Author Archives: John Garth

Tanks at Gondolin

Here’s an excerpt from my book Tolkien and the Great War to mark the centenary of Tolkien’s discharge on 9 December 1916 from military hospital, where he had begun writing his first ‘lost tale’ of Middle-earth, ‘The Fall of Gondolin’. … Continue reading

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Unseen Tolkien: sex, infertility, adultery and the birth of Galadriel

The encounter between mortal man and immortal enchantress is always fateful in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, Boromir fears the Elf-queen Galadriel and ignores her wisdom, then dies for his sins. The Lay of Aotrou … Continue reading

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Beren and Lúthien, a centenary publication

In a wood filled with a cloud of white flowers, a soldier walked in the spring of 1917 with his wife, and she sang and danced for him. To that battle-worn lieutenant, J R R Tolkien, Edith’s dance was an unforgettable glimpse of … Continue reading

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Teaching Tolkien in Las Vegas

Vegas brought out my worst vices. Handed carte blanche to indulge recklessly and obscenely for twelve months, I borrowed books from the university library in such numbers that when it came to returning them, I had to use a suitcase. I even … Continue reading

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Robert Quilter Gilson, TCBS – a documentary

When Tolkien writes in the Foreword to The Lord of the Rings that ‘by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead’, he is referring to his friends in a clique formed at school but later bonded by … Continue reading

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Bottling the essence of languages: Tolkien’s ‘A Secret Vice’

From sound aesthetic to Finnegans Wake, a new book explores Tolkien’s relationship to language. Here’s my review for the New Statesman. A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages Ed. Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins HarperCollins (223pp, £16.99) Horsemen, barbaric yet noble, … Continue reading

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A turbulent darkness: Tolkien’s first story

Here’s a short review of Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo that I wrote for the Mail On Sunday when the book came out in September 2015. I reproduce it here, with permission, as the book becomes available in the USA, … Continue reading

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Tolkien’s ‘immortal four’ meet for the last time

Best Article, Tolkien Society Awards 2016 Also available in Spanish and Portuguese. One hundred years ago today, four young men convened in an English town, not having seen each other for some time. What makes this trivial event significant is … Continue reading

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A friend of Tolkien’s TCBS tells a neglected truth of war

The official death figures for the First World War, though incomprehensibly vast in themselves, fall well short of the full tally of fatalities, and give the barest indication of the suffering of soldiers and their loved ones. Today that is … Continue reading

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Dragon scale: Why it’s impossible to size up Tolkien’s Middle-earth

A piece of fan art illustrating the relative size of Tolkien’s dragons raises a far more interesting issue than how big was Smaug or Glaurung or Ancalagon the Black. It’s an issue that should give pause for thought in any … Continue reading

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