Sunday 2 December 2012

Tolkien Transactions XXXI

November 2012

So, November has gone and as I write this, Denmark has been decorated with a very beautiful white blanket.

In another part of the world, summer has started and the new Hobbit film has already premiered. In due time I will go and watch it with my family, but compared to how much this has dominated the internet news referring to Tolkien (quite often erroneously conflating Jackson fans and Tolkien fans), you will find relatively little in these transactions referrring to the film.

Oh, and have a merry midwinter celebration.

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

= = = = News = = = =

Bangkok Post, Monday, 5 November 2012, ‘New Zealand out to mine tourist magic from Hobbit movies’
Let's set one thing straight before continuing: the action of Tolkien's Middle-earth books is centred around the north-western parts of Europe, and though the correspondance is not one-to-one, this is the only area that is truly associated with Tolkien's Middle-earth. That said, there is nothing new in the attempts by New Zealand tourism to cash in on the film locations from Jackson's films, though I can still be a little surprised at the deliberate cynicism of it all.

Damien Gayle, Daily Mail, Wednesday, 7 November 2012, ‘The Sauron dinosaur: Palaeontologists name beast after Tolkien's demonic creation after it is identified from just its eye-socket’
Aargh! The worst thing is that the poor paleeontologists probably think they are honouring Tolkien this way. The irony is of course two-fold: first of all Tolkien firmly (and convincingly) rejected any connection between the Sindarin ‘saur-’ element in Sauron and the Greek saura (Letters no. 297), and secondly the ‘Eye of Sauron’ is a metaphor — Sauron was physically embodied in a humanoid form during the War of the Ring. Now, however, I just wonder how long it will be before we hear that Saul Zaentz Company tries to prevent palaeontologist Andrea Cau from giving any talk containing ‘Sauron’ or ‘Sauroniops’ . . .

Matia Burnett, Publishers Weekly, Thursday, 8 November 2012, ‘Movie Alert: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'’
Despite the titular reference to the upcoming Jackson film, this article also gives an overview of other related items, including some of Houghton Mifflin's Tolkien-related portfolio.

Helen O'Hara, Empire, Tuesday, 13 November 2012, ‘Listen To The Complete Hobbit Soundtrack’
This is essentially what it says — a chance to listen to the full 1 hour 45 minutes soundtrack of the upcoming The Hobbit film — having listened I am neither particularly impressed nor particularly disappointed.

JV, Wednesday, 14 November 2012, ‘Prince Charles gets a birthday tour of 'The Hobbit'’
It would seem that Prince Charles had a good birthday visiting the studios of The Hobbit films, including an oath of fealty from Dori (I wonder if either has any idea what such an oath would actually mean in Middle-earth). But good to read that the prince had a good day.

Nathan Vickers, Ozarks First, Wednesday, 14 November 2012, ‘Tolkien Series is Front and Center at Springfield Libraries This Fall’
The story about the Tolkien Festival 2012 in the Greene County Libraries this autumn. It is good to see Tolkien's work getting attention, and I have always found that libraries are at least semi-magic places.

Greg Garrison, Thursday, 15 November 2012, ‘Samford University opens exhibit honoring ‘Hobbit’ author Tolkien 40 years after his death’
So, the Samford University Library has an exhibition about Tolkien commemorating the 40th anniversary of his death next September — well, if you're in Birmingham you might want to go and see it as it's open to the public. Birmingham, Alabama, that is ;) I do hope, though, that the exhibition itself is less focused on Jackson than the article and more on Tolkien himself, but who knows — I suppose the library knows their audience better than I.

Nick Clark, The Independent, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘Peta to picket The Hobbit premiere after whistleblower reveals ‘preventable’ deaths and ‘needless suffering’ of animals on set’
About the PETA allegations that animals were hurt due to their being involved in the Hobbit film — allegations that the producers (i.e. Jackson et Al.) reject — or at least put in a very different light (depending on which newsstory you read). This is one of two Tolkien-related stories that have received quite a lot of attention this month (try searching Google News for ‘PETA Hobbit Jackson’ . . .).
See also Nick Perry, Associated Press, Tuesday, 20 November 2012, ‘Wranglers say ‘Hobbit’ animals died on unsafe farm’
and BBC, Tuesday, 20 November 2012, ‘The Hobbit producers deny animal mistreatment claims’
and finally Tim Kenneally and Brent Lang, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, 21 November 2012, ‘"The Hobbit’ animal-death story: new line, Warner Bros. back Peter Jackson",0,2459255.story
And finally, Reg Little, Oxford Times, Thursday, 29 November 2012, ‘'Don't sully the image of Tolkien's work'’
In which members of the Tolkien Society express their opinion of the conflict. There are, of course, many, many more stories about this, but I think these will give the whole picture.

