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Posts for Tag: maps

“Tolkien Anniversaries” symposium before the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo)

    cartography     conferences     maps     Middle-earth

I’ll be reworking the paper I gave a few weeks ago at Tolkien in Vermont at Brad Eden’s “Tolkien Anniversaries” symposium, held the day before the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University.

“The river Swanfleet: A journey from the Misty Mountains to flat fenlands and half-way back again”; or, “How the discovery of Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth by Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford extricates Pauline Baynes’s cartographic reputation from the marsh of Nîn-in-Eilph

Just as Christopher Tolkien’s exacting work in The History of Middle-earth has provided both the basis for and the standard with which we measure research into his father’s Middle-earthly subcreation, so too have his maps of the west of Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age long served as both the canonical representation of Middle-earth and the gauge with which we have measured all subsequent Media-terrestrial cartography.

The recent discovery of the map that J.R.R. Tolkien himself annotated for Pauline Baynes’s reference in producing her 1970 poster map, however, now provides a welcome opportunity to explore some issues that J.R.R. Tolkien said “give some trouble,” and which Christopher Tolkien agreed have “bedevilled … representation on the maps.” Of particular interest is the mysterious relationship of “Swanfleet” to the fens of Nîn-in-Eilph and the Glanduin River, about which Christopher Tolkien, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, and Karen Wynn Fonstad have all implicitly or explictly concluded that Baynes “misunderstood.”

This paper demonstrates that Baynes had it right all along, and that this is a rare case where Christopher Tolkien went astray, taking Hammond, Scull, and Fonstad with him. Along the way, we will also make brief excursions to several little-known rivers in Gondor and through the famed vineyards of Dorwinion.

The full list of paper titles, scholars, and abstracts may be found in this PDF.

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Tolkien in Vermont, 2017 — at which I give my first paper

    conferences     cartography     maps     Middle-earth

Well, it’s about time. I’ve given my first academic paper:

“Far-away places with strange-sounding names: Endonyms (autonyms), exonyms (xenonyms), and the romance of Tolkien’s toponymy of Middle-earth”; Or, “On the redundancy of Bree-hill, the heady topper of the Brandywine, and how the discovery of Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth by Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford extricates Pauline Baynes’s cartographic reputation from the fens of Nîn-in-Eilph

A curious set of circumstances led up to this, but essentially I was prepared to give this paper and was called upon to fill a suddenly empty slot. It worked out well.

A program for the conference may be found at its web site, and quite a few pictures have been posted at its Facebook page.

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The climate of Middle-earth

    maps     humor     climate     Middle-earth

It seems that one Radagast the Brown (of Rhosgobel & The Cabot Institute) has published a paper presenting the results of his climate simulation modelling for Middle-earth. Though obviously mock-serious, the modelling and the science are real enough. Definitely worth a few of your hard-won free minutes.

(Not surprisingly, these last two seem to be merely nicely formatted font-transfers.)

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Facsimile of Tolkien’s full 1956 letter to Cotton Minchin

    maps     primary sources     Tolkien

Tolkien’s letter to H. Cotton Minchin, page one

page two

page three

page four

page five

See The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981, #187.

The American auction house RR Auction recently sold Tolkien’s 1956 letter to H. Cotton Minchin.

2016-11-04: RR Auction has recycled its item numbers; this link now points to another item. — Ð

Much of the text of this letter has been available in the form of Humphrey Carpenter’s abridgment of Tolkien’s draft of the letter.

As part of the auction, RR Auction made available good-quality scans of all five pages of the letter, affording us the opportunity of reading the full text of Tolkien’s final (beautifully penned) draft for what I believe is the first time.

Pieter Collier at The Tolkien Library has republished the scans (as I have here, too), and has transcribed the letter in full. An ad hoc group of Tolkien scholars promptly submitted a number of corrections and suggestions, which Pieter immediately incorporated into his transcription. The result seems to be a highly accurate reading of Tolkien’s letter. Some highlights:

Maps take a lot of time and work. It would of course be impossible to make a map of an ‘invented’ tale, or rather to write a mappable tale, unless one started with a Map from the beginning. That I did — though inevitably some inconsistencies, needing the adjustment of map or text, crept in in the course of a long work, constantly interrupted. But there is a wide gap between a rough map, though accurate in scale and distances, and one drawn and lettered passably enough for reproduction!

You would, by the way, render us a very great service, if more and better maps are to be produced, if you would be so kind as to send us any notes of faults, inconsistencies, or omissions, in maps or text.

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