Sunday, April 11, 2021

Tolkien Society Awards announced

 So, this year's Tolkien Society awards  for excellence in Tolkien Scholarship have just been announced:

  • Ted Nasmith for best Tolkien-related artwork
    • Verlyn Flieger for best essay: “Defying and Defining Darkness"
    • Best book: JRRT's Unfinished Tales (illustrated edition)

    Congratulations to all the winners, and the nominees as well. Here's the link.

    --John R.

    --current reading: "Plato's Atlantis and the Post-Platonic Tradition in Tolkien's Downfall of Numenor" by Michael Kleu

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

    Two Roads Diverged

     So, today I finally managed to get the Covid vaccination. We were lucky and both got the one-shot Johnson & Johnson, and didn't even have to go more than about two miles away to reach the site.

    Here's hoping others who have been waiting will soon share in our luck.

    Ironically, today turns out to be exactly one year from when we wd have left for our big one-in-a-lifetime trip to see the pyramids and the sphinx, had the world not turned upside down.  I may go back in and rewatch some of the walking tours I dug out at the time we were planning our itinerary.

    --John R.

    --current reading: Kipling biography (just finished)

    --currently watching: The Russian FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

    Friday, April 9, 2021

    The New Arrivals

    So, two new books -- both of them on Tolkien -- have arrived within the last two weeks.

    The first is TOLKIEN & THE CLASSICAL WORLD, edited by Hamish Williams, a substantial volume of four hundred pages. This addresses a topic you'd have thought wd have received a lot of attention before, but oddly has been the subject of just the occasional essay, like Reckford's piece from 1987 on Bilbo and Odysseus. The only previous book I know of on the topic is Morse's slim little volume (circa 1986), which is more a pamphlet than a full size book.  I'm particularly looking forward to the pieces on Atlantis, the Ring of Gyges, and Rohan.

    The second is THE SCIENCE OF MIDDLE-EARTH, edited by Roland Lehoucq, Loic Mangin, & Jean-Sebastien Steyer. Oddly enough, the title page doesn't list the authors of the individual essays; you have to turn to the first page of each essay for that. There's been a book on this topic before (Henry Gee's eminently readable 2004 book, also called THE SCIENCE OF MIDDLE-EARTH) but even a quick glance shows there's much more to say. Another slightly unusual feature of this book is that its contributors seem to mostly have a French background, as opposed the the US/UK background of most writers of books on Tolkien.

    Two other non-Tolkienian titles I'm reading as ebooks are a biography of Kipling (who turns out to be a deeply unsympathetic figure) and a light novel series. 

    Soon there will be the latest in the Murderbot series. In the meantime, Clarke's PIRANESI is waiting in the wings.

    So many good, or potentially good, books waiting . . . 

    --John R.


    Thursday, April 8, 2021

    Soos Creek

    Today I saw not a wicker-man but a wicker-unicorn.

    Talk about mixed signals.

    --John R.  

    Friday, March 26, 2021

    A million dollars won't buy Tolkien's house

    So, the attempt to crowd-fund the purchase of Tolkien's house on Northmoor Road* has fallen through through lack of funding. Their goal was four and a half million pounds but in US money they only got one million dollars pledged out of six million dollar goal. 

    They're currently going with their backup plan of establishing a Tolkien center elsewhere in Oxford which wd offer tours, tea, and talks. The first of these, an online course in writing fantasy, is scheduled for April 20th.

    --John R

    *or to be more accurate, one of Tolkien's houses on Northmoor Road (he'd previously lived next door)

    Thursday, March 25, 2021

     So,  how many copies of THE LORD OF THE RINGS does one man need?

    The answer: apparently, one more:

    --John R. 

    So, I've been reading some Kipling and was reminded of W. H. Auden's belief  that history will forgive an author his or her personal failings so long as the work is good.  That seems to run counter to the current milieu. 


     Time  . . .

    Worships language and forgives

    Everyone by whom it lives . . .


    Time with this strange excuse

    Pardoned Kipling and his views

    And will pardon Paul Claudel

    Pardons him for writing well.

                —W. H. Auden, 1939