Our second issue of the Journal already! Its contents once more reflect the sheer richness and diversity of reflection upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as creativity inspired by it—again, from an international cast!
Interviews with front running Tolkien artists such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith, Michael Hague and Rodney Matthews open up riveting questions about visualizations by others of Tolkien’s word-painted story (although the storyteller himself was no mean illustrator of his own work). How close, for instance, are the imagined realms of Tolkien to real places in the “primary world”, as he called it—such as mid-Wales, the English Midlands of Tolkien’s childhood, or even the snowy mountains, forests and rivers of New Zealand? From their experience as accomplished artists and interpreters, John Howe and the others add a whole new dimension, I think, to reflection upon Tolkien’s work.
It is a great pleasure to welcome Corey Olsen as a regular contributor, in this case interviewing leading Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, who is very much on form with penetrating analysis and pithy repartee. Professor Shippey like Tolkien taught Old English at Oxford and held Tolkien’s former Chair at Leeds. His books The Road to Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century have set the benchmark for Tolkien criticism. He speaks openly about the personal cost of treating Tolkien in the same scholarly breath as literature of the canon (as narrowly understood in the present literary academy). Professor Shippey’s arguments for taking Tolkien seriously in the academic world are to me totally convincing.
In this issue we inaugurate a new section for The Tolkien Professor (alias the very same Corey Olsen), as he begins a new series especially for the Journal, giving short introductions to various writings of Tolkien, both fiction and non-fiction. Appropriately his opening piece is about how to read Tolkien, revealing some important misconceptions that we are likely to accept without question.
This packed issue has also squeezed in feature articles by Jef Murray (who was interviewed last time), and by Pieter Collier and Ian Collier (who are unrelated, by the way). The first is on Tolkien’s dramatic and highly significant change of perception regarding elves, and the second is an anatomy of the flourishing Tolkien Society, which has had an enthusiastic following for many years. In addition, we have a unique account by the late Professor Clyde S. Kilby of his summer spent in Oxford helping Tolkien with his unfinished and unwieldy The Silmarillion. Here I confess a personal link. While I was fresh as a student at the University of Istanbul Dr Kilby obtained my first article on Tolkien (entitled “Leonardo, Tolkien and Mr Baggins”) and passed it on (after asking my permission) to the wonderfully named Glen Goodknight of the fledgling Mythopoeic Society in far-off California, to appear in the second issue of a then mimeographed Mythlore.
Last (but not least, of course) we begin a new review section in which Chad Chisholm looks at the welcome phenomenon of fan movies in the particular shape of The Hunt to Gollum.
P.S. Do send in contributions and ideas for features and interviews. Also, let me know the one question you most would have liked to ask Professor Tolkien. We may find an expert who would be game to have at least a guess at what the answer might have been!
Found this page without going through the magazine front page? Click here: Festival in the Shire Journal. For all things Tolkien inspired.