You may recall that, in The Hobbit, Thorin issues a very specific set of instructions as he despatches Bilbo to investigate the camp of the three trolls.
“You must go on and find out all about that light, and what it is for, and if all is perfectly safe and canny,” said Thorin to the hobbit. “Now scuttle off, and come back quick, if all is well. If not, come back if you can! It you can’t, hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl, and we will do what we can.”
Off Bilbo had to go, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any kind of owl any more than fly like a bat.
It seems that, with those Tolkien biopics gradually approaching, more and more people are taking an interest in the biographical details of Tolkien’s life.
If that’s your thing, you might enjoy this pretty solid overview from Simon Whistler. (I didn’t know about the tarantula incident, for example, a minor controversy that you can get more background on over on Tolkien Gateway.)
The folks at Gwaith-i-Phethain, The Fellowship of the Word-smiths on the Elendilion website, have just finished analysing and translating the Sindarin dialogue from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.
They’ve set up a page with and with translations of the Sindarin dialogue of Tauriel, Galadriel, Legolas, etc. by Hungarian linguist Gábor Lőrinczi. (more…)
Sydney Morning Herald writer Darryn King examines Tolkien as the progenitor of the art of conlangs (constucted languanges). But, as King points out, for Tolkien the language always came first and his works were ultimately developed to give to give voice to his invented tongues.
If you’re curious to read some of the primary sources for this, I recommend Letters #294 and #297 from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The fairytale opening line of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is among the most memorable and beloved in literature: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” It is an unassuming first sentence for what turns out to be an epic fantasy saga about good and evil, and one of the most influential works of fiction of the 20th century. (more…)
BBC Wales have produced an online guide, via their iWonder site and presented by Dr Dimitra Fimi, about how the Welsh language inspired Tolkien, called “Why do the Elves in The Hobbit sound Welsh?”
What does Welsh have to do with it?
JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings combine timeless storytelling with the creation of a mythical world with its own races, history, music and languages.
The invention of new languages went hand-in-hand with the shaping of the characters that spoke them. And while Englishness is at the heart of the Shire, the home of the hobbits, for his other races Tolkien looked beyond England.
Sindarin, the Elvish language used in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, shares many key characteristics with Welsh. How did a proud Englishman like Tolkien become so entranced by the Welsh language?
In a piece in The Guardian, Tolkien scholar John Garth analyses Tolkien’s 1914 creative breakthrough — and the poem The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star from 24 September 1914 — that ultimately leads to Middle-earth as we know it today. (more…)
April 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm byDemosthenes
| Source: TSJComments Off on Why Tolkien’s Beowulf translation is one of the best things to happen to literature
There’s a lot of excitement floating round academic communities for J.R.R. Tolkien’s forthcoming Beowulf translation (which you can pre-order here) where the prevailing buzz seems to be “best thing since slices bread”. Here, writer Mabel Slattery outlines why.
EDIT: There is an error of fact within the article. Michael Drout did not actually re-discover Tolkien’s Beowulf translation.
I did not “discover” the Beowulf translation, not even in the sense that I found it in the Bodleian Library. This claim is a conflation of a story about one manuscript with information about a totally different text.
Tolkien scholar John Garth previews the forthcoming publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf and outlines why the Professor’s expertise with the Anglo-Saxon epic means this new book is to be highly anticipated. Click through the read more link at the bottom to access the complete essay.
“Ac se wonna hrefin | But the black raven fus ofer fægum | eager over the doomed fela reordian, | speaking many things earne secgan | telling the eagle hu him æt æte speow, | how he is succeeding in eating, þenden he wið wulf | when he with the wolf wæl reafode.” | despoiled the slain.
Thus reads a section of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, or at least, thus reads my translation of the section from my university studies. The epic is written in Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, the language of the invaders of Britain. Modern English (and German) is a direct descendant of this language because a people speak the language of their conquerors. (more…)Posted in Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Uncategorized
Ten facts you probably know about Middle-earth. I’m not entirely sure they make one a “super fan” (which is, frankly, the sort of exclusionary title wielded to make others feel that they’re not real fans). Enjoying Tolkien is surely not some sort of contest to prove one is the biggest fan.
Still it is a nice little list with plenty of nods to some lesser-known but important characters from Tolkien such as Celebrimbor, Feanor, Gothmog and Oropher. So read and enjoy! Minor nitpick: there are more than two Elvish languages (at least conceptually), but Sindarin and Quenya were probably the best developed. (more…)
Readers are undoubtedly aware of the five-page handwritten letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to H. Cotton Minchin that recently went on auction. If you missed it, The Guardian picks the eyes out of it, while Tolkien Library has assembled a transcript of the entire contents.
However, Tolkien scholar John Garth has also recently blogged about what the letter reveals about the Great War inspiration behind Sam Gamgee. Read on to learn more!
In this piece, Matt Lebovic of The Times of Israel explores the eternally fascinating question of the parallels between Tolkien’s dwarves and the Jewish people. Allegory is almost certainly too strong a word for the relationship, the quotes that Lebovic draws from Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and various interviews make clear Tolkien’s dislike of the allegorical style (although Leaf by Niggle makes one wonder and Letters #241 and #153 provide conflicting evidence there), and his sincere admiration of the Jewish people.
Edit to quote from Letter #153:
…I might say in my myth I have used ‘subcreation’ in a special way (not the same as ‘subcreation’ as a term in criticism in art, though I tried allegorically [emphasis mine] how that might come to be taken up into Creation in some plane in my ‘purgatorial’ story Leaf by Niggle (Dublin Review 1945))…
Couple of quick points of nit-picking: the Company has 13 dwarves, not 12, it’s Middle-earth not Middle Earth, and arguably Khazad-dûm (Moria) is more accurately the spiritual home of the Dwarves (especially of the Longbeards of Durin’s line) rather than Erebor. As a point of trivia, the Dwarves eventually reclaim Khazad-dum under Durin VII sometime in the Fourth Age. As for the Arkenstone, some people hold that, within the Legendarium, it might have been a Silmaril, but that seems unlikely to this writer. (more…)
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