Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tolkien Transactions LXI

August 2015

This month started with the very sad news of the sudden and unexpected death at 55 of Jef Murray, artist and writer of mythopoeic art, not least drawings and paintings inspired by Tolkien's work, and very generously allowing me to use his Tolkien-inspired works to illustrate my posts on this blog.
My knowledge of Jef is from our rather limited on-line interactions, and though he always appeared to me kind and generous, I would have nothing to add to that. I was, however, quite moved by the nuanced reaction that Ted Nasmith posted on Facebook on 4 August 2015, and which he has kindly permitted me to reproduce here:

I've only just learned of the tragic passing of Mr. Jef Murray, a friend and respected artistic colleague. I've known Jef since the early 2000s when we met at The Gathering of the Fellowship II in Toronto. Jef and I, despite sharing a love of Tolkien, developed a wary relationship intellectually, finding ourselves on opposing sides of political discourse, and with lively differences on religion and social issues. In ongoing emails we struggled to reconcile our opinions and hash out understandings against the backdrop of today's overly poisonous social/political climate, but worked to reach gentlemanly solutions and at worst agreed to disagree if reconciliation was beyond us.
We saw in some ways mirror images of one another in ourselves; high strung, reactive, sensitive types, passionate about the societies we live in and the means to achieving meaning in our lives. Neither of us wished to suffer the other's foolishness gladly, but recognized that our conduct in managing that tension was of higher import than scoring points, and through it we forged a personal, if wary, bond which I believe we both valued and strove to protect.
In a time when we can retreat into our respective camps and find support easily within our own political or religious 'tribe', the ability to reach across the liberal-conservative divide (a truly stupid, futile, and unnecessarily toxic one as it's become!) is the more critical, forcing you to confront your prejudices and emotion-driven views and expand your insight into what motivates or troubles those in the opposing camp. I'm proud to call Jef a friend, fellow artist, scholar and colleague, and deeply mourn his loss. My deepest condolences to Lorraine and Jef's family and close friends. He was a very lively and dedicated voice and talent in our community, and he leaves an impressive legacy. I'm truly saddened that he has left us, it's simply too soon! I'd like to think he is now free to roam the width and breadth of Middle-earth and Valinor with his canvases and songs. May he arrive on those exalted green Shores under a swift sunrise. Farewell!

The Wanderer
by Jef Murray

In addition to Ted Nasmith's words of farewell, Jef's wife has posted on the Georgia Bulletin web site. Lorraine V. Murray, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Journey to the land beyond time


Many will also have known the former Tolkien Society Treasurer, Rikki Breem, who died on Wednesday 12 August after a long illness. An obituary is available on the Tolkien Society website.


These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site. They are my highly personal view of what I have found the most interesting to report, and is obviously a reflection of my own tastes, interests, and network.

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: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: In Print
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
13: Sources

News

David Oberhelman, Sunday, 2 August 2015, ‘Mythopoeic Awards: 2015 Winners Announced
The award that interests me, personally, the most is, of course, the Mythopoeic Award in Inklings Studies. Here Robert Boenig won the award with his book, C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012). Among the finalists to this award were three Tolkien-related books: Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey edited by John Wm. Houghton, Janet Brennan Croft, Nancy Martsch, John D. Rateliff, and Robin Anne Reid (McFarland, 2014, John Garth's Tolkien at Exeter College: How an Undergraduate Created Middle-earth (Exeter College, 2014), and Christopher Tolkien's edition of Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014). Perhaps it wouldn't be quite fair to give the award to an Inkling who has edited a book by another Inkling ... :-)

Mythgard Institute, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Introduction to Anglo-Saxon
A class on Anglo-Saxon (or Old English) taught by Michael Drout and Nelson Goering. Remember that members of The Tolkien Society get a deduction on the course price at Mythgard Institute.

Mythgard Institute, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Tolkien's Wars and Middle-earth
Taught by John Garth, this class investigates the relations between Tolkien's works and the two world-wars that he lived through and served in (at the Somme in WWI and at home in WWII).

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Tolkien artist Jef Murray has died
Arwen, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Tolkien Artist Jef Murray Passes Into the West
Mark Sommer, Thursday, 6 August 2015, ‘Tolkien fans morn loss of Middle-earth artist Jef Murray
MrCere, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘Tolkien artist Jef Murray: March 17, 1960 – August 3, 2015

The Noontide of Valinor
by Jenny Dolfen
Sam Matthew, Daily Mail, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘Don't call it a Hobbit house! Tolkien lawyers threaten couple over campsite advert
This story has been in a number of media this month. In essence, a couple tried first to launch a ‘hobbit hole’ experience in ‘Middle-earth’ with all the usual Tolkienian trappings. When approached by lawyers representing the two sides owning the rights (Middle-earth Enterprises and Warner Bros on one side, and the Tolkien Estate on the other side), the couple changed to advertising a ‘poddit hole’ in ‘Centre-earth’. The current incarnation uses ‘poddit hole’ and sports the name ‘Podditon’ referring to ‘halflings’ with map imagery that is very obviously inspired by the maps created for the New Line Studio films (which was again inspired by the maps created by the Tolkiens). Though it now speaks of Anglo-Saxon inspiration, the attempt to profit from the popularity of Tolkien's work is nonetheless glaringly obvious.
Sadly the Tolkien Estate steals the headline, despite the fact that it was lawyers for Middle-earth Enterprises and Warner that have been the most heavy-handed, trying to get Kickstarter to close the crowd-sourcing campaign.

TOR.com, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘“Say goodbye to your Sam.” Watch Stephen Colbert's Glorious Lord of the Rings Goodbye to Jon Stewart
A nice reference, and one that displays a bit of actual insight into the story. And, yes, I think Jon Stewart has been absolutely brilliant in The Daily Show.

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Friday, 21 August 2015, ‘New Tolkien Journal – Waymeet
About the new on-line resource for teaching Tolkien – see also my comments last month.

Shaun Gunner, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘A new chapter: Tolkien Society and Sarehole Mill
Announcing a new partnership between the Tolkien Society and Birmingham Museums Trust about Sarehole Mill. Great work!


Events

Reports from past events
13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference’, Northeast Tolkien Society
4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015’, The Tolkien Society
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’
Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 19 August 2015, ‘2015 Tolkien Society Seminar a huge success

6 - 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015
Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘Two books, two conferences, and other news

31 July - 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘ MythCon 46’, Mythopoeic Society
David Bratman, Saturday, 1 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 1
David Bratman, Monday, 3 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 2
David Bratman, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘Mythcon, part 3
David Bratman, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘Mythcon supplemental
John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 6 August 2015, ‘Back from Mythcon

Info on upcoming events (as of 1 September)
2 - 26 September 2015, Sheffield, UK, ‘Artshow: Evil in the Shining Light
Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Sunday, 30 August 2015, ‘Evil in the Shining Light: Tolkien exhibition in Sheffield, Sept 2-26, 2015

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

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

10 September 2015, On-line, Mythgard Institute, ‘Tom Shippey: Myth in Modern Fantasy
Free on-line lecture with Professor Tom Shippey.

