Thursday, February 10, 2011

More new books — and an excerpt

In the past few days, I’ve gotten the details (and covers) for a couple of new Tolkien collections, which I would like to share here. But before I do that, I am very pleased to announce that Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien (ed. Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kašcáková, Cambridge Scholars Publishing) is now available. Last I’d heard, it was coming next month, but reports are reaching my ears that the book is shipping already.

Even better, as is their wont, CSP has put a thirty-page excerpt online. This includes the table of contents, the introduction, and my essay in its entirety! Such are the benefits of being first in the lineup. So, for those who would like to read my thoughts on Tolkien’s trope, “Circles of the World”, you needn’t wait for a copy of the book! Just follow this link.

Next up is Paul E. Kerry’s edited collection, The Ring and the Cross: Christianity in the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press / Rowman & Littlefield). I had been hearing about this book from several of its contributors since August, 2008, and I had begun to despair of its ever arriving! But such is the pace of academic publishing. This is actually the first of two volumes. The second, Light Beyond All Shadow (ed. Paul E. Kerry and Sandra Miesel), is currently in press and forthcoming from FDUP later this year. I’ll share its table of contents as soon as I’m able, but in the meantime, here are the contents of The Ring and the Cross:

Introduction / Paul E. Kerry

Part I: The Ring
  • The Pagan Tolkien / Ronald Hutton
  • The Christian Tolkien: A Response to Ronald Hutton / Nils Ivar Agoy
  • The Entwives: Investigating the Spritual Core of Lord of the Rings / Stephen Morillo
  • “Like Heathen Kings:” Religion as Palimpsest in Tolkien’s Fiction / John R. Holmes
  • Confronting the World’s Weirdness: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Children of Hurin / Ralph C. Wood
  • Eru Erased: The Minimalist Cosmology of The Lord of the Rings / Catherine Madsen
  • The Ring and the Cross: How J.R.R. Tolkien Became a Christian Writer / Chris Mooney
Part II: The Cross
  • Redeeming Sub-Creation / Carson L. Holloway
  • Catholic Scholar, Catholic Sub-Creator / Jason Boffetti
  • “An Age Comes On:” J.R.R. Tolkien and the English Catholic Sense of History / Michael Tomko
  • The Lord of the Rings and the Catholic Understanding of Community / Joseph Pearce
  • Tracking Catholic Influence in The Lord of the Rings / Paul E. Kerry
  • Saintly and Distant Mothers / Marjorie Burns
  • The “Last Battle” as a Johannine Ragnarok: Tolkien and the Universal / Bradley J. Birzer
The other new book is one I’ve been hearing about for a little while, but not nearly as long as the Kerry collection. This is Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy (Ed. Janice M. Bogstad and Philip E. Kaveny, McFarland). Just in the last couple of days the cover and table of contents have been revealed. The former, pictured with The Ring and the Cross, you can see above; the latter follows:

I. Introduction: Tolkien And Cinema / Janice M. Bogstad and Philip Kaveny

II. Techniques of Structure and Story
  • Gollum talks to Himself: Problems and Solutions in the Film Adaptation of The Lord of the Rings / Kristin Thompson
  • Sometimes One Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures / Verlyn Flieger
  • Two Kinds of Absence: Elision & Exclusion in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings / John D. Rateliff
  • Tolkien’s Resistance to Linearity: Narrating The Lord of the Rings in Fiction and Film / E.L. Risden
  • Filming Folklore: Adapting Fantasy for the Big Screen through Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings / Dimitra Fimi
  • Making the Connection on Page and Screen in Tolkien’s and Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings / Yvette Kisor
  • ‘It’s Alive!’ Tolkien’s Monster on the Screen / Sharin Schroeder
  • The Matériel of Middle-earth: Arms, and Armour in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy / Robert C. Woosnam-Savage
III. Techniques of Character and Culture
  • Into the West: Far Green Country or Shadow on the Waters? / Judy Ann Ford and Robin Anne Reid
  • Frodo Lives but Gollum Redeems the Blood of Kings / Philip E. Kaveny
  • The Grey Pilgrim: Gandalf and the Challenges of Characterization in Middle-Earth [sic] / Brian Walter
  • Jackson’s Aragorn and the American Superhero Monomyth / Janet Brennan Croft
  • Neither the Shadow nor the Twilight: the Love Story of Aragorn and Arwen in Literature and Film / Richard C. West
  • Concerning Horses: Establishing Cultural Settings from Tolkien to Jackson / Janice M. Bogstad
  • The Rohirrim, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Problem of Appendix F: Ambiguity and Reference in Tolkien’s Books and Jackson’s Films / Michael D.C. Drout
  • Filming the Numinous: the Fate of Lothlorien in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings / Joseph Ricke and Catherine Barnett
One interesting thing about this book (among many) is that is shares several contributors in common with mine, also forthcoming from McFarland: Ford, Rateliff, and Risden.


