Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tolkien Transactions XLI

September 2013

This has been a great month! I've been as busy as never before, first with trying (and failing) to finish all my various projects before starting the new job and then getting into speed at the new job. I do hope that the lateness of my transactions is not going to be a standard fixture, but it has been very difficult to find the time to finish them this month — actually I am not sure that they are finished, but I need to get them out today, or it will be at least another week before I can finish them ...

All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-) but this time the disclaimer about completeness should be stressed a bit more — this is what I have at this time, and I need to get it out today: if you know of other stuff, then please share in answers.

These transactions are posted to the usenet newsgroups rec.arts.books.tolkien,, and alt.books.inklings, and the usenet version can be accessed at
These transactions are also posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books):
and on LotR Fanatics Plaza in the books forum:

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

"Bilbo's Eleventy-First Birthday (The Party Tree)" by Joe Gilronan
Bilbo's Eleventy-First Birthday (The Party Tree)
by Joe Gilronan

= = = = News = = = =

Hungarian Tolkien Society, Sunday, 1 September 2013, ‘TLV Goes International!’
The Hungarian Tolkien Society, Magyar Tolkien Társaság, has, for the past seven years, held an annual mail-based competition on Tolkien topics, the TLV, Tolkien Levelezo Verseny. This year, they have decided to add an international category open for contestants between 15 and 35. So, if you have managed to sign up in time, it will be an excellent opportunity to test your Tolkien mettle.
See also MB, Tuesday, 10 September 2013, ‘Tolkien Mailing Competition goes international’

Zoe Hinchliffe, Brisbane Times, Monday, 2 September 2013, ‘Tolkien fans invited to Middle Earth [sic]’
The Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship, with coordinator Fortinbras Proudfoot, Esq. (a.k.a. Peter Kenny) is inviting Tolkien enthusiasts and fans and other interested parties to an evening in Middle-earth in favour of the Pyjama Foundation charity. Good luck with the fund-raising!

The Telegraph, Monday, 2 September 2013, ‘On the Tolkien trail’
A very nice picture gallery of Tolkien-related places including many of the places where Tolkien lived (though it also includes some of the more dubious ‘usual suspects’ such as Perrot's Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks' Victorian chimney).

MB, Monday, 16 September 2013, ‘'There's an eye opener, and no mistake' — Greisinger Museum opened’
Congratulations to the Greisinger Musem!
The Greisinger Museum opened in the weekend of the 7-8 September in Jenins, Switzerland, with a great gathering of Tolkien enthusiasts. I would have loved to join the festivities, but will have to do with Marcel's report and putting Jenins on my list of places to visit before too long.
See also John di Bartholo, ‘Greisinger Museum Opening Ceremony’

MB, Tuesday, 24 September 2013, ‘Readings and radio plays & rumours of an unpublished Tolkien speech’
Marcel Aubron-Bülles announces a new series on his Tolkienist blog that will review various audio dramatizations (including readings) of Tolkien's works, and incidentally also mentions the existence of recordings of the Tolkiens and the possibility of hitherto unknown recordings ...

Tunggul Wirajuda, Friday, 27 September 2013, ‘Tolkien Society Brings Middle Earth to Life at Jakarta Event’
A report from the tenth anniversary party, of course named ‘A Long Expected Party’, of the Eorlingas — the Indonesian Tolkien Society. Congratulations to the Eorlingas!

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Michael McCaughan, Material History Review, Tuesday, 3 September 2013, ‘Voyagers in the Vault of Heaven: The Phenomenon of Ships in the Sky in Medieval Ireland and Beyond’
Though I am NOT suggesting any source relations, I could certainly not help but think ‘Éala Éarendel engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended’ when reading this bit from the abstract: ‘This paper explores the phenomenon of ships voyaging in the sky. Such fantastical sightings are considered primarily in an early medieval Irish context, but evidence from places as widely separated in time and place as thirteenth-century England and eighteenth-century Canada is also addressed.’

Ayesha Raza, Friday, 6 September 2013, ‘Bodies, Saracen giants, and the medieval romance : transgression, difference, and assimilation’
The giants and the medieval romances in the title of this 2012 Master's thesis from the Université de Montréal caught my eye (it has been said that Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in genre terms in many ways is closer to the medieval romance than to the modern fantastic novel). I have scanned the introduction and the conclusion of the thesis, and the applicability for students of Tolkien may be limited, but I still thought it worth mentioning here.