10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘ Oxonmoot 2015’, The Tolkien Society
Shaun Gunner, Tuesday, 11 August 2015, ‘10 reasons why you should attend Oxonmoot
Next year ... I promise! :-)

19 September 2015, Champaign, IL, USA, ‘Urbana Theological Seminary's Fourth Annual Tolkien Conference

26 - 27 Septeber 2015, Castle Keep and Black Gate, Newcastle, UK, ‘Tolkien Weekend at Newcastle Castle

9 - 12 October 2015, Hotel Maya, Alicanta, Spain, ‘Mereth Aderthad

14 October 2015, Brisbane, Australia, ‘An Evening in Middle-earth

5 - 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015

2016 Events
And he knew he had tarried overlong
by Jenny Dolfen

21 - 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA
Anna Smol, Tuesday, 30 June 2015, ‘Call for papers: Tolkien Studies at PCA/ACA, March 2016

25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society

17 - 19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society


Essays and Scholarship

Michael Martinez, Tuesday, 4 August 2015, ‘The Curious Case of Cerin Amroth
A discussion of possible sources of inspiration for the idea of Cerin Amroth with its two circles of trees with a single, huge, tree in the centre, and also for the image of the mallorn. While the idea of a hill-top surrounded by a circle of trees may not be so extraordinary as to raise questions about sources, the image of a hilltop crowned by two concentric circles of trees, and with a remarkable tree in the centre, might be special enough to warrant a search for possible sources, though one should, of course, never preclude invention by Tolkien – possibly a mere matter of expanding the older image of a circle of trees (for which Tolkien had a word, goringwarin in the Gnomish Lexicon, The Book of Lost Tales 1, p.257, entry for ‘korin’)


Commentary

Joseph Pearce, The Imaginative Conservative, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Chesterton, Tolkien and Lewis in Elfland
It is well established that Tolkien and Lewis were in some ways inspired by Chesterton, and this interesting article by Pearce attempts to investigate that inspiration. Pearce does, however, seem to me to rather overreach his evidence, at least where Tolkien is concerned. When an argument is introduced with ‘evidently’ it does, in my experience, rarely mean that the thing is evident, but merely that the author wishes you to think so, and the same applies here: the claim that Tolkien's use of the prison metaphor in his essay On Fairy-stories was inspired by Chesterton's use of another prison metaphor seems to me to be not at all evident.

Dan Hennessy, Finger Lake Times, Friday, 7 August 2015, ‘A WELL-ROOTED PERSPECTIVE: Fantasy of Tolkien, Lewis teaches historic lessons
I do hope that Mr Hennessy got more out of reading the Zaleskis' book on the Inklings that what is presented here, but it does illustrate one problem (in my opinion) with this kind of treatment: the protrayal of the Inklings as having a coherent common goal with their art, something which I think is contradicted by their disagreements (including of rather profound aesthetic disagreements – Tolkien is, for instance, known to have strongly disliked the Narnia books, and to have disliked all of Williams' work). Much is made in these religiously pluralistic times of them all being Christian, but we also tend to forget that they represented a diversity in their religious beliefs and observances that was greater than we might expect given their time and place.

Lynn Forest-Hill, Saturday, 8 August 2015, ‘First meeting in August
Follow the Southampton Tolkien Reading group down The Great River, Anduin, from Lothlórien to Amon Hen through the Breaking of the Fellowship. The following post then takes them into book III and the Three Hunters to their meeting with The Riders of Rohan.

Lauren Steussy, Monday, 10 August 2015, ‘George R.R. Martin: Here's where Tolkien failed
Martin's critique of Tolkien's story (which he is known to like, so let's not take it more seriously than that) has been making the rounds. In essence, Martin finds that Tolkien should have said more about the details of Aragorn's rule – explaining his tax policies, or the functioning of the economy, for instance (the latter does seem a tall order, seeing how poorly the cadres of economists are doing with the Primary World economy ...).
Personally, I think that such elements as Martin appears to find missing in The Lord of the Rings would feel grotesquely misplaced in Tolkien's work. The narrative aesthetics of Tolkien, in my opinion, simply do not work with that kind of petty details. Pratchett manages to include such elements in a clever and witty way in his Discworld books, but Pratchett's narrative aesthetics (or style, if you prefer) are very different from Tolkien's.

Nancy Marie Brown, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Did Tolkien Ever Go to Iceland?
As Brown clearly points out, the answer to the rhetorical question of the headline is, no, Tolkien did not go to Iceland ... and yet he was certainly inspired by Iceland – or, perhaps rather, by Icelandic culture, folklore, and history. In this place Iceland is quite different from many place that Tolkien did visit (or might have visited), but which didn't inspire anything in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.

Gerard K Hynes, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘A Philologist's Tale: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Story of Kullervo
In this excellent introduction to Tolkien's newly published Story of Kullervo, Hynes summarises the plot and discusses how the story relates to Tolkien's own life, to his Silmarillion mythology, and to The Lord of the Rings.
Cuiviënen
by Jenny Dolfen


Reviews and Book News

Bradley J. Birzer, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien & The Fall of Arthur
“A circuitous review”, Birzer calls this, and in this circuitousness there is much to agree with, but also some that I have to express disagreement with. I share Birzer's enthusiasm for The Fall of Arthur and the other works brought out by Christopher Tolkien, as well as his gratitude towards Christopher Tolkien. My primary disagreement is with the view of the history of Tolkien studies that is presented, but I also would not go so far as to claim that “Christopher's voice is becoming indistinguishable from his father's”; I rather think that Christopher Tolkien, as any conscientious editor, carefully makes that distinction quite clear. Of course, Birzer may mean that Christopher Tolkien's writing style is, in every way, very close to that of his father, and I'd be inclined to more agree with that, though the forty-two years that have passed since the death of JRRT have not passed over the son without leaving a mark, also on his writing style.

Tom Shippey, Saturday, 1 August 2015, ‘Deep Roots in a Time of Frost (2014) by Patrick Curry
A review of Patrick Curry's book, Deep Roots in a Time of Frost – Essays on Tolkien. Unlike the traditional template for reviews, by which the majority of the review is a summary of the contents of the book, Tom Shippey engages with Curry's book, discussuing the themes of Curry's book, and at places discussing with Curry's book. My overall impression is that Shippey finds Curry's book to not be entirely satisfactory, but still very much worth engaging with (and that is, I suppose, not a bad thing for literary criticism).

