Monday, 6 April 2015

Tolkien Transactions LVI

March 2015


Besides much else that has happened in March, I need also to somehow mark the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, or Pterry to many of his fans. Much has been posted about Pratchett in the weeks since he passed away, but as with Tolkien, he leaves his work behind.
Tolkien once wrote that
nowhere does time ‘fly’ so fast compared with daily experience as when sitting and drinking and conversing with dear friends in an inn
If the Universe is, after all, a just place, there will be an inn beyond the Circles of the World – a timeless variant of the Bird & Baby, where a seat will have been made for Pratchett.

See also the following comments:
Daniel Helen, Thursday, 12 March 2015, ‘Terry Pratchett, Tolkien fan and fantasy author, has passed away and
Marcel Aubron-Bulles, Friday, 13 March 2015, ‘AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER. How Discworld shaped my life: Remembering Sir Terry Pratchett (or rather, PTERRY.)
‘Pratchett was lost!’ Said Troels, ‘It is hard indeed to believe that one of so great wisdom, and of power – for many wonderful things he did among us – could perish, and so much lore be taken from the world. Are you sure of this, and that he did not just leave you and depart where he would? Yet, do not despair, for we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Namarië!’


These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.
And of course all of the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or, indeed, any other implication of responsibility) :-)

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: Tolkien Reading Day
2: News
3: Events
4: Essays and Scholarship
5: Commentary
6: Reviews and Book News
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: In Print
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
13: Sources

‘Speed Now This Feathered Shaft’ by Jenny Dolfen
Speed Now This Feathered Shaft
by Jenny Dolfen

= = = = Tolkien Reading Day = = = =

The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Today is Tolkien Reading Day!
Featuring a number of Tolkienists reading favourite passages related to this year's theme of friendship.

Personally, I did a reading in the Copenhagen fantasy & SF book shop, Fantask. I had chosen to read from The Children of Húrin telling the story of the friendship between Túrin and Beleg Cúthalion, from their meeting in the woods of Doriath (told only in passing by the narrator) through to Túrin's arrival to Nargothrond after Beleg's death. I chose this reading in order to focus on some of the less known texts, and to highlight a side of Tolkien's work that often gets overlooked by his critics. All in all the reading itself took about 1½ hours, to which I added a break in the middle (sitting right next to the Pratchett shelves, that break did cost me a couple of books).


Anna Smol, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘International Tolkien Reading Day: Theme of Friendship

Sean Kirst, Thursday, 26 March 2015, ‘Sunday, Tolkien Reading Day in greater Syracuse: Keeping it rolling in the town where it was born


Emily Hewett, Metro, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Tolkien Reading Day 2015: How well do you know The Lord Of The Rings – THE QUIZ

Robin Jenkins, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Happy Tolkien Reading Day! The author had links with Gloucestershire

Joseph Bradford, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Today Is Tolkien Reading Day, How Are You Celebrating?

Kassondra Granata, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Celebrate Tolkien Reading Day With These Six Resources

A couple of the usual collections of inspirational quotations attributed to Tolkien have not met the standard required here and have been omitted. NEVER use a quotation you have found on the internet until you have verified it! And if they do not provide a proper source (at least book and chapter), then don't bother at all.


= = = = News = = = =

Zach Weiner, Tuesday, 3 March 2015, ‘SMBC - Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Just for fun! Forget about those pesky eagles – there are other alternatives ...

Michael Erard, Saturday, 7 March 2015, ‘“Ka Hopita”: Hawaiian translation of “The Hobbit” coming soon
I have never myself been terribly interested in the details of translating Tolkien, but I do think it is interesting to see how translations of Tolkien's work are appearing in some odd languages, where one can expect the translation to be used more as an aid to learning the language through a familiar story than as a way of encountering the story. Personally I prefer to eschew translations if I am at all capable of struggling through a book in the original language, as a translation will never be a fully accurate representation of the original.

Shaun Gunner, Wednesday, 18 March 2015, ‘Middle-earth Weekend to return in Birmingham
Now called the Middle-earth Festival, the event returns after a hiatus to celebrate the links of J.R.R. Tolkien to Sarehole Mill, Moseley Bog and the surrounding area.

Yorkshire Post, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Video: Lord of the Sings as Leeds hears lost Tolkien ballad
On how one might also celebrate the acquisition of a collection of Tolkien-related material (the Gordon-Tolkien collection) ... singing The Root of the Boot. Oh, and of course also about the collection and the poem itself ...
See also:
The Independent, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Singing students remember Tolkien
Western Daily Press, Friday, 19 March 2015, ‘Students start to follow route of JRR Tolkien

Dave Higgens,Times of Malta, Monday, 23 March 2015, ‘Singing in tribute to Tolkien


= = = = Events = = = =

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 12 April 2015, Norfolk Arms Hotel, Arundel, ‘AGM and Springmoot 2015
See also Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 22 March 2015, ‘Tolkien documentary producer Leslie Megahey to be Guest of Honour

10 - 12 April, Burlington, Vermont, ‘Tolkien in Vermont: Medieval Verse Narratives

Tom Shippey, 15 April 2015, Arizona State University, Tempe, ‘Politics in Tolkien: What We Can Learn From Hobbits

‘The Wizard's Tale’ by Jef Murray
The Wizard's Tale
by Jef Murray
Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft, 1 - 3 May 2015, ‘Tolkien Seminar 2015: On Fairy-stories

14 - 17 May 2015, Kalamazoo, Michigan, ‘International Congress on Medieval Studies
See also: John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 11 March 2015, ‘KALAMAZOO! (Tolkien at Kalamazoo)

24 - 27 May 2015, Koszalin University of Technology, Poland, ‘Medieval Fantasy Symposium 2015

Northeast Tolkien Society, 13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference

The Tolkien Society, 4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’

6 - 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015
See particularly Dimitra Fimi, Sunday, 8 February 2015, ‘Tolkien, Fantasy and Medievalism at IMC Leeds 2015

17 - 19 July 2015, Spokane, Washington, USA, ‘Tolkienmoot 2015

Mythopoeic Society, 31 July - 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘MythCon 46
See also John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 11 February 2015, ‘Scholar Guest of Honor, Mythcon 2015
And Monday, 16 February 2015, ‘Mythcon 46 updated Call for Papers

6 - 9 August 2015, The Greisinger Museum, Jenins, Switzerland, ‘Omentielva Enquea

Hungarian Tolkien Society, 3 - 4 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary, ‘5th International Tolkien Conference in Hungary

5 - 6 September 2015, Sarehole, Birmingham, ‘Middle Earth Festival 2015
Formerly known as ‘Middle-earth Weekend’

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2015

5 - 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015


= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Andrew Higgins, February 2015, ‘In Dembith Pengoldh
A highly recommendable article by Andrew Higgins about the very earliest stages of Tolkien's construction of Elvish languages, circa 1915 – 1920.

Anna Smol, Monday, 2 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Dimitra Fimi on Folklore and “Sellic Spell”
Focusing on Tolkien's Sellic Spell in particular, and on Beowulf in general.

Melvyn Bragg et Al., BBC, Thursday, 5 March 2015, ‘In Our Time: Beowulf
A discussion of Beowulf with Laura Ashe, Clare Lees, and Andy Orchard (the current Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford). There are some very interesting points being made (at least for those of us, who have not been taught Beowulf in school or university).

