Category Archive 'J.R.R. Tolkien'
02 Apr 2014

Some Tastes Differ

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Unknown, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1593, University of North Carolina.

[In the Fall of 1944, at the Bird & Bush, C.S. Lewis told J.R.R. Tolkien and the other Inklings about an elderly lady he knew]:

“She was a student of English in the past days of Sir Walter Raleigh. At her viva she was asked: What period would you have liked to live in Miss B? In the 15C. said she. Oh come, Miss B., wouldn’t you have liked to meet the Lake poets? No, sir, I prefer the society of gentlemen. Collapse of viva.”

–Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher Tolkien, 6 October 1944, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 95.

21 Mar 2014

Tolkien the Soldier

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The King Edward School (Birmingham) Cadet Corps in 1907. The 15-Year-Old J.R.R. Tolkien (mouth open) is fourth from the left in the middle row.

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24-Year-Old Second Lieutenant J.R.R. Tolkien, Lancashire Fusiliers, 1916.

A school photo of the schoolboy J.R.R. Tolkien in Cadet Corps uniform recently made the British papers after being unearthed from the archives of his old school in Birmingham.

The Kind Edward School Cadet Corps had just been founded in march of 1907, and had the honor of being inspected by Lord Roberts of Kandahar in April.

Not many years later, most of these boys would find themselves as junior officers with the life expectancy of a mayfly on the Western Front. Tolkien participated in the Battle of the Somme, specifically in the assaults on the Schwaben Redoudt and the Leipzig salient, but happily survived, when so many others did not, because he was incapacitated by trench fever. He spent the rest of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duty, having been found medically unfit for further front-line service.

Via John Garth.

08 Mar 2014

Two Tolkien Fan Films

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Did you know that there was a fan-made 38 minute long Lord of the Rings prequel out there already seen by over ten million viewers? I had not.

The Hunt for Gollum 38:31

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One thing leads to another and I soon found that there is also Born of Hope (2009) 71 minutes.

22 Jan 2014

Stop Bullying in Middle Earth

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01 Dec 2013

Another Air New Zealand Middle Earth Commercial

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12 Jun 2013

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Trailer

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First Hobbit, Part 2 trailer. Peter Jackson will clearly be supplying an abundance of action, along with a brand-new, uncanonical character: a female elf named Tauriel, described by Evangeline Lilly (who is playing the role) as “slightly reckless and totally ruthless, [and who] doesn’t hesitate to kill.”

It opens December 13th next.

08 May 2013

Tolkien’s “Philomythus to Misomythus”

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Tolkien wrote Philomythus to Misomythus as a rejoinder to one [C.S. Lewis] who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though ‘breathed through silver’.

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

03 Apr 2013

Cursed Roman Ring Which Inspired Tolkien Goes On Display

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A Roman ring, found in a farmer’s field (presumably part of what was once the Roman town Calleva Atrebatum) near Silchester, Hampshire in 1785 in some unknown manner wound up preserved in the library of The Vyne, a stately 16th century home belonging (until 1958, damn Socialism!) to the Chute family.

The ring bears an image of Venus and a Latin inscription. That inscription apparently connects the ring to a Latin curse tablet found by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in an excavation of a temple complex associate with the god Nodens at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire.

The lead curse tablet read:

DEVO NODENTI SILVIANVS ANILVM PERDEDIT DEMEDIAM PARTEM DONAVIT NODENTI INTER QVIBVS NOMEN SENICIANI NOLLIS PETMITTAS SANITATEM DONEC PERFERA VSQVE TEMPLVM DENTIS

For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one-half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus permit no good-health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens.

Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1929 apparently consulted with J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford about the natural hypothesis that the Silchester ring, with the inscription “SENI???”, might be the very same ring Silvianus had lost.

Tolkien took an interest in the matter, visited the Gloucestershire temple complex several times, and made a point of looking into the etymology of the name of the god Nodens.

It is believed today that it was this real world story of a lost, and very improbably rediscovered, gold ring, bearing an inscription, and weighted with a curse that may very well have been the inspiration of the One Ring featured in The Hobbit which appeared in 1937.

In any event, the Silchester ring is now being put on display by the combined efforts of the Tolkien Society and the National Trust in a newly-established “Ring Room” in The Vyne.

BBC story

The Register

National Trust page

04 Mar 2013

If George R.R. Martin Had Written LOTR

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Fantasy author L.B. Gale observes that the death-rate among the good guys would have been considerably higher.

It used to be that Joss Whedon was the go-to-guy when you wanted to complain about authors mercilessly killing off characters, but once (spoiler alert!) Ned Stark’s death became a part of popular culture canon, George R. R. Martin took over that throne.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

05 Feb 2013

Saruman, the Bold But Incompetent Fireman

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Adrian Simmons delves deep into Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales to identify Saruman’s actual mission in Middle Earth and then attempts to put the white wizard’s motives, policies, and machinations into proper perspective.

Sarumon didn’t have time to build a big enough army of half-orcs to stand against Sauron, so Plan A is shot all to hell, and he didn’t get his hands on the Ring, so there goes Plan B, and thanks to the remarkable willpower of those scruffy Hobbits, he can’t take refuge under Sauron’s massive cloak (where I feel confident that Sarumon would have convinced himself that he’d affect long-term change from within the organization). His pride– something that is a key part of his very being is stung — so what does he do? Well, he goes and screws with the Hobbits because he can. Because there is no one else for him to take revenge on. In a creepy way he still won’t turn a hand against Men or Elves, and the Ents have already handed him his ass (and, well, Radagast might be a harder opponent than Sarumon’s tough talk implies).

I have no idea what Sarumon is thinking in taking over the Shire, yes he is spiteful, he is vengeful-minded, but again he has totally not turned completely from his path. He doesn’t, as far as I know, do anything to the Hobbits himself, even to Frodo. So what the heck is he doing in the Shire? What is his long-term plan? Plan D, I think, is that the new age is just starting, and that if you give him another century (and what is a century to Sarumon?), he will build a great thing, a great kingdom, the Elves and the Men will have to deal with Sarumon, one way or another.

Back to the firefighter analogy: just as the incompetent firefighter gets himself into trouble and diverts energy and materials away from the fire itself, so does Sarumon.

He refers to Saruman as being like “a bold, but incompetent fireman,” but what he is really getting at is the famous classification of officers, usually attributed to Field Marshal Count von Moltke:

Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!”

Saruman is the stupid and industrious officer.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

23 Jun 2012

Gandalf’s Function

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Hat tip to The Meta Picture via Kathleen Wagner.

22 Dec 2011

“The Hobbit” (2012) Trailer

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To be released December 14, 2012.

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