Dominic Patten, Deadline, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘Warner Bros Sued For $80M By J.R.R Tolkien Estate & Publisher’
This is the other big story, and curiously it broke at just about the same time as the story above. The Tolkien Estate and Harper Collins Publishers have sued Warner Bros. and the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) over their use of digital rights, which the Estate and Harper Collins claim are not included in the original contract in which Tolkien sold the rights to films and related merchandise based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The triggering factor appears to have been particularly outrageous on-line slot machines and similar games, which have caused some outrage in the on-line Tolkien fan community, but the lawsuit also mentions (e.g. §57) other examples of the SZC having "slowly and consistently,
begun to expand its trademark program to encroach upon areas of merchandise exploitation reserved to the plaintiffs" (pardon my legalese). I have long advocated that the grotesque attempts by the SZC to extend their claims beyond reason would need to be curtailed, and if this is what it takes, then I'll welcome it: I will certainly be rooting for the Estate in this (and if their winning will mean that I have to purchase a set of CDs in order to play The Lord of the Rings On-line (LOTRO), I am sure that I will survive that as well).
See also Matthew Belloni, _Hollywood Reporter, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘Tolkien Estate Sues Warner Bros. Over ‘Lord of the Rings’ Slot Machines (Exclusive)’
And Allison Flood, The Guardian, Tuesday, 20 November 2012, ‘Tolkien estate sues Hobbit producers over video and gambling games’
As well as Erik Wecks, Wired, Wednesday, 21 November 2012, ‘The Tolkien Estate Sues to Protect Their Precious’
The latter including a sober analysis from a fan perspective (sober, of course, because I mostly agree . . . ;-) )
You might also wish to see John Rateliff's comments, Friday, 23 November 2012, ‘Pushback (Tolkien Lawsuit)’

_Santa Clarita Valley Signal, Monday, 26 November 2012, ‘City libraries embrace 'The Hobbit'’
Libraries all over are taking advantage of the films to host events about the book.

Elena Cresci, Wednesday, 28 November 2012, ‘Farnham artist's Tolkien and Narnia work on display’
About an exhibition of artwork by Pauline Baynes in Farnham running from December 1st to January 12th. If you're in town and has time, I am sure that we are many who would appreciate a report and a list of the works that are on display.

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

JM, ‘Tolkien's Metaphysics of the Music’
November started with a discussion of the role of the Vision (parts 27 and 28), with McIntosh arguing the superiority of the Vision (despite its incompleteness). In part 29 he looks into the theodicy of the Music, and in part 30 he returns to the superiority of the Vision, which he argues can be seen in the conversation of Eru and Ulmo about water, and the superiority of the Vision is investigated further in part 31. Part 32 appears to have been lost, but in parts 33 through 36, McIntosh argues that there is a movement from the focus on Eru and themselves in the Ainur's performance of the Music to an awakening interest in, and love for, the idea of ‘the other’ that is introduced in the Vision and of course realized in the actual Creation. This love — or desire — for the other is likened to ‘pure’ natural science through the character of Tom Bombadil (part 34), and is placed on a ‘trajectory from intelligible potency to existing actuality’ (part 35) before the desire for the actuality of the other is itself taken up in part 36. In parts 37 through 42 McIntosh makes a side-track into a discussion of dream vs. reality that is based on Tolkien's comments in ‘On Fairy-stories’ about the use of dream as the framing device for a story. Despite some interesting comments about contrasts between the saints Augustine and Acquinas, I am not convinced that Tolkien's comments in OFS are relevant in the context they are given here. In part 43 McIntosh summarizes his arguments up to that point.

Various (The Tolkienist), October 2012, ‘75 reasons why you should read “The Hobbit” before watching the films’
This month Doug Anderson (Oct. 5th) argues that any work of literature that is worth making into a film is generally also worth reading before watching the film. Dimitra Fimi (12th) reminds us of the light-heartedness of The Hobbit, which is also reflected in the mishmash of influences on the book: we should read this story because of its uniqueness in Tolkien's Ardarin writings, a uniqueness that is very unlikely to be translated to the film-version. Michael Drout (23rd) writes about the meeting, the clash, and the interactions of the heroic and bourgeois worlds in The Hobbit — about Tolkien's excellent balancing where each ‘world’ becomes wiser and enriched by their contact.

