Archives for January 2015

Discovery of Historical Inspiration for Tolkien’s One Ring

HistoryToday.com has published the fascinating story of a golden ring from Roman Britain and of two Pembroke College, Oxford, professors who were part of the effort to trace its origins. What’s intriguing about it, at least for serious readers of fantasy fiction, is that these two professors were R. G. Collingwood, archaeologist and dean of metaphysics, and J. R. R. Tolkien, he-who-needs-no-introduction. From the article ‘The Inspiration for Tolkien’s Ring:’

So how much did this story of a lost Roman gold ring influence Tolkien’s fiction? Silvianus loses his gold ring at Lydney, as Gollum lost his under the Misty Mountains. Silvianus believes his ring has been stolen by someone whose name he knows – Senicianus – just as Gollum thinks his ring has been stolen by Bilbo Baggins. Silvianus curses by name the person he suspects. Similarly, when Gollum works out that Bilbo has found and kept his ring, he cries out in rage: ‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!’ Both Gollum and Silvianus know the identity of the persons they regard as thieves who have stolen their gold rings and both declare these names with maledictions.

However the relationship between Tolkien and Collingwood may have gone deeper. Collingwood’s developing approach to the philosophy of history may have appealed to Tolkien, who once declared that he much preferred history ‘true or feigned’. From 1926 onwards Collingwood was working on the theories that would become his book The Idea of History, in which he proposes the importance of objects as vectors for understanding and imaginatively recreating given historical events – pure gold ring territory.

Do read the whole thing.  My only quibble is the authors’ assertion that the years 1928-1929 were the years in which the form of The Hobbit was taking final shape.” Tolkien doesn’t begin the composition of The Hobbit until 1930 according to the accepted history and writes more than half of it in the months just before publication in 1936 and 1937. That would be the year that he read Williams’ Place of the Lion, a ring composition, when his and CSL’s ideas of what was possible in modern day story telling was re-shaped (re-forged?). For more on that pivotal year, see Bruce Charlton’s notes online in ‘The Notion Club Papers.’

Still, this is a fascinating link, especially given the presence of Collingwood, about whom more after the jump!

‘Insurgent’ Movie Previews: This is Making Me Nervous!

Another Insurgent trailer released today, along with a “Sneak Peak” that includes commentary from the actors, director and Veronica Roth herself. As much as I am looking forward to the film and want it to succeed, there are more than a couple of elements that are making me a bit wary about getting my hopes up for something that was as good an adaptation as the first movie. [Read more…]

Hunger Games: Dr. Amy H. Sturgis on the Dystopian Tradition

Wonderful opportunity for Hunger Games fans who are students — Dr Amy H. Sturgis, Potter Pundit and All-Around Literary Lioness, is offering a free lecture series this Spring! Read what she sent me about it:

On the weekends of March 28/29 and April 11/12, I’ll be offering a free interactive, multimedia lecture series – hotel accommodations and catering is included – for interested undergraduate and graduate students. It’s in Asheville, NC, a stone’s throw from where the Hunger Games film was shot. Students are responsible for travel there and back, but everything else is paid for.

The subject is “The Dystopian Tradition: What Worlds Gone Wrong Can Teach Us.”

Here’s the description:

Why did nearly 370 international organizations in the spring of 2014 use the term “Big Brother” from Nineteen Eighty-Four in their united call for global surveillance reform? Why did citizens in Thailand in the summer of 2014 adopt the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games to protest the repressive military coup in their country? Dystopian fiction and film pervades popular culture and conveys big ideas about issues of immediate political, economic, and social importance. This series will explore the warnings embedded in a century of great dystopian works with a focus on the lessons about human nature, free societies, and individual and community well-being that remain most relevant–and challenging–today.

For free registration, go to http://bit.ly/1t2Un5l

Shared Text: Dilbert Wand Lore and Dementor Pizza Delivery

Blessed Feast of Nativity: Chanting from an Orthodox Convent

The nuns of the St Elizabeth the Grand Duchess Convent in California have recorded a CD of their Christmas chanting. To learn more about it, click here.