Dimitra Fimi, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘Two books, two conferences, and other news
Though this post is also listed for the report on the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, it also needs to be highlighted here for the information on the upcoming edition of Tolkien's A Secret Vice – edited by Andrew Higgins and Dimitra Fimi herself. This post also contains various other bits of news that will be of interest.

Deirdre Dawson, Journal of Tolkien Research, Sunday, 9 August 2015, ‘Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien (2015) ed. Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan
Dawson gives a very positive review of this collection edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie Donovan. The book has long been on my list, but a review such as this makes it climb further up.

Kwame Opam, The Verge, Monday, 10 August 2015, ‘One of J.R.R. Tolkien's unfinished stories will finally be published this year
This has been the month when various news-outlets have picked up on the impending publication of Tolkien's The Story of Kullervo edited by Verlyn Flieger. Most articles seem to merely rewrite the press release from HarperCollins, including the claim that this has never been published before, but I have here collected four pieces that seem to get their basic facts right.
For certain information about contents, see the reviews elsewhere ...
Alison Flood, The Guardian, Wednesday, 12 August 2015, ‘JRR Tolkien's first fantasy story to be published this month

Katia Hetter, CNN, Wednesday, 12 August 2015, ‘Early J.R.R. Tolkien work to be published
Husna Haq, Christian Science Monitor, Thursday, 13 August 2015, ‘Hitting bookstores soon: J.R.R. Tolkien's first fantasy story
The Telegraph, Wednesday, 26 August 2015, ‘JRR Tolkien's first story is ‘undeniably his darkest work’ say experts
Hannah Sanders, BBC, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Kullervo: Tolkien's fascination with Finland (including video of Verlyn Flieger and interview with John Garth)

Jamie Crick, BBC Oxford, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Drivetime
Featuring audio from the video with Verlyn Flieger and an interview with Dimitra Fimi. The section on Tolkien's Kullervo starts at about 1:22:50 and lasts for some 6 minutes.

John D. Rateliff, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Kullervo

Nienna
by Jenny Dolfen
Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘New Society publication: Journeys & Destinations
A new Peter Roe booklet, Journeys & Destinations is now available from the Tolkien Society. The bookliet is the proceedings from the 22nd Tolkien Society Seminar (2009). The booklet will soon be available also as an e-book.

Jason Fisher, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘A standalone edition of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun – in Serbian!
About Tolkien's poem, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun and its recent publication in a bi-lingual Serbian / English publication. Besides the poem itself, this includes an extensive essay by the editor, Aleksandar Mikić, which Fisher describes as “probably the most thorough the lay has ever received in a long but often overlooked life.”.


Interviews

Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Friday, 14 August 2015, ‘Interview: John Garth on Tolkien's Wars and Middle-earth
An interview with John Garth, who will, when I post this, have started teaching his on-line classes on ‘Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth’ for Mythgard Institute. The classes sound very interesting, indeed – not least the promise of “examining Tolkien’s responses to 1930s totalitarianism, the Spanish Civil War, and the alteration of the urban and rural environment under the demands of war and of returning servicemen.”

Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Tuesday, 18 August 2015, ‘Interview: Nelson Goering on Anglo-Saxon
Another interview with one of their up-coming teachers, Nelson Goering, who is teaching ‘Introduction to Anglo-Saxon’ together with Michael Drout. The interview touches on the love for language and words – philo-logos – and for the study of languages and words, philology.

Francesca Barbini, Scififantasy Network, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Shaun Gunner On The Tolkien Society
An interview with Shaun Gunner about the Tolkien Society. Kudos to Shaun for his efforts to improve the Tolkien Society's on-line, and especially social media, presence. There is one quotation in particular that seems to me to hit the nail right on:
It's important to remember that the Society is not anti-film, just very very pro-book! As such, the Society's future will be determined by Tolkien and his books, rather than Jackson and his films.
No matter what we, as individual members, may think of any film (I think it's a pity that so many people these days tend to forget that there have been numerous film-adaptations of Tolkien's work, many of which are no worse than Jackson's in terms of representing Tolkien's story), the Tolkien Society as a body does not have any opinion on them – because, in my opinion, they are in no way what we are about.

Francesca Barbini, SciFiFantasy Network, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘The Art Of Fabio Leone
An interview with Fabio Leone, whose painting Ulmo appears before Tuor won the Tolkien Society award for best artwork in 2015.

Francesca Barbini, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘The Lord of the Grins
An interview with Mark Egginton, who has written a Lord of the Rings parody called The Lord of the Grins that has been published for Kindle, and which will later appear in paperback from Oloris Publishing. While I have never really been attracted to parodies of Tolkien, Mark is a great guy and, of course, a member of the Tolkien Society.


Tolkienian Artwork

Jenny Dolfen, Sunday, 2 August 2015, ‘The Noontide of Valinor
In the middle, the Two Trees, in the frame, eight Valar (yes, Jenny, I still think the male Valar should have been beardless, but I do like it anyway :-) )

Jenny Dolfen, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘And he knew he had tarried overlong
Tuor and the swans ...

Graeme Skinner, Wednesday, 5 August 2015, ‘A Hobbits Deco Pipe
A fine way to enjoy your favourite pipeweed.

Jenny Dolfen, Monday, 17 August 2015, ‘Cuiviénen
Finwë and Miriel and other of the Unbegotten in the starlight at the shores of Cuiviénen.

Wendy Pini, ElfQuest® the official page, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Goldberry from LOTR, 1972. #TBT
A portrait of Goldberry in an early version of the characteristic style that would become famous by the Elfquest comic books.

Three Hobbits A Fox And Supper
by Joe Gilronan
Joe Gilronan, Thursday, 20 August 2015, ‘Three Hobbits A Fox And Supper
The scene with the much-debated thinking fox from ‘Three is Company’ (LotR, book I, ch. 3)

Jenny Dolfen, Friday, 21 August 2015, ‘Nienna
The weeping Valië

Morgan Feldman, Miruvor, Sunday, 23 August 2015, ‘A Lament for Tolkien's Tree
A different kind of art, but art nonetheless. A lament for the Pinus Negro from the Oxford Botanic Gardens that had to be cut down last year.

Jenny Dolfen, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Brothers
Maedhros and Maglor riding through ... Beleriand?

Claire Wilkinson, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Fire and Water
Smaug ... Long Lake ... the Lonely Mountain in the background.

Jenny Dolfen, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Youtube, Twitter, and Periscope, oh my
Because you'll want to follow Jenny Dolfen on all the possible channels, of course. ... yes, you will :)

Jenny Dolfen, Monday, 31 August 2015, ‘Gold leaf, copper, and a redhead
Jenny has been experimenting with copper leaf ... on Maedhros. The result is certainly enjoyable.


