The Shepherds of the Trees (Part II)

J. R. R. Tolkien’s love of nature and, especially trees, was well-known. He drew inspiration from the green growing things and was undoubtedly saddened by the damage humans could inflict on the natural world. During his life Tolkien witnessed the unflattering change of certain landscapes due to the merciless strides of technological progress, and that could not leave him indifferent.

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The Shepherds of the Trees (Part I).

There are a lot of characters in Tolkien’s works that are connected with nature in one way or the other. Whether they are those that care deeply about nature, or are part of the natural world themselves, Tolkien made sure to give them quite a prominent voice in his tales. One of the best representatives of the sentient nature is the race of the Ents.

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“I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me”

The opening line of The Hobbit firmly belongs to the treasury of best-known book openers in literature. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”. This short sentence invites readers into a whole new world full of  interesting places, charismatic characters and glorious deeds. Both in the world of Middle-earth and outside it this very hobbit-hole becomes the starting point of dangerous journeys and exciting adventures. So what exactly is this dwelling of a hobbit?

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What’s in the spelling?

As the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings made their ways to the publishers in their respective time, Tolkien faced an unexpected problem. All of the instances of Dwarves or dwarvish and elvish or elven were corrected to Dwarfs, dwarfish, elfish and elfin to coincide with the standard dictionary spelling. Tolkien had a lot of issues with those corrections, and in the present reflection I am going to look into the example of Dwarves.

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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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In the hot light of the Sun.

In Tolkien’s universe various notions can have special significance, which sometimes shows in small details and aspects. The concepts of light and darkness are deep and far-reaching: sometimes they are not a mere background for a story, but a very important player in the events of Middle-earth. In the present reflection I am going to look into the matter of sunlight and its influence on the dark powers of Middle-earth.

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