Tag Archives: Tolkien’s writing

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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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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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 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 dragon soars overhead, its underside armoured with gems from its hoard. The bowman has one … Continue reading

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Middle-earth turns 100

It is 100 years since Middle-earth began. The earliest glimpse of any character or situation from his mythology was in a poem, ‘The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star’, which J.R.R. Tolkien dated 24 September 1914. He wrote it at … 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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JRR Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf: bring on the monsters

This week, HarperCollins announced that a long-awaited JRR Tolkien translation of Beowulf is to be published in May, along with his commentaries on the Old English epic and a story it inspired him to write, “Sellic Spell”. It is just the latest … Continue reading

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Tolkien’s Beowulf translation and Sellic Spell to be published

Just a brief post on a big piece of Tolkien news. I’ve been busy today in the pages of the Guardian and the Telegraph as it was announced that Tolkien’s long-awaited translation of Beowulf is to be published at last. … Continue reading

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