Friday, October 30, 2009

Teaching Tolkien — update!

This past summer, I wrote about Marc Zender’s class at Harvard, “Tolkien as Translator”, as part of the broader topic of Tolkien in the classroom. Well, I’m pleased to pass along news that Marc will be teaching the class again, this time at the Harvard Extension School. While I’ve only seen the bulk of the Harvard campus from the outside, I’ve actually been inside one of the buildings of the Extension School (my oldest friend taught an English class there a couple of years ago), so I have a nice mental image of what Marc’s class might be like. Like my friend’s class, Marc’s will take place during the evenings — specifically, Wednesday evenings from 5:30–7:30. Classes start early next year, January 27, 2010.

Dick Plotz will be back for coming class, and this time, he’s bringing a friend: Robert Foster, author of A Guide to Middle-earth (1971), revised and expanded to include The Silmarillion and republished as The Complete Guide to Middle-earth in 1978. Now, that is exciting stuff! I still have a heavily thumbed and sometimes dog-eared copy of Bob Foster’s book from my childhood. Tolkien fanatics the world over owe him so much. His encyclopedia Tolkieniana was much better than J.E.A. Tyler’s Tolkien Companion (with its twee preface, fortunately abandoned in the 2002 revised edition). I hadn’t realized it until now, but Tony Tyler died very recently (October 2006). Tempus neminem manet. Requiescat in pace.

For those in the greater Boston area who might like to take the class, follow this link to learn more about it. To go directly to the syllabus in PDF format, this link. And at the risk of appearing insufferably self-congratulatory, I must take a moment to share this comment from Marc:
I wanted you to know that your comments back in May were instrumental in effecting a couple of changes to the syllabus, including the addition of the more complete edition of “Nomenclature”, and the general correction of my thoughtless usage of *Middle-Earth, with post-hyphen majuscule [...]
I am very happy to have been of service! The next time I make it to Boston, we should compare notes over a pint (or two).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dwarves and spiders — another angle

The response to my post on “The Attercops of Mirkwood” has exceeded all expectations. In fact, it is now, officially, the most heavily commented post I’ve published to date. For those keeping score, the nearest runner-up is my post on “‘Old entish swords’ in Beowulf and Tolkien”. I’m not quite sure why, but the Beowulf posts always seem to draw people out.

Well, by way of two sources (pointing ultimately to the same source), I was reminded of another medieval text which may connect dwarves and spiders, in this case contextually rather than linguistically. Rather than clumsily stuff this into the crowded thread of comments on the previous topic, I decided to write a follow-up post — voici, suivant.

Of what was I reminded? Among his notes to the chapter “Flies and Spiders” in The Annotated Hobbit (rev. ed.), Doug Anderson alludes to the Lacnunga (“Remedies”), a medieval English collection of medicinal and magical remedies, charms, and spells to ward off or cure an assortment of monsters and maladies. The book cited by Anderson, pointed out to him by Kelley Wickham-Crowley, is too late to have influenced Tolkien [1], but several other editions and discussions of this text were published before The Hobbit. The contents of the book are quite varied and variously written in Old English, Old Irish (or something approximating it), and Latin. Of these, one in particular stands out in the present context: a charm to protect against dwarves.

Actually, the late 10th- or early 11th-century manuscript (British Library MS Harley 585, folio 167) reads “wið weorh man sceal niman […]” [2], but *weorh is clearly in error for dweorh “dwarf”, as all subsequent editions and discussions, as well as contextual evidence in the Lacnunga itself, agree [3]. For some reason a bit beyond me, Cockayne translates this as “[a]gainst a warty eruption, one must take [...]”; it must be because he didn’t realize the MS was in error, and yet I do not think *weorh is anywhere attested with any meaning at all, “warty” or otherwise. In any case, since then, it has been agreed this is a charm against dwarves (just as there are charms against elves and other sprites and maladies).

