As regular readers of Lingwë will know, the latest volume of Tolkien Studies has been available online to Project Muse subscribers since the middle of July, and I’ve been chomping at the bit (to fall back on a regionalism here in Texas) for my copy ever since. I’d hoped to have it in my hands before I left for Mythcon in the middle of August, but that date came and went too. I’ve now learned that due to a miscommunication between WVUP and their distributor, the contributor copies never went out! At least, not until I had squeaked about it several times. My most recent nag resulted in the discovery that the distributor had never dealt with the list of contributor copies, and once WVUP realized that, the copies went out immediately. I got mine, at long last, this past Friday. Since then, I’ve been looking through it eagerly. I suppose I can take credit for the whole throng of contributors finally getting their copies, if I’m willing to admit I’m a real whiner. ;) (Actually, I was very nice and pretty patient in each of my messages.)
The issue contains loads of great stuff, as usual, and it will take some time to digest, again as usual. Some of the highlights include the featured essay by Brian Rosebury, on revenge and moral judgment; an article by Carl Phelpstead on the prosimetric qualities of The Lord of the Rings; Corey Olsen’s paper on the Ents and Entwives, which I saw delivered in Vermont in 2007; and my own essay on the Three Elven Rings. Even better, immediately following my essay, Tolkien’s substantial essay on “Chaucer as a Philologist” is finally brought back into print after more than 70 years, along with the version of The Reeve’s Tale Tolkien prepared for recitation in 1939 (an even rarer piece). That’s Chaucer’s Reeve pictured on the cover of the issue (above), from the Ellesmere MS.
Volume 5 also contains the usual assortment of book reviews, an extensive Year’s Work essay by David Bratman, and the Bibliography for 2006. I am pleased to say that I have two entries in the bibliography, and that I am mentioned (also twice) in the book reviews. (I may get into Bratman’s Year’s Work essay next year. :) The two items in the bibliography are my essays on Tolkien and George MacDonald, published in North Wind, and “‘Man does as he is when he may do as he wishes’: The Perennial Modernity of Free Will”, published in the collection, Tolkien and Modernity (Walking Tree).
The latter is also one of the book reviews. My essay is really only mentioned, not judged, in the review by Shaun Hughes. He had an awful lot to cover in his review, so I suppose I would rather get no more than a mention than be severely criticized, hahae. Still, something more substantive would have been nice. In actuality, there may be more of an engagement with my essay than is at first apparent: Hughes spends nearly a full page [p. 250] on the Boethian view of free will, something I took up in my essay at some length. Though he says nothing so specific, perhaps those comments were stimulated by my paper.
The real easter egg was in the same review, but in a quite unexpected place. Talking about Tolkien’s treatment of wanhope (“despair”) [pp. 246—7], Hughes directs readers to the article by Anthony Burdge and Jessica Burke on that subject in the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment — and to my own review of that entry in the Tolkien Encyclopedia Diary. Which actually gave me another unforeseen citation in the issue [p. 256]. Hughes makes no judgment of his own on the Burdge / Burke essay, or on my critique of it, but I wonder very much what he was thinking.
I will be reading and absorbing the rest of the issue for some time to come, but in the meantime, I welcome any and all feedback on my essay, as well as comments of any kind of the issue in general. I have read one reaction to my essay already, here. The review was highly complimentary — which I appreciated, of course — but with a couple of small quibbles too — which I welcome just as much. Anyone else care to comment, question, or critique? :)