Session1721
TitleJ. R. R. Tolkien: Medieval Roots and Modern Branches
Date/TimeThursday 8 July 2021: 14.15-15.45
 
OrganiserAndrew Higgins, Independent Scholar, Brighton
 
Moderator/ChairAndrew Higgins, Independent Scholar, Brighton
 
Paper 1721-a Borders of the Otherworld: Warrior Maidens, Mounds, and Ancestral Swords in The Lord of the Rings and in the Old Norse Hervarar Saga
(Language: English)
Jan A. Kozák, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Univerzita Karlova, Praha
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1721-b Flocking to the Serpent Banner: Decolonising The Lord of the Rings Workshop's Tabletop War-Game?
(Language: English)
Brian Egede-Pedersen, Independent Scholar, Nykøbing Falster
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1721-c The Raven and the Map: Decoding Győző Vida's A Gyűrűk Ura
(Language: English)
Joel Merriner, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, University of Plymouth
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1721-d Tolkien's Alliterative Styles in The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth
(Language: English)
Anna Smol, English Department, Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
 
AbstractThis session will address wider topics and new approaches to Tolkien's medievalism, ranging from source studies and theoretical readings to comparative studies (including Tolkien's legacy).

Paper -a:
The Old Norse Hervarar Saga is unique among the so called fornaldarsögur ('sagas of antiquity') for a number of reasons, e.g. it is the only saga named after a female heroine - Hervör - who is a warrior disguised as a man; the saga also contains some of the oldest poems of the eddaic type with toponyms and anthroponyms dating back to the Migration Period; and it also contains the only attested collection of riddles from the Old Norse literature. These are probably some of the reasons why Christopher Tolkien chose to work on this saga as a subject of his master's thesis. I followed his footsteps and prepared a two-volume bilingual edition (Old Norse - Czech) while doing my PhD. in Prague. In my commentary to the saga I thoroughly analysed many topics that connect the saga to the Tolkien opus. In my presentation I will focus on one specific scene in the saga, which unites three motifs found also in the LOTR: waking of a mound-ghost, female presenting herself as a male warrior and an ancestral sword which serves as symbol of a bloodline and its fate. I will show how are these motifs integrated into the structure of the saga and compare that to the role of the motifs in The Lord of the Rings in an attempt to shed light on the possible contexts of Tolkien’s imagination.

Paper -b:
In August 2004, the Games Workshop company released the The Battle of Pelennor Fields expansion to their The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. This expansion differs from much of the main game, since much is told from the point of view of the Haradrim leader. How, then, are the Haradrim portrayed, and why was this approach chosen? This depiction is mostly sympathetic, with Gondor seen as occupiers; no doubt influenced by the context of the unpopular War in Iraq. The conclusion is that Games Workshop became an unorthodox and political voice attempting to decolonize the world of Tolkien.

Paper -c:
Three of the six dust jacket illustrations created by Győző Vida for Ádám Réz and Árpád Göncz's 1981 Hungarian translation of The Lord of the Rings (A Gyűrűk Ura) combine visual motifs borrowed from medieval, Neo-Renaissance and Tolkienian sources. Of these, it is the memorialising statues of the 'Raven King' Matthias Corvinus by Hungarian sculptors Kálmán Lux and János Fadrusz and Pauline Baynes' 1969 poster map of Middle-earth which provide the most intriguing prototypes. This paper examines images of the Argonath, Aragorn and the White Ship, and hypothesises viewer responses to Vida’s blending of nationalist symbols and popular Tolkien imagery.

Paper -d:
Tolkien's verse drama, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, is his only published play and historical fiction, which has been influential among Old English scholars interested in Tolkien's interpretation of the word 'ofermod' in the early English Battle of Maldon, a poem that inspired this drama. Critics often describe the play incorrectly as a sequel to Maldon and focus on Tolkien's views on heroism while overlooking his achievement in alliterative metre. Tolkien, an advocate for the use of alliterative metre by modern poets, uses an old style in new ways and should be considered one of the 'New Old English' poets.