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Middle-earth Reflections

Essays on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien

Feline fall from favour: cats turn villains in Tolkien’s stories.

In the letter sent to Allen & Unwin in reply to a cat-breeder, who wished to use names from The Lord of the Rings to name her cats, Tolkien famously said: “I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor….” (Letter 219).  It is hard to tell whether the Professor’s comment referred only to the cats of this particular breed, or expressed his general attitude towards felines, but cats in Tolkien’s literary works are presented mostly in a negative light.  Continue reading “Feline fall from favour: cats turn villains in Tolkien’s stories.”

Challenged with a song.

The significance of songs in Middle-earth has long been established. By including poetry and verse into his books, Tolkien assigned different roles to them: transmission of historical information, telling of tales, giving messages. There are a lot of songs that give a sense of continuity and connect the events in Middle-earth throughout the times, linking the Ages of Arda together and showing how interdependent they are. A special place is given to the songs of challenge. Continue reading “Challenged with a song.”

Enchanted by the stream.

There is one stream there, I know, black and strong which crosses the path. That you should neither drink of, nor bathe in; for I have heard that it carries enchantment and a great drowsiness and forgetfulness.

(Hobbit, p. 155)  Continue reading “Enchanted by the stream.”

Melkor and Manwë: like night and day.

Manwë and Melkor were brethren in the thought of Ilúvatar.

The mightiest of those Ainur who came into the World

was in his beginning Melkor; but Manwë

is dearest to Ilúvatar and understands most clearly his purposes.

(Silmarillion, p. 16) Continue reading “Melkor and Manwë: like night and day.”

The wonder of Middle-earth.

Wonder surrounds us everywhere if we care to look carefully. It can be hidden in the smallest details which seem ordinary and which we tend to take for granted as time passes, but which are still wonderful in their own right. “Invoking Wonder” was the topic of Mythmoot IV held at the beginning of June by Mythgard Academy. Unfortunately, I was not present at the conference, but these invoked-wonder posts by Tom and Joe inspired me to do a similar essay.  Continue reading “The wonder of Middle-earth.”

It is all in the mind.

When in the heat of his grief over the murder of his father and the theft of the Silmarilli Fëanor accused the Valar of being idle and taking no steps to punish Morgoth and return the gems, little did the Elf know how much he erred. Even sitting in silence in that dark moment, the Powers were far from being inactive.

Continue reading “It is all in the mind.”

Language notes /// On Galadriel.

Beautiful she is, sir! Lovely! Sometimes like

a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white

daffadowndilly, small and slender like. Hard as

di’monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as sunlight,

cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far-off as a

snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass

I ever saw with daisies in her hair in springtime.

(Two Towers, p. 357)

Continue reading “Language notes /// On Galadriel.”

Glorfindel: the power of white light (II)

The rider’s cloak streamed behind him, and his hood was thrown back; his golden hair flowed shimmering in the wind of his speed. To Frodo it appeared that a white light was shining through the form and raiment of the rider, as if through a thin veil.

(Fellowship of the Ring, p. 275)  Continue reading “Glorfindel: the power of white light (II)”

Sea the majestic (Part III).

All roads are now bent

Over the course of Ages, the Sea in Arda was becoming an increasingly impenetrable obstacle on the way to the Blessed Realm. Having gone the whole way from being a passable border between two continents to the realm of confusing waters and magical islands, the Sea turned into the border between two worlds within different planes of the universe.

Continue reading “Sea the majestic (Part III).”

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