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Showing posts from April, 2016

Z is for Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 3 of 3 and 1000 Posts Contest Last Day! (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for Z end of the list and the third and final part of the #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge!

Part one of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter K and answered the first seven questions. Part two of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter R and covered questions 8 through 14.

Here's part three of the #TolkienCollection:

15. Item you consider to be a must-have for every collector -- authorised editions of the books, of course! I don't mind collecting other editions, but during my annual rereads I only ever read the 50th anniversary edition, since it has most of the typos and errors corrected. I'd like to get the 60th anniversary edition...

16. Top three items you'd take on an adventure -- The Lord of the Rings and copies of The Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers plus some of the poems. Also the original Caedmon recordings. Is that a lot of books to carry in one's backpack? Maybe, but I've always done that -- carried more books than clothes …

Y is for Dorothy Sayers and W. H. Auden (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for Dorothy Sayers and W. H. Auden.

Lewis and Tolkien both admired many of Sayers' works -- except for the Lord Peter Wimsey stories.

"'She was the first person of importance who ever wrote me a fan-letter,' [Lewis] later recalled, and he added, 'I liked her, originally, because she liked me; later, for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation -- as I like a high wind.' She did not, however, come to any meetings of the Inklings. ... 'She never met our own club,' Lewis said, 'and probably never knew of its existence.'" (all quotes from Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings and The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien)

She was also an admirer of Charles Williams: "'I got in from Magdalen last night about 12 and found her sitting up' [he wrote to his wife]. 'We conversed till 2.15. I like the old dear, but she's rather heavy going. I should find 2.15 late for one's dearest friends -- but what can one do.'
&q…

X is for X Marks the Spot (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for X marks the spot!

Not strictly Inklings-related, but a recap of some Tolkien travel-related places I've visited, in Switzerland, England, and Italy.




Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen:

Lauterbrunnen is widely thought to be the inspiration for Rivendell.Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos!

Hurst Green in Lancashire:A very Shire-like place.Can you see me in the tree?Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos!

Venice: Bookstore with books in a gondola...and a gondola gliding by!Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos!

Speaking of books, here's what I got at the Library in English book sale!


And just a couple of days ago at a lunchtime book sale hosted by the staff association of the World Meterological Organization:

Don't forget to keep commenting on the A to Z posts, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!
Two posts to go in the challenge! How's everyone doing?

W is for World War I (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for World War I.

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is this summer.

While at King Edward's School in Birmingham, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith, and Christopher Wiseman, formed an unofficial and semi-secret society called the TCBS (The Tea Club and Barrovian Society name alluded to their meeting spots -- tea in the library (which was not permitted) and Barrow's Stores near the school).

They kept in touch after leaving school and, following a "council" of the TCBS in 1914, Tolkien began devoting more energy to writing poetry, thanks to the shared ideals and mutual encouragement of the Society.

Tolkien, Gilson, and Smith were at the Battle of the Somme. On leaving, as he crossed the English channel with his battalion, Tolkien wrote a poem called "The Lonely Isle", a haunting verse subtitled "For England".

Gilson was killed in action almost on the first day of the battle. Smith was killed in 1916.

Christopher …

V is for Various Readings, Knitting, and Byron at Villa Diodati (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for various readings.

I love the idea of the Inklings reading aloud from their essays and stories and poems, discussing all sorts of ideas having to do with myth and fairy tales and history and language... All over a pint or two in firelit rooms...

It's funny to think of, but they probably sat with their hands idle. Whereas a group of women, when they met, would have had a quilting circle, or a bit of sewing or knitting in their hands.

Speaking of which, I never really specified it as part of my ROW80 goals, but I still try to keep up my knitting projects! The only thing is, I seem to have been a bit lax in taking photographs. I'm in the middle of three things at the moment, a blanket for a cousin's new baby, a shawl for a friend, and a sweater for myself (that one is not likely to ever be finished). In between I made a few more new-baby items, including these wee hats:






It's a good thing that I have other photos to share instead!

It's interesting that I can'…

U is for the University of Oxford (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for University of Oxford.

I feel badly that I don't have new photos to share. We've been talking about taking a quick weekend trip to revisit Oxford; I'd especially like to see the parts I haven't gone to yet, including a visit to Tolkien's grave, a visit to Lewis' grave, a drink at the Mitre, a drink at the Lamb and Flag, afternoon tea at the Eastgate hotel...

Until then, though, I leave you with two quotes from Tolkien's collected letters:


During the war, Tolkien was involved in teaching forces cadets at the university, on the wartime 'short courses'. He reports in a letter to C. S. Lewis on a fellow teacher, M. R. Ridley, who was "astounded at the ignorance of all 22 cadets" and adds in a PS:

"Ridley's first question in the test-paper was a group of words to define -- apposite, reverend, venal, choric, secular, and a few others. Not one case got any of the words right."

If I'm being completely honest, I have no …

T is for the History of Middle-earth and Tolkien's son Christopher (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for Christopher Tolkien,Tolkien's youngest son and, later, editor and publisher of many posthumous works, plus the 12-volume History of Middle-Earth series.


[Reminder: Don't forget to keep commenting, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!]


There is a LOT of Tolkien we'd never have seen, if not for the tireless efforts of Christopher!

