“This empty year is fading into a dull grey mournful darkness: so slow-footed and yet so swift and evanescent. What of the new year and the spring? I wonder.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien,
from a letter to his son, Christopher,
28 October 1944
[Two paragraphs summarizing the mythopoeic predilections of the Inklings …]I would differ with the plain assertion that the collection “is not about the Inklings’ moral and mythopoeic legacy”; still more, that it is “an opportunity missed”. It’s perfectly fair for a reviewer to point out oversights or errors in a collection, or to single out weaker contributions thereto, but to spend the bulk of a very short review voicing chagrin that this book is not the book the reviewer thought it would be … Why not spend those words saying something about what that book actually is? Such ruminations as these, and the call for “a significant book [yet] to be written”, might be okay in a review of a couple thousand words — they are probably not appropriate in a review of only a couple hundred.
.....That is what I thought this book would be about. But it isn’t. It is fascinating and welcome, but it is not about the Inklings’ moral and mythopoeic legacy. It is an exhilarating, learned ragbag of essays on all sorts of things: Lewis on verbicide, Tolkien’s treatment of the Fall [*], a history of libraries in Tolkien’s Middle Earth [sic], mathematics in the spirituality of George MacDonald, and more. Swashbuckling stuff, all of it, and some of it […] timely and important. But it is an opportunity missed. There is a significant book to be written on the myth-making of the Inklings, qua Inklings. [Charles Foster. The C.S. Lewis Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 2 (April 2009): 40.]
The book is strong right out of the gate. Jason Fisher’s analysis of Rohirric verse, “Horns of Dawn: The Tradition of Alliterative Verse in Rohan” is quite fine and sets a clear tone for the kind of work contained therein. Fisher carefully examines Tolkien’s influences for Rohan, various traditions of Old English and Germanic alliterative poetry, and the connections between languages both real and fictional. What is even more delightful than his scholarship itself is that he somehow manages to do it all without losing a reader who admittedly knew nothing about Germanic alliterative verse or the Saxon kingdom of Mercia until she had finished the essay. While there are many outstanding pieces in Middle-earth Minstrel, Fisher’s piece stood out and one could not ask for a stronger opening than “Horns of Dawn.” (p. 184)Needless to say, I was humbled and delighted to read this. I am especially pleased that my essay comes across well to readers — or at least, to one reader — without a strong background in the subject matter. It is always my goal to take abstruse topics like medieval philology and make them accessible and interesting to anyone — ideally, to everyone. A bit later, Moniz adds that “[t]he two essays by Fisher and Wilkins [sic] alone are worth the price of admission” (p. 185) — a compliment I hope I deserve; and Peter Wilkin definitely does. Other readers are invited to add their tuppence.
Then Morgoth […] chose one from among the whelps of the race of Draugluin; and he fed him with his own hand upon living flesh, and put his power upon him. Swiftly the wolf grew, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth. There the fire and anguish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong. Carcharoth, the Red Maw, he is named in the tales of those days, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of Thirst. And Morgoth set him to lie unsleeping before the doors of Angband […] For the Sindarin name, Carcharoth, the putative etymology of “red maw” serves well enough, though it is problematic at one or two points. The raw material is plain enough. Sindarin car(a)n is “red”, from the Eldarin root √KARÁN; and car(a)ch is “tooth, fang”, from the root √KARAK. The final element, roth, is probably “hollow, cave” (hence, “maw”), from the root √ROD, but this is not certain. Also uncertain is where caran has gone in the final form of the name. If it was ever really there to begin with, then it seems to have left no trace. Perhaps “red” is mere folk etymology. There’s really no sign of it in the word-form itself.
.....“I’m — I’m in rather a hole, sir. I — we — can’t find the house. […] It doesn’t seem to be there.” [After ruling out a mistaken address and the thick fog, the conversation continues.]And then, a little further on, from the other perspective:
.....“Stop a minute,” the Commissioner interrupted. He rang his bell and sent for a Directory […]. “Now go ahead. Where do you begin?”
