Sunday, 9 February 2014

Tolkien Transactions XLV

January 2014

I cannot help a nagging feeling that there is something important that I have forgotten to include in this month's transactions, but I cannot pass^w remember what on earth it might be and I do wish to get this issue on-line tonight before a new week starts, so ...

Having said already that I think that I have not even included what I wished to include, it would appear almost superfluous to add that all the usual disclaimers of course apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

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: The Birthday Toast
2: News
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: In Print
11: Web Sites
12: The Blog Roll
13: Sources
Joe Gilronan
Treebeard Wellinghall

= = = = The Birthday Toast = = = =

As you are probably all aware, January 3rd was Tolkien's birthday — his twelfty-second as the Tolkien Society ingenously calls it.
I will forgo a long list of articles and other celebrations and just add this: ‘The Professor!’

= = = = News = = = =

Suzanne Camfield, Focus Film, Thursday, 9 December 2013, ‘Fox Searchlight Developing J.R.R. Tolkien Biopic’
Sigh! So now Tolkien ‘was a code breaker during the Second World War’ (no he wasn't!) and ‘is believed to have been a large factor is Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity’ (the word is ‘_known_’, not ‘believed’). I am still extremely sceptical of the idea of a Tolkien ‘biopic’ — mainly because I am convinced it will not only get things wrong, but it will also emphasize some events / experiences out of proportion because they make for good drama. And these concerns are essentially my best-case scenario.

JF, Friday, 3 January 2014, ‘Stepping down from Mythprint’
On Jason Fisher's decision to step down as editor of Mythprint, the quarterly bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society.

MB, Friday, 3 January 2014, ‘Middle-earth meetings of this year’
Being a list of Tolkien-related events in 2014 that Marcel has gathered. A big ‘Thank you’ to the Tolkienist for this excellent work!

Sarah Hoffman, Friday, 17 January 2014, ‘The Hobbit: an unexpected lawsuit - breach of contract?’
An article about a lawsuit by Miramax LLC against Warner and New Line for a bigger slice of the cake. The case is not really interesting in itself, but as an illustration of the legal complexities and the intricate squirming involved in these cases of rights it is nonetheless enlightening.

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =
I don't think you need me to point out the many intriguing headlines on old Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian culture, so I will just point out a few that have stuck out more than usual for me:
‘Beowulf in 100 Tweets’ (19 Jan) — though a funny idea, and one that can surely be enjoyed by those who know the poem, I am not convinced that it is always a good idea to deprive old tales of the characteristics that give them their particular and individual power and force.
‘'The Torrent of the Human Race:' The Concept of Movement in the Works of Saint Augustine and Its Impact on the Medieval Imagination’ (22 Jan) — St. Augustine has been mentioned as one of the church fathers likely to have influenced Tolkien's personal philosophies, or at least his philosophical considerations.
‘The Canterbury Tales as Framed Narratives’ (25 Jan) — Tolkien famously worked with Chaucer both as a scholar and a teacher (the failed Clarendon Chaucer and Tolkien's essay ‘Chaucer as a Philogist: The Reeves Tale’ are probably the best known examples). And of course the idea of framed tales is also central to all of Tolkien's Middle-earth writings (I do not mean to suggest a causal connection here — just a curious parallel).
‘’ (25 Jan) — St. Brendan ... Imran ... ‘The Notion Club Papers’ ... read here for a bit of extra background.
‘Figures of Evil in Old English Poetry’ (25 Jan) — One of the things that have occupied me in my studies of Tolkien is the philosophical underpinnings of his work, and this title recalls Tom Shippey's excellent essay on Tolkien's ‘images of evil’.
‘Medieval English for Dummies’ (30 Jan) — a half-hour video of a presentation about medieval English, from the language of Beowulf over practical pronunciation exercises of Middle English to an interesting comment about the modern status of English as a global Lingua Franca (yes, I do realise the irony here) as preventing any basic change.

JDR, Wednesday, 22 January 2014, ‘2014 Tolkien at Kalamazoo schedule’
Tolkienian events at K'zoo — followed up in the following post (fittingly named ‘More Tolkien at 2014 Kalamazoo’).

Jef Murray
Gandalf Meets Bilbo
JGa, Saturday, 25 January 2014, ‘100 years of Middle-earth’
In celebration of the hundredth anniversary of ‘the first known public reading of Tolkien’s epic prose.’ The title introduces a series of posts on the origins, history and evolution of Tolkien's legendarium (I first, erroneously, took it to be a tongue-in-cheek naming of this report of a meeting in the Stapledon Society the beginning of Middle-earth, which might be stretching it just a bit). It is interesting to see that there are certain elements of the narrative style that can, in more mature versions, be traced on to the epic prose of Tolkien's legendarium.

Sørina Higgins, Monday, 27 January 2014, ‘Arthurian Geographies in Tolkien, Williams, and Lewis’
A talk that Sørina Higgins gave at New York C.S. Lewis Society on January 10th ‘about The Fall of Arthur and an imaginary, composite, Inklings Arthuriad’. The video shows the slides with the talk, but unfortunately not any subsequent questions and answers (I doubt that this is because there were no questions). Though I am still sceptical of Sørina Higgins' use of a a conglomerate Inklings Arthurian mythology as a device for investigating their Athurian excursions, I do find her comparative work intriguing.

