As we all know, J R R Tolkien was, from an early age, fascinated by myth and heroic legend, reading all he could of the romances and epics of many nations. In a letter to Milton Waldman, which appears in the Preface to the second edition of The Silmarillion, he wrote that he was ‘grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own … Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with the English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing…’
The Professor, then, had little time for the legends of King Arthur; but he did make one foray into those tales, and we are about to be able to read for ourselves the results of those labours! Tomorrow, publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt release Tolkien’s narrative poem The Fall of Arthur, edited as ever by his son Christopher. HMH’s press release tells us:
‘The Fall of Arthur, the only venture by J.R.R. Tolkien into the legends of Arthur, king of Britain, may well be regarded as his finest and most skillful achievement in the use of Old English alliterative meter, in which he brought to his transforming perceptions of the old narratives a pervasive sense of the grave and fateful nature of all that is told: of Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, of Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, of the great sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, in the portrait of the traitor Mordred, in the tormented doubts of Lancelot in his French castle.’
Alas, Tolkien never finished his poem; but amongst his manuscripts were sketches and drafts, which included ‘significant tantalizing notes. In these notes can be discerned clear if mysterious associations of the Arthurian conclusion with The Silmarillion, and the bitter ending of the love of Lancelot and Guinevere, which was never written.’
It’s a day of celebration for Tolkien fans whenever we have a chance to read more of the Professor’s work, and gain further insight into the explorations which lead to his great myth of Middle-earth. You can read Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s full information about the book here; and you can order your copy from Amazon by clicking here. The Fall of Arthur will also be available as an e-book. Happy reading!
In his second of many articles for our worldwide community, Tedoras, long-time audience participant on our TORn TUESDAY webcast brings us a fascinating idea: a lost connection to the Beacons of Gondor perhaps… Read on for a short but very interesting look at how an ancient Biblical account may have inspired Tolkien! Take it away, Tedoras….
The (Biblical) Beacons of Gondor
By Tedoras — special to TheOneRing.net
This past April 28th happened to be the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the Counting of the Sheaves, to be more precise). Now, you are probably wondering how this little-known holiday relates to The Lord of the Rings(and, if you’re like me, you’d like to know what a “sheaf” is, too). It turns out a sheaf is a bundle for cereal plants—fortunately for us all, though, my story has nothing to do with Biblical agriculture. Rather, it begins with The Return of the King.
If you are like me, you love those amazing fly-by shots from The Lord of the Ringsfilms. One of the most epic sequences of such shots is the lighting of the beacons in ROTK(refresh your memory here). Whether your first encounter with these mountaintop fires was in literature or film, you probably thought it was an ingenious mode of communication. Certainly, they are by far the best means for sending urgent messages across long distances (and I hope the Gondorian who urged their construction was handsomely rewarded). In order to see the connection between these beacons and the aforementioned holiday, it is important to know the story of Lag B’Omer.
In short, Lag B’Omer commemorates a revolt in the year 131 CE. The Israelites, under the leadership of Bar Kochba, rose up against the Romans, who ruled the land at that time. Years before the Romans came, the Israelites had built a series of m’durot, or bonfires, upon the surrounding mountains. So, when the revolt began, (you guessed it) Bar Kochba ordered a beacon lit. A soldier took a torch to the top of a mountain, lit one the beacons, and thus sent word around the land that war had begun.
Certainly, the use of the beacons of Gondor to call for Rohan’s aid is reminiscent of this episode. Yet, was Tolkien inspired by this Biblical tale in his creation of the beacons? On the one hand, we know Tolkien was well-versed in the Bible; his contemporaneous English education saw to that. Furthermore, Tolkien was a lifelong scholar—thus, if not in school, it is likely he would have encountered this story on his own. Assuming Tolkien was acquainted with this tale, the unanswerable question here, of course, is whether or not he consciously recognized the Bible as their source.