.....“George Giddings, grocer.”
.....“Samuel Murchison, confectioner.”
.....“Mrs. Thurogood, apartments.”
.....“Damn it, man,” the Commissioner exploded, “you’ve just gone straight over it. Dmitri Lavrodopoulos, chemist.”
.....“But it isn’t, sir,” Pewitt said unhappily. “The fog’s very thick, but we couldn’t have missed a whole shop.”
.....[The Commissioner accuses Pewitt of being drunk and drives over to Lord Mayor’s Street to see for himself. They feel along the wall in single file, peering in each window, but cannot find the chemist’s shop.]
.....“I suppose you think the devil has carried it off,” the Assistant Commissioner said […]. “Damn it, the shop must be there,” he said. But the shop was not there.
.....Suddenly, as they stood there in a close group, the grounds beneath them seemed to shift and quiver. […] Again the earth throbbed below him; then from nowhere a great blast of cool wind struck his face. […] A strange man was standing in front of him; behind him the windows of a chemist’s shop came abruptly into being. 
”Why then should we delay?” the Greek said. “I have hidden this house [i.e., the chemist’s shop] in a cloud and drawn it in to our hearts so that it shall not be entered from without till the work is done.” To put it into the nomenclature of Harry Potter, it certainly sounds like the house has been made “unplottable”. Recall this descriptive passage from The Sorcerer’s Stone: “It was a tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn’t pointed it out, Harry wouldn’t have noticed it was there. The people hurrying by didn’t glance at it. Their eyes slid from the big book shop on one side to the record shop on the other as if they couldn’t see the Leaky Cauldron at all. In fact, Harry had the most peculiar feeling that only he and Hagrid could see it” .
.....“Think about what you’ve just memorized,” said Lupin quietly.Of course, independent invention is entirely possible. I have never heard that Rowling was a fan of Williams (though she has admitted a liking for Tolkien and especially Lewis). But the resemblance is striking, isn’t it? It could just be possible that Rowling has read Williams and picked up this clever little motif from him. It is remarkably specific, and I can’t recall anything like it anywhere else in my reading history — which is admittedly finite; does anyone else know of a similar motif in literature?
.....Harry thought, and no sooner had he reached the part about number twelve, Grimmauld Place, than a battered door emerged out of nowhere between numbers eleven and thirteen, followed swiftly by dirty walls and grimy windows. It was as though an extra house had inflated, pushing those on either side out of its way. Harry gaped at it. 
The department of English at Hope College will sponsor a marathon reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring in the college’s Pine Grove on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24 and 25. The reading will extend from noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. All are welcome to sign up for 10-minute reading slots, either in advance at the department of English, located on the third floor of Lubbers Hall, or at the event itself if slots are still available.Fifteen hours for approximately 175,000 words (not counting the Foreword or Prologue) — it’s going to be tight. This would be a reading pace of just under 200 words per minute, which really seems like wishful thinking. In all likelihood, the reading will either have to run over its allotted time, or else leave the Fellowship before the breaking at Amon Hen. In any case, it sounds like a wonderful event.
I do not believe that a Pearl translation was in any general way ‘being used in the colleges’, as you put it. Tolkien took a long time to satisfy himself about his translation, and no doubt lent copies to friends asking for comments — he gave me one to take abroad for holiday reading, for example. (I didn’t like it much, incidentally.) But these would be only drafts in the process of making the final version, and I do not think it is realistic to speak of ‘this early translation’ at all. There was no single ‘early translation’, and the published text will embody what he wished to preserve.Professor Davis suggested Jan contact George Allen & Unwin “to make absolutely sure (though I think it would be a waste of time)”, and this is what Jan did next. Rayner Unwin replied to the inquiry on 22 May 1981, “it is true that there was a version of Pearl circulating but not published in the middle 1940’s. In fact, this was little changed from the version eventually published after Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s death. To the best of my knowledge there are no copies of this early version of Pearl or of Gawain in writing or on tape available. If there were, they would be with the Tolkien executors […].”
