Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tolkien Transactions VI

Well, as typical in the six weeks from the beginning of October to just before Thanksgiving, the teacher of 5 college level courses, 3 of which are writing courses, and four of which are new preps, is swamped with only occasional forays into thinking about other things. Sadly, none of them blog related. So while I have a half post on the Undark "Dark" Ages that I hope to finish next week, very little has been done here, or really anywhere in my "life of the mind" corner of existence. Soon to change for a few weeks before the final projects come in and time to finish off the semester and begin prepping for the next.

While I start writing again, an internet friend by the name of Troels Forschammer has posted on Usenet in Tolkien related groups a collection of blog posts and other related Tolkienana on the web each month. That is a welcome addition to Tolkien studies I think. I also think his efforts deserve a wider audience than the Usenet groups. So I offered to share his posts here for those interested in things Tolkien, and Troels accepted. So this is the sixth in Troels' series, for October 2010, and I'm a bit behind in posting it since Troels sent it to me a few weeks ago. Still, it should prove useful to folks. Thanks for doing this, Troels! I think it a real service to other Tolkien readers, fans, and scholars.

Tolkien Transactions VI October 2010

The time has come for a new issue of my attempt to extract the best or most interesting (in my highly subjective estimate) of Tolkien-related events this past month. This time I have ignored a lot of things such as the news that Tolkien is the third-highest earning dead celebrity (following Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley), that _Mythlore_ can be read at the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ site, a theory about Lewis being inspired to prolificacy (shot down in the comments), that some author has made a snide remark at Lewis and Tolkien in a footnote in his autobiography and a lot of other items. Still, as usual, please chime in with interesting stuff that you have found elsewhere! All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)


John D. Rateliff (JDR) - "Sacnoth's Scriptorium"

Jason Fisher (JF) - "Lingwë - Musings of a Fish"

Michael Drout (MD) - "Wormtalk and Slugspeak"

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) - "Too Many Books and Never Enough"

Pieter Collier (PC) - "The Tolkien Library"

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. - "Wormwoodiana"

Corey Olsen (CO), "The Tolkien Professor"

David Bratman (DB), "Calimac"

Larry Swain (LS), "The Ruminate"

'Wellinghall', "Musings of an Aging Fan"

Various, 'The Northeast Tolkien Society' (NETS),

"Heren Istarion"

Bruce Charlton (BC), "Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers"

_Mythprint_ -- 'The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society'

_Amon Hen_ -- the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society - and others


JF, Thursday, October 28, 2010, "Parma Eldalamberon 19"

The announcement that _Parma Eldalamberon_ 19 has gone to the printer. The issue will be available for shipping by November 15 according to the journal's web-site:

PC, Wednesday, October 20, 2010 "Lot of correspondence between J.R.R. Tolkien and Roger Verhulst"

From the description at the Tolkien Library site: 'Very interesting lot of letters discussing Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis. and the unpublished book by W.H. Auden on J.R.R. Tolkien.' I fully agree that this is a 'very interesting lot of letters' -- offered for sale, but if you're only interested in the contents, you can read them on the Tolkien Library site (thanks to Pieter for making these available for fans on a tight budget!)

PC, Tuesday, October 19, 2010, "A one page handwritten letter signed J.R.R. Tolkien to BBC Radio Producer Terence Tiller" The Tolkien Library offers a handwritten Tolkien letter for sale. While this in itself is possibly interesting to fans with a bigger Tolkien budget than mine, the letter itself is not without interest. Writing to BBC Radio Producer Terence Tiller, Tolkien gives his permission to Tiller to make an adaptation for radio of _The Lord of the Rings_, but he also expresses his doubts about how such an adaptation can be achieved. The story on the Tolkien Library site also includes a good, fairly high resolution, scan of the letter.

'Compa_Might', Monday, October 18, 2010, "Tolkien & Co. Return in The Dragon's Apprentice"

Does any of you know the series _The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica_? Apparently this series features three Inklings, Tolkien, Lewis and Williams, as 'Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica', doing some fantastic things. The series has its own web-site at It'd be interesting to hear if anyone knows this series and what they think about it.