Michael Cheang, Sunday, 4 November 2012, ‘Taste the original first’
Another article arguing that people should read the book before watching the film(s), Michael Cheang urges his readers to read the book before watching the film, because he thinks The Hobbit ‘truly deserves to be seen through your own imagination so that you can form your own idea and impression of the characters and rich details before the movie does it for you.’

Robert Rodi, Monday, 5 November 2012, ‘Geek love: How a fantasy hater fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’
Author Robert Rodi has looked inside himself and found that his love for Tolkien's books is rooted in a fascination with the Englishness of Tolkien's world. Rodi claims that all Americans are ‘a little bit English’ and that they all have ‘a corresponding desire — even a need — to nourish that part of ourselves.’ His claim is of course that Tolkien is capable of satisfying that need. Unfortunately this doesn't tell us anything about why The Lord of the Rings is so popular in many other places around the world, some of which have no reason to love the English.

H&S, Tuesday, 6 November 2012, ‘The ‘Father Christmas’ Letters’
An overview of the publication history of the Father Christmas Letters by Christina Scull, with comments relating to the quality of the pictures in various editions, the transcribed texts, and the number of letters & pictures. Fully living up to the quality we have come to expect of Hammond & Scull research.

JDR, Thursday, 8 November 2012, ‘Glimpses of Helen Buckhurst’
A tracing of a few glimpses of Helen Buckhurst, Priscilla Tolkien's godmother and recipient of presentation copies of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Along the way there is also some interesting glimpses of Tolkien's relations to the women's colleges in Oxford.

BC, Friday, 9 November 2012, ‘What is the point of the tale of Turin Turambar?’
I cannot follow Charlton in this religious allegory reading of the tale of Túrin Turambar. First of all the real ‘origin’ of the Túrin story is not in the Book of Lost Tales, but in Tolkien's retelling of the Kullervo story from the Kalevala where there is no such offer of hope at the end, and secondly I think this denies Tolkien's admiration for the idea of fighting evil without hope that he found in the Nordic myths and legends.

Il, Saturday, 10 November 2012, ‘Eucatastrophe, Discatastrophe and the destruction of the Ring’
While I cannot agree entirely with this analysis of eucatastrophe and dyscatastrophe in The Lord of the Rings, Ilverai nonetheless makes some intersting points along the way. The pattern of minor turns, either up or down, has been noted before, but warrants repeating, but the very explicitly Christian reading of eucatastrophe is, in my understanding, a misunderstanding of how Tolkien used this concept.

MM, Monday, 12 November 2012, ‘The Sauron Strategies: Footsteps Into Failure’
In this essay Michael Martinez goes through Sauron's strategies in the Second Age in some depth, showing how Sauron was trying to adapt to changing circumstances.

NMB, Wednesday, 14 November 2012, ‘Seven Norse Myths We Wouldn't Have Without Snorri’
Basically Nancy Marie Brown claims that the reason we wouldn't have these myths is not just because Snorri's Edda is the only surviving source for them, but that Snorri invented some or all of them to fill gaps in the then current knowledge of actual Old Norse mythology. Old Snorri practicing mythopoeisis and his myths then later becoming taken up in the modern mythopoetic work of J.R.R. Tolkien — what a fascinating thought!

NMB, Wednesday, 21 November 2012, ‘Seven Norse Myths We Wouldn't Have Without Snorri: Part II’
About Odin, Snorri's Odin, who might be more a figure of Snorri's invention (or perhaps ‘happy interpolation’ would be a kinder way to put it) than of Snorri's sources. Other known sources are, in any case, very brief on the matter of Odin — only in Snorri's Edda and Heimskringla do we find any substantial information. I do wonder what Tolkien would have thought of Nancy Marie Brown's ideas, though I actually suspect that he would have been sympathetic: his own attempt to interpolate and straighten up the Völsungasaga at least suggests as much to me.

JDR, Saturday, 24 November 2012, ‘Tolkien Sings’
Discussion of newly published recordings of Tolkien reading and singing from The Hobbit — including a link to Tolkien singing the ‘Chip the glasses and crack the plates’ song from the first chapter. Rateliff also discusses the dating of these recordings and what they may mean to his book, The History of The Hobbit. (See also the post listed under books for November 19th)

NMB, Wednesday, 28 November 2012, ‘Saga Sites’
About Iceland, the sites from the sagas that can still be visited, and not least how Snorri Sturlason came to receive a good education.

Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Thursday 29 November 2012, ‘Why Tolkien was a fine modern artist’
Jones takes a look at Tolkien's illustrations for his own stories, which were mainly for The Hobbit, and judges the Hobbit pictures to be ‘beautiful works of art’ that are ‘subtle, even abstract’, and he finds Tolkien a ‘a fine modern artist’. While I do agree that Tolkien's better pieces are very good, I would also have to admit that his range is rather limited by his lack of technical skill in some areas (notably in drawing people).

JF, Friday, 30 November 2012, ‘Reconstructed lexis in Tolkien's Middle English Vocabulary’
Having himself missed such a list, Jason Fisher has compiled, and kindly published, a list of the reconstructed words (the ‘asterisk-words’) that Tolkien made (i.e. that are Tolkien's reconstructions) for his Middle English Vocabulary, which was originally made to accompany Kenneth Sisam's collection of Middle English poetry, Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose. The list comprises asterisk forms in Old English (West Saxon), Old Kentish, Middle English, Old French and Old Norse.

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

Abingdon Press, Thursday, 1 November 2012, ‘About the Book and Author’
The praise in this piece is so thick that it's hard to take it seriously — I doubt that even Devin Brown himself would have written something so one-sided. I am still debating with myself whether I should buy this book or not, and this piece doesn't help me one bit. The only reason for including it is to point it out as an example of an entirely unhelpful review.

Charles Runnells, Thursday, 1 November 2012, ‘North Naples conference motivates Christian artists’
This review is a bit more useful in giving an idea of what Devin Brown's book, The Christian World of The Hobbit intends to be, but it still doesn't say whether it actually achieves it. Clearly Brown attempts to strike a balance — emphasize the role of Tolkien's faith in his fiction without turning the book into a sermon as some Christian critics have done, and I look forward to some real reviews to see if he has managed to find that balance.

Il, Saturday 3 November 2012, ‘In Review: The Lays of Beleriand’
Ilverai looks at The Lays of Beleriand. He finds that the Lay of Leithian in rhyming couplets a ‘joy to read’, but was not terribly impressed by the alliterative Lay of the Children of Húrin — curiously my experience is the exact opposite: for me Tolkien's poetry in general is not terribly exciting (and I occasionally have to drag my way by brute force of will through his long narrative poems in rhyming couplets), but his alliterative poetry is stirring and captivating — here Tolkien is the Master!

Gret Garrett, Monday, 5 November 2012, "Meaning and Imagination: A Review of ‘The Christian World of the Hobbit"’
This appears to be the first review by someone who has actually read the book.
See also
Ellen Painter Dollar, Monday, 12 November 2012, ‘What Hobbits Have Taught Me About God's Providence’
These reviews suffer from the problem that the reviewers want to agree with the author (and perhaps even wanted him to go further), which make for poor reviews that deal very little with what the book actually is and nothing about what the book should be.

BC, Tuesday, 6 November 2012, ‘Roverandom Reviewed’
Thank you to Bruce Charlton for a review of Tolkien's Roverandom. Charlton finds Roverandom's ‘warmth of wit’ 'utterly charming', and he is especially fond of the light it sheds on the ‘good and loving father’ aspect of Tolkien's personality.

Jennie Ramstad, Wednesday, 7 November 2012, ‘Corey Olsen gets introspective with Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit’
A quite short commentary on Corey Olsen's book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Jennie Ramstad writes that Olsen, ‘[s]omewhat painstakingly’ writes about the progress of each character, and admits that she found herself ‘gettting lost’ in the book's wealth of information '[d]espite [her] familiarity with the story] and recommends reading Olsen's book along with Tolkien's work.

Brian Sibley, Thursday, 8 November 2012, ‘Bag End Bookshelf’
Comments on the Latin Hobbit, Hobbitus Ille, and on Colin Duriez' new Tolkien biography, J R R Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, which Sibley recommends warmly (also in the blurb he wrote for it and which he quotes in the blog).

JDR, Sunday, 11 November 2012, ‘The New Arrivals (three more books)’
John Rateliff usually give a short description of new books as they arrive and after he has skimmed through them to see what is in there, and though I could wish for an occasional more detailed review to follow, I am grateful for these short notes. The Christian World of The Hobbit by Devin Brown is described as looking to be ‘one of the better books of its kind’ and that its ‘basic premise seems to be that Tolkien's Xianity was sublimated into the world.’ This at least sounds promising. The Hobbit and Philosophy: For when you've lost your dwarves, your wizard, and your way (edited by Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson) gets, as Rateliff says, ‘the award for 'best subtitle'’, but though a sense of humour sounds very promising, I'll be waiting for other reviews before this gets on my wish-list. The last of Rateliff's new arrivals is Brian Sibley's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Official movie guide - in Rateliff's words, ‘If you're not interested in the movies, might consider giving it a pass.’ Thank you — I'll definitely watch the film, but I think I'll give books about it a pass.

