Friday, 9 March 2012

Tolkien Transactions XXII

February 2012

Just for the fun of it, I tried to estimate how many items that were in my ‘Tolkien’ folder in February 2012 in my RSS reader — just short of 400. Of course I haven't read all of that in detail, and I suppose that this hasn't even been a particulary busy month in that respect, but in a month that has been filled with other tasks, getting through even the few of all these items that I had marked for reading has been daunting. Still, here it is, such as it is.

As usual I claim absolutely nothing about newness, completeness and relevance (and I certainly reject any other implication of responsibility) :-)


= = = = News = = = =

‘ShadowCa7’, Wednesday, 4 January 2012, ‘The Hobbit Misty Mountains — 27 Verse FULL Length COVER with Lyrics’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME5urFBf0kk
A young woman has recorded all 27 verses that Tolkien wrote to the ‘Far over misty mountains cold’ song (the Dwarves sing some new verses to cheer up Thorin after Smaug's death) to the tune used in the trailer for The Hobbit film set for release this coming December. Personally I think the hauntingly ethereal tune is more appropriate for Elves than for Dwarves (in the story it is used as a kind of battle song), but with that in mind I think her voice is very appropriate for the tune.

Duncan Hall, Digital Journal, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Tolkien letter discovered in book sold for over £1,500’
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/318868
This is about the holiday letter that was discussed in the January issue, and which has now been sold for £1700. If ever I win a million or two, I think I'll start collecting :-)
See also
Ethan Gilsdorf, Wired.com, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Unknown Tolkien Letter Falls Out of Book’
http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/02/unknown-tolkien-letter/

Eric Rezsnyak, City Newspaper, Thursday, 16 February 2012, "THEATER REVIEW: Rochester Children's Theatre's ‘The Hobbit"’
http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/entertainment/stage/2012/02/THEATER-REVIEW-Rochester-Childrens-Theatres-The-Hobbit/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/74dkqrh
The reviewer is quite happy with the ‘stage magic’ employed to bring Tolkien's children's story to the stage in Rochester, though there are a few comments that I, based on ‘On Fairy-stories’ think that Tolkien would have found issue with — not least the comment that ‘kids love stories featuring dragons and swords and all that good stuff’ — for my own part I think that kids far more love the thrilling fright of the on-rushing goblins that the reviewer warns against (he doesn't report children crying which would, of course, change things).

Ilya Kozlovskiy, Monday, 20 February 2012, ‘Tolkien theme park will be built in Poland’
http://en.poezdka.de/174/2012-1403/poland-tolkien-en.html
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7zls477
A live-action role-playing theme park based on Tolkien's books is being planned in Poland . . .

Tessa Hoffman, Wednesday, 22 February 2012, ‘Sculpture a towering creation in Coburg’
http://moreland-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sculpture-a-towering-creation-in-coburg/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6p3u9qv
A miniature of Howe's vision of Barad-dûr as it appeared in the New Line Cinema films (once more proving that Ruth Lacon is entirely right in her assessment of the pervasiveness of the New Line Cinema films' visual conception). This is made in balsa wood and plaster and stands about 2 m (still a miniature compared to the mile-high tower envisioned in the films).


= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

PC, ‘Original photograph of J.R.R. Tolkien signed and dedicated to Patrick Hunt, plus signed letter’
http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/dmiller/CLP0159.htm
I am not entirely sure when exactly Pieter put this item on-line, but do take a look — the story of Tolkien writing to a man in prison, who has found some consolation in reading Tolkien's books adds something to this letter.

JW, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Tolkien's incarnate angels’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/tolkiens-incarnate-angels/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/82aftku
The first of many highly interesting posts that Jonathan McIntosh has made during February. I shan't be able to comment upon them all, so get yourself to this one, read it, and start hitting ‘Next’ until you've come through them all. In this post McIntosh looks at Tolkien's Ainur as, in some respects, a response, or reaction, to St. Thomas. This line of inquiry into the self-incarnation of the Ainur compared to the angelology of St. Thomas Aquinas as well as other aspects of the Ainur (and, in particular the Maiar of these mostly the Istari) is followed up in some of the following posts e.g. on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th.