James H. Barrett, Thursday, 12 September 2013, ‘What caused the Viking Age?’
In this arcticle from Antiquity, Vol.82 No.317 (2008), James H. Barrett discusses the underlying socio-economic causes for the militant / mercantile expansion known as the Viking Age. There is of course no way that I would not find this interesting ;-)
In addition to the above, there have been a large number of interesting-looking articles on in September — some of them clearly related to research that Tolkien would have found interesting, on subjects that he worked with professionally, or on subjects that were clearly inspirations for Tolkien's work. As explained above, I have not had time to read anywhere near as much as I would have liked this month, so I haven't read these, but I'll mention a few headlines such as
‘Bone-Hard Evidence’ (15 Sep) asking the question ‘Raging marauders or heroic warriors? What were the Vikings really like?’,
‘Oaths in The Battle of Maldon’ (16 Sep),
‘When Witches Communed with Fairies’ (20 Sep),
‘Creating the Christian Anglo-Saxon and the Other in the Old English Judith and Beowulf’ (21 Sep),
‘The Dragon of the North: The Supernatural Nature of Knowledge in Voluspá’ (21 Sep),
‘Time, consciousness and narrative play in late Medieval secular dream poetry and framed narratives’ (26 Sep),
‘An Examination of the Family in 'The Tale of Sir Gareth'’ (27 Sep),
‘The Serpent in the Sword: Pattern-welding in Early Medieval Swords’ (28 Sep).
‘Snorri's Trollwives’ (29 Sep),
You'll see the point, I am sure :-)

John Garth, Friday, 27 September 2013, ‘Tolkien and the boy who didn't believe in fairies’
John Garth's paper from Tolkien Studies 7 is here published on-line. David Bratman wrote about it, ‘I have never read a scholarly paper that left me more thoroughly charmed than John Garth's on Tolkien and Hugh Gilson,’ which is far better said than my own terse summary of the contents from my review in Mallorn: ‘John Garth explains that R.Q. Gilson's younger half-brother, Hugh Cary Gilson was the boy Tolkien spoke of in an anecdote in his drafts for ‘On Fairy-Stories’, and in J.R.R. Tolkien and the Boy Who Didn't Believe in Fairies' Garth gives both the evidence and some further information.’ Go read!

= = = = Commentary = = = =

BC, Monday, 2 September 2013, ‘Provenance of the Notion Club Papers - both fictional and true’
One of the most interesting blog entries by Bruce Charlton for quite a while. Charlton discusses the provenance of Tolkien's Notion Club Papers, particularly the curious way Tolkien (with great skill, I might add) manages to land somewhere between historical and fictional by suggesting both.

James Dunning, Wednesday, 4 September 2013, ‘A passport to Faery’
A curious essay on Tolkien's Faëry and the traveller therein. I am not entirely sure what to make of this — Dunning appears to have something he wishes to say, but I am not entirely sure what it is.

Leslie, Friday, 6 September 2013, ‘Wagner's Influence on: J.R.R. Tolkien’
An interesting take on the influence of Wagner on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings focusing on the transition from Andvari's cursed ring (with no particular influence on the later plot) to Alberich's powerful ring in Wagner's Ring-cycle, and on the transition from Bilbo's simple ring of invisibility to the One Ring. I quite agree that the transition of Tolkien's ring is inspired or influenced by Wagner's ring, though I think Shippey nails it when he calls it a negative influence: Tolkien wanted to do better. We should not forget that Tolkien, as far as we know, only ever saw and heard one of the operas in Wagner's Ring-cycle, and this was after he had read all of them — Wagner's work, I am told (even by some who love it) is distinctly unimpressive when merely read like that, and what little I have read strikes me as being very poor sub-creation (Renée Vink interestingly suggests that Wagner's mode of sub-creation is the music, which seems to me a very reasonable suggestion — as far as we know, however, Tolkien only experienced the music of one of the Ring-cycle operas). I am sure that much work can still be done on comparing Wagner and Tolkien, e.g. on shared influences and shared themes, but as far as Wagner's influence on Tolkien's work is concerned, I believe that everything relevant is said in the above.

MM, Monday, 16 September 2013, ‘Why Does Tolkien's World Lack Women?’
Well said! Michael Martinez here rejects both the most common criticisms against the representation of women in Tolkien's works and the standard knee-jerk reactions of many fans. The point, as Martinez also concludes, is that there are no, or very few, realistic women in Tolkien's work (at least among those who are more than a quick sketch such as Rose Cotton). With a Mythopoeic Society collection on women in Tolkien's works putting the issue on the more serious critical agenda, it is good to see a considered, and relatively brief, statement such as this.

Lyn Forest-Hill, Monday, 16 September 2013, ‘September: First Meeting’
The Southampton Tolkien Reading Group (Southfarthing Smial) continues with Garth's Tolkien and the Great War, this time chapters 11 and 12, with a bit more than the usual detours. As always the discussions are full of insights and interesting perspectives.

