As some readers will know, and as I announced here, I have two reviews in this issue. These are C.S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy, edited by Bruce L. Edwards, on pp. 201–5; and Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien, by Tom Shippey, on pp. 209–12. I’ve read the other two reviews in the issue now, too.
I’ve also read Nick Birns’s essay on Radagast, an almost completely overlooked character in The Lord of the Rings (and even more overlooked in The Hobbit). A very interesting essay which attempts a clever solution to the “enigma” of Radagast. Birns connects his disappearance from the narrative with Tolkien’s own continued revision and transformation of The Lord of the Rings into a progressively darker and more poignant story, growing ever more distant from its origins as a mere fanciful sequel to The Hobbit. In Birns’s own words:
The elegy [reflected in the disappearance of Radagast] is for a kind of storytelling that is now gone from a reconceived Middle-earth, for a light-hearted tale of adventure now turned into a somber legend of loss. (125)If the rest of the issue is as good as the parts I’ve read and dipped into so far, and I think it will be, then I have a lot of great reading to look forward to. And congratulations to the editor, Janet Croft, for a terrific 100th issue!