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blog entries: Christopher Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien, cartographer

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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The books on the shelf

Over the last few days, Andy Peterson and Timothy Boyd have pointed me to two very different on-line articles about Tolkien films. One was Ethan Gilsdorf’s interview over at Wired magazine with Philippa Boyens, one of the screenwriters for Peter Jackson’s three-part movie of The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings before that. (Boyens is of course not to be confused with Pauline Baynes, Tolkien’s friend and illustrator.) The other article was Concerning Christopher — An Essay on Tolkien’s Son’s Decision To Not Allow Further Cinematic Licensing of His Work,” an essay posted by JPB” at TheOneR​ing​.net. JPB doesn’t break much new ground, but he does thoughtfully take us step-by-step to the conclusions that Christopher Tolkien has the legal right to make the call, is a good choice to be the one making the call,” and knows his father’s wishes better than anyone,” — before finally concluding…


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Rateliff (& Christopher Tolkien) at Marquette

A month ago today, John Rateliff (author of The History of The Hobbit) posted an interesting entry. He begins:

So, two months ago today I was at Marquette, talking to Dr. Machan’s Tolkien class there in the morning (“how to become a Tolkien Scholar”) and giving a talk at the Library in the afternoon about how The Hobbit manuscript wound up in Milwaukee, of all places, including an anecdotal account of what little is known about JRRT’s planned trip there. We had a good turn-out for the latter talk, which they recorded on video. And now they’ve gone through and put together a ten-minute representative excerpt from the Q‑and‑A session at the end. 1 1 John Rateliff, Me, at Marquette”. Sacnoth’s Scriptorium, 2012-12-03.


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