Vermont Softworks:


Tolkien sessions at IMC 2020

This year’s International Medieval Congress, held at the University of Leeds from the 6th through the 9th of July, promises to be an extra relevant one for me: its special thematic strand is Borders.

I think I may post a list of all the relevant paper sessions here, but for now I’ll confine myself to only the Tolkien-related sessions.…

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A good idea, poorly implemented

My mother used to say that the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” Similarly, I suppose you could say that the right thing done incorrectly is also the wrong thing. And indeed, we could say just that about a good idea I had a couple of years ago — and unfortunately, I discovered only today that it was done incorrectly.…

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Christopher Tolkien, cartographer

Tolkien’s first working-map of Middle-earth for “The Lord of the Rings”
Tolkien’s first working-map of Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings, as displayed by the Morgan Library in 2019

Probably at this point everyone who knows anything about Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s youngest son, knows that he died this last weekend at the ripe but disappointed age” of 95. (See LotR §1.03.015.)

I’ve been very happy to see that many of the obituaries and social-media posts have mentioned Christopher’s role as a cartographer — or indeed as the cartographer of Middle-earth. Today’s Tor article by Jonathan Crowe, Celebrating Christopher Tolkien’s Cartographic Legacy,” though, is the only article I’ve seen that’s focussed entirely on the importance of Christopher’s map-making — not only to his father’s tales of Middle-earth and Beleriand, but also to the modern fantasy genre as a whole.

I celebrate this well-deserved attention. A few years ago, in fact, in a private letter to Christopher, I called him the father’ of Middle-earth cartography and scholarship.” In response, Christopher was very careful and very humble: …

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Huge Tolkien Art Index update

Incredibly, the Tolkien Art Index is now a little over two years old; my last update to it was late last summer, with many new pieces of artwork reproduced in the two new Bodleian Library books accompanying their exhibition, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. Today, there’s only one new item — a belated entry (TAI #552) for the Allen & Unwin printed map of Middle-earth from 1954, annotated by Tolkien and Pauline Baynes as background for Baynes’s production of her 1969 poster map, discovered by Blackwell’s in 2015. But more than 120 entries now include publication information for the Bibliothèque nationale de Frances newly-opened Tolkien: Voyage en Terre du Milieu exhibition and its exhibition catalogue Ama​zon​.co​.uk link.…

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2019: The view from January

This invitation from the Morgan Library to their Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition opening mysteriously appeared in my mailbox

The year begins with new software, new hardware, and a strong focus on the top priority: Tolkien’s maps of Middle-earth. And so far, I’ve successfully restricted paper and conference commitments to stepping-stone” content directly related to The Project.…

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