Journal of Tolkien Research

Bradford Lee Eden, editor

Volume 12, № 1

3 June 2021

In this issue: 1 peer-reviewed article, 4 conference papers.

Peer-reviewed articles

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Homecoming” and modern alliterative metre

Anna Smol and Rebecca Foster, 21 May 2021 | p. 3

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son” is a modern English alliterative verse drama written in the metre of Old English poetry and demonstrating his interest in versification and his skill in writing original alliterative verse in new and versatile ways. Tolkien’s originality also lies in his use of alliterative metre in a play, a genre not written by the early English; in fact, The Homecoming” is Tolkien’s only published drama as well as historical fiction. While Tolkien bases this work on historical events recounted in the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon,” he also uses his drama to illustrate some of his scholarly theories about Old English alliterative poetry and poetic tradition and to imagine how The Battle of Maldon” came to be written. Our examination of his careful handling of the play’s verses as well as his detailed study of alliterative metre, evident in his unpublished manuscripts and in his essay on the topic, shows how he creates various styles in modern English alliterative verse, from colloquial and conversational passages to highly styled set pieces. Our discussion includes consideration of the two characters in the play and their views on and use of alliterative poetry.

Conference papers

Faith, hope, and despair in Tolkien’s works

Martina Juričková, 14 April 2021 | p. 1

This paper explores how Tolkien depicts the two of the hierarchically most important Christian virtues — the theological virtues — faith and hope, and the opposing vice to hope, despair, in his Middle-earth tales. Knowing that Tolkien was a devout Catholic who acknowledged implementing elements of his faith into his work, it can be assumed that in the depiction of virtues he was also inspired by their religious understanding. The aim of this paper is to determine to what extent is his depiction of the chosen virtues concordant with their Christian definitions and what purpose they serve plot-wise.

Frodo and Sam’s relationship in the light of Aristotle’s philia

Martina Juričková, 14 April 2021 | p. 2

The aim of this paper is to analyse the relationship of the two major characters of Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam. It tries to find out whether their relationship can be regarded as friendship and what kind of friendship it is. It analyses the relationship of Frodo and Sam and its development according to Aristotle’s teaching on friendship as this was the first and most complex analysis of friendship as a social and philosophical phenomenon. This work comes to the conclusion that Frodo and Sam’s relationship can be understood as an example of perfect, virtuous friendship.

Tolkien, manuscripts, and dialect

2 June 2021 | p. 4

Study of languages, names, and dialects may have been the greatest motivating factor in Tolkien’s scholarship and his fiction: he found in every name (and even in every word) a story to unearth. Clear connections appear between the scholarly vector that connects his investigations into the Gawain-poet (his location and language), the Ancrene Riwle, and locating the linguistic variants in The Reeve’s Tale, for instance, with the creation of the various speech patterns in The Lord of the Rings. Beyond the obvious examples of the Elvish languages Tolkien created, the Westron-Hobbiton dialect that Sam uses, variants among the orcs, and the heightened speech of humans for formal occasions represent ways of writing down how the characters’ speech echoes their origins, location, class, and intentions. The way they speak expresses their sense of identity and affiliation, situationally as well as in class or race. The creation of speech in fiction — for any writer, but perhaps especially for Tolkien — shows an enduring interest in how to move from heard to recorded language to the dramatization of interactions punctuated by variants in spoken, that is, idiolectic, language.

“I Am No Man”: Éowyn and Game of Thrones’ Lyanna Mormont

Kristine Larsen, p. 5

I argue that the success of the HBO television series Game of Thrones’ portrayal of the character of Lyanna Mormont (as well as fan reception of Arya Stark’s unexpected vanquishing of the dreaded Night King) was due in large part to the writers’ ability to simultaneously capitalize on fan-favorite actions of Éowyn in Tolkien’s source material while avoiding less popular aspects of Peter Jackson and company’s depictions of both Éowyn and the original character Tauriel in their film adaptations.

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