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Friday, October 29, 2021

Sold Out to Jesus

 So, many thanks to friend Denis for sharing the following link, in French, offering another view of the current Lord Dunsany's efforts to return part of the land on his family estate to a more natural state.


Good for him.

I know if I had land I'd plant it in trees and set up as many protections for the trees as possible.

So far Ld D has shown an admirable stick-to-his-guns-yness: let's hope he continues as he's begun. 

Plus of course it's great to see the glimpses inside the castle.

--John R.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Le Guin Award

So, thanks to J.'s sharing the link to this piece, I found out about the new Le Guin Award, which celebrates non-violent solutions to problems. Too many fantasy works rely on violence as a solution; Le Guin wanted to encourage those who explored other options.

"The Prize will be given to a writer whose work reflects the concepts and ideas that were central to Ursula’s own work, including but certainly not limited to: hope, equity, and freedom; non-violence and alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world."

As a pacifist, I'm glad to see that point of view being a major focus.

I assume this will be a yearly event, although the announcements I saw don't actually state that.


Co-incidently, yesterday I saw an image of the new Le Guin stamp, which I'd heard about but not seen; it features a scene from LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS (the desperate sledge-journey across the ice).

Finally, I had missed or forgotten the news (from September 2019) that a new film/streaming video adaptation of the EarthSea books was in the works:

"Before she died in January 2018, Le Guin had given the producer her blessing to turn her work into a series of films. The adaptation since has been re-envisioned as a television series. An Earthsea miniseries based on the book series, with the teleplay co-written by Le Guin, aired on Sci Fi Channel in 2004."

I'm a bit dubious about the 'blessing', given similar claims made by the people in charge of the previous EarthSea series, which was (a) awful and (b) bore little resemblance to Le Guin's work. We'll just have to see if this most recent adaptation does a better job of conveying the appeal of Le Guin's story. Assuming, that is, that Le Guin's story turns out to be suitable for adaptation. 

--John R.
--current reading: finished THE NATURE OF MIDDLE-EARTH
--EYES OF TERROR by L. T. Meade

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

This Year's MythSoc Award

So, congratulations to the winner of this year's Mythopoeic Award for best work of Inklings Scholarship, John M. Bower for TOLKIEN'S LOST CHAUCER,* who came out on top of an impressive list of finalists this year: McIlwaine, Cilli, Garth, and the contributors to A WILDERNESS OF DRAGONS.**  Bower was gracious in his acceptance speech, praising each of the runner-ups.*** Best of all, he announced that he is now under contract with Oxford University Press to produce his next book, TOLKIEN ON CHAUCER, 1913 - 1959 --- which sounds like the edition of Tolkien's writings on Chaucer some of us had hoped for in the first book. More primary Tolkien material made available is a good thing in my reckoning.

The other big winner, for the Fantasy Scholarship (Non-Inkling) Award, is Anna Vaninskaya's FANTASIES OF TIME AND DEATH, which looks at Eddison, Dunsany, and Tolkien: two neglected authors put in context with the most famous fantasy author of them all. In her acceptance, Vaninskaya mentioned that this book was the first installment of a much bigger project; I'll be interested to see what comes next. 

--John R.

*a book I reviewed for TOLKIEN STUDIES.

**disclosure: I was a contributor and editor of the volume.

*** "John Rateliff is one of those Tolkien scholars that I learned quickly to consult for unrivaled expertise in books like THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT."    Gosh.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Sime patterned art

So, the artist S. H. Sime, best known as the illustrator of Lord Dunsany, is best known for his black-and-white work. I knew from various researches during my dissertation he did some color work, but it was not until I had a chance to visit the Sime Gallery in Worplesdon that I realized how much color work he did, mostly landscapes but also a few portraits (including a memorable one of John on Patmos's vision). Some of these used a very unusual and striking technique I've never seen elsewhere. Of the two piece I hope will show up as links within this post, the first is called "Patterned Hills" and the other  I think "Dark Forest". Has anyone come across this technique before?

--John R.


Monday, October 18, 2021

"The Neglected C. S. Lewis"

So, the new issue of THE JOURNAL OF ENGLISH STUDIES has just arrived, and my eye was drawn to their review of a new book out by Mark Neal and Jerry Root, called THE NEGLECTED C. S. LEWIS: EXPLORING THE RICHES OF HIS MOST OVERLOOKED BOOKS".  I found their list interesting, if unnecessarily limited by their decision to focus entirely on his academic works. The eight books they chose are as follows:


2. THE PERSONAL HERESY (Lewis vs. Tillyard)


4. O.H.E.L  (I admit I've never read this one myself)

5. STUDIES IN WORDS (the second of these eight I haven't read. perhaps best summed up as 'Lewis does a Barfield'. a book Tolkien disliked)

6. AN EXPERIMENT IN CRITICISM (probably the most controversial of all these eight)

7. THE DISCARDED IMAGE (which gets my vote as by far the best of the books they cover)

8. LETTERS TO MALCOLM (which doesn't seem to fit in their theme or thesis at all).

If I were to recommend any of Lewis's books as 'neglected', I'd opt for THE DISCARDED IMAGE (a little gem that shows off Lewis the lecturer at his best) and SPIRITS IN BONDAGE (the only relic of his early Yeatsian period). And then of course there's THE DARK TOWER, which a lot of Lewis scholars like to pretend doesn't exist as the simplest way to avoid dealing with it.

--all in all, sounds like a worthwhile project with some quirks. 

--John R

--current reading THE NATURE OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Still (Again).

*it's interesting to see that biographical revelations about Wms are having a trickle-down effect -- in this case on the part of the reviewer

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""The Most Reluctant Convert" (CSL Biopic)

So, one of the things that arrived last week was a flyer for Max McLean's latest CSL film/stage adaptation. Rather than yet another iteration of the Jack & Joy story, this one focuses on young Lewis from childhood to his conversion -- that is, the period covered by his autobiography. And like his autobiography, it's a look at his early life narrated by his older self looking back.

I admit to being a bit amused by the film's subtitle "The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis". I'd have thought between CSL's autobiography (SURPRISED BY JOY), the first SHADOWLANDS movie, the SHADOWLANDS play, the second SHADOWLANDS movie, the major biographies (at least four by my count),* et al, that had been pretty well covered by now.

In any case, the date of this 'One Night Only' event is November 2nd (a Tuesday). 

If you'd like to watch the trailer or just find out more about the project, here's the link on the flyer:


--John R.

--still waiting for a film about JRRT and CSL in the thirties and forties. Complete with Janie Moore.

*Green & Hooper, Sayer, Wilson, and McGrath

Friday, October 15, 2021

Identifying a part of THE SILMARILLION Tolkien showed KIlby

So, I was looking for something else when I came across a passage I'd marked in Clyde Kilby's TOLKIEN AND THE SILMARILLION.  After pointing out various parallels between Tolkien's myths and the Old and New Testaments, Kilby goes on to say

In this connection I should mention a lengthy account 

which Tolkien asked me to read. It was in the form of

 a Job-like conversation on soul and body and the 

possible purpose of God in allowing the Fall so that

 He could manifest His own sovereignty over Satan 

all the more, of Christ's incarnation, the spread of 

His light from one person to another, and the final 

consummation at Christ's return. He said he was 

not certain whether to include this in  The Silmarillion

 or publish it separately.

[Kilby p 61-62]

I assume Kilby is talking about The ATHRABETH here, though the description he gives doesn't seem to match up with that work very well. But we do know that Kilby read the Athrabeth and made careful notes on it. Unless there's another work that's been published somewhere in the wilderland that is HME X-XII and N.o.M.e and I just missed it.