Christopher Tolkien talks about his father:
Christopher Tolkien talks about his father and languages:
Christopher Tolkien talks about The Silmarillion:
Christopher Tolkien read the end of The Lord of the Rings:

I like this entry from C. S. Lewis's brother's diary in 1946 (quoted in Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings):

"'An exquisitely lovely spring day. [To] the Bird and Baby as usual in the morning, where I had started on my second pint before J [C. S. Lewis] arrive. When Humbhrey [Harvard] came, he suggested an adjournement to the Trout at Godstow; which, picking up Christopher Tolkien on the way, we did, and th…

S is for Prince in Switzerland (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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was supposed to be for Robert Havard, family doctor to the Lewises and Tolkiens, and occasional Inkling.

But I find I have no specific anecdote about him and, instead, have yet another reason to wonder what is in the air in 2016.

I'm referring to the news about Prince -- it broke yesterday around dinner time our time.

Of course, with Prince, you can't go running to the Internet to listen to all the songs you remember and various albums one after another (as I did with Bowie. I wouldn't need to do this at all if all our CDs and tapes weren't in storage!). If you search for Prince at all on YouTube, you get, on the first page, some rather disturbing results and not a single one of his songs.

After some more searching through Google, I managed to find a Polish site that had a copy of the official video for Diamonds and Pearls (I was about 13 when this song came out), and another suspicious looking site had The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.

One thing that was entirely…

R is for Ready, Set, Go! Contest for 1000 Posts and Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 2 of 3 (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for ready, set, go!

1000 blog posts today!

I hit 500 posts back in May 2011, after nearly four years of blogging; it's been five years since then.

Many posts about the writing journey, about Tolkien, about books read and authors followed (remember the year of the unexpected Neil Gaiman?), travels galore, and so much more... I'll collate them someday, I hope.

The week-long contest starts today!
But first, the #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge!
Part one of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter K and answered the first seven questions. Part two covers 8 through 14:


8. Create a rainbow with items in your collection -- I'm excusing myself from this one on the grounds that taking all the books I have here (missing all the ones in storage!) off from the shelves and arranging them would take twice as long and be twice as messy with baby involved.
Instead, here she is at birth, when I was rereading The Lord of the Rings:


9. Your most unconventional item -- one of the…

Q is for Questions and Answers and Post Number 999 (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for questions and answers!

By which I mean the very many scholars and authors who have explored facets of Tolkien’s work and influences, including Charles Noad, Corey Olsen, Dimitra Fimi, Douglas Anderson, John Garth, John Rateliff, Taum Santoski, Verlyn Flieger, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull and many more...

I always hoped I'd be part of this group someday. I had a fledgling idea for a thesis once, and even sent an email to Verlyn Flieger about it! She was gracious enough to reply, but questioned whether it was an idea worth pursuing. In the back of my mind, I think that if I ever go back to school for a higher degree, I'd do it purely for fun, to study English, and to maybe explore that original idea further...

The most recent scholarly edition I read was the new publication A Secret Vice, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins:


A Secret Vice is an annotated edition of one of Tolkien's lectures, all about the private and personal creation of languages (along w…

P is for Charles Williams (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for The Place of the Lion, by Charles Williams.

I've read a couple of his other books, but reading his work is kind of like reading James Joyce's Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake -- you need help.

I haven't read Finnegan's Wake, but I have read Ulysses, and I did it in a very specific way: I read a chapter a week; first I'd read the chapter, think about the words, enjoy the flow of language, and try to understand what was going on; then I'd read the Stuart Gilbert analysis book (which I actually bought by accident once and was later really glad I had), and learned about all the references and symbols Joyce had used, so that then I actually understood what I'd read.

Charles Williams is like that. On one level, you can understand the plot of the tale just fine. But he's got so many esoteric references and connections and clues, that you would get more meaning from the story if you knew them all.

"'Taliessin through Logres contained some beautif…

O is for Owen Barfield (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for Owen Barfield, veteran, lawyer, and author. He was as much an Inklings as his day to day fortunes allowed him to be, especially after he'd turned to the law full time as the only means of making a living possible for him.

Unfortunately the books of his that I've read, including Poetic Diction, Saving the Appearances, History in English Words, and his childrens' tale The Silver Trumpet, are all back in storage, and I can't really refer to them to refresh my memory of some of his main ideas. I know I'd like to reread them, and would definitely recommend them.



I know a number of his thoughts on language and myth making had a direct influence on both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien; the most recent example can be seen in the the latest Tolkien publication, an annotated edition of one of his lectures, A Secret Vice, all about the private and personal creation of languages (along with those furthered by international committee, such as Esperanto, and those creat…

N is for Nevill Coghill, and Richard Burton (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

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is for Nevill Coghill, Fellow, Professor, war veteran, and translator of the Canterbury Tales. Apparently it was Coghill who first got C. S. Lewis to read Charles Williams -- but that's for another letter.


Coghill and C.S. Lewis used to take country walks together and, as Humphrey Carpenter relates, "while striding together over Hinksey Hill they would talk excitedly about what they had been reading that week. Coghill never forgot how on one such walk Lewis, who had just encountered the Anglo-Saxon Battle of Maldon, boomed out some lines from the end of the poem:

'Hige sceal Þe heardra, heorte Þe cenre, mod sceal Þe mare, Þe ure maegen lytlađ.'
'Will shall be the sterner, heart the bolder, spirit the greater as our strength lessens.'"

This is one of those interludes that makes me wish I was back there!


Coghill also staged many undergraduate theatrical productions at Oxford, and one of the actors included was Richard Burton.

I hadn't known mu…