Sherrylin Branchaw, Friday, 13 March 2015, ‘Contextualizing the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien on Literary Criticism
In this second article from the on-line peer-reviewed journal of Tolkien Research, Sherrylyn Branchaw discusses how we might understand Tolkien's various writings on literary criticism and reconsile those with his own practices. This warning to read Tolkien's comments with the context in which they were supposed to be understood in mind follows other work in recent years that propound similar healthy scepticism to a too-literal reading, but Branchaw's article collects the threads nicely, and provides an excellent holistic analysis.

Anna Smol, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: John D. Rateliff, the Hobbit manuscripts, and Tolkien archives
One of the very nice thing about this series from Anna Smol is that she keeps finding things that I didn't know existed – but it is perhaps even better when she posts things that I probably wouldn't have searched for in the first place such as, in this post, the films from the Bodleian and the Marquette (and of course, while context is definitely far from everything, it does matter ...).

University of Leeds, Thursday, 19 March 2015, ‘Collection highlights JRR Tolkien's time at the University of Leeds
Announcing that the University of Leeds has acquired a ‘collection of letters, poems and prose’ including six letters, eleven manuscripts and two books, one of which is a first edition copy of The Hobbit which Tolkien dedicated to Gordon and his family.
See also Elizabeth Ott, Thursday, 14 August 2014, ‘This Just In: A Tolkien Black Swan
In which Ott describes the rare Songs for the Philologists that had, at that point, been recently acquired by the University of Virginia Library.

Anna Smol, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Tolkien Studies at PCA 2015
The PCA conference will probably be over before I get these transactions posted, but reports are unlikely to be up, so for this month the list of Tolkien sessions will have to suffice. Even though I have no interest in neiter fan studies nor the study of adaptations, there are quite a number of sessions, I'd love to hear more about (here's to the wish that the presenters will put up their papers on the 'net ...)

Douglas A. Anderson, Tuesday, 31 March 2015, ‘An updated checklist of Tom Shippey on J.R.R. Tolkien, and Corrections to the printings of TOLKIEN ON FAIRY-STORIES
... I think the headline says it all, really.


= = = = Commentary = = = =

‘Yavanna’ by Jef Murray
Yavanna
by Jef Murray
Lynn Forest-Hill, Tuesday, 3 March 2015, ‘Last Meeting in February
The Southfarthings are reading The Fellowship of the Ring – follow them as they discuss their way from Bree to Rivendell (chapters 9 through 12 of book I) three meetings, including the two meetings in March (see the two posts following this)

Ben ‘Ausserebel’, Sunday, 15 March 2015, ‘This Children of Hurin, God, and Pride
Ben offers some thoughts about The Children of Húrin in this post. I quite agree that this story deserves to be better known (albeit there is some very excellent scholarship done on Túrin such as West's ‘Túrin's Ofermod’ in Tolkien's Legendarium or Nagy's ‘The Great Chain of Reading’ in Tolkien the Medievalist). Ben writes about the ethic ambiguity in this tale with its mix of especially Finnish and Norse sources and ethics, but unfortunately he spends more time criticising the approach taken by Corey Olsen than he does expounding his own analysis. It has been quite a while since I listened to the lectures Ben refers to, but as I recall it, I would agree that Olsen's analysis tended towards the overly simple, albeit, as has been pointed out excellently by Branchaw this month, we really ought to understand the context in which the lectures are given.
Ben continues his criticism of Olsen's analysis as being overly simple in the following post, though there referring to a podcast I do not think I've heard. One point that strikes me in this case, however, is the discussion of death as the Gift of Ilúvatar. Far too many commentators (including scholars) tend to forget that the Gift is primarily one of freedom – of freedom from the Music “which is as fate to all things else” and that it is merely “one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it” – death, thus, is not the gift in and of itself, but is inextricably tied with the freedom and the greater fate (to make everything “in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest”).

C Mountford, The Sentinel, Wednesday, 25 March 2015, ‘Did Staffordshire inspire Tolkien's Middle Earth?
I really do not know, but it did certainly inspire some minor aspects of Middle-earth, particularly in it's first telling in The Book of Lost Tales. However, not nearly as much as they would like you to believe (I will admit that I find it frustrating how these things tend to go way beyond the known facts, which in this case are interesting enough in themselves, and into the realm ... well, claims with an even more tenuous relation to facts than mere speculation; presumably just to be able to claim some sort of causal connection between Tolkien's best-known works and some particularly loved place or story ...)

Russ Linton, Friday, 27 March 2015, ‘There's a Vulcan in My Tolkien
For Russ Linton the news of the death of Leonard Nimoy eventually sent him through Nimoy's famous (or should that be infamous?) rendition of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins on to a quest for Tolkien-related music – a search that he has written about here.

Anna Smol, Saturday, 28 March 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Dawn Walls-Thumma on transformative works
I generally have very little patience for studies of ‘Tolkien fandom’, and, paraphrasing Tolkien, I admit that ‘I am a man of limited sympathies (but well aware of it), and [fan fiction] lies almost completely outside them’. I have read, and enjoyed, a few pieces of fan fiction, but I do so in sympathy for the author of the fan fiction, and in spite of it being fan fiction. Also, I firmly believe in the supremacy of the author within his own sub-creation as the only common ground worth discussing – I generally find other people's ideas about how they think things ought to be within Tolkien's sub-creation to be quite uninteresting, whereas an well-argued idea about how Tolkien might have thought they were can be very interesting.
With this starting point, it will be no surprise that I found little that resonated with me in this talk, and the best I can say is that at least I have absolutely nothing against others doing what they like as long as they'll allow me to ignore it (and no, I don't think it is inferior – it is just not my thing at all; inferior work is being done, and unfortunately also published, within all approaches, but so is superior work).

Elise Ringo, Tuesday, 31 March 2015, ‘They Are No Men: Tolkien's 6 Most Bad-Ass Forgotten Ladies
It would be presumptuous of me to say that Elise Ringo (the name makes me presume it's a woman) misses the point with this article, but I can hopefully say that she doesn't address the point that I would find the more interesting. When she emphasises six strong female characters from Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium (Lúthien, Haleth, Idril, Aredhel, (Tar-)Ancalimë, and Galadriel), she picks six characters of legend, only two of which (Lúthien and Galadriel) were ever fleshed out in a more detailed portrait, and all of whom are portrayed in what in Northrop Frye's system would be the romantic or high mimetic modes. This means that they are all larger than life – worthless as exemplars of gender or race. Tolkien did have a problem portraying women, but obviously not one that extended to women of legend. Éowyn was omitted from this list, but she, too, is (mostly) portrayed in the high mimetic mode and too far removed from the reader (at least if the reader has a realistic view of her- or himself) to provide a role model. The few women we do get that are closer us – e.g. Ioreth of Gondor, Rose Cotton and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins of the Shire – are all portrayed very sketchily, making them feel as much as charicatures of women roles than as actual and living characters. The effect is that (at least in the three big ones – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) there are no strong women who have that sense of being realistic people. Personally I think it is possible that Tolkien, consciously or sub-consciously, avoided writing ‘real’ because he wasn't good at it (whether he realised this or not, I couldn't say).