Other Stuff

Joel Lovell, Monday, 17 August 2015, ‘The Late, Great Stephen Colbert
The point where this interview gets interesting (at least from a purely Tolkienian perspective) is near the end, when Colbert and Lovell discuss Colbert's faith, and moves on to the loss of his father and brothers. Colbert speaks of “a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering” and about loving “the thing that [you] most wish had not happened.” When asked for explanation, Colbert cites Tolkien saying “What punishments of God are not gifts?” Though the letter Colbert refers to as the context is probably no. 153 to Peter Hastings (draft), this bit is probably a paraphrase from another letter, no. 212 (a draft continuation of a letter, no. 211, to Rhona Beare): “A divine ‘punishment’ is also a divine ‘gift’, if accepted, since its object is ultimate blessing, and the supreme inventiveness of the Creator will make ‘punishments’ (that is changes of design) produce a good not otherwise to be attained”. But this is in any case well remembered by Colbert.
See also Bishop-elect Robert Barron, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Stephen Colbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Henry Newman, and the Providence of God

Simon Cook, Wednesday, 19 August 2015, ‘Albus Novus
Just a short note on the random meeting of ideas in three short pieces of text

Miruvor, Tuesday, 25 August 2015, ‘Taruithorn Songbook
Ahh ... filks :-) That brilliant old tradition.

John Rateliff, Thursday, 27 August 2015, ‘Tolkien & Lewis on BOOK-TV
I think Rateliff sums it up quite well when he says that “The best thing about this, from my point of view, is that Tolkien and Lewis now have a high enough profile that a book about them merits more than an hour on C-SPAN.” On the other hand it would have been preferable if the occasion had been a book of a higher standard.

Skye Sonja Rosetti and Krisho Manoharan, Saturday, 29 August 2015, ‘Simply Walking into Mordor: How Much Lembas Would The Fellowship Need?
Referring on to an article in Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, Vol.4 (2015), from the University of Leicester.
I know that this may seem a little silly – and perhaps it is; it certainly doesn't tell anyone anything useful about Tolkien's work, nor does it tell us anything relevant about nutrition, but it does show how Tolkien's work can be used as a useful model for student exercises in science (and one that is really good fun to work with, too!).
In many ways, I think this is relevant also to the way we might see Tolkien's work on a more serious basis – you might say that Tolkien himself treated his own sub-created world as a model: a model in which he could try out new ideas on aesthtics (and not just linguistic aesthetics), ethics, theology, etc. Christopher Tolkien, in the foreword to The Silmarillion writes that his father's legendarium “became the vehicle and depository of his profoundest reflections. In his later writing mythology and poetry sank down behind his theological and philosophical preoccupations: from which arose incompatibilities of tone.” To me, this reflects quite precisely the way we might use a model in the sciences: a representation of reality that is suitably simplified to allow a study of a few interactions, and I see no reason to limit this understanding to the interactions of the natural world that are studied by our natural sciences.


Rewarding Discussions

Brothers
by Jenny Dolfen
LotR Plaza, ‘Are the Dwarves in The Hobbit really poorly developed or is my impression?
A discussion about the premise expounded in the headline, but also touching on various interesting side-tracks from this.

LotR Plaza, ‘Orcs and Goblins?
In origin a question about the difference, if any, between Orcs and Goblins in Tolkien's legendarium, but getting into many intersting


In Print

Beyond Bree, August 2015
In this issue, I was interested to see the fifteenth instalment in Dale Nelson's on-going series, ‘Days of the Craze’, this one promising to put ‘The 1965 Ace Books Reprint in Context’. It is curious that the Ace affair can still be a cause of some strife these thirty years later. Dale Nelson, however, avoids the contented questions, and speaks of the general book-reading climate of the time. Another interesting item is Kate Ebneter's honest and precise review of Alex Lewis' and Elizabeth Currie's attempt to turn the biography of a fantasy author into a fantasy itself, J.R.R. Tolkien: Codemaker, Spy-master, Hero. One sentence sums it up nicely: “Ultimately the entire foundation of the book is a straw man of the authors' creation”. Beyond Bree still retains the fanzine charm of diversity – moving between carefully set out analyses and comments displaying more enthusiasm than analytic (or even rational) faculty.

Web Sites

As I have discovered no new and fantastic Tolkienian web sites in August, I thought I might advertise a bit for the three best Tolkienian reference sites:

Tolkien Gateway
The best all-round Tolkienian reference-site available on the internet. This is very much due to the efforts of a group of dedicated admins, who have turned a usual fan-wiki (more enthusiasm than rigour) into a great resource, where new articles have proper citations, and where old articles are being upgraded to the newer standards.

The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
Don't despair of the URL, this meta-FAQ compiled by Steuard Jensen is beyond a doubt the best Tolkienian FAQ available anywhere. Even if most of the entries are becoming dated, the treatment is still first-class. FAQs usually also attempt to give a good answers as possible to questions for which a proper answer (of the kind that can be printed in a reference work) cannot be found. This makes it possible to address a number of questions that cannot be dealt with e.g. in the Tolkien Gateway wiki.

FAQ of the Rings
The last site I will advertise is Stan Brown's FAQ about the Rings of Power. This one dedicated to a specific topic within Tolkien's legendarium is quite thorough in its approach, and like other FAQs it deals also with speculation, and like the meta-FAQ this one includes sources for the speculations.


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.

Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish
Archive of posts from August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Recent news

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

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

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from August 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from August 2015

Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien Society, ‘
Archive of posts from August 2015

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

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


Sources

No new sources in August 2015

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Tolkien Transactions LX

July 2015

Issue no. sixty …
This should, of course, have been the fifth anniversary issue, but due to my three-month hiatus last year, the fifth anniversary was actually well-past before I discovered it.
I have – well, more or less ;-) – taken this month off from Scouting, which can probably be seen in the timeliness of publishing this, and in the thoroughness of this issue. I am afraid you shouldn't expect this state to last.
All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or 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: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: In Print
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
13: Sources
‘Tolkien's Silmarillion – turin and Glaurung’ by Helge Balzer
Tolkien's Silmarillion – Turin and Glaurung
by Helge Balzer

= = = = News = = = =

Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Smaug to go into space
Features discovered by NASA's New Horizons mission on Pluto and its moons will be proposed named after fictional characters and locations, including some of Tolkien's.
See also David Dickenson, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘Naming features on Pluto

Troels Forchhammer, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Five years! (and a couple of months ...)
Celebrating the fact that 7 May 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of my first ‘Tolkien Transactions’ post to rec.arts.books.tolkien and alt.fan.tolkien.

Daniel Helen, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘John Garth to teach Mythgard course on “Tolkien's Wars and Middle-earth”
As it says, really …. And remember that Tolkien Society members get a discount on Mythgard courses! (Unfortunately we don't get a discount on the time needed … maybe some day.)

Mythgard Institute, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Fall 2015 Courses Open for Registration
Besides the course taught by John Garth mentioned above, this offering includes an introductory course on Anglo-Saxon taught by Michael Drout and Nelson Goering, and a Star Wars course taught by Amy Sturgis.