As part of the charm’s elaborate procedure, one must sing a rather curious incantation, which begins, hér cóm ingangan inspiderwiht “here came along a spider wight” [i.e., creature; cf. Tolkien’s Barrow-wights]. What the incantation means, exactly, is unclear. According to Walter John Sedgefield, “[t]he incantatory passage is full of obscurities, but the general meaning can be puzzled out [...:] the sense is that the spider is to ride off, using the dwarf-demon as his horse ... as soon as they have ridden away, the wounds begin to cool” [4]. Well, is that all it takes?! ;)

Much more recently, Philip Shaw has written that “[t]he term spiderwiht is one of the best-known cruces of Old English literature, and, indeed, the history of the English language” [5]. If he is not overstating the matter, we can well suppose such a crux would have attracted Tolkien’s attention at some point during his career. We can’t be certain that “spider” was even the intended meaning, and Shaw goes over several possible theories to explain the word (including scribal error). What is clear is that there is no such Old English form, and though the Modern English “spider” is clearly related to OE spinnan “to spin (e.g., a web)”, I know of no one who has conclusively accounted for the word’s appearance as Middle English spinnere, spi(n)þre, spi(n)ther, etc. In his Middle English Dictionary, Stratmann gives as a probable source Middle Low German spinnere, which is as good as anything. But whatever the word was meant to convey, the editions in print before The Hobbit was published say it was “spider”. I can imagine Tolkien reading this and grumbling, “rubbish! there is no such form!”

So, does the charm bring dwarves and spiders together? Maybe. Could the charm have put dwarves and spiders together in Tolkien’s mind, or reinforced a connection already there? Certainly it could have, assuming this is a text he read and a crux he pondered. It could well be that he made notes on this very subject, now locked away somewhere in the bowels of the Bodleian, awaiting the careful and patient attention of a scholar on a mission. Or with a special interest in spiders, dwarves — or both.

[1] Grattan, J. H. G., and Charles Joseph Singer. Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine: Illustrated Specially from the Semi-Pagan Text Lacnunga. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1952. Cited in The Annotated Hobbit, rev. ed., p. 214n17.

[2] For the facsimile manuscript of this passage, see Cockayne, Thomas Oswald. Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England Being a Collection of Documents, for the Most Part Never Before Printed, Illustrating the History of Science in This Country Before the Norman Conquest. Volume III. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1866, p. 42 (translation on the facing page).

[3] See, for example, Bosworth and Toller, p. 1192; and Grattan and Singer, p. 160 (and note 12); and others cited in this post.

[4] Sedgefield, Walter John. An Anglo-Saxon Prose-Book. Manchester: University Press, 1928, p. 419. For his edition of the text of the charm, see p. 358.

[5] Shaw, Philip A. “The Manuscript Texts of Against a Dwarf.” Writing and Texts in Anglo-Saxon England. Ed. Alexander R. Rumble. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2006, p. 101.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Attercops of Mirkwood

In my post on Slavic echoes (or the lack of them) in Tolkien’s works, and especially in the comments which it prompted, I talked about the temptation to find such echoes in unlikely places out of mere wishful thinking. But I also acknowledged that Tolkien’s linguistic borrowings were diverse and layered. He liked to imbue words with multiple shades of meaning, or even double-meanings, within and across languages. A classic example of Mordor, which in Sindarin is the “black land”, but which also points to Old English morðor “murder”.

Having thus set the table, let me serve you up a dish of spiders. Specifically, the great poisonous Spiders of Mirkwood. It is pretty well known by now that Bilbo’s taunt, “Attercop! Attercop!”, simply means “poisonous spider” [1]. The compound átor-coppe “spider” is attested in the Old English literature. I do not know of any occurrence of this compound form in Old Norse (one does find köngur-váfa, in which the second element, rather chillingly, means “ghost”), but I’d think it would have been *eitr-koppr. The Old English compound also made its way into Welsh as adargop, eventually shortened to adrop.