Charlotte Williams, The Bookseller, Monday, 12 November 2012, ‘HoZ acquires life of 'Aragorn'’
Surely in the realm of short items, this tells of a non-fiction book about king Oswald of Northumbria, whom is claimed to be ‘the real-life inspiration for J R R Tolkien's Aragorn.’ Perhaps a bit of research in that direction will not be entirely wasted.

Matt Forbeck, Wired, Thursday, 15 November 2012, ‘Bilbo's Last Song, Revised’
In praise of this thin book, re-issued this October with the illustrations by Pauline Baynes.
See also J.R.R. Tolkien, Salon, Thursday, 15 November 2012, ‘Bilbo's Last Song’
where the text of the poem is reproduced in full.

JDR, Saturday, 17 November 2012, ‘The Hobbit EMPIRE’
About the Hobbit-film-celebrating issue of Empire magazine. Apparently they have also found a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien that wasn't known even to Rateliff. They also seem to spend enough pages on Tolkien and his story to at least inform the general public. I'm not surprised, really, that Shippey is proving very quotable — this also shines through in his lecturing style.

John Williford, The Miami Herald, Sunday, 18 November 2012, ‘Tolkien's ‘Hobbit’ has everlasting power’
John Williford has been talking with Corey Olsen and with Wayne and Christina about The Hobbit and their own books on the subject prior to their visis at the Miami Book Fair.

JDR, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘Listening to THE HOBBIT’
A list of audio versions (audio-books, audio adaptations, audio dramatisations etc.) of The Hobbit with some comments on each — so far the only additions to Rateliff's list has been some additional recordings of J.R.R. Tolkien reading passages from the book. Hence, if you like listening to your books, this is a very good starting place for The Hobbit. (See also the post listed under essays for November 24th)

Il, Saturday, 24 November 2012, ‘In Review: Splintered Light’
We cannot get too many appreciative reviews of Verlyn Flieger's books out there! Overall this is an excellent review, though I have to say that I do not agree with ‘Ilverai’ about Frodo's defeat in the Sammath Naur: the eucatastrophe is there withheld to make way for a muted dyscatastrophe with the eucatastrophe following in the next chapter, ‘The Field of Cormallen’.

3 News, Tuesday, 27 November 2012, ‘Tolkien-inspired recipes include Hobbit pork pies’
Health Dill, a food blogger working in cooperation with Corey Olsen, wishes to write a cookbook featuring Tolkien-related recipes with commentary by Corey Olsen. Some of the recipes have already been published on Dill's food blog, The book project has been tentatively titled Medium Rare and Back Again and they are crowdsourcing the money needed to develop the remaining recipes and write the book:

Mark Walker, Huffington Post, Tuesday, 27 November 2012, ‘Translating ‘The Hobbit’ Into Latin’
A passage (or a pastiche of more than one passage — I don't really know) from Mark Walker's introduction to his Latin translation of The Hobbit, Hobbitus Ille. In this passage Walker speaks of the reasons for wanting to do a Latin translation, and some of the challenges that faced him as a Latinist in this endeavour.

= = = = Interviews = = = =

Andrew Hough, The Telegraph, Sunday, 18 November 2012, ‘Simon Tolkien: JRR Tolkien's grandson admits Lord of the Rings trauma’
A sober description of some of the problems of being the grandchild of a famous author when you're just trying to be yourself.
See also Daily Mail, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘The Tolkien ‘curse’: Author's grandson claims Lord of the Rings films were 'like a juggernaut that tore my family apart'’

Joanna Moorhead, The Guardian, Saturday, 24 November 2012, ‘'Being Tolkien's grandson blocked my writing ...'’
Another interview with Simon Tolkien, this one going into more details about his grandfather, the effect on his own desires to write, about the family and the immense pressure created by Jackson's films.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

JD, Tuesday, 6 November 2012, ‘Beren and Lúthien diptych’
One of the few (if not actually the first) pictures of Lúthien or Arwen that manages to convey to me a sense of a greater-than-life beauty. Dolfen manages (in my inexpert opinion) to strike that delicate balance between being too indistinct to convey anything beyond ‘young female’ and being too distinct so that the beholder cannot impose on Lúthien her or his own idea of perfect beauty. Beren, while shabbily clothed, appears to have found a good barber after his months in the wild (one who has left him fashionably stubbled) — but perhaps I should not complain too loudly lest I am accused of envy ;-)