However, on the other hand, a case can certainly be made that Tolkien knew not of the story of Bar Kochba’s revolt. For a realm the size of Gondor, it would make sense to have a system for mass-communication in the event of any important occurrence. And, while these beacons also housed fresh horses on stand-by for couriers, it is clear that signal fires would be a much faster means. The independent invention of the beacons is not only possible in terms of the technology available to Gondor at the time, but it is also becoming of the prudence and wisdom of the Gondorian kings of Old.
This is one of many familiar situations to us Tolkien fans: is there a “right” answer here? Personally, I do not think it really matters; I intended only to present a surprising and uncanny resemblance upon which I happened to stumble. But, of course, such a topic is up for interpretation—so I will let you decide for yourself.
Back in September 1999, these were the questions on the minds of fans…
Q:What role did Glorfindel play after the incident at the Fords of Bruinen? I don’t remember any further mention of him and it seems strange that such a noble Elven Lord would not be involved at all in the War of the Ring.
- Quinton Carr
A: He wasn’t. But if you think about it, many “noble Elven lords” did not do anything *active* in the War after the Fellowship left Rivendell or Lorien. Elrond, Celeborn, noble Elven ladies like Galadriel, Arwen . . . their roles were peripheral. Not to mention the fact that I’m sure both Elrond and Celeborn had a goodly number of strong, well-armed Elves at their disposal, who didn’t go with the Fellowship *or* down to the battles in Gondor. But the answer is actually pretty simple, and Elrond gives it to us in “Fellowship:” “The number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy. Had I a host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor.” So that explains why none of them went with the Fellowship. Why did none of these mighty Elves save Elrohir and Elladan ride down to Gondor once it was clear that there would be battle? My answer has a couple of parts. Firstly, Elrohir and Elladan, according to the Tale of Years, were born after the wars at the end of the Second Age when Sauron was thrown down, and were not a party to them as their father was. They’d never gotten their “chance,” so to speak. As for the rest of them, they had all gone to war against Sauron at the end of the Second Age. They felt their time had passed, and moreover that the hour of the Secondborn was striking. They knew that the power of their Rings would fade if Frodo was successful, and that Men would rise and Elves would dwindle. They must have felt it was right for the men, i.e. the armies of Gondor and Rohan, to earn for themselves the privilege of ushering in the Fourth Age.
Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen started filming the last block for ‘The Hobbit’ Monday, May 20 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Peter Jackson updated his personal Facebook page today to let fans know that filming for “The Hobbit,” has begun. He called the block of filming, “Our last ever Tolkien pick ups,” He also promises a new video blog soon although that could mean a day, a week or a month.
Stuff.co.nz tracks the production carefully for its New Zealand (and worldwide audience) and they recently posted a story explaining that Monday, May 20 would be the first day of shooting. They were even kind enough to cite TheOneRing.net as a source. The story also updates with info from social media channels including Luke Evans and Adam Brown. TheOneRing.net did a five-week stint on the set for reporting on the second film. We will release them, to use a Jackson declaration, soon.
It’s been over 12 years since some of these common Tolkien related questions have been answered, so what better time then to repost some of them for the newbies. Contained in this post are some newbie classics….Why do the Eagles always show up at the last minute? Why did Sauron not just come forth to war? Why do the Black Riders seem to be so weak? Read on…
Q:Greetings masters of lore. My question deals with the Nazgul. I know of Khamul, but I have not found the names of the other Nazgul. If they had names, what were they as well as who were they prior to their transformation? Furthermore, is there any story about their creation and why Sauron decided to choose them specifically?
A:Khamul seems to be the only named Ringwraith. What we know of him is given in the section “The Hunt for the Ring” in Unfinished Tales (1980). He was second to the Chief, and his name is given as Khamul the Shadow of the East. Some more about the Nazgul, or the Ulairi, can be found in some of the volumes of the History of Middle-earth, particularly in the section “The Story of Frodo and Sam in Mordor” in Sauron Defeated (1992), and in the work on the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings as printed in The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996). But, unfortunately, the histories of the men who became the Nazgul seems nowhere to be specifically illuminated. (more…)
Most people think Frodo is the true hero of The Lord of the Rings. To put it another way: It is accepted by nearly all readers that the novel is about Frodo. It’s his quest, his burden, he’s the focus. The little blurbs in magazines that are designed for the non-initiate read like this: “The story of a hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who is sent to destroy an evil Ring of power…” Sound like a good pitch? Not quite.