JGa, Wednesday, 29 January 2014, ‘Tolkien, the Somme and scholarship’
On the question of Tolkien's experiences in the Great War. Did he share the view that the soldiers in the trenches were ‘lions led by donkeys’, or did he hold the military leaders in greater regard than that? And did his perception of the military leaders in the Great War influence not just his fictional writing, but also his scholarship? (The latter is, of course, far less likely than the former.)

Tolkienseminariet, Thursday, 30 January 2014, ‘17 oktober 2013’
For those who can read Swedish (or make do with e.g. a Google translation), the reports from the Swedish Tolkienseminariet are always gold-mines of information.

= = = = Commentary = = = =

DB, Wednesday, 15 January 2014, ‘stupid hobbit tricks’
I try not to spend much (if any) space here on the film-adaptations of Tolkien's work — I agree with what Corey Olsen said of Peter Jackson's films (at the time, I think it was the LotR films only), that one needs to see them as something wholly distinct from Tolkien's work; it is a different story happening to different characters in a different world. Lately, however, there has been some nonsense going about that the changes to The Hobbit are really based on what Tolkien would have wanted, and I have suggested that I might write something up about it. It turns out, however, that David Bratman has already written this, and as usual much better than I could.

Il, Saturday, 25 January 2014, ‘The Nature of Morgoth’
Morgoth, Xena the Warrior Princess, Greek legend ... There are some curious parallels that Ilverai points out in this post, but ultimately, I am not sure if it leads anywhere — or if it is intended to lead anywhere but to the pointing out of some curious parallels.

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

H&S, Wednesday, 15 January 2014, ‘New Tolkien Projects, Part One’
In which Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond tell of upcoming book releases — Farmer Giles of Ham and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil with illustrations by Pauline Baynes and a Harper Collins hardback edition of the Reader's Companion, all updated and corrected. Another dent in my purse, I'm afraid :-)

JDR, Wednesday, 15 January 2014, ‘A Forthcoming Publication (Tolkien and Magic)’
About a chapter by John Rateliff that is to appear in The Kobold Guide to Magic. The book itself is focused on the magic systems of role-playing games, but Rateliff will be writing on magic in Tolkien's works. I am sorely tempted to find myself a copy of this book — having played also my share of role-playing games, it would also be fun to see the discussions of RGP-magic, though I cannot imagine that Rateliff's approach will be to look at Tolkienian magic in the game-mechanics discourse typically used in RPG contexts — such an approach would, in my view, not be conducive for an understanding of magic in Tolkien.

BC, Wednesday, 15 January 2014, ‘Review of JRR Tolkien audiobook Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Orfeo - read by Terry Jones (1997)’
What it says, really ...

= = = = Interviews = = = =

JGi, Thursday, 9 January 2014, ‘Finding My Way to Middle-earth’
I am not entirely sure where this bit best fits in. Joe Gilronan calls it an ‘interview’ on his own blog, and it is in reference to his article ‘Finding My Way to Middle-earth’ in Silver Leaves issue 5, but it sports a number of his delightful pictures of Shire scenery. In the end I have let Gilronan decide and thrown it in here with the interviews :-)

Wander, Edinburgh Book Review, Wednesday, 22 January 2014, ‘Interview with Jemima Catlin’
An interview, as the title says, with Jemima Catlin, the celebrated new Hobbit illustrator.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

Julia Lyazgina
A collection of very good pictures (pencil, I believe) based on The Silmarillion. The text is in Russian, but an automated translation is good enough to identify the topics quite well.

AD, Thursday, 2 January 2014, ‘Silmarillion Chapter 7: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor’
Chapter illustration for The Silmarillion chapter 7, ‘Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor’ (the title text is an error — it is correct in the illustration, though).

AD, Monday, 6 January 2014, ‘Silmarillion Chapter 8: Of The Darkening of Valinor’

Jenny Dolfen
Lauren Davis, Tuesday, 7 January 2014, ‘_Dresden Codak_ creator illustrates each chapter of _The Silmarillion_’
This article made me aware of the work of Aaron Diaz on illustrating The Silmarillion — a project that uses a style / approach that I do not recall seeing before (of course, I am not as well-versed in Tolkienian art as many others ...)

JGi, Tuesday, 14 January 2014, ‘Gossip at the gate.’

AD, Thursday, 16 January 2014, ‘Silmarillion Chapter 9: The Flight of the Noldor’

JGi, Thursday, 23 January 2014, ‘Treebeard Wellinghall’
Treebeard is seen walking towards Merry and Pippin in his Wellinghall on the morning of the Entmoot.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

Matthew Francis, Wednesday, 1 January 2014, ‘The Road goes ever on and on’
OK, so this has nothing to do with Tolkien (except for the title and a longer quotation), but it's about science, and scientists, and, implicitly, about their love for Tolkien (on which I have commented also at other times). And ultimately this is my list and so _I_ decide what goes on it ;-)

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

‘The LotR Book Club’
At the LotR Plaza we have started a ‘chapter of the week’ discussion of The Lord of the Rings, beginning, of course, at the very beginning: the author's foreword ...

