• September 22
    Somewhere in Eriador

    Dear Bagginses,

    We would like wish you a happy birthday. We really do. We seem to have misplaced our party invitation, along with the gift. Oh wait, never mind, you already have the Birthday Present. We seem to recall that we tried to discuss this with you calmly and rationally at our last meeting, Frodo, but…[Read more]

  • Arthur S. Harrow posted an update in the group Group logo of The Tolkien ProfessorThe Tolkien Professor 7 months ago

    Aside from “Happy Hobbit Day” and annual letter from Smeagol to the Baggins boys posted elsewhere, a comment relating to a recent discussion in the Two Towers lecture. Frodo expresses surprise and needs explanation of the habit of Faramir (later shown to be ubiquitous in Minas Tirith) of rising before meal to face West. Well. should Frodo be…[Read more]

  • Here’s a question that may be worth discussing either here or in the classroom:

    Tolkien is a Catholic, and the Catholic theology (as I understand it) considers Jesus as the messiah, a divine being who will return to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. However in the Lord of the Rings, we have a mortal Man (Aragorn) who is the heir to the…[Read more]

    • I’ll let Corey go first. Happily.
      All I can say in the meantime is what Tolkien says in his Letters about the whole Catholic/Christian symbolism as “largely unconscious” and he didn’t really see it until some clergyman wrote about the Christian themes to which Tolkien couldn’t help but agree. But the fascinating thing to me is the way he…[Read more]

    • Tolkien also tried to avoid exact parallels to his actual religion, for at least two reasons. First, he detested allegory. Second, he said in one of his letters, “The Incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write.” (quote taken from here)…[Read more]

  • ’I’ve got things to do, my making and my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country…and Goldberry is waiting!’

    I have just begun to wonder what it is that Tom Bombadil makes. Any ideas?

  • Matthew posted an update in the group Group logo of The Tolkien ProfessorThe Tolkien Professor 1 year, 4 months ago


    Has anyone else seen, ehem… The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey”?

    And, if you did.

    Were you as apoplectic as I at the complete evisceration of Tolkien’s carefully crafted Mythology?

    Here is my thought on what I saw Peter Jackson do to The Hobbit

    It’s as if a three year-old has…[Read more]

    • You really need to lighten up or you will have an early demise just from your own vitriol! Listen to yourself! You are literally choking on hate now and I worry for your health.

      Honestly! You sound like the kid who owns the ball and wants the game played his way and ONLY his way or he will take his ball and go home!

      The problem is the kid…[Read more]

    • I’d like to think you are kidding but i guess not. I consider myself mostly a “purist” where the JRRT books are concerned and have read almost everything he wrote about middle earth. Silmarillion, most of the Histories, etc. So there is a very small part of me that sympathizes with your position. BUT the movies you want to see will NEVER…[Read more]

      • You wrote:

        “The general public will not go see fan fiction.”

        But this is EXACTLY what Jackson has produced.

        By the definition of “Fan Fiction”, ANY ALTERATION of Tolkien’s work would be thus defined.

        Jackson produced a work of Fan Fiction.

        And the 1970s Animated Version of “The Hobbit” was a great work compared to this one, and not at…[Read more]

    • I liked it. I was just as irritated as you sound by Return of the King, so I wasn’t expecting much. But this was good. I’m surprised by how much of the book made it in to the movie — even that silly story about Golfimbul!

    • I appreciated how he worked in the many other parts of Middle-earth history.

      But I was horrified and appalled by his alteration of history.

      To use another (recently discovered) analogy.

      This is as if someone did a movie about the Texas Revolution, and somehow or another, British Admiral Horatio Nelson survived the Battle of Trafalgar…[Read more]

    • Hi can you please send me some link of where i can find more information about the curved sword symbolism?

      Thanks for your time.

      • There is nothing online.

