Liverpool Hope University – free Tolkien Day

Liverpool Hope University has a free Tolkien Day of talks on 11th November 2016.

“Speakers on the day include John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, Edmund Weiner, co-editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Liverpool Hope University Alumnus Lord David Alton, and Stuart Lee and Elizabeth Solopova from the University of Oxford.”

Looks like an interesting speaker roster…

* Fairies, Goblins & Britain: Tolkien’s ‘Goblin Feet’ (1915, the early wartime faerie poetry)
* Tolkien’s Manuscripts
* Tolkien’s views on children’s literature
* Diction and narrative in ‘The Lord of the Rings’
* The Great Wave (he had a recurring dream of a Great Wave)
* Tolkien and Faith
* Alan Lee (Tolkien artist)

It’s free, but it’s on an awkwardly-placed campus outside the city centre, and requires a rail traveller to take a bus through inner-city Liverpool from Liverpool Lime Street station. Not an enticing prospect at the end of a 90 minute rail journey, for someone who doesn’t know Liverpool and loathes bus travel. Doing it via a taxi would bump the total cost to £40 (rail + taxi), which is too expensive for me. Oh well. But, hopefully there will be podcast recordings available online after the event.

Interestingly, the press blurb for the day remarks that…

“Tolkien was part of a team based at what is now Liverpool Hope University, who translated and edited The Jerusalem Bible. The Jerusalem Bible was the first translation of the whole Bible into modern English (1966) and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Tolkien’s translation of The Book of Jonah is admired for both its beauty and accuracy.”

Fascinating, I never knew that. A perfect fit of course, what with his long-standing interest in the sea and mariners. Although according to Carpenter his text was a translation from French and not the Hebrew, and once delivered it was then “extensively revised by others before publication”. Still, his pre-polishing manuscript of The Book of Jonah is available. It was published as a book in 2009.

A Scottish riddle, Hobbity-bobbity

A Scottish riddle, published 1881 in Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-east of Scotland (Folk-lore Society). As far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to have been noticed in the assiduous search for the origin of the word “Hobbit”…

Q: “Hobbity-bobbity sits on this side o’ the burn, Hobbity-bobbity sits on that side o’ the burn, An gehn ye touch hobbity-bobbity, Hobbity-bobbity ‘ill bite you ?”

A: “A nettle.”

“Tolkien” (if he ever existed) did not “write” this work in the conventional sense

A delightful ‘biff on the nose’ to parroting literary academics and over-cautious politically correct historians, from Catholic World: The Lord of the Rings: A Source-Criticism Analysis

“Because The Lord of the Rings is a composite of sources, we may be quite certain that “Tolkien” (if he ever existed) did not “write” this work in the conventional sense, but that it was assembled over a long period of time by someone else of the same name. We know this because a work of the range, depth, and detail of The Lord of the Rings is far beyond the capacity of any modern expert in source-criticism to ever imagine creating themselves.”

In case you’re skim-reading this: it’s a joke.

The Lyonesse Project – final report published

Funded by Historic England, a scientific research team has been looking into the historicity of the legendary Cornish Lyonesse. Early medieval historians had noted memories of a very large tract of land that was said to have slipped into the ocean off Cornwall, once extending across “one hundred and forty churches and a forest”. Since then Lyonesse has regrettably attracted wave after wave of swivel-eyed madmen, who have enfangled it with UFOs, psychic super-civilisations, dragon-headed spiritualists from Tibet and similar utter lunacy, until it’s become near impossible to even find the first historical accounts of the legend online. Thankfully the Encyclopaedia Britannica has it straight…

“… since the 13th century [there have been accounts] that concerned a submerged forest in this region, and a 15th-century Latin prose work, an account of the journeys of William of Worcester, makes detailed reference to a submerged land extending from St. Michael’s Mount to the Scilly Isles. William Camden’s Britannia (1586) called this land Lyonnesse, taking the name from a manuscript by the Cornish antiquary Richard Carew.”

Now six years of archaeological and seabed scientific work by the CISMAS Lyonesse Project has rigorously investigated the matter, albeit somewhat under cover of the hot topic of ‘sea-level rise’. The project has just published its final report, The Lyonesse Project: a study of the historic coastal and marine environment of the Isles of Scilly.

Their research has found that the Isles of Scilly were indeed a single large island 9,000 years ago, and that two-thirds of the island’s land mass was then submerged over a period of just 500 years between 2,500 and 2,000 BC (presumably with no CO2 involved, hem hem…). The team found “a submerged forest”, just as the 13th-15th century Lyonesse story had it — though no submerged land-bridge between the Scillies and St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. There were, of course, no churches to submerge at that time, though one imagines that “one hundred and forty” submerged stone circles might be a possibility.