The main character is really Samwise Gamgee, though you may not know it. I’m telling you now, it’s all about Sam.
You can safely argue Frodo Baggins should be the centerpoint of the tale. In The Hobbit Bilbo had the limelight for an entire book, and no one came close to grandstanding him (except maybe Smaug). Seems like Tolkien intended to chronicle the history of the Baggins family; first through Bilbo’s adventures–then with Frodo inheriting more adventures than he bargained for.
Have you ever wanted to throw an amazing, authentic hobbit party like Bilbo Baggins’ 111th bash? Then join Kili to learn some tips and get started on planning your own “night to remember!” [Happy Hobbit: Hobbit Party - Episode 17]
What a fun movie! Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) came on board to be our wonderful narrator! Actually this film is a time capsule of many decades of pop culture history — giving us the full story on how the world has embraced Tolkien’s masterpiece THE LORD OF THE RINGS over 50 years and more!
Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, RINGERS was produced in association with TheOneRing.net — this remarkable little film was forged BY fans and FOR fans, just like our website, with the production/writing talent of Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway (who hosts TORn TUESDAY every week), Jeff Marchelletta, and supercool director Carlene Cordova. It was executive produced by X-Men/Transformers guru Tom DeSanto.
With a wonderful rock-driven score and detailing all the outpouring of love bestowed on Tolkien over many generations, this film is a must-have for your digital collection! Get it on iTunes now for only $9.99!
From the original Sony Press Release:
“RINGERS is comprehensive, entertaining and informative pop culture history.” – The Toronto Star
“…Will always be a salient part of ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ history…
See it, absorb it, love it.” – FilmThreat
Winner of “Outstanding Achievement” Award at the
Newport Beach Film Festival
FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY CAPTURES THE HISTORY, INFLUENCE AND PHENOMENON THAT IS LORD OF THE RINGS
CULVER CITY, Calif. (September 12, 2005) – Sony invites you to return to the Shirewith the release of the feature-length documentary RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS,direct to DVD.In association with the popular fan-site TheOneRing.net, Carlene Cordova produced, directed and wrote this award-winning film with executive producer Tom DeSanto(X-Men, X2: X-Men United and Transformers), which charts the incredible influence and ripple-effect that Lord of the Rings has had on worldwide pop culture over the past five decades.Whether you are a fan or first timer, critics agree, RINGERS, stands as the most comprehensive film documenting the ongoing impact of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary achievement.
Dominic Monaghan (star of ABC’s Lost and the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings trilogy) narrates the documentary as it looks behind the curtain between Lord of the Rings andhow it inspired so many artists of different mediums.The film moves beyond “cult classic” and through different generations unearthing the way legendary rock musicians, filmmakers, professors, actors and authors all unite under the banner of ‘Ringer.’Interviewees included in the film are Lord of the Rings trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson as well as Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin and David Carradine.Infused with a dynamic rock-driven score, irreverent cut-out animation (á la Terry Gilliam), and a centerpiece audience sing-a-long, RINGERS is a genre-busting documentary that shows how a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions.
RINGERS continues the momentum of the motion picture trilogy Lord of the Rings, a winner of 17 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson, who made history as the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously.
From the official synopsis:
Ringers: Lord of the Fans is a feature-length documentary that reveals the ongoing cultural phenomenon created by The Lord of the Rings. Very funny and often moving, Ringers shows the hidden power behind Tolkien’s books — and how after 50 years a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions, across cultures and across time.
Shot with groundbreaking new digital technology in 24P, Ringers explores the real foundations of Middle-earth; a community of true fans who share a common bond. Moving beyond “cult classic” and over several different generations, the film unearths academics, musicians, authors, filmmakers, and a plethora of pop junkies — the people gathered under the banner of ‘Ringer.’ From the hippie counter-culture to the electronic age; from the Bakshi animated film to Jackson’s epic trilogy; this documentary brings together extensive footage from across the globe. With units in Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Bonn, Germany, Wellington, New Zealand, and Oxford, England, our cameras capture the most fascinating “Ringers” and Lord of the Rings events.