= = = = Reviews and Book News = = = =

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, Sunday, 1 March 2015, ‘Art of The Lord of the Rings Pre-Order
The excellent news that the next book by Hammond and Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is now available for pre-order, with expected publication date on 13 October. at first look it seems that the Houghton Mifflin edition is on pre-order also on Amazon.co.uk, but this may merely be a temporary thing.

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, Saturday, 7 March 2015, ‘Art of The Lord of the Rings Update
Announcing the UK edition by HarperCollins to be published on 8 October this year ...

Nancy Marie Brown, Tuesday, 24 March 2015, ‘Trolls: An Unnatural History, by John Lindow
A review of a book by John Lindow that takes a look into the history of the Troll. This might be a good place to start for anyone wanting to know more about the background also for the Olog-hai of Tolkien's works.


= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘The Wizard's Tale
A painting of tale-telling in Middle-earth ...

‘The Ring Goes South’ by Jef Murray
The Ring Goes South
by Jef Murray
Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘The Ring Goes South
A painting of Gandalf and Frodo, presumably during the journey west of the Misty Mountains (somewhere in Eregion would be my guess).

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Yavanna
A sketch of Yavanna.

Jef Murray, Saturday, 21 March 2015, ‘Uinen
A sketch of Uinen.

Jenny Dolfen, Sunday, 29 March 2015, ‘Speed now this feathered shaft
A watercolour of Fingon getting ready to shoot Maedhros to release the latter from the pain of his imprisonment by Morgoth.


= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Andrew Higgins, Sunday, 1 March 2015, ‘Well....I am Back!
After completing his Ph.D. on ‘the Genesis of Tolkien's Mythology’ (see also last month), Andrew Higgins has returned to his own blog, Wotan's Musings. With the projects Andy Higgins is sketching in this post, it would seem a good idea to follow his blog and his Academia.edu profile closely.

David Bentley, Birmingham Mail, Monday, 9 March 2015, ‘Moseley nostalgia: 21 atmospheric images show past of Tolkien's “lost paradise”
21 images from Moseley Village, from circa 1914 up to 1992.


= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

Ursula Le Guin, Monday, 2 March 2015, ‘95. “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”
It is perhaps not entirely fair to hide this in the discussions section, but Ursula Le Guin has in two posts reacted to some statements by Kazuo Ishiguro regarding the fantasy genre in general. The two posts (numbers 95 and 96) are Le Guin's side of the discussion, but with links to Ishiguro's statements.
If only all internet discussions were conducted with this kind of attention and readiness to acknowledge a misunderstanding.

LotR Plaza, , ‘Book of Lost Tales Readthrough?
A read-through discussion of The Book of Lost Tales, which has so far covered the foreword and the first chapter.


= = = = In Print = = = =

Tolkien Studies XI
March saw my copy of Tolkien Studies XI finally arriving. The story behind this is, I hope, amusing enough to justify sharing it. I ordered my copy in the latter part of November, knowing that it was a little delayed, and about New Year, I started noticing that several friends had received their copies – including friends in Europe, but I wanted to give it ample time before writing West Virginia University Press about the problem.
Between this and being quite busy overall, I didn't really get around to writing them, but on 18 March Andrew Higgins wrote something on the Tolkien Society Facebook Group that made me remember again, and that made me write them at 14:42 (all times are Danish, or CET). They quickly promised to send a new copy, and after a bit back and forth, at 17:42 I got confirmation that it would be taken care of.
All of this, as the times will suggest, happened while I was at work, but when I arrived home that evening, I found the my copy, which must have been under way since about New Year, waiting for me. I immediately wrote the nice people at the WVU (at 19:23), and they were fortunately able to stop the new copy from being sent. But what a strange turn of events!

I have, of course, remained busy, and have not had time to read the whole volume yet, but I have managed to read Verlyn Flieger's contribution, ‘But What Did He Really Mean?’, in which she addresses some of the questions where Tolkien seems to be saying two opposing things about his own work – the question of conscious Christianity, the question of the independent reality of Elves and Faërie, and (interestingly) Faërian drama. Flieger's paper is more nuanced and balanced than what I have seen elsewhere, and as usual she seems to understand Tolkien's intentions, and Tolkien's struggles, better than nearly all others.


= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Wheaton College, The Marion E. Wade Center, ‘Audio and Video on Tolkien
Various talks on Tolkien from the Marion E. Wade Center – well worth listening to!

Mythgard Institute, ‘The Book of Lost Tales, Part II
A lecture series with Corey Olsen and co-lecturers about The Book of Lost Tales II (the last two lectures to be held in April).

‘Uinen’ by Jef Murray
Uinen
by Jef Murray

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from March 2015

Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy
Archive of posts from March 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from March 2015

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from March 2015

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Archive of posts from March 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from March 2015

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from March 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from March 2015

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from March 2015

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from March 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from March 2015

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from March 2015

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from March 2015


= = = = Sources = = = =

No new sources in March 2015

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Tolkien Transactions LV

February 2015

First, heartfelt congratulations to Dr Andrew Higgins upon receiving his Ph.D. for his thesis, The Genesis of Tolkien's Mythology. Eglerio! A laita se!

February appears to have been a fairly quiet month – either that, or I have been too busy to notice most of what I would otherwise have seen (which is also entirely likely). In any case it has suited me fine, as I would otherwise have found it difficult to create this write-up in time. This of course means that I need to stress the usual disclaimer about completeness even more – the ones about newness and relevance obviously still applying as well :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: News
2: Events
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Web Sites
10: The Blog Roll
11: Sources

= = = = News = = = =

Alison Flood, The Guardian, Thursday, 26 February 2015, ‘JRR Tolkien falls off children's most popular books list
It is perhaps telling of Tolkien's status, that it is his dropping off the list that makes the headline. I am not sure that this is a problem, actually – without knowing the quality of many of the books that have made the list, The Hobbit is, in my opinion, not a particularly good children's book (read Astrid Lindgren if you want good children's books!), and Tolkien's other works for children (Roverandom, Mr Bliss, Letters from Father Christmas, etc.) are not well known.
However, see also Daniel Helen, Saturday, 28 February 2015, ‘Tolkien's works fall in list of most popular children's books
in which Daniel Helen goes a bit deeper into the numbers and find Tolkien: e.g. with The Lord of the Rings in sixth place for the 9 - 11 years old.

‘The Voyage of Eärendil’ by Joe Gilronan
Joe Gilronan
The Voyage of Eärendil

= = = = Events = = = =

Anna Smol, Wednesday, 4 February 2015, ‘Tolkien conference season 2015
As a very handy service to those seeing out Tolkien conferences. Most are in the US, but there's a few in England as well, and the Deutsches Tolkien Gesellschaft's conference in Aachen in May. I haven't yet given up entirely on getting to Oxonmoot this year. Anna Smol lists a couple of conferences without a specific Tolkien track / area that I have decided to omit from the list below.

24 January - 22 March 2015, Milan, Italy, ‘The Magic of the Ring
An art exhibition in Milan.

Andy Orchard, 2 March 2015, Pembroke College, Oxford, ‘Tolkien and Beowulf: a match made in Pembroke

John Garth, 3 March 2015, Hudson Library & Historical Society, ‘Tolkien & the Great War

M. Lee Alexander, 11 March 2015, Turku, Finland, ‘Tolkien and Finland

Michael Drout, 23 March 2015, Mythgard Institute, on-line, ‘Lexomic Analysis of Beowulf and J.R.R. Tolkien's Scholarship on the Poem: A Confluence.