Gilliver, et al., think that Tolkien encountered the word while making notes on the 13th-century poem “The Owl and the Nightingale” as an undergraduate. Could be, but I wonder whether he might have seen the poem by Robert Graves, “Attercop: The All-Wise Spider”, published in 1924 [2]. Tolkien used the word “attercops” in early drafts of the poem “Errantry”, probably composed at the beginning of the 1930’s, perhaps even a bit before. (“Attercops” survived into the version published in The Oxford Magazine, 1933, but was not retained in the version printed in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, 1962.) In his poem, Graves is more complimentary to the reviled creature (“Attercop, whose proud name with hate be spoken”), but the poem, and its use of this archaic word, could have been prominent enough to catch the eye of Tolkien, a young poet himself at the time. Tolkien later described Robert Graves and a lecture he (Graves) gave in 1964: “A remarkable creature, entertaining, likeable, odd, bonnet full of wild bees, half-German, half-Irish, very tall, must have looked like Siegfried/Sigurd in his youth, but an Ass.) It was the most ludicrously bad lecture I have ever heard” [3]. Bees, eh? Well, in Old Swedish, a kopp was a “bee”, and *etter-kopp might have been a good substitute for “wild bee” (or today’s Africanized “killer” bees). Ah, but this is just in fun.

Returning to real etymology, the first element in “attercop” goes back to Old English átor (and variously, áter, áttor, ǽtor, etc.), meaning “poison”; cognate forms in the other Germanic languages include Old Norse eitr, Old High German eitar, Old Saxon êttar, hêttar, and among the modern languages this survives in Swedish etter. In Modern English, the word adder, a kind of poisonous snake, derives from Old English nædre, but it could be that átor “poison” influenced the word.

The second element, cop(pe), is usually said to mean “spider” (it survives in Modern English cobweb), but I think it probably came to refer to the arachnid relatively late, and there is much more to say about its earlier etymology. There are three possibilities: (1) “head”, (2) “cup”, and (3) variously “pock, bag, blister”. But when you boil these down, I think it all comes down to one source: PIE *keup “a hole, a hollow”, which gave IE *kaput “head”. How does a head come from a hollow? Think about it. :)

From PIE *keup / IE *kaput developed such related words as Sanskrit कूप /kūpa/ “a pit, well, hollow, cavity”; Greek κύπελλον “cup, goblet”, from κύπη “a hole, hollow”; and Latin caput “head” and cupa “vat, cask, butt” (if you’re snickering at the latter, it’s the source of Modern English butler). Moving forward into the Middle Ages, we have Old Church Slavonic kupa “cup”, OE copp, cuppe “cup, vessel”, ON koppr “cup, small vessel”, and Middle High German kopf “a drinking vessel”. Ah, but that last word looks familiar, doesn’t it? Modern High German has Kopf for “head”, along with Haupt, phonologically related. Modern Dutch, Danish, and Swedish have kop, kop, and kopp, respectively, for “cup”, and Afrikaans gives kop the additional shades of a hilltop and (informally) common sense (i.e., what’s in your kop “head”).

What about “pock, bag, blister”? Where in the world do those come from? Well, a pock is a small hole, related to the American southern dialectal poke (cf. “a pig in a poke”), which is a bag. These two are clearly related, not by etymology but by sense, to PIE *keup “a hole, hollow”. In addition to the meanings of both “cup” and “head”, Modern Frisian kop also has the sense of “blister, bubble, pock”, and so it’s no great leap to the sting of a poisonous spider. But this leap is not mine; I came across this theory (more tenuous than the others, if you ask me, but still connectable to them) in a 19th-century issue of the Proceedings of the Philological Society of London [4].

We’ve thus found a kind of double meaning — “head” versus “cup” — is the second element of attercop. Spiders are both “heads of poison” and “cups of poison”, and they may even have “bags of poison” or deliver a “pox of poison”. But I’m not finished yet.

