The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The Society has so far held two seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien and Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021’. We are delighted to be running 2021’s third and final seminar which will be held online and will be free for all.
The translation of The Lord of the Rings will prove a formidable task, and I do not see how it can be performed satisfactorily without the assistance of the author. That assistance I am prepared to give, promptly, if I am consulted.” — Letter to Allen & Unwin (Letters #188), 3 April 1956
If a story says ‘he climbed a hill and saw a river in the valley below,’ the illustrator may catch, or nearly catch, his own vision of such a scene; but every hearer of the words will have his own picture, and it will be made out of all the hills and rivers and dales he has ever seen. — ‘On Fairy-stories’
Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result. The author’s invented names and languages prompt the question of how the translator should approach Tolkien’s immense mythology. Recent scholarship has emphasised the need for a wider range of Tolkien’s work to be translated in order for readers to gain a fuller understanding of Arda and the author’s development. But with a wealth of translated texts existing already, this seminar hopes to spark new interpretations about old texts and for unacknowledged translations to be brought to light and examined.
An illustrator of his own work, Tolkien had a keen eye for the visual representation of a text. He admired the work of illustrators such as Pauline Baynes, Cor Blok and Ingahild Grathmer (the Queen of Denmark) and others who illustrated the original English and translated versions of his texts. The manner in which illustrators have engaged with Tolkien’s stories varies dramatically and can often be influenced by culturally specific ideas. This seminar hopes to re-examine renowned illustrations of Tolkien’s work while calling for new or overshadowed illustrations to be discussed.