JJK Movies , Monday, 12 November 2012, ‘Lord of the Rings Re-enacted by Ponies’
I suppose we might question the application of the word ‘art’ here, but I found this video (12 min. 13 secs.) quite hilarious. The video itself is an adaptation of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, but in many ways I am more comfortable with this work than I was with Jackson's original — not, I suspect, because of what Jackson didn't get right (in terms of closeness to Tolkien's story), but rather because the things that he did get right set too high expectations for the rest; expectations that were woefully unfulfilled.

JG, Friday, 16 November 2012, ‘Weathertop (Amon Sul/r Hill of Wind).’
A very nice picture of the approach to Weathertop featuring the four Hobbit travellers, Bill the Pony and Strider — and another figure among the trees?

Broadway World, Tuesday, 27 November 2012, ‘Oglio Records Releases ‘In Elven Lands - The Fellowship,’ THE HOBBIT’
The story about the release of an album that, judging by the titles, is inspired rather explicitly by _The Lord of the Rings, it would seem that they just added ‘THE HOBBIT’ to this in order to do something for their Google searchability. I also wonder if they have received permission from the Tolkien Estate to use Tolkien's texts for some of their songs.

JG, Thursday, 29 November 2012, ‘Bilbo's adventure (late for an appointment).’
A painting of Bilbo rushing to get to The Green Dragon at eleven o'clock — precisely!

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

MD, Sunday, 11 November 2012, ‘A Successful Scholarly Sojourn’
Michael Drout tells of how he spent a week this summer taking a group of ‘students’ travelers through some of the locations of Anglo-Saxon England, turning their holiday into a learning experience. This way of spending a holiday sounds absolutely fantastic, but I'm afraid that I will have little success convincing the family to join next year's Scholarly Sojourn, ‘Imagining Middle-earth: A Journey Through Tolkien’s England’ with professor Drout — also because school will have started in Denmark at that time.

JDR, Friday, 16 November 2012, ‘Tolkien Day at Trout Lake’
What better way to spend a holiday than talking Tolkien with good friends? Incidentally, adding something to The History of The Hobbit about Tolkien's sources for The Hobbit probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

MD, Friday, 16 November 2012, ‘Fun with Lexomics (and you can have some, too)’
I've always been fascinated by Michael Drout's Lexomics project, wanting to know also how it relates to other kinds of stylometric analysis — I want text and formulas, and they give me video ;-) Still, the project is highly interesting.

Robert Rodi, Salon, Sunday, 18 November 2012, ‘Are Hobbits' feet hot?’
A humorous (I sincerely hope!) attempt to apply, in the end, som Freudian analysis to Hobbit feet. It's a nice joke . . . I think.

JD, Monday, 19 November 2012, ‘Hobbit Feest’
A report on the Dutch Hobbit Feest convention. Jenny Dolfen had a good time and even ended up in the local newspaper.

H&S, Sunday, 25 November 2012, ‘Up in the Air: Milwaukee and Miami’
Christina and Wayne write about their journeys to speak about Tolkien's Middle-earth art at the Marquette and his Hobbit art at the Miami Book Fair. Along the way Christina writes that she utilized the time at the Marquette to look at The Lord of the Rings chronologies for a future paper, while Wayne researched ‘various queries [they] had received since [their] last visit to Marquette in 2009.’

JDR, Wednesday, 28 November 2012, ‘Tolkien and Westminster’
Following the announcement (not reported here) that C.S. Lewis will be be honoured with a memorial at the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey, John Rateliff here speculates about the chances that Tolkien might be similarly honoured.

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

‘Notion Club, Night 69’
The discussions of the Notion Club Papers are certainly worth to look at. Here discussion of Night 69.

‘Christianity and Tolkien’
How to assess the importance and influence of Tolkien's Catholic faith on his writings is an old discussion that will likely never be fully resolved. In this thread the more extreme positions are absent, but many of the relevant arguments are nonetheless included.

‘Tolkien Studies 9’
Following publication, this thread now also features a discussion of Doug Kane's article on ‘Law and Arda’.

‘Tolkien's Prose’
A new promising thread on Tolkien's prose style — the thread still has to really take off, so here's a chance to be in on it from the outset . . .

