Tolkienists.org

  Blog posts

A chronicle of recent blog posts of interest to those studying Tolkien and his works, set out by date.

8 September

  Marcho and Hengist and … Romulus?

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

… Vortigern, Hengist, and Horsa are from a very murky period in early British history and may be nothing more than a way to explain the explosion of Germanic colonization of southern Britain in the next couple of centuries.

In Tolkien commentaries, Hengist and Horsa and their part in Germanicizing Britain are often equated with this:

About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a reckoning of years. For it was in the one thousand six hundred and first year of the Third Age that the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, set out from Bree; and having obtained permission from the high king at Fornost, they crossed the brown river Baranduin with a great following of Hobbits. They passed over the Bridge of Stonebows…and they took all the land beyond to dwell in, between the river and the Far Downs.” (LR0.4.14)

more ☞

  Northfarthing Beer

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

… Northfarthing Beer was a project when we ran the 1995 Tolkienists Mythcon. One of our members, a connoisseur of the more demotic forms of alcohol, was determined to brew and bottle his own beer. We had quite a lot of it around that Mythcon, and I witnessed some of it actually being drunk.

The fun part of the planning was designing a label for a purported Shire-hobbits’ beer. Kevin Farrell drew the illustrations, a scene of fields of grain in front of Bag End, and a copy of Tolkien’s view of Bilbo in his front hall, only with huge stacks of beer barrels on either side. And I had the fun of composing the label text, which I’ll preserve here.…

more ☞

7 September

6 September

  Oxonmoot and Banff, day 5

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

I heard a few papers at the very tail end of Oxonmoot early this morning. One presenter discovered, to her surprise and delight, that Tolkien’s mythological depictions of light actually express wave-particle duality. Another noted the number of Tolkien’s school and college textbooks that survive to this day and wondered, where did he keep them when he was off serving in WW1? He didn’t have a family home to store stuff like this in. Unfortunately there isn’t really an answer. And a third was a discussion of the geopolitics of Numenor chock full of terms like colonialism, imperialism, and exceptionalism,…

more ☞

4 September

  Oxonmoot, day 3

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

… I also got to hear the interview with Dimitra Fimi, who has been mentoring so many younger Tolkien scholars that the chat function was trying to think of appropriate powerful-mother metaphors. Galadriel? Melian? She also does a lot of interpreting Tolkien for the media, which led to the suggestion of the title Professor for the Public Understanding of Tolkien. A lot of good questions about whither Tolkien studies. She sees specialization arising: more bespoke” criticism about specific aspects. But I liked most her story about discovering Tolkien. Already a BA-holding ESL teacher in her native Greece, she saw a student reading a Greek translation of The Silmarillion and asked what’s that? The idea of one man’s mythology was attractive, so she followed the student’s advice and read The Lord of the Rings first — fortunately in English, because (she says) it makes a big difference which language you encounter a story in first. Then she came to the UK to do grad work in Tolkien and the rest is history.…

more ☞

3 September

  № 38: Anna Smol

Tolkien Experience Podcast } Sara Brown

Anna Smol is currently a professor in the Department of English at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the graduate English program at Dalhousie University and in the Joint M.A. in Women and Gender Studies (Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent). Her research interests include Tolkien studies, medievalism, and Old English, and she has published her work in many refereed journals.

more ☞

  Oxonmoot, day 2

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

… There was a very interesting panel on translating Tolkien. Marcel Bülles (from Germany) spoke of the economic imperatives which often keep publishers from undertaking translations. As the topic of discussion was technical posthumous Tolkien books like the History of Middle-earth series, I wondered if there was much of an audience deeply interested in Tolkien — for you have to be very deeply interested in Tolkien to want to tackle these — that didn’t have enough English to read them in the original? I posed this in the chat, and was informed: maybe not in countries like Germany or Slovenia, where knowledge of English is widespread, but otherwise in Hungary, where it isn’t.

José Manuel Ferrández Bru (from Spain) spoke of the invisibility of non-English language Tolkien scholarship to the English-speaking readership, instancing the increased attention his biography of Tolkien’s guardian (who was Spanish by birth) received after it was reissued in English translation. I’m uncomfortably aware of this gap, and I’d like to do something about it.…

more ☞

2 September

  busy September days

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

1. It’s the first day of Oxonmoot, the The Tolkien Society conference, and I’m attending online again, though all I was able to get to today was part of an interview with Carl F. Hostetter, Events having kept me away from the rest. That he wants to just study and enjoy Tolkien’s languages without forcing them into an artificial standard grammar reminds me of the way I just want to read Tolkien’s stories without wanting to have them made into movies. It’s the number of people who feel otherwise in both cases that puzzles us.…

more ☞

1 September

  Ringing false (3)

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

…It’s interesting that Saruman has already so strongly identified himself with Sauron that he’s called himself Ring-maker” and, as Gandalf has noticed, He wore a ring on his finger.” What Saruman hasn’t realized, however, is that Sauron is well aware of Saruman’s thoughts on the subject of becoming the new Sauron, even without the Ring, as is evident in the speech of Sauron’s Orc captain, Grishnakh.…

more ☞

31 August

  № 173: Alastair

Tolkien Experience Project } Luke Shelton

I was about 6. We were just about to move house and it was a very traumatic time for me. My dad bought a copy of The Lord of the Rings and started reading it to me. I got frustrated because he was taking too long (hardly surprising 1000+ pages takes a while to read!) This prompted me to start reading it myself. A few years later I became obsessed with the Bakshi film and the computer game of The Hobbit.…

more ☞

25 August

  Ringing false (2)

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

You might say that it all started not with:

He only needs the One; for he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others.” (LR1.02.088)

but really with:

His head was swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. (The Hobbit, Chapter 5, Riddles in the Dark”)

The author goes on to add, It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it…” but, in fact, this — although the author himself didn’t know it in 1937 — was a tremendous understatement, that finding being a turning point in more than the career of one small Hobbit. Suppose, however, that, in the dark and in his confusion — he had just recently bumped his head on hard rock, and remembered nothing more” after all — the he” in that passage had missed that tiny ring of cold metal”? .…

more ☞

24 August

  № 172: Laurie

Tolkien Experience Project } Luke Shelton

I was actually just out of college and checking out my local library before a trip on an audiobook. I just went through The Hobbit right before a road trip, and decided to check it out! I’ve heard they were good, so I decided to have a listen while on the road. There were a lot of times in my personal life when I related to Bilbo Baggins, the titular hobbit, even when I’m not exactly following his footsteps. Wanting to go on an adventure, while also desiring the comforts of home, and going back and forth between his desires were what stood out to me as relatable. And after finding out The Lord of the Rings was its sequel, for me it was like watching an awesome Netflix show! …

more ☞

Copyright © 2020–21, Vermont Softworks, LLC