It’s a topical question as the final film of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit approach: Tolkien emphasises that the bridge over to Lake-town functions as a protection against enemies — and especially the dragon of the Mountain. But why would Smaug need to cross a bridge in order to attack Lake-town? After all, he has wings. (more…)Posted in Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Archive for the ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’ Category
The folks of the TORn message board Reading Room, the section of our forums devoted to discussion of Tolkien’s literary works, have just put out for a call for papers for the fourth TORn Amateur Symposium (also known as TAS4).
Previous TORn Amateur Symposiums have published essays on topics as varied as The Physics of The Hobbit, The Corrupting Nature of The One Ring, Concepts of Healing in Middle-earth, The Matter of Glorfindel, and Music and Race in Howard Shore’s Score.
For this TAS, the team of Brethil, Elaen32 and DanielLB are looking for papers that all touch upon The Lord of the Rings in some way.
TAS is an opportunity for those who love Middle-earth to share their ideas on Tolkien-related subjects in a longer written form. (more…)Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Miscellaneous, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien
Don’t forget to follow the link to read the entire article; it’s definitely worth the time.
It’s a testament to the genius of Professor Tolkien that each time we open the pages of his books, we feel like we’ve entered the world of Middle-earth. But just imagine for a moment, that you were not just a passive observer of Frodo’s quest – but a true participant and member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Well, beginning July 31 on ABC, the reality show The Quest will place 12 reality contestants into a very similar scenario. They will be dropped into a scripted fantasy world reminiscent of the stories of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, as they embark on an epic adventure.Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Miscellaneous, Television
Similarities and differences. Or as Tolkien might have put it, bones and soup. It’s the never-ending, never truly answerable question of who owes whom what.
In this recent article on the BBC, Jane Ciabattari examined how The Lord of the Rings has influenced the creator of A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin.
Fair enough. (more…)Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Return of the King, The Two Towers, Tolkien
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 the fun!Posted in Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien
In our latest Library piece, TORn feature writer Tedoras discusses 10 key excerpts from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous lecture On Fairy Stories.
In case you’ve never read it, On Fairy Stories (which Tolkien first delivered as a lecture in 1939) examines the fairy-story as a literary form, and explains Tolkien’s philosophy of what fantasy is, and how it ought to work. As Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson write in their introduction to the expanded 2008 reprint, On Fairy Stories is “[Tolkien's] most explicit analysis of his own art”.
The virtues of fairy-stories
Professor Tolkien—as he was known then—was a very busy man in 1938. Not only was he beginning to develop what would become The Lord of the Rings, but he also delivered at this time one of his most famous lectures, titled “On Fairy-stories.” (more…)Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien
As you know, in May this year J R R Tolkien’s translation of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf was finally published. This beautiful volume, edited by Christopher Tolkien, also includes commentary on the poem and the task of translating it (taken from the Professor’s own lectures); J R R Tolkien’s own Old English poem, ‘Sellic Spell’ (in both the Anglo Saxon and modern English); and a poem ‘The Lay of Beowulf’, again written by the Professor.
As someone who studied Old English and Middle English at University, and having read both Beowulf and Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I had long been curious about the Professor’s Beowulf translation. It’s been a long wait for this text to be published – and it doesn’t disappoint!
The first thing one notices about the book is what a lovely edition it is. A black hardback with gold lettering on the spine, the book has a paper jacket, which features three of Tolkien’s own illustrations – including on the front a beautiful green dragon, curled like knotwork and delicately coloured. This image and the lettering on the front and spine, in white and gold, are raised – a nice touch which adds to the luxurious feel of this book. (If you want to go REALLY luxurious, Harper Collins, Tolkien’s publishers in Europe, have a special slipcase edition. As I think this is a text to which I will want to refer again and again, I may start saving my pennies for that edition…)
As ever, Christopher Tolkien’s Preface and Notes are helpful and insightful. In the Preface, he addresses the issues of translation: how does one choose the right word to capture all the nuance and implication of a word in another language? There are always multiple options; which one gives the best ‘feel’ of the original? Judging from J R R Tolkien’s lectures, this was something he pondered – and changed his mind about! – over the years, and as such he came back to and edited his translation. Christopher has done his best to put together the ‘final’ version, but as he writes, the text is ‘in one sense complete, but at the same time evidently ‘unfinished”. The interesting notes provided illuminate any question marks over word choices.