Where do these Attercops live? Mirkwood of course. Again, it is pretty well known that Tolkien took the compound name for his forest from the Old Norse Myrkviðr, and he extrapolated an unattested Old English form, Myrcwudu, for use in his own legendarium [5]. The first element, English mirk, later murk(y), means “dark(ness)” in all the Germanic languages, e.g., ON myrkr, OE mirce, myrce, OS mirki, Modern Norwegian and Swedish mörk, Danish mørk. Even in Tolkien’s own invented languages, we have Queyna morë and Sindarin môr “dark”. This goes back to an Indo-European root *mer meaning “to flicker” (cf. Lithuanian mirgėti “to glimmer”), from which the Primitive Germanic *merkwia “twilight”.

So where’s the double-meaning? Ah, well, recall Tolkien’s interest in Finnish. There, we find the Finnish word myrkky, which is quite close phonologically, but which doesn’t mean “dark” at all; no, it means “poison”, just like the first element of “attercop”! Cognate to these are Estonian mürk, Hungarian mérĕg, and Lappish mir’hku, all meaning “poison”, and all looking like the first element in Mirkwood. Russian моръ “plague, pestilence” may also connected to the idea of poison. Coincidence? It could be, but I tend to doubt it. We know Tolkien studied Finnish (and to some extent modeled his own Quenya on it). The word myrkky doesn’t seem to occur anywhere in the Kalevala; however, we do find the phrase kuolla myrkystä “to die of poison” in Charles Eliot’s Finnish Grammar, the book Tolkien used in his studies of the language [6].

And I’ve still got one more. Who else have we got in the Mirkwood episode besides the Spiders, Mr. Baggins, and his Sting? Dwarves. How on earth could dwarves and spiders be connected etymologically? It just so happens — and I’ve known this for ages, but have had it up my sleeve awaiting the right opportunity — that dialectal Swedish uses the word dwerg for “spider”; of course, many of you probably know that its primary meaning is “dwarf”. Welsh exhibits the same behavior, where corr is both “dwarf” and “spider”, “the name probably given from the mythical skill of the dwarfs in handicraft” [7]. It’s all about metaphor, and quite possibly Tolkien knew of one or both of these usages.

So, double-meanings, ranging fairly wide, but among languages we know Tolkien studied and with strong ties to the same characters and setting in his first novel. Whether consciously intended or not, such interwoven meanings, like a spider’s web — or better, Ariadne’s thread — they help us to appreciate the ever rewarding complexities of Tolkien’s imagination.

[1] See, for example: Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, and E.S.C. Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 91–2; and Rateliff, John. The History of The Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007, p. 321n27.

[2] Graves, Robert. Mock Beggar Hall. London: Hogarth Press, 1924, pp. 14–5.

[3] Tolkien, J.R.R. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, p. 353 (#267).

[4] Wedgwood, Hensleigh. “Notices of English Etymology.” Proceedings of the Philological Society of London, Volume II, Number 26 (22 November 1844), p. 6. For the same point again, see also the excellent and thorough, Adams, Ernest. “On the Names of Spiders.” Transactions of the Philological Society. Berlin: A. Asher & Co., 1859: 216–27, p. 217.

[5] Gilliver, et al., p. 165.

[6] Eliot, C.N.E. A Finnish Grammar. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1890, p. 143.

[7] Adams, p. 221.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slavic echoes in Tolkien — A response

This may be old news, depending on how many of you read the Ukrainian literary journal, Літературознавчі студії (“Literary Studies”), published under the auspices of the Institute of Philology at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev. Doesn’t everyone? Hahae, I know, neither do I. Not speaking Ukrainian is a bit of an obstacle, but hey, that’s why we invented machine translation. Thus armed, I have tackled an essay in the latest issue. Why? Well, because the author cites me, of course! Why else would I bother? Did I mention it’s in Ukrainian?! ;)

All kidding aside, the essay in question is “Слов’янські відлуння у творчості Дж.Р.Р. Толкіна” (“Slavic echoes in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien”), by Дмитро Кузьменко (henceforward, Dmitry Kuzmenko). For those who’d like to read it (with or without the help of robots), Kuzmenko has put a copy of the paper up on his website, here. It’s fairly short, a little under 2,000 words, but for those who’d like it even shorter, let me boil down the author’s argument.