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Sunday, 26 July 2015, ‘The Hobbit among top primary school book list
It may say something about the national focus of this list that I only knew of five or six of these books, and have read only four of them. A Danish list might include one or two of the titles here (I think that Alice and/or Pooh might make it to the top-twenty on a similar Danish list), but probably neither Tolkien or Lewis (though fantasy would still feature on the list – it would merely be Nordic books).

CitizenNews, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Tribute to Tolkien's Hobbit farmer Maggot at Bamfurlong
Mostly for fun – but if you should happen to pass Bamfurlong Lane near Gloucester, you might want to check this tribute to Farmer Maggot (just don't start accepting any claims to literary inspiration ...)

Jeremy Hazan, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Montreal Now Has A “Hobbit” Themed Public Garden
Is that Smaug hovering over Bag End? Though more in the curious end, I am sure I'll want to visit this public garden if I visit Montreal :-)


= = = = Events = = = =

Reports from past events
18 November 2014, Merton College, Oxford, ‘Tolkien in Oxford
Amrit Sidhu-Brar, Sunday, 5 July 2015, ‘Merton Tolkien Symposium

13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference’, Northeast Tolkien Society Anna Smol, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘A Look Back at The New York Tolkien Conference
Myla Malinalda, Friday, 3 July 2015, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference 2015

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

6 - 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015
Medievalist.net, Monday, 6 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 1
Medievalist.net, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 2
Medievalist.net, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘2015 International Medieval Congress – Day 3
Medievalist.net, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘The Medieval #Twitterati at #IMC2015
Gerard Hynes, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘Leeds!

17 - 19 July 2015, Internet, ‘Midsummermoot
Maria Messer, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘For the Love of All Things that Grow: Trees and Ents in Middle-earth
Rachel Took, Saturday, 18 July 2015, ‘Midsummer Moot Day 2: Picnic Day
Valdís, Saturday, 18 July 2015, ‘Midsummer Moot Picnic Day: Food, Friends, and Fellowship
Rachel Took, Sunday, 19 July 2015, ‘Welcome to day three of the Midsummer Moot!
Myla Malinalda, Sunday, 19 July 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: The Artist, The Scholar, The Legend

17 - 19 July 2015, Spokane, Washington, USA, ‘Tolkienmoot 2015
See the schedule for all events, including recorded events available on YouTube.

Info on upcoming events (as of 1 August)
31 July - 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘ MythCon 46’, Mythopoeic Society
Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Mythcon 46 Schedule
John D. Rateliff, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘My Schedule at MythCon

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

15 - 23 August 2015, Velike Lašče, Slovenia, ‘Slovene Tolkien Society – Grand Annual Meeting

2 - 26 September 2015, Sheffield, UK, ‘Artshow: Evil in the Shining Light

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

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

10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘ Oxonmoot 2015’, The Tolkien Society
See also the interview by our bookings officer, Francesca Barbini, with the Oxonmoot chair, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘The Tolkien Society's Oxonmoot – A Word with Elena Krysova

5 - 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015

2016 Events
21 - 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA
Anna Smol, Tuesday, 30 June 2015, ‘Call for papers: Tolkien Studies at PCA/ACA, March 2016

25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society

17 - 19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society

lsquo;Tuor and the Swans’ concept sketch by Jenny Dolfen
Sketch: Tuor and the Swans
by Jenny Dolfen
Another advantage of supporting Jenny Dolfen on Patreon is getting to see
sketches (and even concept drawings) of upcoming artwork. The downside
is of course having to wait for it to be finished ...

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Jonathan Brown, Tuesday, 5 November 2013, ‘Listen! Beowulf opening line misinterpreted for 200 years
I realise the article is about 1½ years old, but still … Hwæt? Tolkien, by the way, stayed true to tradition with his translation starting “Lo! the glory of the kings of the people of the Spear-Danes in / days of old we have oft heard tell, …”.
See the actual paper here (pdf): George Walkden, English Language and Linguistics 17, no. 3(2013) : 465-488, ‘The status of hwæt in Old English

Leslie Megahey, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘Watch: Leslie Megahey talks about “Tolkien in Oxford”
Leslie Megahey was the producer of the 1968 BBC documentary Tolkien in Oxford and he was invited to talk about this at the 2015 AGM of the Tolkien Society. The video is rich in little nuggets, but at points also terribly frustrating as what seems to be some of the best has had the audio removed due to copyright (which is still owned by the BBC).

Renée Vink, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘The Parentage of Gil-galad
An investigation of the textual history of the parentage of Gil-galad. An article from Lembas Extra 2012.

Michael Flowers, Monday, 6 July 2015, ‘Tolkien's Hemlock Glade
The first of a series of posts on the Tolkiens' 1917-18 sojourn in East Yorkshire after he was sent home from the Somme with trench fever (and had got out of hospital). The link is to part 1: the later parts of this can be found from there. The whole series is indeed very interesting.
I have followed Flowers' arguments on the dating of the incident of Edith dancing among hemlocks near Roos in 1917, and I do think that he has now built a very strong case, and I am convinced that the period he identifies is by far the most likely.
In this series, Michael Flowers adds quite a lot of new and interesting geographical and biographical details to our knowledge about the Tolkien's stay in East Yorkshire, making this an excellent piece of biographical research.
The one blemish that, in my view, mars this series of posts is the persistent attempts to draw up random connections between this or that feature of East Yorkshire and Tolkien's work. In my firm opinion, such direct links between elements of Tolkien fiction and his various sources are generally alien to Tolkien's writing (this is a problem that is also seen in a number of source studies – even quite good source studies). The few places where such connections do exist, Tolkien either acknowledged them himself (such as Edith Tolkien dancing at Roos), or they are very obvious (the Germannic inspiration to the Rohirrim).

Janet Brennan Croft, Wednesday, 8 July 2015, ‘Beyond The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkien's Other Works for Children
An article from World Literature Today (Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan. - Apr., 2004), pp. 67-70) introducing some of Tolkien's other children's stories: Roverandom, the Letters from Father Christmas, Farmer Giles of Ham, Mr Bliss, and Smith of Wootton Major (though I'm not sure I'd categorise the latter as a children's story, though it can, like all of Tolkien's fiction, be enjoyed by children, it is not, in my opinion, written for children).

Michael Flowers, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘Sketch of Tolkien Re-discovered after 70 Years
Michael Flowers writes about a sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien by F.A. Farrell that was published in The Advocate in August 1934. The whole story of The Advocate, of Tolkien and particularly of Farrell, Glasgow's official war artist during WWI, is very interesting.
You can see the original article here The Advocate, Thursday, 9 August 1934, ‘A Letter from London
Michael Flowers' article is also available at the Tolkien Society web site as 1934 Sketch of Tolkien Discovered

Sue Bridgwater, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘The Steward, the King, and the Queen: fealty and love in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and in Sir Orfeo.
Orignally published in Mythlore (no. 119/120, Fall/Winter 2012), this article discusses similarity in the narrative arcs of the Sir Orfeo poem and Tolkien's large work involving characteristics of bonding.