JF, Tuesday, October 12, 2010, "The contents of Middle-earth and Beyond"

This is an announcement of the list of contents for the upcoming book, _Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien_, edited by Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kašcáková. At 150 pages, I can't help but wonder what the price will be (at the time of writing this, the book does not yet show up for pre-order anywhere that I can find)? The earlier volume that Jason speaks of (_Thruths Breathed Through Silver: The Inklings' Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy_) sells at £25.49 at Amazon UK, so we should probably expect something in the same range. I agree with Jason that the list of contents does look promising (in addition to Jason's essay, there are two essays on Tom Bombadil, one about 'Grotesque Characters' in _TH_ and _LotR_ and other promising titles as well), and I will look forward to the reviews.

JDR, Monday, October 11, 2010, "Ransome's Tolkien"
I know that there is more to it than that, but right now I'm envious
enough to accuse John Rateliff of blogging about this just to spite
all of us fans who will never get a chance to hold this treasure in
our hands ;-) The item in question is the advance page proof copy
of _The Lord of the Rings_ that was sent to Arthur Ransome by Allen
& Unwin at Tolkien's suggestion and in the hope that he would write
"a sentence or two about it which we could use to assist in ensuring
that it gets rapid recognition as the work of genius it undoubtedly
See also the items at the book-seller's page:

Kelly Faircloth, Saturday, October 9, 2010, "How to learn from
Tolkien without flat-out copying him: Top fantasy writers speak!"
A panel discussion with authors Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson,
Naomi Novik, Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, and debut author
Deborah Harkness speaking about their influences, and whether
fantasy writers are still knocking off Tolkien.

Oskar Stevens, Friday, October 8, 2010, "Tree man rumored to star in
new Tolkien movie"
Sometimes the news in which Tolkien's name appears are . . .
grotesque to say the least. The story of the Indonesian Dede is
certainly one of those (the above is just one of many links to
variations of this story). I shan't say why this story suddenly
(re-)surfaces, but as one commenter said, the poor man has probably
had his full of being the freak. Fortunately there are no Ents in
_The Hobbit_ and Aragorn hadn't encountered them either prior to the
War of the Ring, so I hope that he is safe from Hollywood for now.

JF, Thursday, October 7, 2010, "The new issue of Mythlore"
I guess this really ought to read 'The upcoming issue of Mythlore'
as Jason is announcing the table of contents and that the issue has
gone to the printer. My copy has not yet arrived in Denmark, but
surely it can't be long now . . .

_Greenwich Citizen_, Wednesday, October 6, 2010, "Lewis and Tolkien
Expedition: Expert to explore two literary figures in lecture"
This is the story about the Rev. Dr. Earl F. Palmer giving a lecture
in Greenwich about Tolkien and Lewis titled 'Defiant Traditionalists
Who Believed in God - J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis'. Apart from
what is listed here, does anyone know more about Palmer's work on
Tolkien and Lewis?

JDR, Saturday, October 2, 2010, "Christine O'Donnell, Tolkien
Following the sudden rise to notoriety of O'Donnell, Rateliff
comments on her paper, thinking that '[o]n the whole, this is a
decent little piece' and that '[w]here O'Donnell is on much firmer
ground is in her discussion of Eowyn'. In the end, his conclusion is
that he would 'like to see more work in the field from the intern!'
The intern being O'Donnell's niece, Jenna Murry.

The Hobbit films . . .
As in September the planned films inspired by Tolkien's _The Hobbit_
make up a very large proportion of the news-stories mentioning
Tolkien's name. It appears that there have been some four main
stories to cover this month: the negotiations concerning the
financial re-organisation of MGM resulting about mid-month in the
go-ahead for the film, the troubles with the New Zealand actors',
that Peter Jackson is taking over as director of the films after
Guillermo del Toro left the project in May, that Jackson's _Hobbit_
may become the most expensive film ever made (until it is surpassed
by some other film). The clear runner-up has been all the casting
stories. I'll let you in on a little secret: I really do not care! I
will go see the film (with my expectations probably better adjusted
this time round . . .), and I am grateful for the attention the
films have created for Tolkien's work, but as for the rest of the
media attention on the upcoming films I'd much rather that it'd go

