Blog posts

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

19 January

  Ring composition

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

… I said that Tolkien’s surprise remark, that Black Speech nazg was derived from Irish nasc, was part of the initial inspiration for this posting, and that nasc made me think of an Old Irish story in which such a nasc — and a fish — played an important role. There is another story with a ring and a fish, however: …

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18 January

  № 193: Victoria Willey

Tolkien Experience Project } Victoria Willey

My older brothers saw the Fellowship in theaters and that got them into the books. They would tell me about parts of it, sometimes showing me scenes or large portions of the films. Little did they know then, our mom was already somewhat familiar with Tolkien through her favorite author, C.S. Lewis, and later read The Hobbit aloud to my younger brother and me. One of my brothers gifted me the 50th anniversary single-volume edition for my birthday, then later, a copy of The Silmarillion.

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17 January

  An update on things Tolkien- and Inklings-related

Tolkien and Fantasy } Douglas A. Anderson

My short note Tolkien’s friend Selby” on Tolkien’s correspondence with G.E. Selby (1909−1987) was just published by The Tolkien Society in a recent issue of Mallorn (issue 62, pp. 34 – 35).…

I’m very sad to report on the passing of my friend of over forty years, Tim Wickham-Crowley.… I commissioned his one contribution to Tolkien scholarship, a book review of Tolkien through Russian Eyes (2003), by Mark T. Hooker, which appeared in Tolkien Studies: Volume II (2005).…

It’s hard to believe that Chris Mitchell, Director of the Wade Center for nearly twenty years, died at age 63 as long ago as 2014.… Recently published is a tribute volume, The Undiscovered C.S. Lewis: Essays in Memory of Christopher W. Mitchell.… Of course the content heavily favors C.S. Lewis, but there is one article on Tolkien, Across Western Seas: Longing for the West in Tolkien’s Legendarium,” by Laura Schmidt, Archivist at the Wade Center.…

I note here the recent publication of Tolkien & The Lizard: Tolkien in Cornwall 1914 (2021) by David Haden.… This is an independent offshoot of a larger project that Haden is current engaged on. Haden … has a further offshoot Tolkien publication, Cracks of Doom: Untold Tales in Middle-earth, which he describes as:

a fully annotated and indexed list of Untold Tales’ in Middle-earth, pointing out the cracks’ where new fan-fiction might be developed.…

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12 January

  Marching into Mordor

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

In this posting, I intend to walk briefly into the place, not to drop off a Ring, but to try to understand something beyond its geography. Is there something more which adds menace to the place beyond that geography? It’s not as if the geography isn’t menacing, of course. From the Ered Lithui across the plateau of Gorgoroth to the Ephel Duath, this is depicted as a kind of volcanic landscape, with, in fact, an active volcano, Orodruin, which seems to be smoking most of the time, like a Middle-earth Etna, set just above the center of that plateau, its northern entrance blocked by elaborate gates, the Morannon, its western entrance by Minas Morgul and the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and, rising just below the volcano, the capital of the place, the Barad-dur, the Dark Tower.

Although I called the Barad-dur a capital”, it might be better termed a command center, as the northern part of Mordor isn’t really a land with farms and villages, as we see in Gondor and even in Rohan, but a vast military installation, agriculture being located to the south — great slave-worked farms away south in this wide realm, beyond the fumes of the Mountain by the dark sad waters of Lake Nurnen”. Instead, as Tolkien describes it through the eyes of Frodo and Sam: …

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11 January

  № 192: Quincy Wheeler

Tolkien Experience Project } Quincy Wheeler

When I was 10 years old, I was given a copy of The Hobbit by our dad. (Our dad had received a copy from his oldest brother when he was around that same age). I was immediately hooked and spent days just reading through all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and talking to my dad about every new event in the books. I then immediately shared it with my siblings, eventually encouraging my 5 younger sisters and 1 younger brother to love them in turn.…

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7 January

  Full-text search

Tolkienists } Erik Mueller-Harder

Tolkienists​.org now includes full site searching! It’s still a first pass, but it’s an honest-to-goodness search function for the entire site. It’s conveniently available from the navigation panel (on the left of your screen if you have a wide-ish display (computers, tablets in landscape) and at the bottom of the page if you have a narrow-ish display (smart phones, tablets in portrait). I’ll be fine-tuning it over the next few days or weeks, but I’m so happy to finally have it basically working for you all!

The thumbnail images that accompany many of our posts should also be a bit better behaved, and will now usually include captions.

