Wednesday 8 March 2017

Tolkien Transactions LXXVIII

February 2017

‘Busy as a bee’ is, I believe, the English expression that matches my life at the moment, though I will happily accept that ‘bee in the bonnet’ would be an appealing expression to apply to me ….

I do hope that you will notice that I have changed the URL to my own blog, even if you read this on the Tolkien Society site. My blog can now be found as (something I was advised a long time ago to do, but which I haven't really got round to until now).

However, despite this, I have managed to at least find a few interesting tidbits along during this month, which I hope you will enjoy perousing. As usual I claim nothing about newness, completeness and relevance to anyone, and I furthermore reject any other implication of responsibility :-)

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

To the memory of Celebrían
by Graeme Skinner

News and General Interest

Travis Nicol, Mass Live, Tuesday, 3 January 2017, ‘Snapchat: 5 facts about J.R.R. Tolkien on his 125th birthday
Missed this one last month. Remarkable in that the five facts all seem to be factual – something that seems noteworthy in this day and age ...

John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 2 February 2017, ‘Tolkien Spotting (Aaronovitch)

John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 2 February 2017, ‘Tolkien's Cobbler

Buxton Advertiser, Monday, 6 February 2017, ‘Tolkien tale comes to the stage

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Friday, 10 February 2017, ‘New amoeba named after Gandalf

Frank Jacobs, Big Think, Monday, 13 February 2017, ‘Suburb Designs Its Neighborhood around J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth [sic]
The Tolkien-inspired street names in the Dutch town of Geldrop are well known and links to the area on Google Maps have been shared numerous times, but this is nonetheless a nice walk-through of the neighbourhood with the Tolkienian names with references to other areas that have mined The Lord of the Rings for inspiration for street names.

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 16 February 2017, ‘Tolkien's Oxford home up for sale
The sale of 76 Sandfield Road, where the Tolkiens lived from March 1953 to July 1968, has garnered quite a bit of interest this month ...
See also Giulia Crouch, Daily Mail, Saturday, 18 February 2017, ‘Middle Earth in Middle England! Ordinary Oxford house that was JRR Tolkien's home for 15 years and played host to CS Lewis is on sale for £1.25million
And John D. Rateliff, Saturday, 18 February 2017, ‘Tolkien's House For Sale

Dave Broome, Staffordshire Newsletter, Thursday, 16 February 2017, ‘Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien's former home near Stafford is up for sale
... but, oddly enough, not as much as the sale of Rock Cottage in Great Haywood, where it is claimed young J.R.R. Tolkien lived briefly with Edith in the winter of 1916-17 (not to be confused with Gypsy Green). Possibly the claim that Tolkien immortalised this particular cottage as the Cottage of Lost Play in his early work contributes to this claim, but I am very sceptical of this claim, as Tolkien wrote the poem, You and Me and the Cottage of Lost Play a full year before Edith first moved to Great Haywood with Jennie Grove, but also because this does not fit with the way Tolkien used geographical inspiration in his Book of Lost Tales.
See also Express and Star, Sunday, 19 February 2017, ‘JRR Tolkien's former Staffordshire cottage up for sale
and J.J. Nattrass, The Mirror, Monday, 20 February 2017, ‘Inside JRR Tolkien's £375K country home which helped inspire writer's fantasy books
and John D. Rateliff, Monday, 20 February 2017, ‘And Another Tolkien House on Sale
and Tom Burnett, Stoke Sentinel, Monday, 20 February 2017, ‘Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit author J.R.R Tolkien's Rock Cottage up for sale in Great Haywood
and Daniel Helen, Wednesday, 22 February 2017, ‘“Cottage of Lost Play” up for sale

Jamie Lovett, Comicbook, Tuesday, 21 February 2017, ‘Legends Of Tomorrow Season Finale Will Feature JRR Tolkien
Guessing from the number of outlets that have carried these news (see a couple of examples below), I would appear to be a rare creature not to know what Legends of Tomorrow is (beyond what can be guessed from the article). I am sure we'll hear more about this once this season finale is published … or aired or broadcast or whatever these things are these days :-)
Natalie Abrams, Entertainment Weekly, Wednesday, 22 February 2017, ‘Legends of Tomorrow adds J.R.R. Tolkien in finale
Jenna Anderson, Comicbook, Thursday, 2 March 2017, ‘The Legends of Tomorrow Meet J.R.R. Tolkien in "Fellowship of the Spear" Synopsis
Apparently the show's main cast will meet a young Tolkien during the Battle of the Somme, which is at least a correct setting. Now I wonder if they will get the moustache right ... :-)

Adam Davis, Wallowa County Chieftain, Tuesday, 21 February 2017, ‘The state of Oregon’s budget explained in Tolkien analogy
Another oddity to add to the pile tagged ‘Political (ab)uses of Tolkien’.