H&S, Wednesday, 8 February 2012, ‘Lord of the Rings Comparison’
http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/lord-of-the-rings-comparison/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7gg528c
A comparison of some of the many post-2005 printings of The Lord of the Rings to see which of the known addenda and corrigenda that have been taken up in these. It is, I suppose, no surprise that no edition has incorporated all of them, and though a bit frustrating, I suppose that one shouldn't be surprised either that different editions / printings incorporate different corrections. Still, warm expressions of gratitude for the meticulous work (and the final summary) are in order for Christina and Wayne: Thank you!

JW, Saturday, 18 February 2012, ‘Gandalf, O.S.A.’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/gandalf-o-s-a/
In his discussions of the Wizards in particular, and the Ainur in general, Jonathan McIntosh has come to Gandalf's admonition to Frodo not to ‘deal out death in judgement’ which he compares to a text by St. Augustine.

H&S, Saturday, 18 February 2012, ‘Foreword to _The Hobbit_’
http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/foreword-to-the-hobbit/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/77oxsfh
On Christopher Tolkien's foreword to The Hobbit and its evolution from its first appearance in 1987.

JW, Monday, 20 February 2012, ‘Creation: choosing the possible, or choosing from the possible?’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/creation-choosing-the-possible-or-choosing-from-the-possible/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/77z6gbh
While not directly connected to Tolkien, I think the discussion of the nature of the divine free will (that only truly free will, according to Tolkien, as he considered the freedom of willing for any creatures to be derivative) is not only interesting, but also pertains to our understanding of Tolkien's writings, in particular the Ainulindalë.

JW, Tuesday, 21 February 2012, ‘Grendel and the 'un-theologizing'of Ungoliant’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/grendel-and-the-un-theologizing-of-ungoliant/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7f3o4ys
There is something incredibly reassuring about an author that is willing to reconsider an opinion based on new evidence — of course it happens all the time in the sciences, but still ;) In this case, however, I am not convinced that Jonathan McIntosh needs to revise his earlier position — a tiny bit of softening up, perhaps, but I don't think that there is reason for a complete rejection. The topic is the nature of Wirilóme / Ungoliant and how it changes from The Book of Lost Tales to the ‘Later Silmarillion’ (see Morgoth's Ring) and how this exemplifies some of the general changes that Tolkien's legendarium underwent.

JW, Thursday, 23 February 2012, ‘Homer vs. Beowulf: Tolkien and Nietzsche on the necessity of Monsters’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/homers-theology-vs-beowulfs-mythology-tolkien-and-nietzsche-and-faramir/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7behtbp
This is the first of a couple of posts that focus on some of Tolkien's response to Beowulf and the Northern spirit — in this case the ideal of ‘martial heroism’. No such discussion would be complete without quoting Faramir, which Jonathan McIntosh brings in in the follow-up post posted on the 24th.

JW, Saturday, 25 February 2012, ‘Théoden and Denethor compared and contrasted’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/theoden-and-denethor-compared-and-contrasted/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/73ygz23
Comparing and contrasting Théoden and Denethor is not a new game, but there are some ideas here that I haven't seen elaborated before, but which seems quite interesting. In particular the way these two use the people around them, with Théoden relying on family, riders, servants, counsellors etc. Denethor is far more self-reliant (and thus, presumably, lonesome). The discussion is followed up upon on the 26th, where the way these two rulers relate to, and use, their Hobbit retainers is discussed.

JW, Wednesday, 29 February 2012, ‘Boethius and Tolkien on providence vs. fate’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/boethius-and-tolkien-on-providence-vs-fate/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7hdn5gy
A comparison between the distinction Boethius makes between providence and fate and then the distinctions inherent in Tolkien's Ainulindalë. I am very pleased the Jonathan McIntosh notes the differences between Boethius' description and Tolkien's set-up. While there is much in Boethius that can be used as a very valuable starting point when wanting to understand the providential set-up of Tolkien's sub-creation, it is also, I think, important to note that there are some significant deviations in what Tolkien did. Notably Boethius' set-up (obviously) doesn't allow for Elves, and thus not for the different models of relating to ‘fate’ (the Music) that apply to Men and Elves.

