Luke Shelton, editor

Winter, 2021

21 December 2021

In this issue: 3 peer-reviewed articles, 1 editorial, 3 notes, 4 reviews.



Luke Shelton, p. 5

With this issue, we are happy to resume the normal publishing schedule of Mallorn. There have been many exciting changes for the journal over the past year. The most exciting news is that the board of the Tolkien Society voted to make past content of the journal available Open Access, with a two-year rolling embargo. This means that I will be working with my team to make all Mallorn content available online (at journals. tolkienso​ci​ety​.org/​m​a​l​lorn/) with the exception of the two most recent issues. The site will be updated regularly, so please add it to your Tolkien resources. Another important update is that Live Knudsen has stepped down as a copy editor. We wish her the best as she devotes more time to her studies, and we are very happy to welcome Diana Simion, who served as a copy editor on this issue, and Taryn Walls, who also worked on this issue and will stay on staff for future issues. As a final matter of housekeeping, I would like to thank the members of our editorial review board, as well as Timothy Boyd, Melissa Ridley Elmes, and Laura Martin-Gomez, for providing reviews for the articles of this issue.…

Peer-reviewed articles

A song of greater power: Tolkien’s construction of Lúthien Tinúviel

Clare Moore, p. 6

In 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien first shared his great tale’ of Beren and Lúthien with readers through a song Aragorn sings to the hobbits in the wilderness on the way to Rivendell in LRC §1.11.138LRC §1.11.148. This song was a mere hint at a fuller story J.R.R. Tolkien had been working on since 1917, but readers did not see an expanded narrative until the posthumous publication of The Silmarillion by Christopher Tolkien in 1977. Since then, many readers have viewed The Silmarillion as a finished work and believe it to be solely the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, even if the book was edited and published by his son. Douglas Kane, however, points out that both of these premises are false (pp. 23 – 24). Faced with unfinished and varying manuscripts for each story, C. Tolkien made his own decisions about what to include, what to omit, and how to arrange the text, so that the resulting published book is as much the work of his own hands as that of his father’s.…

The service of Samwise: Heroism, imagination, and restoration

Sarah Shahan, p. 17

The perceived heroism of Samwise Gamgee in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology The Lord of the Rings (1955) has cultivated several strong opinions about the overall purpose of Sam’s character in relation to Frodo and the events of the narrative. While there is thorough agreement within Tolkien scholarship that the narrative contains several heroes, and, as Romuald Ian Lakowski claims, there is no single hero” in the story, not even Frodo’ (p. 4), the types of heroes, nevertheless, are often debated. When it comes to Sam specifically, however, the idea of him being a hero at all was at first not entirely acknowledged or accepted.…

The Red Book and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: A fantasic uncertainty!

Vincent Ferré and Pauline Loquin, translator, p. 26

The examination of the connection between the two books shines a light on an uncertainty, a weakness in the statement suggested by The Lord of the Rings: indeed, it presents the Red Book as an authentic historical document but only on the surface. In fact, this assertion is questioned simultaneously, and this is something the readers often forget. These observations bring about a reflection, specific to Tolkien, on the role of literature and its limits in regard to truth and fiction.…


Tolkien’s friend Selby

Douglas A. Anderson, p. 34

One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most interesting early letters is not included in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), but is definitely a significant one. It dates from 14 December 1937 and was written to a friend named Selby. Tolkien wrote, in part: I don’t much approve of The Hobbit myself, preferring my own mythology (which is just touched on) with its consistent nomenclature — Elrond, Gondolin, and Esgaroth have escaped out of it — and organized history, to this rabble of Eddaic-named dwarves out of Voluspa, newfangled hobbits and gollums (invented in an idle hour) and Anglo-Saxon runes.…”

Hyphens as sub-lexical morphemes in The Hobbit

Sparrow Alden, p. 36

J.R.R. Tolkien uses 410 distinct hyphenated words in The Hobbit which appear a total of 669 times. They can be found along with some supporting discussion posts in Alden’s Hyphen Mini-Concordance.” These hyphenated words name things (such as Under-Hill and Bag-End), describe the landscape (Smaug licks the mountain-sides with flame, and leaves rock-shadows dancing), reveal the archaic and fantastic nature of the world (arrow-storm, wolf-guards), and communicate some details of unfamiliar cultures (goblincities, hobbit-girls, elf-prince). Sometimes, these hyphenated words even give readers a taste of foreshadowing (the only people described as grim’ are kings… and Bard of the Lakemen is grim-voiced” and grim-faced” well before he is crowned). Hyphenated words communicate more than semantics.…

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Watling Street?