        The most recent publication by Christopher Tolkien, of his father’s work, on King Arthur and the Arthurian Mythology will have some of his writings about the symbolism of swords. As does his work on Beowulf. Most of it is not couched in explicit language, but it is very clear that the “straight sword” is analogous with…[Read more]

  • theviking replied to the forum topic The Last Unicorn in the group Group logo of The Tolkien ProfessorThe Tolkien Professor 1 year, 4 months ago

    I’m not sure the Bull or Haggard are necessarily allegories of capitalism, but rather modern rationalism as it is this philosophy that sucks the wonder out of life. Not the excesses of Haggard and his lack of […]

  • Dear Prof,
    I have hope to buy you a pint after the Dec 4th NYC Exploring the Hobbit event, I recently found out of it from a colleague at Houghton Mifflin, and have hope we can toast The Professor […]

  • My copy of Olsen’s new book has arrived, I am enjoying it immensely. He writes so clearly

  • Joe started the forum topic The Last Unicorn in the group Group logo of The Tolkien ProfessorThe Tolkien Professor 1 year, 7 months ago

    There’s one topic that I’m amazed not to hear, in the class’s discussion of “The Last Unicorn”. To anyone who was around when it was written, the story is all about the conflict between people who love […]

  • Bandoras posted an update in the group Group logo of The Tolkien ProfessorThe Tolkien Professor 1 year, 8 months ago

    Who just pre-ordered his copy of Corey Olsen’s ”Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit?”

    You know who…

  • There was mention of a prophecy in the Hobbit. The people in Lake-town seemed to have songs about it. And at the end there was

    “Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a […]

  • I think a hobbit was picked, vs dwarf, human, or elf, by elimination: no dwarf could be the burglar, and no human or elf could be trusted because of a history of bad blood between humans, elves, and […]

  • Potatoes and tobacco.

    Obviously, both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings exist in a secondary creation, so JRR Tolkien can make stuff up as he will. Clearly, one of the things he made up is a very Euro-centric culture, with no evident technology for long-distance sea travel, which has access to foodstuffs that are not native to Europe. …[Read more]

    • I think the Shire was Tolkien’s personal wish-fulfillment fantasy/ideal place to live, and he thought it would be incomplete without pipe-weed.
      It is true that long-distance seafaring was not a large part of Lord of the Rings, but the Numenoreans were very sucessful mariners. If tomatoes and pipe-weed were not native to the Gondor-Eriador-Arnor…[Read more]

      • I’m willing to accept that Tolkien, as would the traditional chroniclers, starting with Homer, would ignore the hoi poloi. On the other hand, LotR seems to be a very static world: the “good guys” — everybody against Sauron — don’t seem to expand at all, but stay in their allotted places, with their allotted numbers. This is certainly in…[Read more]

        • Well, the idea that population would grow continually is modern. Until the High Middle Ages, the population of Europe didn’t get any higher than it was in the second century CE.

          There are some signs that the Shire is expanding in the Third Age, into Buckland and the Great Smials, but you’re right. The shire is pretty static.

  • LotR and The Hobbit take place in a milieu which seems very rural and with the technology of the Middle Ages, but without the sense of grinding poverty that is endemic in subsistence agriculture-based economies.

    Where do the elves get all the food they need to support their partying, singing, and dancing? Who does all the work to support the…[Read more]

  • So it is as I have previously thought then, namely that each mixed-race marriage is judged separately? Thoughts?

  • “The only person in the lore who could accurately have been called “Half Elven” is Earendil, but Mandos refers to him as a mortal.”:

    That is true, Sarah, but Earendil bore the last Silmaril across the heavens […]

  • You said it yourself in the beginning. Luthien and Beren were both mortal when they had Dior. Therefore he cannot be anything other than an mortal Man. It really is as simple as that.

    The quote about Dior […]

  • hey everyone,
    the last topic about Luthien-Idril-Arwen and the discussion about the choice of mortality raised a question for me that i hope you can help me answer.
    Dior was born to Beren & Luthien after thay […]

  • The reason Arwen had to choose is because her grandfather and grandmother Earendil and Elwing had to choose. Earendil and Elwing, with their mixed mortal and immortal heritage, were actually by nature mortal. This […]

  • Another point to consider: The fate of Lúthien was already strange because she was half Maiar. Tolkien never makes any explanation for how this might skew the balances of things.

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