Essays and Scholarship

BC, Saturday, 30 October 2010, "Evidence to prove Tolkien's nervous
breakdown 1945-6"

BC, Saturday, October 30, 2010, "1945-6 Tolkien's darkest time -
whilst writing the Notion Club Papers"
This is why I am subscribed to various other news-feeds that deliver
me tons of uninteresting (or worse) items. Bruce Charlton is here
blogging about _The Notion Club Papers_ and in these two posts
Charlton argues that Tolkien was having a nervous breakdown in the
period of 1945-6 when he was working on this book rather than on
LotR, arguing further that Tolkien experiences during this time
influenced his writing also when he took up writing LotR again. I'll
happily go through another thousand drab and irrelevant items to
discover another interesting source such as this.

Unknown, Monday, October 25, 2010, ""Rationality" sets science
fiction apart from fantasy"
This article reports on an essay by one Simone Caroti who argues
that the use of estrangement and cognition is the key factor
separating science fiction from fantasy. The author of this review /
commentary agrees to a large extent with Caroti, but not entirely.
Caroti's paper is also available on-line from
<>. I haven't had
time to read Caroti's paper, so I cannot very well comment on this,
but I remain sceptical of this attempt to create a distinction
between science fiction and fantasy (between magic and technology)
that is based on rationality -- that 'that science fiction uses a
"plausible rational framework" to support the speculative aspects of
the story.' as the unknown author of the review puts it.

Anthony and Jessica, Sunday, October 17, 2010, ""Frodo Lives!"...Or
Does He?"
An obituary for Len Rosenberg, Tolkien enthusiast, a 'part of the
original New York Tolkien Society, founded by Richard "Dick" Plotz'
and partner of the late Alexei Kondratiev. Also posted here is a
link to Len's 1973 college paper titled, as the blog-post, '"Frodo
Lives!"...Or Does He?', which deals with the reception of Tolkien's
work in the US.

DB, Friday, October 15, 2010, "religion in Middle-earth"
Also posted to the Mythsoc Yahoo mailing list:
David Bratman responds to two parallel queries on the Mythsoc list,
from John Rateliff asking which books on Tolkien and religion that
the members on the list could recommend, and by Ellen Denham asking
for input for a panel she was to appear in where the starting point
was Lin Carter's criticism of the lack of religion in Tolkien's
LotR. Acting both as a response directly to Lin Carter as well as a
more general commentary on the question and the most relevant of the
available books on the subjec this is a highly recommendable

JS, Friday, October 8, 2010, "J.K. Rowling among the Inklings"
I have already discussed this blog-post in a separate thread, so I
won't go into details with it here. The thread can be found on
Google here:


I have agreed (truth be told, I eagerly offered to do it) to write
the review of _Tolkien Studies_ vol. 7 for _Mallorn_, the journal of
the Tolkien Society, so I expect to also post some longer reviews of
the articles in the Tolkien newsgroups.

DB, Thursday, October 28, 2010, "Beowulf iss meyn nahma"
Bratman's been to see a performance of the first part of _Beowulf_
(ending, as far as I can make out, about line 1060) recited in the
original Anglo-Saxon. I'd certainly love to try that, though I'm
afraid I'd have to spend a lot of time studying the poem to get
ready (I can, with the help of a modern translation, only just make
sense of the Anglo-Saxon text -- see e.g.

Gray Hunter, Sunday, October 24, 2010, "Book Review: _The Music of
The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard
Shore's Scores_ by Doug Adams"
While reading this review -- in particular so soon after reading
Jessica Burke's account of the performance at Radio City below -- I
had the idea that what I would really like to do was to have a
version of Jackson's films that is purged of all acting: a version
that shows scenes, settings, landscapes only, and where actors, if
present at all, are only a part of the setting. they are not trying
to do plot. This version of the films, I would have shown while
listening to a live performance of Howard Shore's music, and thus I
would have the two things that they really got exactly right in the
New Line Cinema films.

