- Hither Shore: Interdisciplinary Journal of Modern Fantasy Literature, Jahrbuch der Deutschen Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V, and: Volume four, 2007 (2008): “Tolkiens Kleinere Werke” [Tolkien’s Lesser Works], and: Volume five, 2008 (2009): “Der Hobbit” [The Hobbit]
Hither Shore is the annual bilingual journal of the Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft (the German Tolkien Society), with articles in English as well as in German. The English articles are summarized in German, and the German articles in English. The English titles shown in square brackets for the German articles are those used in the English summaries, and not the reviewer’s translation of the German title. The first three volumes were reviewed in Tolkien Studies 5 (2008). Hither Shore has a particularly strong tradition of addressing philosophical topics, and the two issues reviewed here below are no exception.
The theme of volume 4 (2007) is “Tolkien’s Lesser Works.” Vincent Ferré’s “The Rout of the King: Tolkien’s Readings on Arthurian Kingship” offers a cogent political analysis of the Arthurian in Tolkien’s works. Ferré sees Arthur as “an embodiment of a vision of Middle-Ages that Tolkien rejects,” offering “a counter model for a kingship based on merit, with noble characters like Aragorn, or comic ones like Giles” (20). “Speaking with Animals: A Desire that Lies at the Heart of Faérie” by Guglielmo Spirito presents a theological examination of the human need to belong, discussing the interdependency of distance and closeness in relationships, illustrating the discourse with examples from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham.
In “Die Metaphysik der Zweitschöpfung: Zur Ontologie von Mythopoeia” [On the Ontology of Mythopoeia], Frank Weinreich gives a cogent metaphysical approach to the examination of the ontology of Tolkien’s poem “Mythopoeia” that points to Platonism as one of its roots. The [End Page 114] German will be a challenge even to native German speakers who are not classically trained philosophers. Very much worth the effort, however, if this is your specialty.
“Tolkiens Sub-creation—Die Kleinen Werke als Fairy-stories?” [Tolkien’s Sub-creation—His Shorter Works as Fairy-stories?] by Thomas Fornet-Ponse is an interesting theological analysis of Tolkien’s lesser works that attempts to define their theological import. Again, the German is advanced, and written for those whose academic specialty is philosophy. Highly recommended for those in this field. Next comes Martin Sternberg’s “Smith of Wootton Major als religiöser Text” [Smith of Wootton Major as a Religious Text], an insightful examination of Smith of Wooton Major as a religious text, based on Verlyn Flieger’s expanded edition of the story and the additional texts surrounding it. The German is less challenging than in the preceding two articles, but will still only be accessible to advanced language learners.
“Farmer Giles of Ham: Eine Prototypische Drachengeschichte in Humorvoller Tradition” [Farmer Giles of Ham: A Prototypical Dragonstory in Humorous Tradition] by Friedhelm Schneidewind begins with a discussion of the history and mythology of dragons in Western culture, then proceeds to an interesting overview of dragons in Tolkien’s works. The remainder of the paper is devoted to the dragon in Farmer Giles of Ham, considering Tolkien’s humor, and the impact of this story on modern dragon fiction. Continuing on with a similar subject is “Das Drachenmotiv bei Tolkien als poetologisches Konzept zur Genese des Episch-Historischen” [The Dragon-motif in Tolkien’s Works as Poetological Concept for Generating an Epic Historic Quality] by Patrick A. Brückner, who argues convincingly that Tolkien’s dragons help to create a reality that transcends the fantastic...