No reports or comments on past events

Info on upcoming & on-going events (as of 1 March)
25 March 2017, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day 2017’, The Tolkien Society
This year's theme is ‘Poetry and Songs in Tolkien's Fiction’

8 April 2017, Burlington, Vermont, ‘Tolkien in Vermont’, Tolkien at University of Vermont
Anna Smol, Wednesday, 30 November 2016, ‘CFP: Romances in Middle-earth

21–23 April 2017, Warwick Arms Hotel, ‘Springmoot and AGM 2017’, The Tolkien Society

11–14 May 2017, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, ‘International Congress on Medieval Studies (K'zoo)’, Western Michigan University, Medieval Institute
Geoffrey B. Elliott, Thursday, 26 January 2017, ‘Kalamazoo 2017: Updates

1–4 June 2017, National Conference Center, Virginia, US, ‘Mythmoot IV: Invoking Wonder’, Mythgard Institute
Curtis, Signum University, Monday, 6 February 2017, ‘Preliminary Mythmoot Program Now Available!

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

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

Essays and Scholarship

Breaking Camp The Fellowship Of The Ring
by Joe Gilronan
“J.R.R. Tolkien” on
“Tolkien Studies” on
A sampling of papers uploaded to February (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:
Lars Konzack, in Wolf (ed) Revisiting Imaginary Worlds: A Subcreation Studies Anthology , ‘The Subcreation of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth and How it Became Transmedial Culture
Simon J. Cook, Tolkien Studies, Volume 13, 2016, ‘The Cauldron at the Outer Edge: Tolkien on the Oldest English Fairy Tales
Christine Chism, in Chance (ed.) Tolkien the Medievalist, ‘Middle Earth, the Middle ages, and the Aryan Nation
Lisa Chinellato,, ‘Nostalgia and homesickness: a manifestation of the yearning for a better, ‘primitive’ life in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
Austin Freeman,, ‘Flesh, World, Devil: The Nature of Evil in Middle-earth
Amanda Votta, Harvard, Anthropology, ‘Linguistic History, Language Myths and Láamatyáve

Michael Drout,, ‘List of Documents
As also last month, Michael Drout has uploaded a number of documents, many of which are from various issues of Tolkien Studies (e.g. own articles and reviews, biographies etc.). And of course, there are many non-Tolkien documents (e.g. on medievalism) that could also be of interest to the readers here.

Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Wednesday, 8 February 2017, ‘Tom Shippey Discusses JRR Tolkien’s Beowulf Translation In Three Video Lectures

Michael Drout,, Thursday, 16 February 2017, ‘Tolkien's Creation of the Impression of Depth
This is an article from Tolkien Studies (vol. 11, 2014) uploaded to Full citation: “Drout, M. D. C. & Hitotsubashi, N. & Scavera, R. "Tolkien's Creation of the Impression of Depth." Tolkien Studies, vol. 11 no. 11, 2014, pp. 167-211.”

Johanna H. Brooke, Journal of Tolkien Research, Tuesday, 21 February 2017, ‘Building Middle-earth: an Exploration into the uses of Architecture in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien
An interesting topic. Browsing the article briefly, it would seem that Brooke only refers to a couple of Tolkien's own illustrations of Middle-earth architecture, which is rather a pity as there is much to be gleaned from looking at his own drawings (not least with respect to Elvish architecture, which most illustrators seem to get ‘wrong’ in the sense that their images do not match Tolkien's conception).

Michael Flowers, Journal of Tolkien Research, Tuesday, 21 February 2017, ‘Hobbits?...And what may they be?
While most seem to accept Tolkien's statements regarding the ‘invention’ of the word Hobbit, discussions are still ongoing as to the possible subconscious influence of having met the word previously and forgotten this. Such an idea naturally requires investigating any such previously recorded uses (and, presumably, any use of words that were suffiently alike, phonetically) and assessing these carefully.
The appearance of the word in the Denham tracts (as the name of some creature of folk belief) has been made much of, but hobbits have also seen other uses before Tolkien's, including for metrological purposes (I believe I have seen descriptions of hobbits of both weight and volume …). Whether Flowers adds anything substantially new to this debate will require a more detailed reading than I have found time for, but he does appear not to address what is, to me, the more interesting question: why? While it is certainly possible – perhaps even likely – that Tolkien's inspiration was founded on a submerged and forgotten childhood memory, I lack the compelling reason to be interested. Even if Flowers is right in his guesswork about Tolkien's inspiration (and I can think of no way to falsify or prove his conjecture), I would like to understand what this would tell us about Tolkien and / or his work? How should I view or appreciate or understand Tolkien or his sub-creation, the Hobbits, any differently? Even in the slightest?