25 March 2015, World wide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day
Please do get your tales and reports about the Tolkien Reading Day 2015 on-line before the end of March and send me a note stating this :-)
John Garth, 25 March 2015, Sam Houston State University, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien and the Great War

1 - 4 April 2015, New Orleans, Louisiana, ‘Popular Culture/American Culture Association National Conference
With a Tolkien track organised by Robin Reid.

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 12 April 2015, Norfolk Arms Hotel, Arundel, ‘AGM and Springmoot 2015

10 - 12 April, Burlington, Vermont, ‘Tolkien in Vermont: Medieval Verse Narratives

Tom Shippey, 15 April 2015, Arizona State University, Tempe, ‘Politics in Tolkien: What We Can Learn From Hobbits

Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft, 1 - 3 May 2015, ‘Tolkien Seminar 2015: On Fairy-stories

14 - 17 May 2015, Kalamazoo, Michigan, ‘International Congress on Medieval Studies

24 - 27 May 2015, Koszalin University of Technology, Poland, ‘Medieval Fantasy Symposium 2015

Northeast Tolkien Society, 13 June 2015, Baruch College, New York, ‘New York City Tolkien Conference

The Tolkien Society, 4 July 2015, Leeds, ‘Tolkien Society Seminar 2015
Theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Middle-earth’

6 - 9 July 2015, Leeds, ‘International Medieval Congress 2015
See particularly Dimitra Fimi, Sunday, 8 February 2015, ‘Tolkien, Fantasy and Medievalism at IMC Leeds 2015

17 - 19 July 2015, Spokane, Washington, USA, ‘Tolkienmoot 2015

Mythopoeic Society, 31 July - 3 August 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ‘MythCon 46
See also John D. Rateliff, Wednesday, 11 February 2015, ‘Scholar Guest of Honor, Mythcon 2015
And Monday, 16 February 2015, ‘Mythcon 46 updated Call for Papers

6 - 9 August 2015, The Greisinger Museum, Jenins, Switzerland, ‘Omentielva Enquea

Hungarian Tolkien Society, 3 - 4 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary, ‘5th International Tolkien Conference in Hungary

5 - 6 September 2015, Sarehole, Birmingham, ‘Middle Earth Festival 2015
Formerly known as ‘Middle-earth Weekend’

The Tolkien Society, 10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2015

5 - 7 December 2015, ‘Italian Ringers Con 2015


= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Chris Bateman, International Journal of Play, Thursday, 15 May 2014, ‘What are we playing with? Role-taking, role-play, and story-play with Tolkien's legendarium
One of the wonderful things about other people knowing about one's interest in Tolkienian matters is that they'll forward things they think I would like to see – and often they are exactly right.
Somehow I cannot imagine Tolkien, author of You & Me – and the Cottage of Lost Play, as being opposed to his work (and its various derivatives) being used to aid an argument drawing the lines between the imaginative engagement involved in the Secondary Belief of the adult reader and the play of child.
“Now consider the case of a teenage geek watching the movie of The fellowship of the ring with a copy of the alphabetical reference encyclopaedia The Tolkien companion (Tyler & Reilly, 1976) and the atlas The journeys of Frodo (Strachey, 1981) at hand.” [...] “If this seems a contrived example, consider that the teenage geek could achieve much the same effect by watching the movie and using a smartphone to access equivalent information from internet resources. For that matter, many Tolkien geeks will have in memory a significant volume of the information that is present in such reference resources” ... well, I really have no idea what he's referring to ;-)

‘Glorfindel’s return to Rivendell’ by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen
Glorfindel’s return to Rivendell
John D. Rateliff, Monday, 2 February 2015, ‘A New Idea About Madlener
As Douglas Anderson has noted in his Annotated Hobbit, the story in Carpenter's biography about Tolkien buying the post card with Josef Madlener's picture, Der Berggeist, on his 1911 trip cannot be true, because the picture wasn't painted until much later. But when was it produced as a post card? And did Tolkien really see this picture anywhere before creating his Gandalf character? This is the topic of this blog post by John Rateliff, which is followed by an interesting discussion. Overall it seems to me that David Bratman has the right of it – regardless of when the post card was produced, it seems more likely that Tolkien misremembered than that he saw this picture anywhere before inventing his Gandalf character.

Joseph Pearce, Monday, 2 February 2015, ‘Tolkien, Trees, and Tradition
Early on in this article, Joseph Pearce says about the ents that “They were in Middle-Earth long before the Elves.” As I suspect most of my readers will see, this is wrong (at least he does remember the hyphen in Middle-earth even if he does capitalise the second part), but it is a minor point – just a bridging quotation that is never used, so why bother? This question is discussed in Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night:
‘The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time. If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention. And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.’
Sayers, Dorothy L. (2012-07-31). Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Book 12) (p. 373). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
In Sayer's book this is extended to apply to all scholarly pursuits, and this focus on the methods of the scholarly pursuits of knowledge is one of the things I do like about this book (Tolkien, famously, did not like it, though he had liked the preceding Peter Wimsey novels). Needless to say, I do agree with this, and as Joseph Pearce, regardless of the particular context, wishes to be seen as a scholar of Tolkien, I think such errors are indeed problematic.
As for the remainder of the article, it has little to do with Tolkien, and is more about Joseph Pearce's views about tradition. This is not necessarily uninteresting, but if you seek insights into Tolkien, it is poor fare.

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Tuesday, 3 February 2015, ‘The Means Justify the Ends: Ilúvatar's Reverse Pragmatism
This is a very interesting discussion that takes as its starting point the small story about Aulë's creation of the Dwarves. It is, perhaps, a bit surprising that McIntosh doesn't bring into the discussion Ilúvatar's earlier admonition of Melkor – the one with “no theme may be played that has not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite” – which seems to me to play on the same themes as McIntosh' discussion here. Had it not been for such other references, I think it could be argued that McIntosh takes the text about Aulë and the Dwarves a little too serious, but as there are other ideas that seem to resonate well with this idea, it becomes more difficult to dismiss it.
See also the short note from the following day relating to this discussion, Aulë as the anti-Prometheus
.
Anna Smol, Friday, 6 February 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Reflecting on Ruins with Michael Drout
In her Talks on Tolkien series, Anna Smol has reached Michael Drout's excellent lecture on ‘How to Read J.R.R.Tolkien’, which she juxtaposes with the Old English poem The Ruin. I wish I had something intelligent to add to that, but I can only add my encouragement to go watch this – all of it!

Mythgard Institute, Friday, 6 February 2015, ‘The Book of Lost Tales, Part II
A series of Mythgard Academy classes focusing on “Tolkien’s first attempt to develop and integrate his great tales,” and on ‘the radical shift in Tolkien’s thought that began to take place around the time when he abandoned the Lost Tales”. These classes are tuition-free and publicly available.

Dimitra Fimi, Saturday, 14 February 2015, ‘A little Elvish love story in The Lord of the Rings
A fresh look at the love story of Nimrodel and Amrod of Lothlórien, and some educated guesses at possible sources. Timed, of course, for Valentine's Day, this charming piece is nonetheless also interesting and based in solid scholarship.