= = = = In Print = = = =

Oloris Publishing, Friday, 24 January 2014, ‘Music in Middle-earth: Call for Submission for Issue 6 of Silver Leaves’
Well, not in print yet, but it will be :-) A call for submissions to issue 6 of Silver Leaves.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

John Garth (JGa), ‘John Garth’
John Garth has created a blog. If you have missed this so far (shame on you), you now have the chance to catch up — make sure to subscribe by your preferred method (mail, RSS, atom, Wordpress account ...) to get new posts while the digital ink is still drying ...

‘The Silmarillion Project’
‘Every chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion, as illustrated by Dresden Codak author Aaron Diaz.’ Diaz describes his motivation as creating ‘a Middle-Earth visually unique from the style of the Peter Jackson films,’ adding that he likes the films, but misses ‘the days when there was more diversity and interpretation to Tolkien illustrations.’ The visual representation he creates is certainly different from most of what I have otherwise seen, but very fascinating in its unique expression.

= = = = 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 comment very shortly on any Tolkien-related posts in the month covered by these transactions.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (S&H), ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’
One Tolkien-related posts in January 2014, cited above.

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’
One post in January 2014 — see above.

Pieter Collier (PC), ‘The Tolkien Library’
Six Tolkien-related posts on the Tolkien Library in January 2014 — three small articles and tree on books, a call-for-papers (Sørina Higgins' The Inklings and King Arthur), an announcement (facsimile edition of the first edition Hobbit) and a review (Devin Brown's Hobbit Lessons).

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA), ‘Tolkien and Fantasy’
No posts in January 2014

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’
Seven Tolkien-related posts from John Rateliff in January 2014. One on the occasion of Tolkien's birthday, one relating to Bernal (‘The Thought Police’ from 7 Jan), announcing the arrival of The History of the Hobbit for Kindle, the post on Tolkien and magic (see above), one on what, at the face of it, looks a very far-fetched attempt to link Tolkien's Middle-earth to Abyssinia, and the two posts on the Kalamazoo Tolkien-programme referred to above.

Marcel Aubron-Bülles (MB), ‘The Tolkienist’
5 (more or less) Tolkien-related posts in January 2014. In addition to the most excellent list of Tolkien-related events (see above), Marcel has also proven that ‘It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons’ and ‘Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory.’ are NOT by Tolkien — let's take that again: those quotations, though often MISattributed to Tolkien, are NOT by him at all. (Ah! That feels better!) Oh, and there are also a couple of other fan-activity-related posts.

Joe Gilronan
Gossip at the Gate
David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
and the old home:
Two distinctly Tolkien-related posts in January 2014 — on the day following Tolkien's birthday, Bratman posted on the Wikipedia treatment of the story of Tolkien's brief encounter with the secret world of code-breaking during WWII, and then there is the post on Peter Jackson's Hobbit films listed above. I will also recommend the January 2nd post on Isaac Asimov's predictions for 2014 (Tolkien expressed a fondness of Asimov's work), and the ‘world according to cat’ series. The post ‘Maia’ is, despite the name (and the appearance of Pippin), not about Tolkien ...

John Garth (JGa), ‘John Garth’
2 Tolkien-related posts in January 2014 — both referred to above.

Jenny Dolfen (JD), ‘Jenny's Sketchbook’
One Tolkien-related painting in January 2014 — a tutorial featuring a role-playing character from Tolkien's work.

Holly Rodgers (HR), ‘Teaching Tolkien’
No posts in January 2014.

Anna Smol (AS), ‘A Single Leaf’
Two posts in January 2014, one spreading the word on the call-for-papers for Humour in and around the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien (Walking Tree) where the deadline has been extended to March 3rd, and one referring to Marcel Aubron-Bülles' list of Tolkien-related events and John Rateliff's posts on the Tolkien at K'zoo programme.

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
No posts in January 2014.

Morgan Thomsen (MT), ‘Mythoi’
No posts in January 2014.

Lynn Forest-Hill (and others), ‘Southfarthing Mathom’ SM
2 Tolkien related posts in January 2014. The Southampton Reading Group has had their usual two meetings in January, first ending their reading of Sigurd and Gudrún and then starting on The Fall of Arthur. As always the reports of their discussions are very much worth reading (if ever I'm in the area in time for a meeting, I will certainly be begging to be allowed to sit in on it).

Emil Johansson (EJ), ‘LotR Project Blog’
No posts in January 2014

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’
Eight story-internal Tolkien-related posts in January 2014 (and two relating to the Peter Jackson films).

Bruce Charlton (BC), ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers’
2 Tolkien-related posts in January 2014: the review linked to above and a brief mention of Charlton's own first encounter with Tolkien's work.

= = = = Sources = = = =

New sources in January 2014

John Garth (JGa), ‘John Garth’

Aaron Diaz (AD) ‘The Silmarillion Project’

For older sources, see