Kuzmenko begins with the acknowledgement that Tolkien’s fictive world is one apparently “devoid of any influence of the Slavic culture and especially its literature”, but then asserts that “more detailed analysis shows otherwise” [1]. What does such analysis reveal? Kuzmenko spotlights several pieces of evidence:

  • Tolkien’s invented language, Quenya, “has a few Russian words and suffixes”, which probably came about when Tolkien attempted to learn some Russian in 1918 [2].
  • Kuzmenko asserts that “many [of Tolkien’s] toponyms […] were also words of Slavic origin”, such as Rhovanion; or if not necessary given Slavic names, they correspond to Slavic features, as he says the Anduin River springs from the Danube, “which flows mainly among the Slavic peoples and played an important role in their folklore”.
  • The example of the wizard Radagast and his home at Rhosgobel, both usually taken to have Slavic sources, although “the exact etymology of the word ‘Radagast’ remains controversial”; it is here that Kuzmenko cites me, specifically this post written for Lingwë.
  • The Variags of Khand, who (it can scarcely be argued) take their name from the Varangians, Norsemen who settled in the regions we now call Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine.
  • The original name for the character who would become Beorn in The Hobbit: Medwed, a Slavic name with the meaning “bear, honey-eater” (and which I also discuss at some length in the post on Radagast).
  • Kuzmenko suggests that “several images [...] at first glance have a Germanic origin, but on closer examination reveal Slavic parallels”, and discusses three: Mirkwood, Wargs, and the dragon Smaug.
In the end, Kuzmenko’s conclusion, that Tolkien “consciously or unconsciously achieved a literary effect in terms of Slavic culture through the prism of the Germanic”, goes too far on too little evidence. Tolkien’s intentions are essentially set aside as irrelevant and the researcher’s own argument put forward in their place (“consciously or unconsciously”, he says; but doesn’t it matter which?). Better would be to say that Tolkien did indeed incorporate a few Slavic elements into the multifaceted and multi-sourced structure and background of Middle-earth, but that he did so quite sparingly and, in almost every case, only at its furthest margins. Kuzmenko also offers little in the way of original research. The examples he gives may nearly all be found in the works he cites, most significantly in Robert Orr’s 1994 essay, “Some Slavic Echoes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth” [3].

Kuzmenko’s essay therefore doesn’t break new ground, which unfortunately tends to undermine its mission of convincing us that Slavic elements in Tolkien’s writings deserve greater attention and investigation. Tolkien himself would seem to discourage the mission, having said that “Slavonic languages are for me almost in the same category [i.e., no aptitude]. I have had a go at many tongues in my time, but [...] the time I once spent on trying to learn Serbian and Russian have left me with no practical results, only a strong impression of the structure and word-aesthetic” [4].

There is a problem inherent in arguments like those of Orr and Kuzmenko; actually a couple of problems. For one, the mere existence of Slavic cognates to Germanic words we know were of interest to Tolkien says nothing about whether Tolkien was or was not aware of them, let alone whether he intended them to be detectable by readers (with one exception: “Variag”). For another, we often don’t know which cognates were the older ones, the Germanic of Slavic, though in some cases — as of, say, Gothic versus Old Church Slavonic — it’s pretty clearly apparent which is older. Third, even if a Slavic form is older and was borrowed into Germanic, we have no reason to assume either that Tolkien knew this, or that he cared if he did know. And if we are only interested in cognates, why not trot out a whole wealth of Sanskrit words? Why not? Because there is absolutely no evidence that Tolkien had Sanskrit in mind at any stage of the development of Middle-earth. One can make almost as definitive a rejection of the Balto-Slavic branch — but instead of absolutely no evidence, it’s rather simply very little. Certainly much less even than the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family, which Tolkien himself largely rejected.