Anna Smol, Sunday, 15 February 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Janet Brennan Croft talks about Tolkien's views on war
A recording of Janet Brennan Croft from Oklahoma State University. Part of a series on marking the centenary of the Great War, the talk focuses on Tolkien's war-time experiences, but also branches out to his experiences in the Second World War. I hadn't seen this before, so thanks a lot to Anna Smol for sharing it! The talk about Tolkien is juxtaposed with excerpts from an interview with George R.R. Martin, whose war was the Vietnam war, which he didn't fight in.

Anna Smol, Friday, 20 February 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: John Garth and Tolkien's Great War
Having watched the video with John Garth from the 2014 Oxonmoot, I recommend also watching the interview with John Garth that was made at that Oxonmoot as well as the video made for King Edward's School.

Jon S. Mackley, Saturday, 28 February 2015, ‘The Anglo Saxons and their gods (still) among us
This paper presents itself as “fourth in a series of independent papers that considers England’s lost mythology” ... need I say more?


= = = = Commentary = = = =

David Bratman, Tuesday, 17 February 2015, ‘Tolkien and Quisling
On why Tolkien (probably) was not the first writer to use the word ‘quisling’ in English as a term for a kind of traitor against one's country. The opposite (i.e. that Tolkien was indeed the first to do so, specifically in his lecture On Fairy-stories) has apparently been claimed somewhere (Bratman politely abstains from naming names), but it is so unlikely that it deserves to ignored.

Shaun Gunner, Sunday, 22 February 2015, ‘Middle-earth will return to our screens again
Apparently the statement contained in the headline could be regarded as debateable, though, to me, it appears closer to a truism than to a debateable statement. Even books that have been adapted i such extremely iconic films such as e.g. The Wizard of Oz have produced again, and regardless of what one might otherwise think of Bakshi's, Rankin & Bass', Jackson's and other's efforts, none of them have the quality of being definitive (in the way that Brian Sibley's radio play has, so far, proven the definite adaptation of its form). The amount of dissatisfaction with all of these adaptations of The Lord of the Rings among readers of Tolkien, while obviously far from universal, is enough to highlight that there is more to be done about adapting Tolkien's epic romance as live-action film. That, obviously, does not have to mean that I am looking forward to this, but in some ways, I think that there is, for those of us who love and study Tolkien's life and work, an argument to be made for this being a case of ‘the more the merrier’ – the more adaptations, the more the Tolkien's books will stand out.

Christina Scull, Friday, 27 February 2015, ‘I Didn't Know What I Was Getting Into
A charming mix of personal reminiscing about an early devotion to Tolkien, and commentary on Bakewell and Sibley's radio play adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. I cannot decide which aspect is best – do read it for yourself and I hope you will be as charmed as I was.


= = = = Reviews and Book News = = = =

John D. Rateliff, Sunday, 1 February 2015, ‘The New Arrivals (nine books)
Some brief comments on ten new books related to Tolkien (if one counts the e-book single by Simon J. Cook). A couple of these books are parodies, which is not really something I have managed to develop a taste for (apart from that which arises in conversations in various fora and is funny in the situation). I am pleased to see Rateliff sharing my sceptic approach to The Hobbit Party, which seems to me to belong in the category of oddball or strongly projection biased books that Rateliff occasionally reads (he acknowledes the “seeking out and reading a series of oddball books on Tolkien” himself, and these tend to often display a very strong projection bias to some favourite, usually crackpot, idea of the author's – lumping The Hobbit Party with these, however, is exclusively my own judgement based on what I have read about it, including what I have read by its authors).

John D. Rateliff, Monday, 9 February 2015, ‘PERILOUS & FAIR (New Arrival/New Publication)
The list of contents for the new volume on Tolkien and women, Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan. Being rather busy lately, I haven't got around to buying this one yet, but I am looking very much forward to the reviews, and it is already high on my wish list.

Daniel Helen, Thursday, 26 February 2015, ‘Pocket edition of Smith of Wootton Major published
This is the extended version edited by Verlyn Flieger and containing Tolkien's charming and wonderful essay about Smith of Wootton Major and the nature of Faëry in general. If you don't have the original edition of this work, make sure to get this one!


= = = = Interviews = = = =

Jo Fahy, Swissinfo, Thursday, 5 February 2015, ‘How John Howe turns Tolkien's words into film
Possibly the headline is just a bit of an exaggeration – I seem to remember hearing that there were other people involved as well. But John Howe's quiet and humble nature manages to escape through the filter of the interviewer, making for an interesting interview whenever John Howe's words are quoted verbatim.


= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Graeme Skinner, Tuesday, 3 February 2015, ‘The Troll That Sat Alone
February's theme at John Howe's web-site has been trolls, and Grame led the Tolkien-related trolls with a pen-and-ink illustration of the troll of Sam's song.

‘The Elvenking’ by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen
The Elvenking
Graeme Skinner, Saturday, 7 February 2015, ‘More of that troll
And here is the above troll done up nicely with paint.

Jenny Dolfen, Saturday, 14 February 2015, ‘Glorfindel's return to Rivendell
Jenny Dolfen is back in Middle-earth!! Hooray! Though I do love her Darkness Over Cannae, I also do find Jenny's Middle-earth paintings more enchanting.

Jenny Dolfen, Wednesday, 18 February 2015, ‘The Elvenking
“In a great hall with pillars hewn out of the living stone sat the Elvenking on a chair of carven wood. On his head was a crown of berries and red leaves, for the autumn was come again.” The Hobbit, chapter IX ‘Barrels Out of Bound’


= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Jeroen Bakker, Monday, 2 February 2015, ‘Part 1: Music from Middle-earth
And Part 2
Jeroen Bakker takes the reader on a tour on through the world of music inspired by Tolkien's work. Bakker clearly knows his subject very well (though I would personally put all authorised works that set music to Tolkien's own words in the same category of ‘Music from within the legendarium’ – but then I am not so terribly impressed with most of Donald Swann's compositions for The Road Goes Ever On) and gives a good indication of the scope of music that has been associated with Tolkien (both in terms of genre and ... shall we say, actual engagement with Tolkien's work).


= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Marion E. Wade Center, Audio and Video on Tolkien
A collection of audio and video of talks on Tolkienian topics.

Kristine Larsen, The (Nearly) Discarded Image: Tolkien’s Later Tinkerings with His Medieval Cosmology
The text to Kristine Larsen's paper for the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies – Kalamazoo 2014. Unfortunately it seems that the linked PowerPoint is not available.

‘The Shire: Frodo And Sam Making Plans’ by Joe Gilronan
Joe Gilronan
The Shire: Frodo And Sam Making Plans

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from February 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from February 2015

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from February 2015

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Archive of posts from February 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from February 2015

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from February 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from February 2015

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Recent news from the Mythopoeic Society

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from February 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from February 2015. The Southfarthings are still working their way through The Lord of the Rings with many interesting and thought-provoking comments along the way.

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from February 2015

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from February 2015

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from February 2015

= = = = Sources = = = =

New sources in February 2015

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Tolkien Transactions LIV

January 2015

All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: The Birthday Toast
2: News
3: Events
4: Essays and Scholarship
5: Commentary
6: Reviews and Book News
7: Interviews
8: Tolkienian Artwork
9: Other Stuff
10:Rewarding Discussions
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
13: Sources

= = = = Birthday Toast = = = =

In celebration of Tolkien's life and works, his birthday on January 3rd is celebrated each year at 9 PM by toasting “The Professor”. This is what is known as the birthday toast.
This year we celebrated the professor's 123rd birthday – or dozenty-third, or twelfty-third, if you wish.

