Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mythlore 111/112

My copy of the new Mythlore arrived a couple of days ago, and while I haven’t had time to read it all yet, I do have a few initial comments — beginning with the fact that the Mythopoeic Society is using a new printer (Sheridan; previously, the University of Oklahoma Press). I’m not sure how many readers will notice the differences, but I certainly did. For one thing, the type looks better. For another, Sheridan doesn’t trim the pages as much, so the margins are what they were always meant to be.

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.


  1. A great honour for you, Jason, and a deserving one, to be so referred in EB! Gives many others an opportunity to read some of your wonderful essays in a 'different light' so to speak! A few of my acquaintances have already visited the EB site to read your posts, after I told them about this news, and they've written back to say it is very impressive!:)

    - Santi, from India (I've used the 'Anonymous' option since that seems to be the only one thro which I'm able to post!!)

  2. Hi Jason, read your essay yesterday and enjoyed it! Hope to break into the journal myself one day. Next on the Tolkien reading list will be Truths Breathed Through Silver which I would have started already if Mythlore hadn't come.

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)

  3. Way to go, still waiting for mine to arrive, can't wait to read you article

  4. Middle-Earth Minstrel is on it's way to me as I speak:) I can't wait to read it! Strangely enough Barnes and Noble don't keep it in store......had to order it from Amazon. I've also ordered Doug Adams' new book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films, complete with rarities CD. You may find it worth reading, I thought it looked great anyway:). Which other books do you think are worthwhile Tolkien research books?

  5. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. :)

    @Lillyput90: It’s not that strange; Tolkien criticism is generally considered a specialty topic. Mainstream bookstores would not sell enough of them to make it worth the shelf-space. But as you’ve found, you can always order them.

    Hey, since you’re going to be reading Doug Adams’s book, maybe you’d want to try writing a book review of it for Mythprint? I know our readers would be interested. Let me know if you think you might be interested.

  6. Well, I must say, I'm interested:)! When would it have to be submitted by? I haven't received my order yet, I expect it next week maybe. Also, I don't actually subscribe to Mythprint, would this matter?

  7. You don’t have to subscribe — however, it’s not expensive, so you might consider this a good opportunity to go ahead and join the Society and subscribe. We run book reviews, interviews, short essays, and announcements every month. It’s a nice newsletter, if I do say so myself. :)

    But anyway, no, you don’t have to. As for when I’d need it, I don’t really work from deadlines. You could just get it to me whenever you like, and if there are no problems with it, I’ll schedule it to run. (I’d give you a heads-up before then.)

    So, let me know if I should expect a review from you at some point. This is not an absolute obligation, but if I know to expect a review from you, I’ll know not to ask somebody else to write one. If you definitely want to do it, drop me a private email (my address is in my profile; or you can send email to

  8. Hi Jason,

    I'd like to say that this essay is fantastic, and it has been incredibly helpful in writing an analytical paper of LoTR.

    -high school student