= = = = In Print = = = =

Beyond Bree November 2012
This month's Beyond Bree features short pieces by Geoff Davies on the age of the One Ring and by Nancy Martsch on the poor survival chances of ponies in The Lord of the Rings. Also there are reviews / comments on the 2013 calendars (Nancy Martsch, Beyond Bree Calendar and Jef Murray Middle-earth Calendar; David Cofield, Tolkien Calendar), Mararet Hiley's book, The Loss and the Silence is reviewed by Ryder W. Miller, the J.R.R. Tolkien: The True Lord of the Rings comic by McCarthy, Lent, and Chichón is reviewed by David Cofield who also reviews the enhanced e-book edition of The Hobbit, and Nancy Martsch also reviews Aiglos special issue no. 2. Additionally there is a further report from The Return of the Ring as well as several smaller pieces and the customary columns.

Amon Hen no. 238, November 2012
In the backward-looking part of the latest issue of Amon Hen we find reports from Oxonmoot 2012 (Carella Ridley and a thank you note from Helen Armstrong [chair]), the unveiling of the Tolkien Blue Plaque in Leeds (Ian Spittlehouse), Discworld Convention 2012 (Jessica Yates), the celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit at the British Library (Jessica Yates and Chris Kreuzer together) as well as the minutes from a committee meeting and the regular news-columns. Other articles are looking forward such as a discussion of ideas for the future of Oxonmoot and the invitation for the AGM & dinner in April. Michael Cunningham reviews Mark T. Hooker's Tolkien and Welsh and Lyn Wilshire reviews Suzette Field's A Curious Invitation. Anne Marie Gazzalo has written a piece on ‘The Spiritual Kinship of Frodo and Sméagol’, which is at places quite interesting, though I think there is also a hint of the regrettable tendency to turn Tolkien's work into a sermon.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Joe Gilranon, ‘The Lord of the Rings Blog (Joe Gilronan Tolkien Art)’
Another artist making pictures inspired by Tolkien's Arda and its history.

‘Ilverai’ (Il). ‘Wandering Paths’
A blog by Grey Havens Group member ‘Ilverai’ on Tolkienian matters.

‘Greisinger Museum’
The Facebook page for the Greisinger Museum, home of the Greisinger Middle-earth Collection. I do think I'll have to take a trip some day that takes me to Switzerland . . .

= = = = Sources = = = =

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

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’

Michael Drout (MD) — ‘Wormtalk and Slugspeak’

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) — ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’

Pieter Collier (PC) — ‘The Tolkien Library’

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. — ‘Wormwoodiana’

Corey Olsen (CO), ‘The Tolkien Professor’

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
and the old home:

Larry Swain (LS), ‘The Ruminate’

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

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

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

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

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

Various, The Mythopoeic Society

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

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

Morgan Thomsen (MT), ‘Mythoi’

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

Tom Simon (TS), ‘The Superversive’

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

John Howe (JH)

Jenny Dolfen (JD)

Joe Gilranon (JG)

Josh Vogt (JV), ‘Tolkien Examiner’

‘Ilverai’ (Il). ‘Wandering Paths’

David Simmons (DS), ‘Aiya Ilúvatar’

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Tolkien Studies Blog’

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’

Troels Forchhammer (TF), ‘Parma-kenta’

Mythprint — ‘The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society’

Amon Hen — the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society

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

- and others


  1. @Troels - "I cannot follow Charlton in this religious allegory reading of the tale of Túrin Turambar. First of all the real ‘origin’ of the Túrin story is not in the Book of Lost Tales, but in Tolkien's retelling of the Kullervo story from the Kalevala where there is no such offer of hope at the end, and secondly I think this denies Tolkien's admiration for the idea of fighting evil without hope that he found in the Nordic myths and legends."

    But my point is almost the opposite to what you describe - it was Tolkien's own, earliest, most-Kullervo-influenced Lost Tales, ending to Turin Turambar which has these apparently Christian and happy-ending qualities

    - and it was the later (and particular Christopher Tolkien edited 1977) version that deleted the eucatastrophic ending where a (resurrected?) Turin slays Morgoth in the Last Battle.

    These are the facts - I'm trying to explain them!

    I'm pretty sure that Tolkien felt a chronic anxiety and difficulty about - on the one hand, the fact that (for him) all authentic stories were drawn towards, or related to, the Christian story (as he describes at the end of On Fairy Tales) - yet on the other hand an authentic sub-creator was not merely constructing allegory, so he must aim at an autonomous story, and therefore should not be merely re-writing the Christian story.

