Want to learn a language? Ask J. R. R. Tolkien how.

J. R. R. Tolkien was a gifted philologist. His philological interests, according to the Professor himself, were largely scientific, and that shows clearly in his own literary work. Just a read through The History of Middle-earth with its linguistic bits, in-depth philological essays, carefully crafted and restored etymologies for his own invented languages demonstrates as much. These languages were first and foremost, the starting point of Tolkien’s tales.

Read more

Driven by the oath.

When it comes to stories by J. R. R. Tolkien, you can always rely on him in providing his readers with the most many-dimensional characters. There are rather few who are either absolutely good or absolutely evil: most individuals in the tales of Arda are rather complex and have their own — not always easy — fates. Maedhros, the eldest son of Fëanor, is definitely one of such characters.

Read more

Years the countless.

Whenever we meet Elves in Tolkien’s tales, their age is often very hard to discern. To mortal eyes they may appear as middle-aged individuals in full vigour, but in reality they can be thousands years old. Having a different life-span to that of Men, Elves grow older much more slowly, but grow older they do. Even though their ageing may not always be visible to mortal eyes, Elves feel it most acutely.

Read more

Are you friend or foe?

It was often the case that in his writings J. R. R. Tolkien used unusual words either in their older meanings changed today, or the ones no longer in active use. It is such words that create a very special old-fashioned atmosphere of most of the Professor’s tales, tone them down to the stories of the past and give lovers of words a chance to dig out a new lexical treasure. One of such interesting choices was the noun unfriend that does not appear in Tolkien’s works very often.

Read more

Shadowy people.

In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien readers meet various kinds of ghostly characters. While they are all different, have various origins, backgrounds and specific traits, one aspect unites them: these wights instil great fear and are downright spooky. It is hard not to have one’s blood chilled by the Ringwraiths, not to be scared by the Barrow-wights or haunted by the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

Read more

Blinded by the light.

Melkor, mostly known as Morgoth, firmly belongs among the darkest characters in Arda. He is clearly associated with darkness, night and he is responsible for making these two notions frightening. However, Melkor’s downfall was a complex matter, and one of its constituents was his desire of Light. As he was becoming more and more corrupt and turning away from the light, he had two options: either to destroy light, or to possess it.

Read more

Down in the valley.

…and the house of Elrond was a refuge for the

weary and the oppressed, and a treasury of

good counsel and wise lore.

(Silmarillion, p. 357)

There are many places in Middle-earth, and all of them have their own special atmosphere. Rivendell is one of the quietest and cosiest spots: its ability to provide repose and much-needed rest alongside good advice and safety is as amazing as it is vital.

Read more

Forever young I want to be.

The matter of mortality vs immortality is very prominent in Tolkien’s tales. The Professor makes it absolutely clear that Men are mortal and they must not in any way crave or try to achieve immortality. Otherwise, the consequences might be most unpredictable and far from good. There are many examples in the world of Arda demonstrating what human aspirations for immortality can lead to, and in the present essay I would like to discuss the Númenóreans and their destiny.

Read more