Tolkien Gleanings #30

Tolkien Gleanings #30

* In the new issue of the scholarly journal 1611, a new Spanish-language article on the reception of Tolkien’s works in Spanish translation. …

“this study constitutes a contribution to the still-scarce academic bibliography on the reception of a British author, one who has come to occupy an important place in the Spanish-speaking publishing world.”

* The Chairman in Humanities at Houston Christian University has a glowing review of the new book Tolkien Dogmatics by Austin M. Freeman…

Austin Freeman has given a gift to Tolkien scholars and aficionados alike in a work I didn’t think could be written. Tolkien Dogmatics: Theology Through Mythology with the Maker of Middle-Earth painstakingly assembles, collates, and cross-references Tolkien’s legendarium, academic essays, and letters to construct a systematic theology. Though informed by the copious secondary material on Tolkien, Freeman’s work is firmly and faithfully grounded in the depth and breadth of the primary material. Broken into 12 chapters that explicate Tolkien’s views on God, revelation, creation, humanity, angels, the fall, evil and sin, Satan and demons, Christ and salvation, the church, the Christian life, and last things, Tolkien Dogmatics takes a deep dive into the theological convictions that grounded, inspired, and guided the maker of Middle-earth. In his aptly titled “Prolegomena,” Freeman makes clear his goal: “To set out as accurately as possible what Tolkien thought, without letting my or other people’s views intrude upon the matter”. He stays true to his promise.

* The Index of Medieval Art Database will become ‘free to use’ from 1st July 2023 onward. The largest online database of such research, it is well-established and includes a huge “photographic archive” with cross-reference links to the relevant texts which the pictures illustrate or allude to. The service currently requires a university subscription.

* “Hill Is a Hasty Word” is a new blog post from the English West Midlands. It helped me make the link between Treebeard’s approach to things and ‘Tolkien as a walker’. It appears that Tolkien was an ‘artist-rambler’ type of walker — relatively slow in walking and curious about his surroundings, stopping frequently to collect his thoughts and/or to consider the things he encountered big or small. Whereas Lewis appears to have been an ‘exercise-hiker’ of the brisk 1930s type — wanting to walk fast to ‘cover the ground’ and get to the destination. A slow “Cretaceous Perambulator” Lewis was not, though apparently that was how he liked to style himself as a walker. Another earlier blog post from 2019 looked at this topic of walking and has taken the time to find various quotes. Lewis said (1947, Malvern) that Tolkien was…

“not our sort of walker. He doesn’t seem able to talk and walk at the same time. He dawdles and then stops completely when he has something interesting to say”.

In 2022 First Things had another post on the topic, but with a contradictory quote (c. early 1950s, published 1955) from Lewis…

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them.”

So, what is one to make of that? Perhaps Tolkien changed Lewis’s mind on the combination of talking and walking, between 1947 and the early 1950s, as he did with other things? Well, I’ll leave that one for the Lewis scholars to puzzle over. Another 2022 article “Walking with Chesterton and Lewis (and Tolkien)” also mused on this topic, and related the walking styles back to the writing styles…

“The Lewis brothers liked to walk vigorously, covering lots of ground; Tolkien preferred to amble, stopping every few hundred yards to look at a flower or a tree. The brothers became increasingly frustrated with their lack of progress and increasingly impatient with Tolkien’s dilatory perambulations. They strode off ahead, leaving Tolkien and Sayer to meet them in the pub when they eventually arrived. […] This difference in approach to a country walk is evident in the difference between the respective writing styles”.

* And finally, take a walk in the rich fields of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1895) in its 1905 printing. This was the standard edition until the major revision of 1952, and thus the one available to Tolkien prior to the creation of The Lord of the Rings. This online version has very poor OCR (see the .ePub file), but is a good scan otherwise.

One comment on “Tolkien Gleanings #30

  1. […] bit more on walking and fantasy writers, following my last Tolkien Gleanings I found a list of long walks taken by C.S. Lewis and his brother. One walk had been taken near me, […]

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