I’ll be continuing to work through the backlog of 2021 while keeping up with 2022. I hope you’re finding the site more and more useful as it begins to be as comprehensive as I’ve envisioned it.…

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5 January

  What you eat

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

… Such behavior turns up in more recent literature in two places extremely familiar here. In the first of these, the protagonist finds himself deep under a mountain, facing a peculiar character who speaks his language and even recognizes certain of his customs, but who has plans to eat said protagonist, even while promising to maintain the social norms understood in his agreement to abide by the rules of a riddling game: …

And then there’s this from The Lord of the Rings:

We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man’s‑flesh to eat.” LRC §3.03.025

It’s no wonder, then, that, even though starving, Pippin has this reaction:

An Orc stooped over him, and flung him some bread and a strip of raw dried flesh. He ate the stale grey bread hungrily, but not the meat. He was famished but not yet so famished as to eat flesh flung to him by an Orc…” LRC §3.03.067

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4 January

  № 191: Nadia Wheeler

Tolkien Experience Project } Nadia Wheeler

My Dad and older brother read the books and talked about them to me as their favorite books. We also watched the animated Hobbit movie and Return of the King. When I was 10 I was allowed to read the books myself, which I did, and they became my favorite fiction books.

I love the epic and hopeful tone of the work as well as the hilarious and true to life characters. I appreciate the challenges it offers to me to live better and seek for more truth and justice.…

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3 January

  the Old Took

Kalimac’s Corner } David Bratman

J.R.R. Tolkien was 130 years old today (Monday), the same age reached by his hobbit character the Old Took (Bilbo’s grandfather). Bilbo himself passed it, so we’ll honor him next year. I toasted him with a leftover bottle of Swedish pear cider, the last in the stock of bottles I brought home from Galco’s last July, in the Tolkien Society’s online session. Shaun Gunner read aloud Bilbo’s famous birthday speech, which I guess is traditional. 

Afterwards the 160 or so of us who stuck around were distributed into breakout rooms, where I met a Canadian with an interesting theory I hadn’t heard before: that when the Lord of the Nazgul says Come not between the Nazgul and his prey” to Eowyn, he’s trying to get her out of the way because he doesn’t have Sauron’s permission to kill her as he does for Theoden.…

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  Happy 130th, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Tolkienists } Erik Mueller-Harder

Happy New Year to all, and many happy returns on this, J.R.R. Tolkien’s 130th birthday!

To celebrate, Tolkienists is pleased to announce that all 2021 peer-reviewed articles, standard articles, reviews, notes, and editorials from Journal of Tolkien Research, Mallorn, Mythlore, and Tolkien Studies are listed and cross-referenced, as too are most 2021 issues of Beyond Bree.

It’s my hope over the next week or so to finish up the 2021 publication backlog (the rest of Beyond Bree all issues of Amon Hen and The Journal of Inklings Studies), as well as start whittling away at blog posts, news articles, calls for papers, past conference papers, future conference schedules, and book releases.

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29 December

  Ding-dong the witch isn’t dead?

doubtfulsea } Ollamh

… This idea of persistent evil forms a major feature in the work of Lewis’ friend and fellow Inkling, Tolkien, rather as it does in the 1939 MGM film [The Wizard of Oz]. First, there is Melkor (later Morgoth, a kind of nickname), the rebel Vala, perhaps a kind of archangel, close kin to Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, with his explanation of why he rebelled against God: … After his ultimate defeat by his fellow Valar and his exile through the Door of Night, Melkor/Morgoth’s place is taken by one of what we might think of a lesser angel, a Maia, named, initially, Gorthaur, Melkor/Morgoth’s chief lieutenant. As Annatar, and later as Sauron, he appears and reappears in the Second and Third Ages until, with his Ring destroyed, he vanishes from Middle-earth.…

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28 December

  Site refreshment

Tolkienists } Erik Mueller-Harder

I would like to wish all of our visitors a cathartic and cleansing end to 2021, and a healthy, restorative, and prosperous 2022.

I’d also like to apologize for the recent lack of updates to Tolkienists. In stark contrast to much of the news of 2021, the recent moribund nature of the site is due to an exciting Tolkien-related project capturing most of my time and attention. More information can be found on two recent Facebook posts recently posted by J R R Tolkien Collection — Marquette University Libraries. I’ve republished them on Tolkienists here and here.

But you can expect major updates to our listings at the beginning of the new year, and it is absolutely my intent to then continue daily updates in perpetuity.

In the meantime, Happy New Year!

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