Douglas A. Anderson, Friday, 24 February 2017, ‘Tolkien Scholars Write Fantasy!
The post may, as Doug Anderson says, be ‘way overdue’, but it is received with thanks nonetheless. It is highly interesting to see how many Tolkien scholars that have tried their hand with fantasy (I had no idea of most of these). Of course it raises a question of causes and effects – particularly of whether there is something about studying Tolkien that makes you try your own hand at sub-creation and fairy-story?


Giovanni Carmine Costabile, Thursday, 2 February 2017, ‘Note concerning the Influence of Tolkien's scholarship on Arthurian Studies

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Tuesday, 7 February 2017, ‘The Metaphysics of Coercion in Tolkien's Angelology
I dare say that more could be said about the bodies of the Ainur (much more, in fact – and not just from a Ardalogical point of view), but I think this is very perceptive – particularly the description of the bodies of the Ainur as ‘ultimately a kind of “machine”’.

Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom, Saturday, 11 February 2017, ‘First in February
Spending their reading discussions in February on the last two chapters of book V of The Lord of the Rings (see also the following post, ‘Last meeting in February’ from the 25th).

Tom Hillman, Friday, 10 February 2017, ‘Some Thoughts on Structure and Meaning in The Lord of the Rings
So far mostly a collection of points about The Lord of the Rings with a clear indication that they are somehow interconnected, and that these interconnections are worth pursuing. I share Hillman's implicit idea that pursuing these interconnections may very well be a good path for some real insight into one of the most enigmatic aspects of Tolkien's conception: the nature of the Master Ring and not least how free-willed creatures relate to it. I hope Hillman will pursue these ideas, and I look forward to following his thoughts.

Simon J. Cook, Monday, 13 February 2017, ‘Reading in 'Lord of the Rings': Part I
Some ruminations on the word ‘read’ as used by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings– particularly where he uses it in the older sense of ‘counsel‘. In such situations, I tend to turn to modern Danish cognates, where we have the word råd meaning ‘counsel‘ (the Danish word for modern English ‘read’ is unrelated, læse), and rede meaning ‘ready’ (however, vildrede means puzzled, in doubt, at a loss – unræd in the sense applied to Æthered).
It is very curious how Tolkien often (well, not on every page, but still far, far more than any other author, I know) does this: uses modern words in an older sense without distinguishing it from the places where he uses it in the modern sense (thus already in the first chapter, we have Bilbo and Gandalf discussing who would read Bilbo's book). It is almost as if Tolkien believed that at least native speakers of English would understand the older sense without knowing it ... wait! He did believe something of that kind, didn't he? In J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, Tom Shippey wrote:
“.... for Tolkien was the holder of several highly personal if not heretical views about language. He thought that people, and perhaps as a result of their confused linguistic history especially English people, could detect historical strata in language without knowing how they did it.”.
Also see part II.

Simon J. Cook, Friday, 17 February 2017, ‘The View from the Tower
Building on ideas from the previous post, Cook moves on to towers and the view of Faërie that humans might get from an Elven-built tower, comparing this experience to the enchantment of a good fairy-story. This series of posts attempts to tie a lot of ideas together, and I think I will have to think it through at a slower pace (and probably read through them again) before trying to figure out what I think in more detail (but I do find them interesting enough that such an endeavour will be welcome).

John D. Rateliff, Sunday, 19 February 2017, ‘Loren Eiseley on Dunsany — and Tolkien
I love these findings / references – the more obscure the better! They are interesting simply by existing, but often they also provide new perspectives.