For one example of something that has been made too much of, take Medwed, the original name for Beorn. Yes, this name is incontrovertibly Slavic. But why should this be cause for Slavists to rejoice? Tolkien rejected the name before publication of The Hobbit, replacing the Slavic name with a Germanic one. The fact of that rejection says something about Tolkien’s attitude toward the suitability of Slavic elements in Middle-earth, and should probably discourage the overenthusiastic search for others.

Note that I don’t mean to discourage all research in this area — far from it; I’m thinking only of the really overzealous, “no stone unturned” searches. As I indicated above, there is one very clear exception case, in Variag. This form, retained in the final published Lord of the Rings, is undeniably Slavic, from the Russian варяг, in turn from Old East Slavic (i.e., Old Russian, sometimes called Old Ukrainian) varęgŭ. The word is still in use today, actually. In Belarussian, as I understand it, вараг means both Varangian, but also (colloquially) any “tall, burly man”, and in the Arkhangelsk dialect of Russian, варяза is used to mean “a man from beyond the sea, a foreigner” (this is almost exactly, but coincidentally, analogous to the Semitic ferengi, which I have discussed before).

But aha! Despite the clearly Slavic word-shape Tolkien chose, its source is ultimately Germanic. Cognates include Old English wǽrgenga, Lombardic waregang, Old Frankish wargengus, cf. medieval Greek βαράγγως — all ultimately sourced to Old Norse væringi, váringi, from Proto- Norse *váringr, believed to derive from vár “vow, oath, pledge” + ganga “to go”, in the sense of foreigners pledged to service. [5] The word isn’t attested in Gothic, but if the Goths used the word, it would most likely have taken the form *wadjagagga, from wadi “pledge” + gagga “to go” (cf. the genuine faúragagga “a steward, lit. fore-goer”). The point is that although Tolkien chose a Slavic form for its presentation in the Middle-earth of the Third Age, the word, the very idea, of the Variags has its roots in Scandinavia, much as Beowulf has roots in Scandinavia but is seen through a distinctly English lens. And whatever (few) other Slavic echoes one might detect in Tolkien’s legendarium should, I expect, be regarded in the same way.

[1] Kuzmenko, Dmitry. “Slavic Echoes in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien.” Literary Studies (National University of Kiev) 24 (2009): 217–221. All quotations are in English, machine-translated, then edited for sense by me. If you speak Ukrainian, please feel free to suggest corrections.

[2] Kuzmenko gives no source for the claim that Russian left an imprint on Quenya; however, he must have gotten this from Ivan Derzhanski’s entry, “Russian Language”, in Michael Drout’s Tolkien Encyclopedia (pp. 581–2). Kuzmenko includes Drout as an entirely generic entry in his bibliography, but does not explicitly cite it in the essay.

[3] Orr, Robert. “Some Slavic Echoes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” Germano-Slavica 8 (1994): 23–34. This is a solid essay, worth reading, but I think Kuzmenko may have relied rather too heavily on it. Kuzmenko’s assertion that “several images [...] at first glance have a Germanic origin, but on closer examination reveal Slavic parallels” is uncomfortably similar to Robert Orr’s “elements which at first appear to be simply taken from Germanic, but which on closer inspection appear to have various sorts of Slavic associations” (p. 23). Moreover, the three examples Kuzmenko gives — Mirkwood, Warg, and Smaug — are the same three Orr discusses, in the same order.

[4] Tolkien, J.R.R. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, p. 173 (#142).