Christopher also points out another of the inherent difficulties in preparing such a volume for publication. In the Preface, he quotes from one of his father’s letters to Rayner Unwin, with regard to the publication of the translation of Sir Gawain:
- ‘I am finding the selection of notes, and compressing them, and the introduction, difficult. Too much to say, and not sure of my target. The main target is, of course, the general reader of literary bent but with no knowledge of Middle English; but it cannot be doubted that the book will be ready by students, and by academic folk…’
This difficulty of target audience, however, turns out not to be an issue for the volume Christopher Tolkien has put together here; it is neatly arranged so as to be easy for the reader to take from it what he or she wishes. If you are only interested in reading Beowulf in modern English, so be it; if you are curious about Tolkien’s notes, they are there for you; if you want to see how J R R Tolkien crafted a poem in Anglo-Saxon, you can read his ‘Sellic Spell’ in Old English – but it’s there in modern English, too. Thus this volume can appeal to academics and ‘lay’ readers alike. (My only slight disappointment is that it does not include the AS Beowulf side by side with Tolkien’s translation; but that extra content would perhaps be superfluous, and certainly it would make the volume rather more weighty!)
The translation itself is in prose – but with an extraordinary sense of the rhythm and shape of the Anglo-Saxon verse. As Christopher writes (in the Introduction), ‘…my father, as it seems to me, determined to make a translation as close as he could to the exact meaning in detail of the Old English poem, far closer than could ever be attained by translation into ‘alliterative verse’, but nonetheless with some suggestion of the rhythm of the original.’ To my ear, Tolkien’s version has a strong feeling of the verse shapes; the two phrase pattern of Old English poetry seems very much to inform the structure of his sentences, and there is a beautiful musicality to the shape of the language. This occasionally means that the syntax is a little complicated, and one needs to read the line aloud to work out the exact meaning – but this is no bad thing. Beowulf is a poem which is meant to be spoken aloud – and I think this translation would be wonderful as a bedtime story!
(Tolkien’s detailed, prose translation is a great companion to Seamus Heaney’s verse translation; the two translations together shed much light on the scope, the energy and the feel of the original Anglo-Saxon poem.)
I haven’t yet read all of the other content of this publication. I’m excited to discover ‘Sellic Spell’: it is referred to on the book’s fly leaf as ‘a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folktale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the northern kingdoms.’ This makes me wonder if it ties in to Tolkien’s desire to create a English mythology; perhaps this is his version of a specifically English (rather than Danish or Norse) telling of the tale of Grendel and his vanquisher.
‘The Lay of Beowulf’ consists of two poems in ballad form, telling the same stories of the monster and the hero. Tolkien himself had noted, of these texts, ‘Intended to be sung’ – and charmingly, Christopher writes that he remembers ‘his singing this ballad to me when I was seven or eight years old.’ What a delight – again, these poems would make excellent bedtime reading!
I have yet to discover fully all the joys of this publication, but so far it is proving to be a magical and enthralling read. You don’t have to be an Anglo-Saxon scholar to enjoy this book (though you won’t be disappointed by it if you are!): if you’re a fan of Tolkien; if you are fascinated by Old English; if you just enjoy a good tale of monsters and battles – you should get your hands on a copy.Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Shop, Tolkien
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 the fun!Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie The Two Towers, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien
What folks call dark fantasy — that niche within fantasy of bloody tales full of morally grey people, supernatural forces and a distinct lack of happy endings — has become incredibly popular over the last few years.
But who are the progenitors of the dark fantasy movement? What are their key works?
Here’s a thought-provoking list from io9 of some of the landmark titles that have helped define dark fantasy. It contains some interesting entries.
One readers of Tolkien will certainly recognise is The Children of Hurin — a grim read if ever there was one. Beowulf and The Kalavela were also key inspirations for Tolkien. Victorian proto-fantasy author William Morris was too, although Tolkien’s letters cite influence from The House of the Wolflings and The Roots of the Mountains rather than Williams’ archaically-styled magnum opus The Well at the World’s End. (more…)Posted in Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien
Tolkien scholar John Garth reviews Tolkien’s long-awaited translation of Beowulf (together with the short story Sellic Spell) in The New Statesman.
J R R Tolkien’s Beowulf: one man’s passion for the threshold between myth and reality
by John Garth
In his story “Leaf by Niggle”, J R R Tolkien imagines an artist painting a picture he can neither complete nor abandon. “It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots.” In the end the picture is never put on show. (more…)Posted in Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien
In our latest Library feature, Tedoras muses on how we can view Gandalf as the prime extension of the will of J.R.R. Tolkien within The Lord of Rings.
Gandalf as Tolkien’s Will
“Hobbits really are amazing creatures,” a wise man once remarked. While Gandalf was indeed right about that, it is a rather fatuous comment for such a sage to make. The praises of the halflings are sung perpetually in our fandom, as they rightfully are affirmed by their deeds in the legendarium. But it is certainly time we reexamined our relationship with Gandalf — for here, truly, is an amazing creature.Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Return of the King, The Hobbit, The Two Towers, Tolkien