Monthly Archives: March 2016

Unsettled

door knocker
Waiting in – why is it so destructive to concentration?
I know what time the man is coming to measure for the spare-room carpet. But I don’t know exactly when the other guys are coming to collect two single head-boards for the recycling charity.

This is niggling, and gets ridiculous when I try to write; half my attention seems to be on the possibility of a knock on the door.

That leaves half for writing, surely that’s enough?

Well, deduct some more for blogging and visiting the daily round of websites, takes it down to 40%.

Wondering what I’ll have for lunch and when the next coffee-break should be…. maybe 35% is left.

Yet I cheerfully tell people that writing is my full-time occupation these days.

Are all ‘full-time jobs’ actually 30% jobs?

Guilty admissions on a postcard, please.

waiting

What would you have liked to be if you hadn’t been what you are?

keep-calm-and-be-a-philologist

What would I have liked to be if I hadn’t become a librarian?

– A philologist

– Or an Egyptologist

– Or an archaeologist

– Or a pet-rescuer

– Or a gardener

– Or I’d settle for being a person without Sjogren’s Syndrome, tinnitus, hearing loss and asthma!

How about you?

Gaiman on philology

Perilous and Fair

Yavanna by Ulla Thynell

 

Brief Review of Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan
Mythopoeic Press 2015: ISBN 9781887726016

This is an outstanding book, one that will prove as significant a turning point in the study of women in Tolkien’s life and writing as Jason Fisher’s Tolkien and the study of his sources has proved to be in the question of the value and necessity of source studies.

In Perilous and Fair, the editors have drawn together fourteen essays; seven are described as classic and have been reprinted from earlier publications, in order to draw together seminal ideas and scholarship on the topic. Seven are new and are published here for the first time. ‘Central to these articles is a consistent recognition that, although Tolkien’s fiction undeniably contains many more male than female characters, women fulfil essential, rather than merely supportive, roles in Middle-earth and in his life.’ (3)

The first of the new articles is placed at the beginning of the volume; Robin Anne Reid’s ‘The history of Scholarship on female Characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium: a Feminist Bibliographic Essay.’ This is an invaluable survey and assessment of the situation to date, and shows the increase in the number of works focusing on the issue of the female in Tolkien (a number certain to increase as this book provides scholars with insight and information.)

This is a brief personal review and I therefore don’t intend to provide an assessment of each individual essay. There are five sections covering the following topics;
• Historical perspectives
• Power of gender
• Specific characters
• Earlier literary contexts
• Women readers

I can’t think when I last read a collections of essays in which each one was as interesting, inspiring and readable as these; I found it as un-put-downable as any engrossing story. Some Tolkienists will of course have made an instant bee-line for this title; I would urge all others to do the same, whether you think you are interested in the topic or not; you will certainly be so after reading it.

To close, a quotation from Anna Smol, as printed on the back cover of the volume;

‘An invaluable book that should put to rest persistent clichés about women in Tolkien’s work and life…’

The painting of Galadriel is by John Howe

Galadriel-by-john-howe

Happy Eostre

EOSTRE

 

It’s probably unarguable that the dates of Christian festivals were linked with the dates of earlier festivals of pre-Christian belief-systems.
What is harder to pin down is any certainty about individual deities of those early times. However, it’s interesting to look at what has been and/or still is believed about them.

Eostre’s most familiar description is of a Germanic Fertility Goddess, with the alternative names Ēostre, Ostara, and Eastre. She is a spring goddess
and has her own festival on 21 March, the Spring Equinox.

Her association with renewal and rebirth goes far to explain the links she seems to have with eggs and rabbits (or hares). It also seems to make her a reasonable link for the Celtic church to choose for the central Christian beliefs about crucifixion and resurrection.

Rabbits and hares are found in many mythologies and are often tricksters; in connection with Easter, however, it’s easy to see that the main link is their prolific nature and contribution to the replenishing of life in the spring.

‘Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.’

three running hares by Sue Wookey   Three Running Hares (c) Sue Wookey

Rising

GPO-dublin-sign

It may seem a cliché to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising with an extract from Yeats; but I have no words of my own for this, I fear.

Easter, 1916
I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Life, Death, and the Immortal Four

It may be a day late for Tolkien Reading Day, but I simply had to share this wonderful tribute.

Write of Passage

Today is Tolkien Reading Day. As always, there is a theme. This year’s theme is life, death, and immortality.

Morbid, huh … or is it?

Many of you may be thinking this is a far cry from last year’s theme of friendship, but I think it goes hand in hand and strikes a very similar chord–though maybe a more solemn tone.

We know that Tolkien’s relationships influenced his writing, but do we realize how much their deaths did as well? Read any of his books and you’ll find themes of immortality/mortality, death/life, and loss. The Lord of the Rings quickly comes to mind, but themes of loss and death can be found in even his lighter works, such as the Hobbit.