Kristine Larsen, p. 41

Tolkien’s masterful integration of astronomical allusions into his crafting of Middle-earth is well known. From creating elvish versions of the constellations to poetic explanations for the phases of the moon and eclipses, the legendarium is rich with observations of the night sky and the objects visible therein. It is therefore uncharacteristic of Tolkien to have apparently neglected one of the most awe-inspiring objects visible under dark skies: the Milky Way. This hazy band of light crossing the night sky — the combined light of billions of stars mingled with clouds of gas and dust — traces the plane of our galaxy and its spiral arms. Before the advent of artificial nocturnal illumination (Thomas Edison’s scourge of humanity), some part of the Milky Way was visible in the night sky from every location on earth. Throughout most of Tolkien’s life, light pollution in England had not yet progressed to the extent that it would have completely robbed him of the ability to see it from Oxford, and during the pivotal decades that he was first creating the grand mythology of Middle-earth it would have been impossible to ignore it in the night sky (Larsen, And the Stars Were Hidden,” p. 17).


Middle-earth; or, there and back again: ed. Łukasz Neubauer

Tamsin Barlow and Milton Nye Weatherhead, p. 46

Near the end of 2020, a notably bleak year, Walking Tree Publishers released a collection of well-written, accessible, and thought-provoking essays by Polish scholars that will delight scholars and non-academics alike. Edited by Łukasz Neubauer, this collection looks at the medieval source materials that inspired Tolkien’s imagination. Combined with Tolkien’s lived experience and Catholic faith, these materials influenced, modified, and helped him create something original, according to these scholars. The essays show Tolkien’s treatment of these sources as synergistic, creating work that bridges the medieval and the modern, not only keeping these stories alive, but also imbuing them with potency for audiences today.…

Tolkien and the Classical world

Shawn E. Marchese, p. 47

When J.R.R. Tolkien began his studies at Exeter College in 1911, he was reading in Classics. He had studied Latin and Greek since childhood and, like most products of the English school system of his day, had been brought up on a steady diet of classical authors from Homer to Virgil and everything in between. But even at King Edward’s School a preference for Germanic philology was emerging; in a 1965 letter Tolkien explains a Gothic inscription he had scribbled on a volume of Thucydides as a precocious eighteen-year-old (Letters, pp. 356 – 58). Between stories like this and Humphrey Carpenter’s assertion that Tolkien’s switch to English in 1913 was a reaction to being bored with Latin and Greek authors” (p. 55), it’s no wonder that Tolkien is sometimes viewed as rejecting the classical tradition entirely, championing the merits of Germanic lore over the outraged cries of Oxford scholars blinkered by centuries of Greco-Roman exceptionalism.…

Following the formula in Beowulf, Örvar-Odds saga, and Tolkien: by Michael Fox

Richard Rohlin, p. 49

A recent trend in Tolkien studies has focused on reading and understanding Tolkien as a modern or even a postmodern author, reading his works in conversation with other authors of his time. Works along these lines include both Shippey’s J.R.R. Tolkien: The author of the century as well as Ordway’s recent Tolkien’s modern reading. Ordway’s book in particular offers a major corrective” to the reading of Tolkien as fundamentally medieval and nostalgic.” While such a corrective is valuable, it is possible that in addressing this misconception about Tolkien’s works we create a false dichotomy. Fox’s Following the formula offers a way through the Scylla of medievalism and nostalgia and the Charybdis of modernism: Tolkien, like the author of Beowulf, employed a scheme of formula and variation in interacting with his medieval sources which imbued old words and formulae with fresh perspectives. In doing so, he bridged the gap between the medieval and the modern by employing a freedom of referent and variation shared both by the authors of the Beowulf poem and Örvar-Odds saga.…

Tolkien’s modern reading: Middle-earth beyond the Middle Ages; by Holly Ordway

Putri Prihatini, p. 49

Tolkien’s modern reading: Middle-earth beyond the Middle Ages is Holly Ordway’s meticulous answer to the popular opinion (albeit not the prevailing consensus among scholars) that Tolkien dismissed modern literature. Consisting of twelve chapters, plus image galleries and extensive notes and bibliography, Ordway takes her readers on a journey to explore modern literary works that influenced Tolkien in his writing.…

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date recorded 📅2022-01-01
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