Tolkien’s death of Smaug: American inspiration revealed

My latest article for the Guardian:

As well as its familiar roots in Icelandic mythology, this Middle-earth story also has some surprising transatlantic sources

The Desolation of Smaug by Tomás Hijo,

The Desolation of Smaug by Tomás Hijo (work in progress),

The dragon soars overhead, its underside armoured with gems from its hoard. The bowman has one arrow left. Then a bird flutters to his ear and whispers the monster’s sole vulnerability – a bare patch at its breast. The last arrow strikes home. Exit Smaug the Magnificent.

It’s a marvellous moment, thrillingly told in The Hobbit (though mashed out of recognition in the last of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth films, released this week). But Tolkien did not conjure the scene from thin air. The peculiar manner of Smaug’s death comes via a surprising source…

Read on at the Guardian

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3 Responses to Tolkien’s death of Smaug: American inspiration revealed

  1. McNaughton, David says:

    Fascinating article. Enjoyed it immensely

    As you know, there is another Inkling connection. One of Lewis’s transforming experiences was reading Longfellow’s Tegner’s Drapa

  2. That was really interesting. I used to love Hiawatha as a child.

    My husband and I were Laketowners in films 2 & 3 and my husband was lucky enough to get a chance to hold Bard’s black arrow 🙂 It was a lot of fun being involved in the destruction of Laketown. We also had the opportunity to banter with Billy Connolly in the catering tent one day, though he wasn’t looking well. He was still inspirational though…

  3. Pingback: Tolkien’s Garden Kingdom – The Wandering Company

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