MM, Wednesday, 25 September 2013, ‘How Much Was J.R.R. Tolkien Influenced by Wagner's Ring Cycle?’
I cannot go the whole way with Michael Martinez in this question, but he has some very perceptive insights, including the point that elements of the transition of Bilbo's ring to the Master Ring borrow from the Silmarils. As for the larger question, I think think it is foolish to reject the idea that other aspects of this transition derive, whether consciously or not, from Wagner's treatment of the old Germanic legends. I have, however, not seen any convincing arguments that other aspects of Tolkien's work than the transition of the Ring should derive from Wagner. We know that Tolkien was reading at least parts of Wagner's ring-cycle (and that he watched a single of the operas of the cycle), and my impression is that Wagner's story-telling and sub-creation, if read in this way, is distinctly unimpressive.

Ernie Rea, BBC Radio 4, Monday, 30 September 2013, ‘Beyond Belief: JRR Tolkien’
Alison Milbank, Joseph Pearce, and Ronald Hutton join with Ernie Rea for a talk about the enduring appeal of Tolkien's work (particularly The Lord of the Rings), and as a bonus there is a pre-recorded interview with the actor Robert Hardy who studied under both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford. They have a truly fascinating discussion about the pagan and Christian symbology in The Lord of the Rings, though I am sorry to say that Joseph Pearce does not come across here as particularly perceptive in his reading of Tolkien which in many instances seems to me forced (I am not sure if that is the right word — it seems to me that he is squeezing Tolkien's work into a shape that will fit the mould that he has in mind).

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

The Italian Group on Tolkien Studies, Tuesday, 10 September 2013, "Call for Paper: ‘Tolkien and the Classics"’
As it says, a call for papers for an upcoming (December 2014) collection titled Tolkien and the Classics that will, of course, investigate the relations between Tolkien's writings and the classics. I hope the book will be released in English as well, or at least that the papers submitted in English will become available in that language.

DAA, Thursday, 19 September 2013, ‘Lost in Translation (the German one, specifically)’
Douglas A. Anderson writes about some of the problems facing authors of popular books on Tolkienian matters when they find their work translated, both in general terms and with regards to a specific translation. Seeing the problems introduced in this particular translation, and remembering the comments Tolkien had on some of the translations he was able to read, one can wonder what happens in translations where the author has no chance of checking what is published in their name ... In related news the comments show the great helpfulness general found among Tolkienists, which is really good to see!

Laura H., Oloris Publishin, Sunday, 22 September 2013, ‘Silver Leaves Issue 5: The Hobbit — Now Available!’
I suppose that the headline says it all — issue 5 of Silver Leaves sub-titled ‘The Hobbit’ is now available for order. My review will follow when I've had the time to go through it.

PC, Monday, 23 September 2013, ‘The pocket Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien’
A new edition of this children's book by Tolkien edited by Tolkien specialists Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond.

PC, Tuesday, 24 September 2013, ‘The Riddles of The Hobbit by Adam Roberts’
About a new book, The Riddles of The Hobbit, which is a critical discussion of the riddles in The Hobbit by Adam Roberts. Though somewhat surprised not to find any mention of the Saga of King Heidrik the Wise, I am intrigued by the review here.

= = = = Interviews = = = =

Thomas Quinn, The Big Issue, Tuesday, 3 September 2013, ‘The Hobbit and I: Jemima Catlin on Reinventing a Legend’
As announced last month — a wonderful and charming interview with various of Catlin's illustrations for The Hobbit and the story of how she got to be chosen for the job.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

"A sorrowful meeting" by Jenny Dolfen
A sorrowful meeting
by Jenny Dolfen
JD, Saturday, 7 September 2013, ‘A sorrowful meeting’
A meeting of Finarfin and Galadriel, father and daughter, about the time of the War of Wrath (well, depending on the version, but before Galadriel went further east with Celeborn).

Joe Gilronan, Sunday, 8 September 2013, ‘Osgiliath (Pause For Thought).’
This picture by Joe Gilronan is, to my eyes quite nice — though it doesn't really match up with anything in Tolkien's story, there is an air to the picture that is nonetheless reminiscent of Ithilien.

Joe Gilronan, Sunday, 22 September 2013, ‘Bilbo's Eleventy-First Birthday (The Party Tree) Happy Hobbit Day.’
Bag End at the party. Bilbo has just disappeared and stands outside Bag End, having taken off the Ring, and enjoys the commotion (quite practically the tent as been abandoned). A following post (from 23 Sep) shows Bag End on the following morning (considering the age of Merry and Pippin as well as Sam's subservient status at this point, I suppose it can be argued that it is not quite appropriate to have the four of them chatting idly before the gate of Bag End, but that's what artistic license is for, isn't it)

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

MM, Monday, 9 September 2013, ‘Why Didn't the Elves Help the Dwarves in the Hobbit?’
Michael Martinez is back with his series of short(ish) answers to story-internal (or ‘Ardalogical’ if you're more familiar with the Unquendor term) questions. This kind of discussions is not my main focus with these transactions, but I wanted to highlight that Michael has started blogging his answers again (and you will find references to a couple of less story-internal questions above).