Sue Bridgwater, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Staying Home and Travelling; Stasis versus Movement in Tolkien's Mythos
This paper stems from Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kašcáková (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010). I haven't had the time to read it yet (beyond skimming the introduction), but I look very much forward to reading this paper, which appears to have at least a part of its basis, or starting point, in the idea that Faërie is something you need to travel to.

Emil Johansson, Monday, 27 July 2015, ‘Tolkien might have subconsciously given Hobbits even numbered birth years because he loved them
Emil Johansson has once more been playing with the numbers that are available to us in Tolkien's work. This time he has been looking at the birth years of characters (and for Hobbits also their death years) to see if there are any discernible patterns … and isn't there, though! Some of the most noteworthy patterns are the preference for years ending in -0 – and particularly for -60 and -80. Other patters are the preference for even-numbered years, which is considerably stronger for Hobbits than for other races.
It is well known that there are psychological tendencies with respect to numbers – round numbers are, for instance, seen as more attractive at some level, and primes are ... well, my personal favourite class of numbers, but a preference I seem to share with rather few people (come on! – how can 37 not be far more attractive and interesting than 36?!?). This may account for some of Tolkien's preferences here, but the use of numbers is one that has been preciously under-studied (I know that Christopher Kreuzer did some work on it, which is in the proceedings from the 2005 conference), and so I hope that studies such as this one from Emil Johansson will help us discover and qualify the questions we can, and should, ask of Tolkien's use of numbers.


= = = = Commentary = = = =

Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Tuesday, 19 May 2015, ‘No, Ireland Did Not Inspire Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings
“No, the Lord of the Rings was not inspired by the regions of Clare or Galway, not even in part.” – Well Said!
See also the undated article, Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, ‘J.R.R Tolkien And Ireland
An excellent summary, discussing some of the complexities of Tolkien's relations with the Irish lands, peoples, universities, myths, and language. Fine reading (though I should point out also that the history of the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings is somewhat more complex than what is described here), and there is even intelligent discussion in the comments (shock!).

James Moffett, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘Tolkien's Dickensian Dreams
James Moffett here, in my opinion unsuccessfully, attempts to argue that Tolkien was inspired by a specific chapter from Dickens' Pickwick Papers. As a simple comparative study, it might have been mildly interesting, but adding the claim that “it is clear that particular aspects from the book have somehow found a way into Tolkien's own method of writing” merely makes it unconvincing.
Since, however, Moffett himself states that this on-line version is “much abbreviated from the original”, I felt obliged to find this chapter, Chapter Xxix. The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton at Project Gutenberg. Having read it, I have to say that it makes me reject the idea more strongly. There are some surface commonalities, but in every instance these evaporate on closer inspection. Both Dickens' story and Tolkien's are rooted in Victorian (and, in Tolkien's case, also Edwardian) fairy / goblin lore, but while this gives the two stories some common starting point, they quickly diverge at every point.
We cannot know if Tolkien ever read this particular chapter. We know that he disliked Pickwick (whether the character, as Moffett seems to believe, or The Pickwick Papers book, as suggested by Scull and Hammond and by the italization of the word in Letters), so he must at least have read some of the book, but we can only guess as to whether he finished it. Whether it influenced Tolkien in any way is, of course, not knowable, but the suggestions made here by James Moffett seems to me highly unlikely.

Joseph Bartram, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘A Tolkien Calendar – Part 2: The system of Ages
Overall I have found these articles about the calendars quite good. They are well researched, and the mathematics of the calendric systems seems to check out just fine. I did, however, find some of the ancillary matters somewhat disappointing – particularly matters of nomenclature and orthography, which I have commented upon (at length) here (thread at LotR Plaza).

Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘June: last meeting
Managing to finish the fifth chapter of book 2, ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dûm’ at their last June meeting, the commentary and discussions of the Southampton group remain as intersting as always. Later posts bring the reports through the Lothlórien chapters, ‘Lothlórien’, ‘The Mirror of Galadriel’, and ‘Farewell to Lórien’.

‘Amarië’ by Jenny Dolfen
Amarië
by Jenny Dolfen
Troels Forchhammer, Thursday, 9 July 2015, ‘On Tolkien's Notes on “Fate and Free Will”
Inspired by a discussion in the Tolkien Society Facebook group about Tolkien's notes on fate and free will (published in Tolkien Studies 6, 2009), I decided to take some of my contributions to that discussion, clean them up and expand them a little in an attempt to spread the knowledge about this interesting document (and in the vain hope of possibly growing its readership just a bit).

Ben, Saturday, 11 July 2015, ‘Is Eru a good god? And why
I agree that the questions that Ben raises in this post are interesting to look at, when trying to understand Tolkien's Eru, the Author, as Tolkien often refers to him. However, I think that in order to undertake such a discussion, you need to look first at what is known about Tolkien's own intentions, regardless of whether you think that Tolkien (both of them, actually – father and son) actually succeeded in transferring his intention to the page. Incidentally, there is also something relating to this in Tolkien's late notes on fate and free will (see above).

Jeff LaSala, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘The Unquiet Voice of Saruman
An excellent character portrait of Saruman. Though there is nothing new in this, it gathers the threads, and writes it up quite well, illustrating some of the depth of character that Tolkien (at some points eventually) created for Saruman, using Saruman to once more emphasise the important point that “nothing is evil in the beginning.”

Todd Leopold, CNN, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘WWI site offers hints of J.R.R. Tolkien
Well, not really – at least not the specific site meant here (the caves at Bouzincourt), as John Garth points out when interviewed by CNN about this. Thanks to John Garth for setting setting things straight despite the obvious spin the journalist wanted to give this story.

Danièe Cybulskie, Medievalist.net, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Five Ways Gawain Kicks Lancelot's Ass
Tolkien, to judge by The Fall of Arthur, would agree that Gawain was the number one of Arthur's knights.

Joseph Loconte, CNN, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘How C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien responded to 'environmental holocaust'
I have long been fascinated by the way Tolkien's name and writings are being used – and too often grossly abused – for promoting various ideological agendas (political or otherwise). I admit it's a strange fascination, because I usually dislike that kind of use, even when the authors seem to get Tolkien's position at least mostly right, but there you go … sometimes what repulses us also fascinates us.
The present article, trying to wrap up Lewis, Tolkien and the Pope's recent encyclical, is a fairly toned-down example of this. It doesn't attempt to present us with a strained reading of Tolkien (the reading of Lewis feels a little more strained to me, but then I am not very familiar with Lewis), even if I am certainly not the first nor the only to warn against reading Tolkien as supporting the views of the enviromental movement of our time.