The Tolkien Society, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘Tolkien Birthday Toast 2015
The Tolkien Society's official page for the birthday toast.
Daniel Helen, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘Raise a glass to the Professor in honour of his 123rd birthday
Grey Havens Group, ‘To the Professor!
David Bratman, ‘to the Professor
The One Ring.net, ‘It's time for the Tolkien Toast!
James Moffat, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘A toast to the Professor ...
John Rateliff, , ‘Happy Tolkien's Birthday!
Erick Mack, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘Celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien's twelvety-third birthday with a traditional toast
Brittany Levine, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien fans toast to 'the professor' on his 123rd birthday

<i>Ulmo Rises<7i> by Jef Murray
Jef Murray
Ulmo Rises

= = = = News = = = =

Judee Cosentino, The Sun Chronicle, Monday, 11 August 2014, ‘Diving into Tolkien's world at Wheaton College
Part of the catching up from my hiatus, a rather nice article about the 2014 MythCon at Wheaton College.

The Tolkien Society, Friday, 16 January 2015, ‘British Library to preserve earliest known Tolkien voice recording from 1929
The news that a recording that Tolkien made for the Linguaphone Conversational Course in English can be found on the British Library web-site as part of the ‘Save Our Sounds’ project. The recording can be heard here.
Also read Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Friday, 16 January 2015, ‘Listen to rare Tolkien recording: At the Tobacconist's – and help the British Library save its audio collection
Marcel Aubron-Bülles provides many details that are not available on the above sites (thanks, Marcel!).

Spark IO, Tuesday, 16 December 2014, ‘WarSting Project Demo!
Just for fun! “true courage is about knowing, not when to take an unencrypted network, but when to spare it ...”

Staffordshire Newsletter, Tuesday, 20 January 2015, ‘Follow in the footsteps of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien on three new walks at Cannock Chase
The AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beuty) organisation and the local Walsall Ramblers have created three walks in Staffordshire that go through areas Tolkien would have visited when he was stationed in Staffordshire. Also see the event for Tuesday 3rd February.


= = = = Events = = = =

Penkridge Library, Tuesday, 3 February 2015, ‘Staffordshire J.R.R. Tolkien Trail: Great Haywood
For National Libraries Day, Penkridge Library in Staffordshire has arranged a walk guided by local historian David Robbie that will visit places which Tolkien visited and which appear in his early Book of Lost Tales. If anyone comes across a report from this walk (and even more so if it includes photographs) I would be very interested!

Penkridge Library, Tuesday, 3 February 2015, ‘Tolkien's Staffordshire Talk
Following the walk describe above, David Robbie will also give a talk at Penkridge Library on Tolkien's Staffordshire.

The Tolkien Society, Friday, 10 April 2015, ‘AGM and Springmoot 2015
Special guest is the actor and writer Robert Hardy.

Tolkien in Vermont, Friday, 10 April 2015, ‘12th Annual Tolkien in Vermont Conference
For a bit more details, see Anna Smol's post, Tolkien in Vermont 2015.

Northeast Tolkien Society, Saturday, 13 June 2015, ‘New York Tolkien Conference 2015
At Baruch College and with a keynote speech by Janet Brennan Croft.

The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 10 September 2015, ‘Oxonmoot 2015
Oxonmoot ... what else is necessary to say?


= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Verlyn Flieger, day, 5 July 2014, ‘Imaginary creatures -- real experience
Verlyn Flieger speaking at TEDxUMD. Verlyn Flieger speaks of one of my favourite characters in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo (Faramir, Aragorn, and Gandalf are other favourites), and of failure as an inevitable aspect of the human experience. Flieger is, as always, brilliant.

Christina Fawcett, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien and the morality of monstrosity
A 2014 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Glasgow. I have only had time to skim the introduction and read the table of contents, but it does look promising ...

Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, Sunday, 4 January 2015, ‘ Reader's Companion Addenda & Corrigenda
Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull have worked on the addenda and corrigenda to their books, and have updated the pages for their The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion for the original version as well as for the two revised editions. As always, I am very grateful to the two scholars for their great work and diligence.

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Tuesday, 6 January 2015, ‘Tolkien, Servant of the Secret Fire
Sometimes a new insight need not be more than connecting the dots in a new way. That is certainly what Jonathan McIntosh does here (at least in a way that is new for me), when he connects Tolkien's description of the TCBS as having “been granted some spark of fire” with Gandalf's self-identification as a “servant of the Secret Fire”. McIntosh unfolds some interesting perspectives on this way of connecting the dots.
See also the follow-up: Wednesday, 7 January 2015, ‘“Lord of the Rings” as Narya, the Ring of Fire
In which McIntosh relates the discussion to the powers of Narya, the Ring of Fire, on the hand of Gandalf, and to Gandalf's mission.

<i>Elanor & the Ent</i> by Jef Murray
Jef Murray
Elanor & the Ent
Sandra Alvarez, Tuesday, 6 January 2015, ‘Trolls in the Middle Ages
An article on the many conceptions of trolls that were bandied about in the Middle Ages. We know that Tolkien was interested in the Icelandic trolls, and Rateliff suggests that his sources, insofar as he had any specific sources, would include eddic trolls, but it as also been suggested that he asked for stories about trolls from the Icelandic au pairs.

Carl Hostetter, Saturday, 10 January 2015, ‘A Glossary of Elvish Terms in Fragments on Elvish Reincarnation
What it says, really. The ‘Fragments on Elvish Reincarnation is published in J.R.R. Tolkien, l’éffigie des Elfes. I hope that the text will soon be made available to the world-wide Tolkien community in an English publication.

Jonathan S. McIntosh, Saturday, 10 January 2015, ‘Making Things To Be What They are: Aristotle, Stoicism, and Tolkien
When I started reading this, I did not quite see where Aristotle and the Stoics might lead us, but it became clear eventually. The discussion of the relations between the objective reality of the thing, the sensing of the thing and the perception of the thing is quite interesting. Coming to this from the perspective of a modern scientist, I need to be careful of projection bias (as a physicist, for instance, my definitions of sound and smoke, obviously, make the Aristotelian and the Stoic views rather nonsensical), but it seems to me that McIntosh is creating a distinction here that I am not sure that Tolkien would agree with. As Tolkien writes in ‘On Fairy-stories’, “The incarnate mind, the tongue, and the tale are in our world coeval”, and I think that Tolkien would protest that our perception of the thing cannot be distinguished from our naming of the thing and our story-telling about the thing. To be fair, this may be what McIntosh is hinting at, and I merely fail to understand him fully.
On a somewhat related note, I was struck (probably because, being behind on my Tolkienian reading, I read these two articles within a few days) by some of the ideas expressed by Jordan Gaines Lewis in her article Friday, 30 January 2015, ‘How storytelling improves science
and particularly in the TED talk video she links to, in which she discusses our perception of the passage of time – a topic that is, of course, highly relevant in a Tolkienian context (Flieger's A Question of Time anyone?).

Pritha Kundu, Sunday, 18 January 2015, ‘The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal
An article from War, Literature & the Arts vol. 26 (2014) discussing The Lord of the Rings as war-literature engaging with the Anglo-Saxon war-culture.