‘Gibbelins’, Wednesday, 11 September 2013, ‘The Familiar Face of the Orc’
A curious article in which the author gives a fairly reasonable summary of some aspects of Tolkien's Orcs (obviously much more can, and should, be said about them than this) and particularly how Tolkien himself used the image of the Orc in contemporary commentary. The text itself is, despite its lack of depth, uncontroversial, but the use of portraits of modern politicians to illustrate the text may be seen as rather more controversial.

BBC, Monday, 23 September 2013, ‘Did gold ring inspire Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?’
I've been debating internally whether to include this piece or not, but in the end I've decided it is better to set some things straight. There is no evidence suggesting that Tolkien visited the Lydney Park dig, actually what little evidence there is (all of it circumstantial) suggests that he did not visit the dig. Similarly there is nothing to suggest that Tolkien knew of the gold ring that had been found elsewhere at another time — Tolkien's only involvement was the name Nodens, and the ring offers no link or clue to this name. All in all careful analysis leads a rational student to reject the ideas presented here (unless and until, of course, further, and far stronger, evidence should be discovered).

Lauren Davis, Sunday, 29 September 2013, ‘Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi real languages?’
A look at languages through the lens of constructed languages (conlangs) and particularly Tolkien's Elvish languages. Apart, possibly, from some of the other conlangs mentioned, there is little new to the dedicated Tolkien student, but the presentation and the animation adds something here, making it worth watching.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

The Norse Mythology Online Library
I've listed the Norse Mythology Blog before, but I hadn't realised that there is a large on-line library on Norse (and related) topics ... enter at your peril — or at least at the peril of your time!

‘The Lord of the Rings and its Medieval Origins: The Bones in the Soup’
A wonderful resource on the medieval sources for The Lord of the Rings by Alaric Hall. Here is a good opportunity for a bit of research to fill any non-existing slow periods at work ...

Kristine Larsen, ‘The Astronomy of Middle-earth: Astronomical Motifs and Motivations in the Work of J.R.R. Tolkien’
A list of Kristine Larsen's writings on this topic, a number of which are available on-line in which cases the list includes a link.

J.R.R. Tolkien singing extract from The Hobbit ‘That's what Bilbo Baggins hates’
In the Master's own voice ... what more needs to be said? This, surely, is not what Bilbo Baggins hates ;-)

= = = = 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, but I will here note the number of Tolkien-related posts in the month covered by these transactions (while the number of posts with a vaguer relation — e.g. by being about other Inklings — are given in parentheses).

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (S&H), ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’
No posts in September 2013

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’
No posts in September 2013

Pieter Collier (PC), ‘The Tolkien Library’
In addition to the three posts mentioned above, there are a few other more or less Tolkien-related posts in September 2013

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA), ‘Tolkien and Fantasy’
1 Tolkien-related post in September 2013, mentioned above.

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’
Apart from a line wishing a happy Hobbit Day on the 22nd, there are no Tolkien-related posts in September 2013

Marcel Aubron-Bülles (MB), ‘The Tolkienist’
3 (+1) Tolkien-related posts in September 2013 — in addition to the three posts mentioned above, there is a post with various pictures from Tolkien-related events and travels.

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
and the old home:
The closest to a Tolkien-related post in September 2013 is the 7 September ‘rename notice’ that explains that the name of the Livejournal is now spelled correctly, ‘Kalimac’ — the Tolkien relation of course coming from this name and the associated explanation for the name.

Jenny Dolfen (JD), ‘Jenny's Sketchbook’
A single Tolkien-related posts in September 2013 (see above) — apart from this, Jenny Dolfen has been pursuing Hannibal this month, which is definitely also worth taking a look at.

Holly Rodgers (HR), ‘Teaching Tolkien’
A single post in September 2013 about watching the New Line Cinema version of The Fellowship of the Ring with a live philharmonic orchestra playing the music.

Anna Smol (AS), ‘A Single Leaf’
No posts in September 2013

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
A single review of two Lewis books is the only post in September 2013.

Morgan Thomsen (MT), ‘Mythoi’
No posts in September 2013

Emil Johansson (EJ), ‘LotR Project Blog’
A single Tolkien-related post in September 2013 on Hobbit Day.

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’
16 Tolkien-related posts in September 2013 including the three posts mentioned above.

Bruce Charlton (BC), ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers’
3 Tolkien-related posts in September 2013

= = = = Sources = = = =

No new sources in September 2013

For older sources, see