Barry Stead, Tuesday, 27 July 2015, ‘The Amateur Lord of the Rings
In this piece, Barry Stead argues that Tolkien's success is due to his being “an amateur writer”, not writing for money, but writing “like a sort of literary everyman”. While the point about the money isn't entirely correct (though it wasn't Tolkien's primary source of income, he definitely was interested in that aspect), I think that Tolkien's general lack of concern for “the need to be seen and to be seen to be contemporary or relevant” did eventually contribute to the stability of his success. However, the question of Tolkien's success is far more complex, with many elements contributing (both negatively and positively) and, above all, interacting. Taking on the whole complex at once is too much, but addressing one element in isolation is not helpful either, and is likely to over-emphasise that particular element.


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

Michael Dirda, Washington Post, Wednesday, 1 July 2015, ‘‘The Fellowship’ explores the spiritual roots of Tolkien and the Inklings
A refreshingly critical review of the Zaleskis' book about four of the Inklings, and though I suspect that I may fall into the category of “a devotee of any of the Inklings”, what I have so far read about The Fellowship has failed to make me wish to read it. Not that I reject the influence of Tolkien's faith on his writings, but I frankly have a problem with book-length studies that apply such a very narrow perspective, and I very much prefer studies that take a more systemic view, taking the interplay of various influences into account. Oh, and Tolkien did not hate Lord Peter Wimsey until Gaudy Night – he actually quite liked Lord Peter until then (and he possibly loathed the wife that Dorothy Sayers conjured up for his detective even more).
See also a somewhat more positive review, John D. Davidson, Saturday, 11 July 2015, ‘Tolkien, Lewis, and a World Shot through with Meaning

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 2 July 2015, ‘New Tolkien book: The Story of Kullervo
About the new Tolkien book edited by Verlyn Flieger. It will be interesting to see what it contains besides that which appeared in Tolkien Studies 7.
See also HarperCollins Publishers, ‘The Story of Kullervo
and also Jay Johnstone, Friday, 10 July 2015, ‘Tolkien's The Kullervo Published After 100 Years
as well as Pieter Collier, Thursday, 16 July 2015, ‘The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Story of Kullervo

‘Smaug’ by Jenny Dolfen
Smaug
by Jenny Dolfen
Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 5 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Calendar 2016 to be released this month
This year's calendar will feature artwork by Tove Jansson. For some background on Tove Jansson, I can recommend this piece by Morgan Thomsen from March 2012.
See also Pieter Collier, Tuesday, 28 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Calendar 2016: Illustrated by Tove Jansson

Deniz Bevan, Wednesday, 29 July 2015, ‘Mini Book Reviews! Garth, Claypole White, Robinson, and Novak
As it says, a mini (micro might even be more appropriate :-) ) review, in this case of John Garth's Tolkien at Exeter College (along with three other books with no Tolkien connection)

Anna Smol, Friday, 31 July 2015, ‘Teaching Tolkien's Works: new book and journal
Introducing a new book edited by Leslie Donovan, Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Other Works (to be published on 1 August) and a new digital journal / web-site for Tolkien teachers (see Websites section.)


= = = = Interviews = = = =

Jay Johnstone, Tuesday, 7 July 2015, ‘Ted Nasmith on Life, Art, Tolkien & GRR Martin
An interview with Ted Nasmith about ... the topics stated in the headline :-)


= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Graeme Skinner, Saturday, 4 July 2015, ‘Books, they open unexpected doors…
“‘It's a dangerous business, Frodo, goint out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”

Tomás Hijo, Thursday, 9 July 2015, ‘Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! Fell deeds awake: fire...
A new cutting from Tomás Hijo showing Théoden riding over Orcs at the Pelennor Fields.

John Howe, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, ‘Dear Gandalf,
It seems that John Howe's Gandalf has been straying into places where he shouldn't – and he has had the company of other of Howe's pictures and paintings. If you admire someone's work, the least you can do is to also respect the artist, regardless of the form of the art (don't put long stretches of Tolkien's work up on the internet either): the more you admire their work, the more inclined you should be to respect and support the artist. And lest anyone misunderstand about my usage here of images, I will take this opportunity to once again express my gratitute to Jenny Dolfen, Joe Gilronan, and Jef Murray, all of whom have very generously allowed me to use their images to illustrate my posts here.

Graeme Skinner, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘It's not just a book...
... it's a Tolkien book (by the look of it), and that means a whole lot more than ‘just a book’ – it's a very nice way to show it, and it is interesting to see which words Skinner has chosen (one of the first words to come to my mind was ‘enchantment’) :)

Jenny Dolfen, Wednesday, 22 July 2015, ‘Portraits, portraits, portraits
From Smaug and Azaghâl over Legolas, Celeborn, Celegorm, Celebrimbor and Maglor to Nerdanel and Amarië – and Baldr we get Jenny's take on a number of characters.

‘Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth’ by Jenny Dolfen
Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth
by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth
An absolutely wonderful illustration of one of the key scenes in the tragedy of the Narn i Chîn Húrin. No wonder Túrin fell in love ...

Carol, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Princess and the Pea
Carol imagines the princess from the classic tale to be sleeping on a stack of books – good books.

Helge C. Balzer, Saturday, 25 July 2015, ‘Silmarillion – Túrin and Glaurung
“But in that moment Glaurung the fell issued from the gaping Doors of Felagund, and lay behind, between Túrin and the bridge. Then suddenly he spoke by the evil spirit that was in him, saying: ‘Hail, son of Húrin. Well met!’”
I really like the portrayal of Glaurung here – the evil spirit in him sort of shines through, and there is a hint of a massive size lurking behind the doors. Well done!

AJ Chimaera, Friday, 31 July 2015, ‘Picture Book
The description here “that the pages come alive to depict the scenes within” the book reminds me strongly of Tolkien's note E to his essay On Fairy-stories (§113, p.82 of the expanding edition).


= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Anna Smol, Sunday, 5 July 2015, ‘Ahhh, Oxford!
Anna Smol reports on her visit to Oxford to study Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library. Unfortunately she doesn't tell us much about the specifics of her research (only a single paragraph – without the slightest indication of whether we may expect a result from this research, and if so, where and when), but still an interesting post, not least for those of us, who haven't visited Oxford on research purposes.

Michael Martinez, Tuesday, 14 July 2015, ‘The Battle for Middle-earth Will Not be Carved in Stone
Presuming that I understand him right, I agree with less than half of it half as much as it deserves ... or, more to the point, I mostly agree or more with nearly all of it :-) I know that Michael Martinez and I agree on the problems inherent in simply finding a suitable quotation from Tolkien that you can get to say what you want it to say and then hold it up as ‘The Truth’, but as in most other cases, there is a balance to strike. Rejecting the simplistic ‘one truth’ views doesn't mean that anything goes, and there is also the question of the burden of proof, which is, in practice, very often on the person arguing for a more nuanced and pluralist explanation – simply because it is so much easier to subscribe to a simple ‘one truth’ explanation.

