Dots and curls: on the diacritics in Quenya and Sindarin.

Pronunciation of words in real and invented languages can be of various kinds: in some tongues words are pronounced in the same way they are spelt, but in others there are entire systems with reading rules of different degrees of complexity.  In some cases the way a word is spelt versus the way it is pronounced can be divided by a yawning gap. Some languages have special marks above or below letters to indicate certain peculiarities in their pronunciation. J. R. R. Tolkien’s invented languages Quenya and Sindarin are no exceptions. Read more

In starlit memory.

In many ways Elvish immortality in Tolkien’s Legendarium is more like a doom for its bearers, rather than a blessing: being not permanent living per se, it is rather the state of an immensely long life until the end of Arda without any knowledge of what comes afterwards. Thus, alongside moments of joy, Elves carry great burdens of battles lost, dear ones dead and sorrows experienced over the courses of their really long lives, and the burden becomes only heavier with years. As Men are growing stronger and more powerful, Elves are waning and fading gradually. In Tolkien’s own words, they “are concerned rather with the griefs and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than with death” (Letters, № 131).

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Mirror, mirror on the wall. On Sauron’s appearance.

Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was

that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.

In his earlier incarnation he was able to veil his power

(as Gandalf did) and could appear as a commanding

figure of great strength of body and supremely

royal demeanour and countenance.

(Letters, № 246)

Readers of The Lord of the Rings are well aware of Sauron’s being the chief menace of the Second and Third Ages after the capture of Morgoth and the War of Wrath. What is rather obscure, though, is what the great Middle-earth adversary looked like. In his writings and letters Tolkien gave a few clues concerning the looks of Sauron, leaving all the rest to his readers’ imagination.

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Wives of the Eldar: Nerdanel.

A lot is known about the Elves and their deeds in Middle-earth. However, those who stayed behind and did not go into exile have similarly fascinating personalities. In this series of reflections I would like to explore some of the female characters who dwelt in Aman, look into their stories and discover more about the ladies who had to make many tough decisions. The first character sketch of the series is dedicated to Nerdanel.

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Fëanor the skilful.

It is very often that Fëanor is remembered for grievous deeds and worst manifestations of his complex, albeit fascinating, character. However, being a gifted and skilful Noldo, he contributed a lot to Elvish craftsmanship, culture and traditions. His works were meant to be useful, unique and long-lasting, with some things surviving well into the Third Age and remaining long after Fëanor himself was no more.

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On Sauron’s motives.

Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.

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Who wants to live forever?

The topic of death is one of the most important pillars that Tolkien’s mythology is supported by. He used different approaches to explore death in his writings, careful to show various aspects of this delicate topic. Escape from death as a notion was one of the most important purposes of fantasy and fairy-tales in Tolkien’s view. He calls it the Great Escape in On Fairy-Stories. “Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this—which might be called the genuine escapist, or (I would say) fugitive spirit” (1), Tolkien writes. But this perspective, this need for the Great Escape, is human. What if we walk in Elvish shoes for a while and look at death from their point of view?

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