The Immortal Four

Tolkien was greatly inspired by the lives and deaths of his friends and members of his writing group, The Tea Club Barrovian Society (TCBS).

tolkien_pals

The members were Tolkien, Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman, and Geoffrey…

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Tolkien Reading Day; the Dark Tower falls

 

Fall of Barad-Dur

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.
And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.
Sing all ye people!

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Return of the King; The Steward and the King.

http://www.dana-mad.ru

Life, death and immortality; a prequel to Tolkien reading Day.

aragorn__s_tomb_by_aurorawienhold

Then Aragorn said to Arwen:

‘”At last, Lady Evenstar, fairest in this world, and most beloved, my world is fading. Lo! we have gathered, and we have spent, and now the time of payment draws near.”

‘Arwen knew well what he intended, and long had foreseen it; nonetheless she was overborne by her grief. “Would you then, lord, before your time leave your people that live by your word?” she said.

‘”Not before my time,” he answered. “For if I will not go now, then I must soon go perforce. And Eldarion our son is a man full-ripe for kingship.”

‘Then going to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street, Aragorn laid him down on the long bed that had been prepared for him. There he said farewell to Eldarion, and gave into his hands the winged crown of Gondor and the sceptre of Arnor, and then all left him save Arwen, and she stood alone by his bed. And for all her wisdom and lineage she could not forbear to plead with him to stay yet for a while. She was not yet weary of her days, and thus she tasted the bitterness of the mortality that she had taken upon her.

‘”Lady Undómiel,” said Aragorn, “the hour is indeed hard, yet it was made even in that day when we met under the white birches in the garden of Elrond where none now walk. And on the hill of Cerin Amroth when we forsook both the Shadow and the Twilight this doom we accepted. Take counsel with yourself, beloved, and ask whether you would indeed have me wait until I wither and rail from my high seat unmanned and witless. Nay, lady, I am the last of the Númenoreans and the latest King of the Elder Days; and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will, and give back the gift. Now, therefore, I will sleep.

‘”I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men.”

‘”Nay, dear lord,” she said, “that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Númenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.”

‘”So it seems,” he said. “But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!”

‘”Estel, Estel!” she cried, and with that even as he took her hand and kissed it, he fell into sleep. Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him in wonder; for they saw that the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.

‘But Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Then she said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to all whom she had loved; and she went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn also was gone, and the land was silent.

‘There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea.

This is a rather long quotation from part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in Appendix A at the end of The Return of the King. I hope I will be forgiven for quoting at such length, since my intention is to celebrate Tolkien and Tolkien reading day with its 2016 theme ‘Life, death and Immortality.’

Jeff Murray’s painting below, A canticle for Elessar, shows the spirit of Aragorn comforting Arwen in Lorien as she waits to join him.

 

Countdown to Tolkien Reading Day.

Beowulf A Translation and Commentary (header)

What is Tolkien Reading Day?

Tolkien Reading Day is held on the 25th of March each year.

It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages. We particularly encourage schools, museums and libraries to host their own Tolkien Reading Day events.

Life, Death, and Immortality

“To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939 … by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien, “Foreword to the Second Edition”, The Lord of the Rings

The theme was chosen for 2016 to coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Tolkien fought and survived this dreadful battle, but lost his close friend and fellow T.C.B.S. member Rob Gilson. With the death of G.B. Smith later that year, the First World War undoubtedly shaped Tolkien’s outlook on life and death, with mortality and immortality looming large in the Middle-earth legendarium.

What will you be reading?

[The above extract is from the Tolkien Society Website (c)] http://www.tolkiensociety.org/

Eomer Pelennor Fields Battle

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Fiction Favorites

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ToastwithTJ

find the light, find the fight within you

BRING A BOOK

A personal blog

Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

A writer inspired by nature and human nature

Fat Dyspraxic (with a dog)

A personal blog. All views my own (obvs).

Nicholas C. Rossis

Award-winning, dream-protecting author

capitalist cats & canines

Introducing you to the Bengal Cat or Alaskan Klee Kai puppy of your dreams

Ricardo Sexton

.Welcome to my Metaphors.

Spellherder

Original fiction from David Lister

The Most Perfect Chaos

What a long strange trip it's been

Old Suttonian Association

This is the official blog for the Old Suttonian Association

Autumn Writing

Discover Worlds of Adventure

Entertaining Stories

Just a fiction writer, trying to reach the world.

Archer's Aim

The speculative fiction of P. H. Solomon

The Indie Spot!

It's all about indie!

Fearlessly Making Sunshine Through The Shadows

This is your opportunity to be brave.

Fiction Favorites

with John W. Howell

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