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Middle-earth Reflections

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

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Tolkien studies

Five accurate reviews of The Hobbit written 80 years ago.

When The Hobbit came out on September 21, 1937, it caused a great interest among readers and critics alike. Among all the reviews published in the time following the release of the book, there were favourable alongside a few unfavourable ones. Some reviewers simply described the story while others had a lot more to say about Mr Bilbo Baggins and his adventures. Let us have a look at the selection from the latter category. Continue reading “Five accurate reviews of The Hobbit written 80 years ago.”

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.”

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.”

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