Thursday, October 7, 2010

The new issue of Mythlore

Editor Janet Brennan Croft informs us that the new issue of Mythlore (Fall/Winter 2010) went to the printer yesterday and should be going out to subscribers in about a week’s time. This issue, as some of you know, includes two contributions by yours truly, the lead-off essay and a review of Dimitra Fimi’s book (two-word capsule review: “read it!”). There’s also a review of a book to which I contributed (Middle-earth Minstrel). You’ll find these, and all the other goodies, in the table of contents below. I can’t help but observe that this issue, like the majority of them, is disproportionately weighted toward Tolkien. Not that I’m complaining about essays on the Professor, but all you scholars of Lewis, Williams, Barfield, and other mythopoeic writers — get cracking!

As always, I look forward to feedback on my work, good or bad. Some of the material from my essay has appeared here on Lingwë, where I often try out my research and solicit feedback, but that’s no excuse not to read the essay in print. There’s a fair amount of new material in it, including some really tantalizing bits about Tolkien’s Hungarian-like language, Mágol. So far as I know, these comments are the most detailed yet published on Mágol, and I am very grateful to Pat Wynne for consulting the manuscripts and providing valuable information. (Tolkien’s sketch of Mágol has not yet been published, but Pat is editing it for a future issue of Vinyar Tengwar. I know we all look forward to that!)

Here’s the full table of contents for the new Mythlore:
  • Dwarves, Spiders, and Murky Woods: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Wonderful Web of Words, by Jason Fisher
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Orcs: Simple Humanity in Tolkien’s Inhuman Creatures, by Robert T. Tally, Jr.
  • Myth-Remaking in the Shadow of Vergil: The Captive(-ated) Voice of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia, by T.S. Miller
  • Corrupting Beauty: Rape Narrative in The Silmarillion, by Lynn Whitaker
  • The Company They Didn’t Keep: Collaborative Women in the Letters of C.S. Lewis, by Sam McBride
  • Master of Doom by Doom Mastered: Heroism, Fate, and Death in The Children of Húrin, by Jesse Mitchell
  • Germanic Fate and Doom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, by Richard J. Whitt
  • The Thread on Which Doom Hangs: Free Will, Disobedience, and Eucatastrophe in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, by Janet Brennan Croft
  • Simbelmynë: Mortality and Memory in Middle-earth, by William H. Stoddard
And reviews of:
  • Tolkien, Race and Cultural History, by Dimitra Fimi;
  • Charles Williams and His Contemporaries, by Suzanne Bray and Richard Sturch;
  • In the Land of Invented Languages, by Arika Okrent;
  • Millennial Mythmaking: Essays on the Power of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, edited by John Perlich and David Whitt;
  • Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien, edited by Bradford Lee Eden;
  • Harry Potter and Imagination: The Way Between Two Worlds, by Travis Prinzi;
  • Fastitocalon 1.1; and
  • Theodor SEUSS Geisel, by Donald E. Pease.


  1. Sometimes I think there is more scholarly activity in the field of C.S. Lewis, so it's nice to see it getting more even. ;)

  2. Oh, yea! I was hoping to see Professor Croft's Mythcon lecture here in print! And will of course be reading yours too. :)

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)

  3. By the way Jason, does your essay contain material on Mágol that Patrick won't include in the VT issue?

  4. No, I’m sure Pat’s introduction to and transcription of the Mágol material will include everything he passed along to me for my essay. I would be surprised if it didn’t, but we’ll see. But at least I’ve published a new word in Mágol, not previously known to the public. That and the comments I make about the manuscript itself are a very small taste, but since we don’t know when the Mágol stuff will be published, it will have to suffice. :)

  5. Janet Brennan Croft10/08/2010 1:56 PM

    I'd LOVE to get more non-Tolkien stuff, but that's the majority of the submissions, even with competition from Tolkien Journal. Here's a non-Inklings topic suggestion: Hope Mirlees, best known for Lud-in-the-Mist. I hear there is some new biographical material on her coming out next year.

  6. I’d like to do more non-Tolkien research myself, but even though I have ideas, I always find myself putting Tolkien at the top of my to-do list. I guess that’s a common experience. But one of these days, I would really like to write up some of my research on other authors. Not just Lewis, but J.K. Rowling, Alan Garner, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula K. Le Guin, et al. One day: just not this particular day. :)

  7. As a Tolkien enthusiast, but barely making novice status at researching him. I am curious if you could help me out... I have been assigned a open ended (for the most part) research paper that must be 12+ pages in length. The paper must be on Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and how it fits with Norse mythology in some aspect. I am having difficulty in making an argument that I can prove one way or another from "The Hobbit" Any insight would be appreciated

  8. Hi, Anon. While I want to be careful not to do your research for you, I can make one suggestion which should put you on a profitable path. Get yourself a copy of Tolkien’s published letters (the newer edition with the expanded index by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, published in 2000). Then, look up The Hobbit in the index. There you’ll find a subheading on “Sources”, and under that “Icelandic literature”. Follow those references to the letters in question, see what Tolkien had to say, and go from there. Relying on Tolkien’s own statements will help you prove your argument (to the extent that proof is possible).

  9. CSUS Student10/27/2010 6:49 PM

    Thanks for the input. I have been searching for the published letters for a little bit today and am not sure if I am finding what you are referring too. Does the book come in 2 volumes and cost around $60? If so then I am on the right track. Thanks again

  10. No, that’s not what you’re looking for (though if it’s the Scull and Hammond Companion and Guide, it’s certainly worthwhile). No, the collection of letters I’m talking about is much less expensive. You can just follow this link to get it, if you like.

  11. Thank you so much for saving a student $50, it is much appreciated. In your professional opinion do you think that looking into the similarities between Bilbo, Sigurd and Beowulf is a stronger idea than looking at the similarities between Bilbo and Loki? As I am reading more into both the Old Norse texts and Tolkien I am seeing many similarities in all... Thanks

  12. I’m curious what similarities you see between Bilbo and Loki; this is not a comparison that would normally occur to me. Loki is the trickster, playing pranks and stirring up trouble, and delighting in the commotion among the gods and giants. This is early on the mythic cycle; later, during the end times, Loki becomes a much darker force, fighting against the gods in the final battle. Over the course of his career, he’s responsible for more than a few deaths. So I’m really curious what similarities you’ve found.

    A comparison between Bilbo, Sigurd, and Beowulf is more straightforward, although you will have to deal with the most obvious differences as well (e.g., Bilbo is not a traditional epic hero). You could probably make a good paper out of this.