Category Archives: Tolkien’s creative spirit

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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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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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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Tolkien’s Beowulf: one man’s passion for the threshold between myth and reality

Review Beowulf: a Translation and Commentary, Together with “Sellic Spell” J.R.R. Tolkien Edited by Christopher Tolkien HarperCollins, 425pp, £20 In his story “Leaf by Niggle”, J.R.R. Tolkien imagines an artist painting a picture he can neither complete nor abandon. “It had … Continue reading

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