What began as the private amusement of a tweedy Oxford professor has now become a new mythology for the 21st century. Ringers: Lord of the Fans shows how an adventure story published in 1954 has had dynamic ripple-effects through Western pop-culture. Ringers carefully pulls away the veil between Tolkien’s book and the creations of art, music, and community that have been inspired by it.
Sometimes TheOneRing is viewed as a movie-only website and that just isn’t true. While we don’t write as much in-house material as we once did in our Green Books section (which is full of gold and mithril and worth mining) we still try to represent as much of the wide and far ranging J.R.R. Tolkien fandom as possible with our all-volunteet staff.
So it is a real pleasure to help publicize events like the 3rd Conference on Middle-earth and its Part 2 scheduled for 2014 in Westford, MA. The word is getting out now to declare that the conference is currently accepting papers. Below is the full press release with links, some of which show how many decades back the event reaches:
The 3rd Conference On Middle-earth, Part 2, to be held March 28 – 30, 2014 in Westford, MA, USA, is currently soliciting papers, presentations, paper proposals, and panel proposals from persons with scholarly interest in any aspect of the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Suggested topics are: J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, influences on Tolkien, other works based on Tolkien’s writing, criticism, teaching Tolkien in the classroom, the books’ impact on oneself and/or the world, the films and the film industry, the music, the art, the fannish side of this universe and its impact, and anything you can imagine on topic. For examples of previous papers and panels, see the programming for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd conferences: 1st Conference, 2nd Conference, and 3rd Conference.
A few areas of interest are:
• The languages of Middle Earth: how Old English (including Anglo-Saxon riddles), the Eddas, etc. influenced TLOTR.
• Elements of northern European myths that appear in TLOTR.
• The impact of World War I on Tolkien and his writing.
• The impact of The Hobbit and TLOTR on 1960s and 1970s popular music.
• Artistic visions of Middle-earth.
• The astronomy of Middle-earth. [For example, when is Durin's Day?]
• The geography of Middle-earth.
• The geology of Middle-earth.
• The flora and fauna of Middle-earth.
• The clothing of Middle-earth both from the books and the films.
• The food of Middle-earth.
• The poetry and songs of Middle-earth.
Only members of the 3rd Conference On Middle Earth, Part 2, will be able to present and participate. Once papers and proposals have been accepted, the presenter/panelist will need to join the conference (the sooner the better, before rates go up), if they are not already members. If an author cannot be present, then arrangements can be made for a third party to read the paper. However, as indicated, the authors must be members of The 3rd Conference On Middle-earth, Part 2.
Paper Proposal: Please email a 250-word abstract including the presentation title, your name, e-mail address, your mailing address and phone number, or alternately a second e-mail address. The maximum reading time for the finished paper is 30 minutes, roughly 2000 words, though it may be less. We will confirm receipt of proposal by e-mail.
Panel Proposal: Please email the panel name and a 250-word abstract. Please include the panel title, the panel chair (who may be one of the presenters), e-mail address, the mailing address and phone number, or alternately a second e-mail address of each presenter. The receipt of proposal will be confirmed by e-mail.
Submit your proposal to: email@example.com.
Deadline for Submissions: You may submit a proposal up through Tuesday, 31 December 2013. Participation is limited, so submissions may close early—so it’s best to get a proposal in sooner rather than later.
NOTE: Confirmation of receipt of submissions does not guarantee acceptance for presentation.
Welcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun! (more…)
Last night I stumbled on this very clever post on TheOneRing.net’s boards. In it, user Skaan suggested that the promotional picture of Bilbo sprawled atop Smaug’s hoard could offer a guide to the size of Jackson’s version of Smaug (the Magnificent).
Well, we also saw Smaug’s head buried in that selfsame pile. So the size of the coins gives us a basis for comparison. (more…)
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