Steuard Jensen, February 2012, ‘Tom Bombadil is not Aule (and Goldberry is not Yavanna)’
http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/BombadilIsNotAule.html
The idea that Tom Bombadil is Aulë in some kind of diguise has, unfortunately, been quite persistent on the internet, and so it is to be hoped that Steuard's detailed response in which the idea is thoroughly refuted (with an admirable grasp of the strength of the evidence) can help weed out this attractive, but fatally flawed, theory.


= = = = Book News = = = =

JF, Sunday, 5 February 2012, ‘Is this a review? You tell me.’
http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2012/02/is-this-review-you-tell-me.html
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7629y9x
The review of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources that appeared in the January 2012 issue of Amon Hen (#233) is, very justifiably, criticised for not being a real review. The review is reproduced here in its entirety, but the most worthwhile thing is to simply skip it and move to the comments . . .

JF, Thursday, 9 February 2012, ‘My book reviewed in Beyond Bree’
http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-book-reviewed-in-beyond-bree.html
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7j8yvam
Jason Fisher has received permission also to reproduce Nancy Martsch's review of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources from Beyond Bree October 2011, and at the same time he seizes the opportunity to add a few comments, both in general on the reception of the book, and at a couple of places on things in the Beyond Bree review. Martsch is very positive about the book (I agree with the overall positive note, though I also think that there are some two or three contributions that fall significantly below the quality level set by the other contributions), calling it ‘an excellent book which can serve as a ‘how-to’ guide for both research and writing.’

Janet Brennan Croft, Mythlore, Friday, 10 February 2012, ‘Various Scholarly Journals’
http://www.mythsoc.org/reviews/scholarly-journals-2011/
‘[This review originally appeared in Mythlore 115/116.]’
Janet Brennan Croft here reviews issues of four scholarly journals of Tolkien & Inkling interest. The journals are Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern issue 1.2 (2010), Journal of Inklings Studies issue 1.1 (March 2011), VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review issue 27 (2010) and Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review issue 7 (2010). Croft's review is of course focused on a specific issue of each journal, but she includes some more general comments on the scholarly aspirations of the journal — what are the interests of the editors etc.

David Larsen, New Zealand Listener, Sunday, 18 February 2012, ‘The Art of the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull review’
http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/books/the-art-of-the-hobbit-by-jrr-tolkien-by-wayne-g-hammond-and-christina-scull-review/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7ec2a5x
A review of The Art of the Hobbit.


= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

JH, Wednesday, 15 February 2012, ‘Images Were Magic Once’
http://www.john-howe.com/news/index.php/site/comments/images_were_magic_once1/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7uxrdzj
John Howe has written a very nice piece about the power of images, though I think he forgets that letters became even more magic than the pictures — but that may be just my own preferences shining through again :)

JDR, Friday, 24 February 2012, ‘Rewatching Peter Jackson’
http://sacnoths.blogspot.com/2012/02/rewatching-peter-jackson.html
http://preview.tinyurl.com/83b4rxd
An interested account of John Rateliff's recent reviewing of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring — overall I find that I agree with most of what he says, and I certainly agree with the comment that ‘even those who don't like them as adaptations of Tolkien's work’ may find it ‘pretty clear that they are excellent films’ (or at least that The Fellowship of the Ring is that).

Brendon Connelly, Friday, 24 February 2012, ‘Does This Lord Of The Rings Family Tree Teach Us Anything About Gender Representation In Middle Earth?’
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/02/24/lord-of-the-rings-family-tree-gender-representation-middle-earth/
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ur9amq
Having played around with the much advertised family tree project (see last month's transactions), Brendon Connelly has noticed the gender discrepancy, but apparently without realising that the majority of the entries in the trees aren't characters in the books, but mere names of rulers in the (mostly) patrilinear ruling families of Middle-earth. The surprise should possibly be that Tolkien does include cases where the right to rule is inherited through a mother rather than a father (without ever coming out and saying it, I think that Tolkien implies that the Lords of Andúnië, and thus the Line of Elendil, were the more true heirs to the Line of Elros).

AW, Tuesday, 28 February 2012, ‘Tolkien's favourite tree’
http://www.tolkienguide.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=1807&forum=12
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6lou4ef
A nice picture of Tolkien's favourite tree in the Oxford Botanical Garden from February 2012.


= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

February has seen me finish my last tasks for Nokia. I am still employed by them, but my tasks are now all aiming at my future outside Nokia. It is, I think, a very generous severance package that Nokia has offered us, and so I feel no bitterness towards Nokia for closing down a site that I have been very happy to work at.
However, I have been keeping so busy all month that I have not had time to follow any discussions (barely time to be present in the newsgroups and web-sites that I usually frequent), and so I can't really emphasise any of this month's discussions as particularly interesting. Sorry.


= = = = Web Sites = = = =

The Flame Imperishable
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/
Once in a while you are lucky enough to find a blog that has been going on for a while and and feel (apart from the exhileration of finding a nugget) chagrined that you hadn't found it before (and even more so at the thought of the vast back-list of interesting-looking posts that you would like to read). This is how I felt when I discovered Jonathan McIntosh's ‘The Flame Imperishable’ blog. McIntosh is a Ph.D. in philosophy and teaches at New Saint Andrews College in Idaho, and in his blog he writes about ‘Tolkien, St. Thomas, and other purveyors of the Philosophia Perennis’. This philosophical approach to Tolkien's writings is not very common in English-language blogs, and so my desire for this has certainly not yet been sated :-)

Nuviel's Middle-earth
http://nuviels_middleearth.webs.com/
A fan-page including a couple of interesting bits such as a list of women of Middle-earth and an index to The Hobbit.

Joe Gilronan (Tolkien inspired art)
http://joe-gilronan.artistwebsites.com/
There's some rather nice pictures here by Joe Gilronan. I like the way that he leaves details just slightly unclear — enough that you would not, for instance, be able to recognize any of the characters that he depicts on the street. This way the pictures still leave something for the viewer to fill in, which I think is a good thing (and probably something that Tolkien would also have approved of).

J.R.R. Tolkien - Fantasy Literature - Research Guides at Pima Community Col
http://libguides.pima.edu/content.php?pid=261413&sid=2381357
A listing of some of the most interesting Tolkien-related scholarly contents on the internet, including free e-books and sample chapters, articles and other good stuff. There is a lot of good things to mine in this (though it is a bit sad that it lists Gene Hargrove's Bombadil essay without the later refutations of his, logically unsustainable, idea about the nature of Tom B.).


= = = = Sources = = = =

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’
http://sacnoths.blogspot.com

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’
http://lingwe.blogspot.com

Michael Drout (MD) — ‘Wormtalk and Slugspeak’
http://wormtalk.blogspot.com/

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) — ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’
http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/

Pieter Collier (PC) — ‘The Tolkien Library’
http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. — ‘Wormwoodiana’
http://wormwoodiana.blogspot.com

Corey Olsen (CO), ‘The Tolkien Professor’
http://www.tolkienprofessor.com

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
http://kalimac.blogspot.com/
and the old home:
http://calimac.livejournal.com/

Larry Swain (LS), ‘The Ruminate’
http://theruminate.blogspot.com

Andrew Wells (AW), ‘Musings of an Aging Fan’
http://wellinghall.livejournal.com

Various, ‘The Northeast Tolkien Society’ (NETS), ‘Heren Istarion’
http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com

Bruce Charlton (BC), ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers’
http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/

Andrew Higgins (AH), ‘Wotan's Musings’
http://wotanselvishmusings.blogspot.com

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
http://www.mythsoc.org

Henry Gee (HG) ‘cromercrox’, ‘The End of the Pier Show’
http://occamstypewriter.org/cromercrox/

Jonathan S. McIntosh (JM), ‘The Flame Imperishable’
http://jonathansmcintosh.wordpress.com/

John Howe (JH)
http://www.john-howe.com

David Simmons (DS), ‘Aiya Ilúvatar’
http://www.aiyailuvatar.org/

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Tolkien Studies Blog’
http://blog.tolkien-studies.com/

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’
http://middle-earth.xenite.org/

Troels Forchhammer (TF), ‘Parmar-kenta’
http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com

Mythprint — ‘The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society’
http://www.mythsoc.org

Amon Hen — the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society
http://www.tolkiensociety.org/

- and others

--
Troels Forchhammer

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they
are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not
refer to reality.
- Albert Einstein

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