As with so many of my father’s works, his translation of Pearl was a long-continued process of refinement over many years. The printed text you refer to was not an edition, but was an experimental type-setting carried out by B.H. Blackwell (Oxford). It never went beyond the stage of a first proof in galleys, and was a mass of printing errors. It thus has, in itself, no interest. […] I hope have [sic] made myself clear. The point is, that the printed proof made in the 1940s (which I no longer possess, in any case) is, so to speak, a merely casual incident in the process of refinement of the translation, and did not in itself in any way affect that process.So, to sum up. Copies of Tolkien’s Pearl translation were indeed “circulating” in the 1940’s (Rayner Unwin, Norman Davis), most likely among Tolkien’s friends, of whom some didn’t like it (Norman Davis, again). We can’t really be sure how closely the early version resembled the final one, as we have two opposing opinions: Rayner Unwin says it was “little changed”, but Norman Davis and Christopher Tolkien imply otherwise. But we are now in a slightly better position to judge the claim in the contributor blurb from Essays and Studies (1953), that Tolkien was “[w]ell known […] for his verse translation of The Pearl”. It was not a total exaggeration, though there should probably be an implied addition: he was well-known for it among his friends and colleagues in the colleges. This is more or less the conclusion we had drawn already — but at least now we have a real basis for it, and knowledge of at least one more contemporaneous reader of the translation.
“The Circles of the World,” among Tolkien’s most evocative tropes, appears to have escaped attention in the otherwise exhaustive history of Tolkien source-hunting. Still, I feel it may be possible to unravel some of its origins. Tolkien’s metaphorical “leaf-mould of the mind” was that place where sources, inklings, and mythological images mingled and coalesced into new ideas, and I’ll attempt to show how Tolkien’s figurative “Circles of the World” may have emerged from three such disparate sources: the Ynglinga Saga of Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla; the Latin Vulgate Bible, with particular emphasis on the Book of Wisdom; and perhaps even the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world on display in the West Midlands of Tolkien’s youth. In the end, at this late stage in Tolkien source-hunting, it can be difficult to uncover substantially new (and sufficiently verifiable) source-traces; however, in this case, I believe I have something new to offer to Tolkien Studies.The paper was well-received, and it even led to my being invited to give a half-day presentation at a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on J.R.R. Tolkien (in 2009). I’ve been asked more than once in intervening the years whether this paper would ever appear in print. I’m happy to say the answer is yes, the essay will be part of a new collection called Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kaščáková. The editors are in the final stages of preparing the manuscript now, and Cambridge Scholars Publishers has accepted the project for publication, perhaps as soon as the end of this year.
J.R.R. Tolkien, born in 1892, is Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford. Well known for his edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (with the late E.V. Gordon), for his work on Beowulf, and for his verse trans-lation of The Pearl. Professor Tolkien’s fairy-story, The Hobbit, is a great favourite. Something caught my eye here: that Tolkien was “well known […] for his verse translation of The Pearl”. Was he really? This is surprising, considering that it wasn’t published until two years after his death!