    There is no real answer to this dilemma - but the deeper and more fundamental the sub-creation, the more acute becomes the problem - which is why Tolkien had such difficulties in shaping the Silmarillion.

  2. Bruce, I am sorry if I have misunderstood elements of your argument (which is, of course, quite possible), but I still cannot agree with your assessment of the import of this element of the story, i.e. making it “the point of the tale,” but I think it is fairer to list my objections in a comment on your blog.

  3. Troels, Thanks for the referrals to my site Wandering Paths. I appreciate your own take on the topics I've discussed; multiple interpretations are the key to Tolkien's continuing appeal. Applicability allows his works to take on new and unique perspectives for each person and upon each reading, taking cues from the reader's life experience.

    Regarding the Eucatastrophe, I do think it is intrinsically tied to the Christian faith, as Tolkien describes it in "On Fairy Stories" with regards to Evangelium and the idea that all myth reflects truth due to the initial meeting of Truth and myth in the Gospels. This does not mean Eucatastrophe is a purely Christian subject matter, as it is a general mechanism for hope and joy in a tale, which gives it its savor, and may be found in many ancient myths. But at least from my point of view, it is inseparable from Tolkien's Christian world-view, and the mechanism by which he is able to make LotR an wholly Catholic work as he describes in his letters.

    With regards to the Cracks of Doom, I have gone back and forth on this one. Yes the Field of Cormallen is a much more potent Eucatastrophic moment, but I think the "soft discatastrophe," as you term it, of his fall is necessary and immediately followed by the eucatastrophe of his apparent release from bondage. It is a pairing, which follows Tolkien's frequent theme regarding the closeness of hope and despair.

    On The Lays of Beleriand, I think my issue has more to do with content than the actual style. I have always been more drawn to the tale of Beren and Luthien than that of Turin. Having just finished the two Books of Lost tales before reading the Lays, and with all the other published versions of The Children of Hurin, I think I've just been over exposed. I find Tolkien's alliterative poetry fascinating, I just found The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun more appealing.

    Didn't mean to turn this into a whole discussion, I always feel the best ideas come through this sort of back and forth.

    Thanks again for the referral!

    1. Hi Ilverai, thank you very much for stopping by :-)

      I quite agree that different perspectives are an advantage — and quite often I find that I learn more from reading something with which I cannot entirely agree because it forces me to at least attempt to look at things from a different perspective. So thank you very much for providing that opportunity in your blog!

      With respect to the eucatastrophe, my objection is perhaps a bit technical, but is related to the source of eucatastrophe in the (fairy-)story. This sudden joyous turn is, as I read Tolkien's essay, not in itself depending on any relation to Christian ideas at all, though possibly one could argue that the capacity of the human reader to experience this joy is, in Tolkien's view, related to the Christian promise of salvation. The connection is, as I see it, more subtle, with the joy itself — our ability to react so strongly to the sudden and (story-internally) unexpected turn to good that he sees as a reflection of his joy at the Evangelium and thus the connection is in the similarity of emotional responses rather than in the causes to the emotion.

      As for the scene in the Sammath Naur, I don't think that the return of the ‘old master’ at the end of the chapter is capable of invoking the joy that is the hallmark of the eucatastrophe: the call for “a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears” is a quite restrictive definition that is not, in my experience, met by that scene, whereas I have to wipe my eyes every single time I read the scene when Sam and Frodo appear before the armies of the West: “Anduve laituvalmet!” You may find that Sam's words about having the old master back just before they (apparently) die to have that same effect on you, in which case you are, of course, right that this moment is eucatastrophic for yourself.

    2. Aha! I get get your critique now...and I largely I agree with it. As you say, I think ultimately the sense of eucatastrophe is a highly personal matter linked with the reader's emotional response to the tale at hand. And though this emotive response may lie at the core, I still believe it to be the one of the primary tools Tolkien uses in his "Christianization" of Middle Earth as a Pre-Christian Christian mythology. This is because even if Eucatastrophe is limited to the emotional response, it draws attention to the moment and redirects thought inward to the nature of the event that evoked said response. (If that makes any sense). Terminology may be a bit stretched, but that is how I interpret it.

      I'll admit I also tend to get choked up at the Field of Cormallen, but I also experience the same sense, though perhaps not in quite the same way/degree, on the side of Mount Doom. For myself I'd describe the scene on the side of Mt. Doom as Joy in release, whereas the Joy of the Field is a Joy of jubilation and celebration.

      Have to say this has been an interesting discussion, Thanks!!


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