  1. Love the essay! I'm definitely a fan! One day, there will have to be a book titled "The Scholarly Essays of Jason Fisher". Well done again!

  2. The front matter for Middle-earth and Beyond identifies it as a 2010 book, but you say it's only now being shipped, in 2011. Which is correct?

  3. Thanks, Lillyput. One day, maybe. :)

    N.E. Brigand, I think the situation is similar to what we saw with the J.R.R Tolkien Encyclopedia, whose copyright page states 2007, but which really appeared in 2006 — i.e., sometimes the publisher guesses wrong. A more extreme example: On Tolkien: Interviews, Reminiscences, and Other Essays, edited by Douglas Anderson and Marjorie Burns, the announcement of which proved woefully immature.

    In this case, Cambridge Scholars Publishing apparently disseminated a publication date of December 1, 2010 to the various retailers and publication databases, but the book was certainly not ready by then. I heard from one of the editors on January 24 that the book was “in press and should be out in a month”.

    Although it seems to be available now, it is still not universally available. Amazon states is ships in 2–4 weeks, code for “it’s not really available now, but we expect it to soon”. Even does not say the book is in stock; rather, it says it ships in 7–12 days (also code). It can, however, be purchased at this time (apparently) directly from CSP, and at least one person in the U.S. already has a copy in hand.

  4. Jason

    A brilliant article I am going to order the book through Amazon UK. Was also thinking when reading your excellent analysis of "kringla" meaning circle and ring - that in the later stages of the legendarium Tolkien developed the idea that Melkor/Morgoth put all his evil into Arda thus making the world Morgoth's Ring - in this case the duel meaning becomes very much in use as Tolkien equated the world with a metaphoric ring.

    I agree with above we need a Root and Branches the Scholary Articles of Jason Fisher (watch out T A Shippey there is competition afoot!).

    Best, Andy

  5. Should be interesting books! Thanks for letting us know. I've added the latter two to my Amazon wish list but couldn't find the one you are in. Will add that when I can. Congrats again!

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)

  6. Sandra Miesel2/16/2011 10:36 AM

    Thanks for the coverage! Light Beyond All Shadow continues to creep towards publication-- we hope--this year.

  7. Jason
    First of all thanks for giving us the opportunity to read your article with out buying the book. I am not a wealthy man so I really appreciate your sharing so generously. I found your article to be excellent and very interesting.
    What do you make of Tolkien's mention of "the circles of time" in the Ainulindale. Is it possible he may have been referiing to the finite aspect of the vision of Iluvatar. that the begining must come to the end so that it may begin again?

  8. Sandra, my pleasure! Please keep me posted on the progress of the second volume too.

  9. Gerry, very glad to share, and thanks for the positive feedback. The “circles of time” is an interesting counterpoint to the “circles of the world”. If memory serves, that phrase is not present in the earlier drafts of the Ainulindalë but entered into it in one of Tolkien’s recensions of the later 1940’s (see Morgoth’s Ring). I might hazard a guess — no more than that at the moment; I haven’t looked into it or thought much about it yet — that the phrase emerged later as a direct corollary to the “circles of the world”, which had been developing and taking shape in Tolkien’s imagination for some years, and that it was worked into the cosmology of Arda after the fact as analogous to the other trope.

    As to the interpretation of the trope, yes, I think you’re on the right road: the vision Ilúvatar showed to the Ainur was finite or bounded in some way, and its ending was unrevealed. I would argue this is because of the free will of the Children of Ilúvatar. (Verlyn Flieger contends it is only Men who have free will, not Elves, but I disagree.)

  10. That is very interesting I did not know that "the circles of time" were added at a later date. I can only think this has something to do with history repeating its self. I think it does deserve more thought. I agree about free will. I have been thinking that Iluvatar's creations are referred to as his children. What father does not love his children and wish for their love in return. Without free will Iluvatar could never feel any love for him from his children could be genuine. Neither would they be capable of giving that love of their own free will. Isn't Melkor's defiance in the music of the Ainur free will?