Reviews and Book News

by Peter Xavier Price
Dennis Drabelle, The Record, Friday, 3 February 2017, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's war inspires grandson's novel
We have seen a number of articles about Simon Tolkien and his newest book, No Man's Land. I am a bit doubtful about the value of this with respect to his grandfather. Simon Tolkien was fourteen when his grandfather died in 1973 – hardly an age when he would have gotten to discuss serious matters of life and literature with his grandfather, but he has, of course, had access to primary sources succh as his own father, Christopher Tolkien. In the end, however, I would advocate that any interest in Simon Tolkien and No Man's Land should be based in their own literary merit and not in his family relationship with J.R.R. Tolkien, as we are unlikely to learn anything about the grandfather by reading the grandson's books. See also the following articles for a small sampling ...
Michael Mercshel, Dallas News, Tuesday, 7 February 2017, ‘Simon Tolkien, in Dallas on Friday, will talk about being the grandson of 'Lord of the Rings' creator
Jay Strafford, Richmond Times – Dispatch, Saturday, 11 February 2017, ‘Book review (Fiction): 'No Man's Land' by Simon Tolkien

Bruce Charlton, Monday, 6 February 2017, ‘Review of The Return of the King cartoon movie 1980
Personally, I would reserve the word ‘horrible’ for this version and use less negative wording for Ralph Bakshi's experimental 1978 animated version, but tastes vary, and until we get a film version of one of Tolkien's stories that actually does capture the themes and moods of Tolkien's work and world (as does the stage adaptation of Leaf by Niggle by the Puppet State Theatre), I suppose there is no point in arguing degrees of bad.

Tolkienseminariet, Monday, 6 February 2017, ‘19 november 2015
Tolkienseminariet is a Swedish group that reviews a large number of Tolkien books and articles with great insight. I therefore refer to their minutes even though these are published in Swedish, as these are always very interesting. Their postings in February have covered the period up to and including November 2016.

Thomas Van, Catholic Culture, Tuesday, 14 February 2017, ‘Tolkien the modernist: a glimpse of a unique creative process
In the main a review of the excellent Ring of Words by Gilliver, Marshall and Weiner, but spiced up with some additional commentary (unfortunately it is not entirely clear when the author stops paraphrasing The Ring of Words and starts on his own reflections).

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Friday, 17 February 2017, ‘Beren and Lúthien publication delayed
Alas ….

Jeremy Edmonds, Tolkien Collector's Guide, Friday, 17 February 2017, ‘Newsweek, 1954 - Fellowship cartoon
A cartoon from Newsweek from 1954, illustrating a scene from the fight in the Chamber of Mazarbul.

Tolkienian Artwork

Peter Xavier Price, DeviantArt, Monday, 6 February 2017, ‘Olórin

Elena Kukanova, DeviantArt, Tuesday, 14 February 2017, ‘Aegnor and Andreth

Joe Gilronan, Thursday, 16 February 2017, ‘A Storm Is Coming "The Hand of Saruman"...

Joe Gilronan, Saturday, 18 February 2017, ‘Breaking Camp The Fellowship Of The Ring
With a link to a collaboration with composer Tim Janis – a video with imagery by Joe Gilronan and music by Tim Janis.

Graeme Skinner, Saturday, 25 February 2017, ‘To the memory of Celebrían

‘Arwendë Luhtiénë’, DeviantArt, Tuesday, 28 February 2017, ‘Eriador Towards the Misty Mountains

Story Internal (Ardalogy)

Michael Martinez, Wednesday, 15 February 2017, ‘Who Were the High Kings and What Realms Did They Rule?

Other Stuff

Andrew Higgins, Saturday, 18 February 2017, ‘2017 A Look Ahead
Andrew Higgins takes look ahead at his planned Tolkienian activities in 2017 …

Rewarding Discussions

Whether because I have been exceedingly busy and unable to follow discussions much this month, or because there really has been a dearth of good discussions, I don't know. Still, there are some very interesting points in the discussion below:
LotR Plaza, , ‘A Brief Defence of The Children of Húrin

Other Reading

David Russell Mosley, Patheos, Tuesday, 14 February 2017, ‘My Rolling English Road to Rome: How J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Stratford Caldecott Helped Make Me Catholic
Only little help, it seems, but help.

Web Sites

Michael Flowers, ‘Tolkien in East Yorkshire
What is says, really. A web-site that collects Michael's extensive knowledge about Tolkien's relations to East Yorkshire, based both on his own research and that of others. Highly recommended!

A Storm Is Coming "The Hand of Saruman"...
by Joe Gilronan

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from February 2017

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from February 2017

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

Sue Bridgwater, ‘Skorn
Archive of posts from February 2017

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

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

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from February 2017

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

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

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


New sources in February 2017
Stephen C. Winter, ‘Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings
Stephen C. Winter's weekly ‘homilies’ based on Tolkien's work (mainly The Lord of the Rings). Many of these are a bit too moralising for my tastes – or, you might say, they do not offer enough actual insight in the book (this is not exactly the applicability vs. allegory distinction, but a related one).
For older sources, see