Karl E. H. Siegfried, Friday, 17 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Archives at Wheaton College, Part One
A tale from one of the three main scholarly centres of original Tolkien material (the others being the Bodleian and the Marquette). A wonderful tale and nice photos as well – and who wouldn't love to get a private viewing :)
Also see the second instalment, Karl E. H. Siegfried, Friday, 24 July 2015, ‘Tolkien Archives at Wheaton College, Part Two

Ian Chant, Thursday, 23 July 2015, ‘University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fanzines
I have so far not been able to ascertain that the collection in question, the Hevelin Collection, also includes Tolkien fanzines, but I very much suspect that it does. However, the digitisation project appears to move on chronologically, and is still a goodly way from the publication of The Lord of the Rings.

Andrew Harrison, Friday, 24 July 2015, ‘Michael Moorcock: “I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist”
I have debated whether to include this, or to ignore it. Truth be told, I had never even heard of Michael Moorcock until a few years ago when he came up as someone complaining about Tolkien – “Michael who??” was my reaction. I cannot claim to be truly widely read in science fiction or fantasy (not in the manner of many other Tolkien readers that I know). So, having never heard of Moorcock until in my forties, and never having read anything by him, I would probably be wiser to not run the risk of being snide and instead avoid commenting at all – but … :-)
Let's forget the ludicrousness of the accusation of fascism, hidden or open (there's more to fascism than a love for your country and positive view of the absolute feudal monarchy). The thing that has always irked me about this kind of criticism is not the fallacy of the accusations in themselves, but rather the idea that it matters. I heartily dislike being preached to in a book (which is why I don't enjoy Lewis' Narnia books), but Tolkien certainly isn't. And if the book avoids the traps of preaching or too obvious allegory (these often go hand-in-hand), I can enjoy good story-telling even if the book promotes a world-view that I find distasteful. This is, in my opinion, one of the great strengths of fiction literature – it enables a kind of dialogue with views that are in opposition with one's own, making it possible to get at least some kind of understanding of how the world looks from that perspective, even if one doesn't wish to adopt that view. This is something I would say that the world needs more of.
So it seems to me that Mr Moorcock is asking himself the wrong kind of questions. Why not ask why Tolkien is so very widely known and read? And why Tolkien's work became defining for decades of fantasy novels that followed (though some of them have, admittedly, been quite bad, most have not)? Look at it as literature and ask literary questions instead of viewing it as a political manifesto, which it is not.

John D. Rateliff, Monday, 27 July 2015, ‘"Fails the Most Elementary Test of Historical Possibility"
John Rateliff about a critical comment on his History of the Hobbit that he has found in the recent book by one ‘Elansea’ presenting what might kindly be described as a hypothetical alternative biography of Tolkien's life (though my impression is that ‘fictional’ is more accurate than ‘hypothetical’). I am inclined to agree entirely with David Bratman's comments.

Eduardo Oliveira Ferreira, Tuesday, 28 July 2015, ‘The Story of Kullervo and the Brazilian contribution to its publication
Good to see that society activities such as these can contribute to the decision of publishing a translation of a new Tolkien work. I just hope that the Brazilian publisher will keep the idea of the dual-language edition – I believe that it is crucial to study (and discuss) Tolkien in his own language (it gives, for instance, the advantage of using his own critical vocabulary).

The National Archives of Malta, Thursday, 30 July 2015, ‘Reference letter by Professor J.R.R. Tolkien
The National Archives of Malta have, on their Facebook page, published a letter of reference that Tolkien wrote for Mr Richard Hope in October 1938.


= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

rec.arts.books.tolkien, , ‘Imaginary Past
A discussion of whether Tolkien was successful in sub-creating a Secondory World ‘existing’ as an imaginary time of our own world, or if it would be better to view his Secondary World as ‘existing’ in an alternative world, much like Narnia in Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.
Also available from the Google groups web-interface.


= = = = In Print = = = =

‘Nerdanel’ by Jenny Dolfen
Nerdanel
by Jenny Dolfen
Amon Hen 254, July 2015
For members of the Tolkien Society, the chairman's report and the Secretary's report from the AGM will be of interest. Others may like the obituary for Sir Christopher Lee and the reviews of Mark Hooker's The Tolkienæum (quite positive – nudging up the list) and David Day's Tolkien: A Dictionary (not a positive review – the worst rumours are true, and this confirms my personal belief: never spend your money on a David Day product, unless you paint over the text and only enjoy the pictures). The issue is rounded off with some artwork (Jef Murray, Gordon Palmer) ‘Michael's Miscellany’, a couple of letters and some various society matters.

Beyond Bree, July 2015
I found the July issue to be better than many other recent issues – well done! An announcement of the 2016 Beyond Bree Calendar is followed by an article on one of the artists used, the late Kay Woollard. Nancy Bunting then finishes her series offering a reading of the One Ring based on the work of Arno Gruen; though I have found the series interesting and knowledgeable, I have to say that it ultimately fails in its purpose of providing a more satisfying reading of the mechanism of the Master Ring than Shippey's concept of addiction. In another intersting article, Mark Hooker writes on ‘Ignatian Spirituality in The Lord of the Rings’ inspired by a book by James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, which Hooker criticises in strong terms, while also indicating how the topic might be addressed in a far more thoughtful manner. A review by Ryder W Miller of MacLachlan's 2012 Tolkien and Wagner: The Ring and Der Ring and the usual minor notes, lists, letters, poems, etc. fill out the remaining space along with a couple of examples of Kay Woollard's art.


= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Gerard Hynes, ‘Fantasy and Philology: Worlds out of Words
Gerard Hynes' blog, which had been up for a couple of months before I discovered it.

Leslie Donovan (editor), ‘Waymeet for Tolkien Teachers
Describing itself as “A digital journal for teaching J. R. R. Tolkien's works and life in post-secondary schools” – the amount of resources found here or linked to is already quite impressive. This is really a brilliant resource – firstly, of course, for those teaching Tolkien, but also for others (e.g. those of us trying to further the educational objectives of the Tolkien Society).


= = = = 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.

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

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

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

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

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Archive of latest news

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

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from July 2015

Various, Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from July 2015

Emil Johansson, ‘LotR Project Blog
Archive of posts from July 2015

Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien Society, ‘
Archive of posts from July 2015

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

Pieter Collier, ‘The Tolkien Library
See the front page for a list of recent posts.

Ben, ‘A clearer thinking oasis
Archive of posts from July 2015

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


= = = = Sources = = = =

New sources in July 2015:
Gerard Hynes, ‘Fantasy and Philology: Worlds out of Words

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html