This issue contains my first essay for Mythlore, “Dwarves, Spiders, and Murky Woods: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Wonderful Web of Words.” I’m delighted to have an essay in Mythlore at long last; it’s been on my to-do list for ages. Here’s how editor Janet Brennan Croft introduced my paper: “We begin this issue of Mythlore with frequent reviewer Jason Fisher’s first article for us, a surprisingly engaging linguistic study of the Mirkwood episode in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which he uses as a typical example of the depth and interwoven complexity of the author’s linguistic invention.” (p. 3)
While on the subject, I must apologize for a spelling error in my essay. I was really dismayed to see that I had written Petri Tikki instead of the correct spelling, Petri Tikka (on p. 10). My sincere apologies, Petri. It was just a slip, and I wish I’d been more careful. I certainly don’t like it when people misspell my name.
Next, this issue contains my review of Dimitra Fimi’s book, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (running on pp. 167–72). Petri, I cited your paper, “The Finnicization of Quenya”, and I spelled your name correctly here! Phew, thank heavens! :)
Speaking of dwarves, fairies, and hobbits, there’s an interesting letter in this issue: “The Origins of Dwarves”, sent in by Pierre H. Berube (pp. 163–4). He raises some very intriguing research questions which I, for one, will probably try to take a look at. Also right up my alley, from a quick skim, is Richard J. Whitt’s “Germanic Fate and Doom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.” Anyone who quotes from Old English, Old Norse, and Old Saxon works, in the original languages, all in the same essay, is my idea of a drinking buddy! Richard, if ever we meet, I hope it’s to share a medu-benc. :)
And finally, a book to which I contributed is reviewed in this issue of Mythlore: Bradford Lee Eden’s Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien (running on pp. 183–6). Here’s what reviewer Emily A. Moniz, a Ph.D. student at CUA, has to say about my essay:
The book is strong right out of the gate. Jason Fisher’s analysis of Rohirric verse, “Horns of Dawn: The Tradition of Alliterative Verse in Rohan” is quite fine and sets a clear tone for the kind of work contained therein. Fisher carefully examines Tolkien’s influences for Rohan, various traditions of Old English and Germanic alliterative poetry, and the connections between languages both real and fictional. What is even more delightful than his scholarship itself is that he somehow manages to do it all without losing a reader who admittedly knew nothing about Germanic alliterative verse or the Saxon kingdom of Mercia until she had finished the essay. While there are many outstanding pieces in Middle-earth Minstrel, Fisher’s piece stood out and one could not ask for a stronger opening than “Horns of Dawn.” (p. 184)Needless to say, I was humbled and delighted to read this. I am especially pleased that my essay comes across well to readers — or at least, to one reader — without a strong background in the subject matter. It is always my goal to take abstruse topics like medieval philology and make them accessible and interesting to anyone — ideally, to everyone. A bit later, Moniz adds that “[t]he two essays by Fisher and Wilkins [sic] alone are worth the price of admission” (p. 185) — a compliment I hope I deserve; and Peter Wilkin definitely does. Other readers are invited to add their tuppence.