Journal of Tolkien Research

Bradford Lee Eden, editor

Volume 14, № 1

17 March 2022

In this issue: 2 peer-reviewed articles, 1 article, 3 reviews.

Peer-reviewed articles

Subtle speech and use of pronouns in Tolkien’s novels and Old English poetry

Chiara Marchetti, 24 January 2021 | p. 3

In human conversations, verbal exchanges follow rules. Applicable both to Old English poetry and Tolkien’s fiction, rules governing speech set the right quantity and quality of information to be transmitted and provide strategies to avoid conflicts. What is too redundant or scanty in a speech might indicate more layers of meaning, which are implied or suggested.

Language can create or resolve conflicts; the careful use of words and even pronouns can make a difference between self-assertion and cooperation, unity and separation. Such refined linguistic technique is visible in Old English poetry, where dialectal ability is as important as valour, where the hero has to prove he is a talented speaker in order to be acknowledged”, navigating in the complex reality of Anglo-Saxon society.

I compared the use of first person pronouns in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit with Old English poems such as Beowulf, Genesis B and elegies such as The Wanderer, mostly focusing on complex characters like Boromir, Thorin, Denethor, Gollum and Saruman.

Boromir and Beowulf similarly alternate individualistic I” and social we”. Both participate in an episode of flyting”, or verbal duel, where Beowulf’s opponent and Boromir initiate the challenge. Beowulf boldly responds in aggressive terms, in contrast to Boromir’s opponent, Aragorn, who reacts to the challenge peacefully trying to mitigate it. Thorin’s pride is similar to Boromir’s and he equally falls prey to his greed but eventually redeems himself. His use of first-person pronouns resembles Beowulf’s and Boromir’s. Denethor is as proud and self-centered as Satan, both using a profusion of I”. The equivalent of the Old English dual pronoun, we two,” is variously used by Tolkien, particularly by Saruman who creates false alliances to his advantage. Gollum is the best example of alternation of I” and we”, correct or distorted speech reflecting his inner motivation.

Tolkien’s use of language in The Lord of the Rings is extremely accurate. The use of first person pronouns is similar to and as precise as Old English poetry.

Eotenas and Hobbits: Finn and Hengest, and Tolkien’s speculation about origins

Nicholas B. Birns, 10 March 2022 | p. 6

This essay examines Tolkien’s Finn and Hengest, particularly concentrating on Tolkien’s interpretation of the word eotenas as meaning Jutes rather than monsters’. As opposed to Beowulf: The Monsters and The Critics,” where Tolkien emphasizes supernatural elements at the expense of history, Tolkien’s lecture on the Finnsburg episode in Beowulf and the Finnsburg fragment semes to present Hengest as an English national hero, despite the bloodiness and vengeance of his reprisals against Hnaef and the Frisian court. He also, through. I argue that Alan Bliss, who edited and provided commentary on Tolkien’s Hengest, work, actually performs a revisionary move on Tolkien by suggesting Hengest was an Anglian, not a Jute. This is significant as it creates further distance between the English and the continental Goths — often said to be connections of the Geats, who, as Michael Drout pointed out, Tolkien at times wished to identify with the Jutes. The essay concludes by looking at the origin-stories of the Hobbits, and the Rohirrim in Tolkien’s’ legendarium and examining what light Tolkien’s work on the Hengest material sheds on the relation of these


A publication history of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster

Kevin P. Edgecomb, 11 January 2022 | p. 1

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster has been a popular and helpful resource for readers of the Middle-earth fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien for over five decades now. This article presents a publication history of US and UK editions of this work, leading from its [beginnings] in 1966 — the writings of a teenager in a fanzine — to the latest , lavishly illustrated edition of 2003.


Adapting Tolkien (2021): ed. Will Sherwood

Douglas C. Kane, 24 February 2022 | p. 4

A review of Adapting Tolkien: Proceedings of the Tolkien Society Seminar 2020, edited by Will Sherwood. Edinburgh: Luna Press Publishing, 2021. xii, 149 pp. $18.99 ISBN 9781913387693 (trade paperback). Also available in ebook format.

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