Reverting to images from World War I, much of the above must sound like “château generalship”, with the old guy well to the rear urging the young enthusiasts forward to do something he does not care to try in person. If all these are such good ideas, why not use them myself? The answer is, and I will say it in Latin to elevate the tone of this piece, non possumus omnia omnes, and in English to make sure everyone gets it — “we can’t all do everything”. There just isn’t time. I look forward to pursuing some of these thoughts, I hope for quite a long way, but I would be very pleased as well if someone else would get there first. There is, after all, a great deal of juice in Tolkien, more than enough to go round. One of the items Tom singled out in his editorial was this:
[R.G.] Collingwood and Tolkien were both Fellows of Pembroke College for nearly a decade till 1934, when Collingwood took up a Chair at C.S. Lewis’s college, Magdalen. Did the three of them ever talk about, agree about, disagree about the subject of folktales, on which Collingwood was working and publicly lecturing in the 1930s? […] Tolkien was furthermore surely aware of W.G. Collingwood, R.G.’s father, who not only helped to found the Viking Society and wrote influential works on Icelandic sagas, early English inscribed stones, and the “historical” King Arthur, but also published several historical novels set in Dark Age England of a kind which (I think) Tolkien would have liked. About a year later, Tom mentioned Collingwood again in an online chat celebrating the release of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, in which I also participated. There, he said, “I suspect [Tolkien’s] Oxford milieu has not been much investigated. Did he ever talk to R. Collingwood? They must have known each other, and Collingwood was taking a deep interest in folktale at that time. Tolkien also, I think, had a high opinion of his father. There may have been other social/intellectual connections, which could be researched” .
Let us look at the evidence. Sulis,¹ the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, came into her own at a very early date; her temple, with its classical architecture and very unclassical sculpture, was probably built in the Flavian period. But less than thirty miles away across the Severn, Nodens, the hunter-god of the Forest of Dean, who survived in later mythology as Nuada of the Silver Hand, king of the Tuatha dé Danann, and later still as King Lear, […]Clearly , Tolkien was still thinking about Nodens, a subject he had explored four or five years earlier, in 1932. Tolkien does not mention Collingwood’s work in that essay , but it’s probable that he knew it and that they discussed the subject at Pembroke. Collingwood had published previous versions of his research, Roman Britain (1932) and The Archaeology of Roman Britain (1930), either of which might have made references to Tolkien, but I found nothing there. But the two references quoted above are interesting because they give additional weight to the argument that Tolkien was well-versed in Celtic philology (however, at least one contemporary reviewer criticized Tolkien on that score ).
1. She is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol — perhaps meaning the same — is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye’, and this again may mean the sun. 
p. 181, insert before entry for 14 January 1936:Alas, I have to confess my disappointment at having been beaten to the punch. But how can I even pretend surprise? Wayne and Christina are two of the best researchers the discipline of Tolkien studies has ever seen. I must try to keep in mind Tom Shippey’s pleasure “if someone else would get there first”. The important thing is to excavate these references and to bring these little gems into the light of scholarly study. If I’m not the first to mine the same vein, at least it’s being mined. Much ado about nothing? Probably. Well ... back to the dig.
By 14 January 1936 Tolkien assists R.G. Collingwood, the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford and a colleague at Pembroke College, ‘untiringly with problems of Celtic philology’, as Collingwood will write in the preface (dated 14 January 1936) to Books I–IV of Roman Britain and the English Settlements by Collingwood and J.N.L. Myres (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936; 2nd edn. 1937), p. vii. On p. 264, Collingwood mentions in a footnote regarding Sulis, the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, that ‘she is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol – perhaps meaning the same – is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye”, and this again may mean the sun.’ 
Jason Fisher’s “Reluctantly Inspired: George MacDonald and the Genesis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major” (North Wind 25: 113–20) is less concerned with that particular story than with tracing the history of Tolkien’s attitude towards his predecessor. Fisher lists a few distinct echoes of MacDonald in Tolkien’s pre-1940s children’s fiction, and attributes Tolkien’s later dislike of MacDonald to his increasing distaste for allegory and whimsicality. Even so, the essay would probably have been quickly forgotten by everyone but me, were it not for this: St. Norbert College, which houses North Wind, has now digitized the entire run of the journal and put all twenty-eight years of its George MacDonald studies online, free for anyone to read! Consequently, anyone who would like to can read my essay, here. You might notice that they misspelled Tolkien’s name in the title of the PDF (and here, in the table of contents for this volume). Regrettable.