Jane Beal, Journal of Tolkien Reasearch, Friday, 23 January 2015, ‘ Orphic Powers in J.R.R. Tolkien's Legend of Beren and Lúthien
The first article from the on-line open-access Journal of Tolkien Research. I

Simon Cook, Friday, 23 January 2015, ‘Changing faces of Britain's natives
Related, doubtlessly, to his research into the imaginative origins of Tolkien's Hobbits, this article about the (pre-Briton)natives of Britain discusses literary echoes of especially John Rhys' ideas about the pre-Briton population. I remain sceptical about the relative weight that Cook attaches to this source, but I am convinced that he is right that John Rhys' ideas constitute one of the sources for Tolkien's concept of the Hobbits.

Anna Smol, Sunday, 25 January 2015, ‘New winter series: Talks on Tolkien
There are a number of great Tolkien talks available on the web as video or sometimes as just audio. Collecting some of these as a winter series, offering some context and discussion is a brilliant idea, so start by watching this excellent talk by Verlyn Flieger and reflect on the two descriptions of Tolkien's portrayal of good and evil in The Lord of the Rings – and then keep your eye on A Single Leaf for more in this series by Anna Smol.

Anna Smol, Saturday, 31 January 2015, ‘Talks on Tolkien: Tom Shippey & the love of trees
The post and the talk deals with Tolkien's views of trees, and the wood as a metaphor. This is good stuff, and Tom Shippey is in excellent form in this talk.
Besides the topics of these two talks, Anna Smol's choice of videos also showcases some differences between two of the best and most respected Tolkien scholars, Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey. They both create a powerful connection to their audience, but they do so in very different ways, which is interesting to see (and which I first noticed consciously when hearing them both at the Return of the Ring conference in 2012).


= = = = Commentary = = = =

The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 1 January 2015, ‘New issue of Gramarye released
The first sentence really says it all: “A new issue of Gramarye, the Journal of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, has been released featuring contributions from noted Tolkien scholars Tom Shippey and Dimitra Fimi.” Possibly with exception of the fact that Dimitra Fimi's contribution is a review of Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur. An interesting issue.

Richard Gundeman, Tuesday, 6 January 2015, ‘Tolkien and the machine
I am not sure that I can put my finger exactly on my problem with this article, but it seems to me to almost give a good introduction to Tolkien's idea of the Machine (I think that Tolkien's capitalisation of the concept is important in this context). Perhaps some of it is merely in details of Gundeman's choice of examples that do not always, to my mind, illustrate the point he is making about Tolkien. To Tolkien, the idea of the Machine is certainly related to the desire for power – to the desire for making the will more immediately effective in the outside world. And this is related about domination; domination of others, but also domination of the world around us, and a subjugation of the natural world to one's will. This article made me speculate to what degree Tolkien would see his concept of the Machine as related to the idea of power, of domination, over oneself?

Jason Fisher, Thursday, 8 January 2015, ‘First mainstream appearance of tengwar outside Tolkien?
As the reception of Tolkien's work is becoming a more and more common topic of study (as distinct from the study of his work itself, or, for that matter, the biographical details of his life), it becomes of course more and more relevant to ask such questions as this. Jason Fisher is here referring to ‘mainstream’ as being outside a specifically Tolkienian (or science fiction/fantasy fan) context. 1967 is certainly much earlier than I would have guessed.

Johnathan S. McIntosh, Friday, 9 January 2015, ‘Why Only Theology Can Save "The Silmarillion"
McIntosh has kindly clarified that the title is “an allusion to John Milbank's "Only Theology Saves Metaphysics."” and that he would agree my suggestion to delete the “only” in the title. Others have commented that the theology in The Silmarillion is explicit and not a matter of “new unattainable vistas” seen from afar. This is, I think, correct, but only to a certain point. While the theology is certainly explicit in theAinulindalë and the Valaquenta, I would agree that these serve to set up a theological framework, which is hinted exists also behind the remainder of the book (at times hinted at more strongly) – as a reader you feel that e.g. the tale of Lúthien and Beren would fit into that framework, and that the framework might offer some deeper explanations for the tale, but these explanations are usually only hinted at, and you are left to imagine what it might be. In that sense, I agree with McIntosh that theology does offer vistas that are relevant in this context.
Also see the follow-up postTuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘Ok, so why Angelology also saves the Silmarillion
In which the lore of the Ainur specifically is considered as offering the necessary “new unattainable vistas’. Again, I agree, though I would also add that I think that there are other such vistas than those that suggest unknown knowledge of the divine. Tolkien suggests in many places that the stories he refers to are told in full in some other account, but these accounts are rarely extant, and even for someone who reads The History of Middle-earth the stories suggest that there is much, much more to be said about the Flight of the Noldor, about Tuor and Gondolin, about Beren and Lúthien (despite the extant Lay of Leithian) and about the voyages of Eärendil.

Anna Smol, Friday, 16 January 2015, ‘Jackson's Lost Opportunity: The Death of Sister-Sons
Leaving aside the references to the recent film, Anna Smol here gives a good introduction to the importance of relation between uncle and sister-sons in medieval literature (in addition to the examples she mention, it also appears in some of the Icelandic Sagas).

John Garth, Sunday, 18 January 2015, ‘Dragon scale: Why it's impossible to size up Tolkien's Middle-earth
I am cheering John Garth on in this question! While I, educated as a physicist, appreciates the attraction of this kind of study, I can also see the dangers of reading Tolkien's texts in this way (and seeing his illustrations in this way). The main problem, as I see it, is, however, that this kind of reading does not tell the reader anything about Tolkien and his work. It can, admittedly, be good fun, but ultimately it does not advance one's understanding or appreciation of Tolkien or his work. This, of course, does not mean that it cannot be worthwhile or interesting or that you cannot learn from it – just not about Tolkien, his work, or his sub-created Secondary World.
It is a well-known fact that we see what we are looking for. This means that by mining the texts in this way (e.g. for information to help you build a chart comparing dragon sizes), you blind yourself to other perspectives. These kinds of investigations do not tell us anything about Tolkien, but it may tell us something about our own filters of applicability.


= = = = Reviews and Book News = = = =

David Bratman, Saturday, 23 August 2014, ‘John Carey speaks
A review/commentary on memoir of John Carey, The Unexpected Professor. The memoir includes stories and negative opinions about Tolkien, but that does, of course, not mean that it cannot be an enjoyable read – sometimes the autobiography can even be more fun to read if the writer is thorougly unlikeable.
Also see the follow-up, Monday, 25 August 2014, ‘Tolkien's mildew
Following up on Carey's claim that “green mildew grew on [Tolkien's academic] gown”.

Kris Swank, Monday, 5 January 2015, ‘3 new Tolkien/Fantasy CFPs
Calls for papers for issue 6 of Silver Leaves, for the New York Tolkien Conference, and for the Real Myth and Mithril Symposium held by the Grey Havens Group.

John Rateliff, Thursday, 15 January 2015, ‘My New Book is released!
About the release of A Brief History of The Hobbit, the abbreviated (by about 40%) version of Rateliff's History of The Hobbit, which is now available.

