discussions about Tolkien, but they, too, no longer carry the volume of posts they once did.
These days it seems that the higher volume discussions have moved on to social media, especially Facebook. The great pity about this is that most groups tend to be closed or even secret – not because they do not want anyone to find them, but because this is the only way to prevent one's activity from spilling onto the news feeds of one's non-Tolkienian friends (and this can be a substantial amount of posts for some of us …). But there you can find such groups as the “Tolkien Society” Facebook Group, “Tolkien Discussions”, “That's What I'm Tolkien About”, “Christopher Tolkien” and many, many others. Despite the downright crappy interface for discussions, this seems to be where things happen these days. Unfortunately.

Other Reading

Lynn Maudlin, The Horn of Rohan Redux, Tuesday, 11 April 2017, ‘Mythprint #380 Published

Also, I am still making my way through Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell – enjoying it whenever I can get 10 – 20 minutes with the book.

Web Sites

Well ... not so much new exciting websites as stumbling across old articles that I didn't discover at the time when they were published ...
Grant P. Hudson, Clarendon House, 25 November 2016, ‘The Mountain and the City

“Angry Staff Officer”, 4 November 2016, ‘Warfighter: Middle Earth [sic]

John Garth, Oxford Today, 24 October 2016, ‘The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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.

Dimitra Fimi, ‘Dr. Dimitra Fimi
Archive of posts from April 2017

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from April 2017

John Garth, ‘John Garth
Archive of posts from April 2017

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from April 2017

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from April 2017

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from April 2017

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from April 2017

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
News archive

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
Archive of contributions for the on-going volume 4, issue 1

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from April 2017

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from April 2017

Various, The Mythopoeic Society, ‘The Horn of Rohan Redux
Archive of posts from April 2017

Sue Bridgwater, ‘Skorn
Archive of posts from April 2017

Tom Hilman, ‘Alas, not me
Archive of posts from April 2017

Emil Johansson, ‘LotR Project Blog
Archive of posts from April 2017

Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien Society, ‘
Archive of posts from April 2017

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from April 2017

Ben, ‘A clearer thinking oasis
Archive of posts from April 2017

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from April 2017

Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Archive of posts from April 2017

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, ‘Expressions of Substance
Archive of posts from April 2017

Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, ‘Tolknięty
Archive of posts from April 2017

Stephen C. Winter, ‘Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings
Archive of posts from April 2017


New sources in April 2017
Olga Polomoshnova, ‘Middle-earth Reflections

For older sources, see