JDR, Thursday, October 21, 2010, "A Day at Marquette (part two)"
So, this ends up here ;-) Starting as the second part of Rateliff's
report of his stay at the Marquette (looking, among other things,
into Taum Santoski's papers and Boorman's LotR script), this post
continues to explain how he found himself with a copy of a new(ish)
book, _Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman,
Lewis, Tolkien, Macdonald, and Hoffman_ by William Gray, because of
references to Rateliff's own work in the book. To cut it short, the
book has made Rateliff reconsider his policy of not buying books on
multiple authors, even if one of them is Tolkien.

Jessica Burke, Monday, October 11, 2010, "Howard Shore's Musical
Score at Radio City"
Jessica Burke went to hear the live performance of Howard Shore's
score for Peter Jackson's _The Two Towers_ film together with the
other char of the North East Tolkien Society, but though she loved
the score, she was not happy about the experience, feeling that the
simultaneous screening of the Jackson film took attention away from
the music, and that a not insignificant fraction of the audience was
there not for the music, but for the film.

Reading LotR

One Elethena is blogging at the Northeast Tolkien Society web-site,
Heren Istarion. Elethena is evidently reading LotR in connection
with a class, but whether as a student or teacher is not clear to
me. Most of these pieces are fairly short and quickly read, but they
nevertheless make some interesting reflections.

Elethena, Monday, October 25, 2010, "Of Rohan and Gondor"
A commentary on 'The Battle of the Pelennor Fields' focusing on the
differences in the ways that Denethor on one side and Éowyn and
Éomer on the other side deal with their despair.

Elethena, Wednesday, October 20, 2010, "To Defend a Land Worth
Saving: For the Love of Gondor"
When Gondor appear on the brink of ruin at the start of book five,
we _care_ -- and this is no coincidence, but a concern that is
carefully built up by Tolkien according to Elethena.

Elethena, Wednesday, October 13, 2010, "Rohan, Home of the Horse
Lords, Northern Courage and Blatant Disobedience"
Reflections on the differences between loyalty and obedience as
exemplified by the Rohirrim: 'Faithful heart may have forward
tongue', says Théoden, but the faithful heart may also be forward in
other ways and yet be even more faithful for that.

Elethena, Sunday, October 3, 2010, "The Lady and the Golden Wood"
On the peril and beauty of Galadriel in particular, but by extension
also Elves in general, to mortal Men.

Elethena, Monday, September 27, 2010, "Of Wargs, Shippey, and Middle
Earth, the Land Worth Saving: Musings on The Fellowship of the
Mostly on the topic of the _land_ itself: on the value that Tolkien
ascribes to the very lands the company come to.

Other Stuff

_Mythlore_, vol. 47 no. 10, October 2010, Whole no. 339
This issue of _Mythlore_ is dedicated to Alan Garner in celebration
of the fiftieth anniversary of the release of his first novel, _The
Weirdstone of Brisingamen_. The reviews are interesting and
readable, but not really relevant here, and so there is, this month,
very little of direct Tolkien relevance.
Under the heading "Free Lecture on J.R.R. Tolkien" we find the
following announcement:
Long-time Mythopoeic Society Member and Pro-fessor Mike
Foster will discuss ‚J.R.R. Tolkien and the Languages of
His Legendarium. at 6:00 PM, Monday, November 29, 2010, in
the Prucha Archives Reading Room in Raynor Library (1355 W.
Wisconsin Avenue) at Marquette University.
If any AFT/RABT poster has the opportunity and inclination to go, I
for one would be very interested in a report.

_Amon Hen_ 225, September 2010,
Ian Collier, "Announcements"
The good news is that the talks given at the TS Oxonmoots are now
going to be collected and published in some form of proceedings --
the Peter Roe Booklets were mentioned, but possibly just as an
example of format.
Angela Nicholas, "Halbarad Dúnadan: an unsung hero"
An attempt to look at the (scarce) evidence that illuminates
Halbarad's character, with an associated attempt (albeit this is not
stated quite in quite as forthright a manner) to stretch this
evidence to breaking point in extrapolation. Still, if you have an
interest in Halbarad, these four (!) pages will tell you all there
is to know -- and then some :-)

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