[5] Blöndal, Sigfús. The Varangians of Byzantium. Trans, rev., and rewritten (!) by Benedikt S. Benedikz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Reprinted 1981, 2007. pp. 4–6.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lloyd Alexander and his Welsh mythological sources

A new piece I’ve written on Lloyd Alexander has just appeared in the latest issue of Randy Hoyt’s online mythology ’zine, Journey to the Sea. In the article, I take a look at some of the Welsh mythological underpinnings to Alexander’s five-volume Chronicles of Prydain (plus The Foundling and Other Tales from Prydain). That’s a tall order, so my examples are necessarily abbreviated, but I hope that the essay will prompt others to explore the subject further, perhaps even crack open a copy of the Mabinogion themselves.

Here’s how Randy described the new issue:

I have published the fourteenth issue of my online myth magazine Journey to the Sea. This issue includes an article by [...] Jason Fisher on Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Cycle and an article by me on Where The Wild Things Are (the book [by Maurice Sendak]).

In addition to these two typical examples of modern mythopoeic literature, the third article looks the film Katyń by Polish film director Andrzej Wajda. The film is not fantastical at all — I suppose it qualifies as historical fiction, looking at the tragic 1940 massacre in the Poland forest Katyn — but Laura Gibbs looks at how Wajda wove the Greek myth of Antigone into the film.

Any and all feedback is welcome, both here and at Journey to the Sea. If you haven’t been reading the ’zine, now would be a great time to start!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mythlore 107/108 on the way

The Isengard Theme, from Howard Shore’s film score to The Lord of the RingsFrom Janet Brennan Croft comes news that the newest issue of Mythlore went to the printer earlier this week. For those keeping score, this is issue 107/108, Volume 28, Number 1/2 (Fall/Winter 2009). I have a book review in this issue — as I have had for each issue these past two years. This time, I’m taking a close look at Matthew Young’s Projecting Tolkien’s Musical Worlds: A Study of Musical Affect in Howard Shore’s Soundtrack to Lord of the Rings. Also, a book to which I contributed a chapter, Truths Breathed Through Silver, is being reviewed, so I will be paying especially close attention to that. Truths was also reviewed in the current issue of Tolkien Studies, which I discussed (inter alia), here.

For those who don’t subscribe purely for my book reviews (hahae!), here is the full table of contents for this issue. It looks like it’s going to be a great read.

  • Perilous Shores: The Unfathomable Supernaturalism of Water in 19th-Century Scottish Folklore, by Jason Marc Harris
  • The Noldor and the Tuatha Dé Danaan: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Irish Influences, by Annie Kinniburgh
  • Tolkien’s Sigurd & Gudrún: Summary, Sources, & Analogs, by Pierre H. Berube
  • Amanda McKittrick Ros and the Inklings, by Anita G. Gorman and Leslie Robertson Mateer
  • Ancient Myths in Contemporary Cinema: Oedipus Rex and Perceval the Knight of the Holy Grail in Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense, by Inbar Shaham
  • The Heart of the Labyrinth: Reading Jim Henson’s Labyrinth as a Modern Dream Vision, by Shiloh Carroll
  • No Sex in Narnia? How Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen” Problematizes C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, by Jennifer L. Miller
  • Innocence as a Super-power: Little Girls on the Hero’s Journey, by David Emerson
  • Naming the Evil One: Onomastic Strategies in Tolkien and Rowling, by Janet Brennan Croft
  • And reviews of: Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Douglas A. Anderson; The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, by Laura Miller; Projecting Tolkien’s Musical Worlds: A Study of Musical Affect in Howard Shore’s Soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, by Matthew Young; Esotericism, Art, and Imagination, edited by Arthur Versluis et al.; three new books on The Wind in the Willows, including two annotated versions; Truths Breathed Through Silver: The Inklings’ Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy, edited by Jonathan B. Himes with Joe R. Christopher and Salwa Khoddam; and Volume VI of Tolkien Studies.
Subscribers should start receiving their copies in a couple of weeks (maybe three, depending on where you live). There is, I’m told, still time to subscribe. :)