David Day, Tuesday, 20 January 2015, ‘Open Letter to Mr. Nelson Goering
NOTE: The letter from David Day has since been deleted and is no longer available. I have nonetheless decided to leave these comments here.
David Day has long been infamous in the more serious Tolkien circles for publishing books containing a high number of fallacious statements – either outright factual errors or the presentation of Day's own inventions as if they were so stated by Tolkien. While a certain number of errors are inevitable in any large work (there are certainly also errors in the reference works usually recommended), the sheer volume of fallacious statements in Days works is wholly unacceptable for any reference work, regardless of the audience.
It would have been appropriate for Mr Day to acknowledge the many fallacies in his work and to work to correct them (see e.g. the excellent and meticulous addenda and corrigenda kept by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond for how to do this), but instead Mr Day chooses to disparage a respected scholar and Tolkien expert (currently teaching an on-line course on Tolkien and Beowulf together with Prof. Tom Shippey for Signum University) and to deride the knowledge of Tolkien experts.
While I would agree that a number of the comments that have been directed at Mr Day are, abusive, insulting, and infantile, Mr Goering has never been either, and instead of engaging with honest criticism as an opportunity to improve (thought that is probably at least twenty years too late by now anyway), Mr Day has decided to lash out with insulting abuse of his own (albeit considerably more eloquent than much of the personal abuse that has been directed at himself). Ad hominem attacks do not justify ad hominem attacks, and much less directed at someone who never made an ad hominem attack in the first place.
All I can say is that while I do sympathise with anyone who has had to face the kind of personal abuse Mr Day has suffered over his Tolkien books, his response here does not earn him any respect in my book.

John Rateliff, Tuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘My Newest Publication!
About the publication of Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien (edited Leslie A. Donavan and Janet Brennan Croft and published by Mythopoeic Press). Rateliff has a paper in this volume – indeed an essential paper that needed writing, and I am happy that Rateliff decided to do it. I will look forward to getting and reading this book.


= = = = Interviews = = = =

Moriah Carty, Thursday, 15 January 2015, ‘Understanding the middle ages through Tolkien
An interview-article from the Daily Lobo about a Tolkien class investigating the difference between medieval reality and medieval fantasy that it offered at the University of New Mexico and taught by Megan Abrahamson.

Tobias Wolf / Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Tuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘Guest post: My personal 2014 top ten list of Tolkien publications
German Tolkien collector Tobias Wolf's list of top-ten personal favourites among the Tolkien publications issued in 2014.


= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

<i>Treebeard, Merry, & Pippin</i> by Jef Murray
Jef Murray
Treebeard, Merry, & Pippin
Jef Murray, Sunday, 25 January 2015, ‘Ulmo Rises

Jef Murray, Sunday, 25 January 2015, ‘Old Man Willow

Graeme, Monday, 26 January 2015, ‘Two random Hobbits fishing

Jef Murray, Tuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘Treebeard, Merry, & Pippin

Jef Murray, Tuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘Entwife

Jef Murray, Tuesday, 27 January 2015, ‘Elanor & the Ent

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Maria Popova, Friday, 14 March 2014, ‘Einstein on Fairy Tales and Education
I recently came across this old piece about Einstein and his thoughts on the importance of reading Fairy-stories and found it at least tangentially interesting in a Tolkien context.

Colin Marshall, Thursday, 14 August 2014, ‘The 1985 Soviet TV Adaptation of The Hobbit: Cheap and Yet Strangely Charming
A short description of the 1985 Russian TV-adaptation of The Hobbit, finding that “it does retain a kind of handcrafted charm.”

David Bratman, Friday, 2 January 2015, ‘I received this hoary query ...
David Bratman on the (frankly, rather foolish) question of why not let the great eagles fly someone with the Ring to Mount Doom. The real answer is of course the one Bratman gives, but (trying to see the positive side of it) it attests to Tolkien's sub-creational success and skill that readers persist in wanting a story-internal answer (and yes, as Bratman points out, “there are many holes in its history that the author never bothered, or never figured out how, to fill.”).
For that purpose, and in addition to the points brought up by Bratman, someone recently – I have unfortunately forgotten who or where – also pointed out the eagles' reluctance in The Hobbit to fly the company “anywhere near where men lived. ‘They would shoot at us with their great bows of yew’”. People also tend to forget the limited range of an eagle, particularly when carrying another person.
Todd Van Luling, Saturday, 3 January 2015, ‘5 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Lord Of The Rings'
I tend to skip all these ‘N facts you didn't know’ about Tolkienian topics because generally it's some X facts that I know better than they, and some N - X facts that they got wholly or partially wrong. In this case I admit that it was 1 fact they knew better than I ... and 4 that they got wholly or partially wrong.
I will recommend anyone to read Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull's cautionary tale on the LotR Fanatics Plaza: ‘Truth or Consequences: A Cautionary Tale of Tolkien Studies’. I have also posted a more thorough walk-through of the worst errors of the Huffington Post piece there: ‘Huffington Post's five facts.

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Friday, 9 January 2015, ‘How Google screws with fantasy authors: Tolkien, Pratchett, Rowling, Martin and more
Some reflections on the wierdness that one may encounter when trying to enter one's favour authors in Google search – and looking at the autocomplete suggestions. I wonder what this may say about the on-line community – though I am not sure that I really want to know the answer to that question.

Andrew Wells, Sunday, 11 January 2015, ‘Some old friends
One of the more charming practices of the Tolkien Society Facebook Group is that of the ‘shelfie” – photographs of your Tolkien bookshelves. These shelfies have some brilliant books, including some of Tolkien's sources.

Jan Swoope, Saturday, 31 January 2015, ‘Welcome to Middle-earth: Step into one professor's fascination for Tolkien's world
About Dr. Leslie Stratyner at the Mississippi University for Women and her love for, and teaching of, Tolkien.


= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

The LotR Fanatics Plaza, , ‘Beowulf - Reactions and Reviews
A collection of reviews of Tolkien's Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary with comments and further thoughts. This is is the most comprehensive collection of reactions to Tolkien's book that I have yet come across.


= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Perhaps it is time to trot out one or two of the good oldies. What about a couple of FAQs about Tolkien and his work?

Steuard Jensen, ‘The Tolkien Meta-FAQ
A FAQ that references a number of FAQs developed mainly in association with the Tolkien usenet groups.

Stan Brown, ‘FAQ of the Rings
A FAQ dedicated to a specific topic, the Rings of Power. An excellent resource for questions on these.

<i>Old Man Willow</i> by Jef Murray
Jef Murray
Old Man Willow

= = = = The Blog Roll = = = =

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a comment, if I wish to recommend something particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from January 2015

Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish
Archive of posts from January 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from January 2015

John Garth, ‘John Garth
Archive of posts from January 2015

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from January 2015

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Archive of posts from January 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from January 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from January 2015

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)

Various, The Tolkien Society
Archive of posts from January 2015

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from January 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from January 2015
The Southfarthings are reading The Lord of the Rings and are still in the early parts of book I, so there is ample time if you wish to catch up and follow their discussions.

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from January 2015

Pieter Collier, ‘The Tolkien Library
See the front page for a list of recent posts.

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from January 2015

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from January 2015

= = = = Sources = = = =

New sources in January 2015
I have added Jonathan S. McIntosh' blog, The Flame Imperishable to the list of regular blogs to follow (being, frankly, a bit surprised – and embarrased – to find it wasn't there).

I have also added the blog of the Grey Havens Group, the Tolkien Society for Boulder County, The Grey Havens Group.

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html