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  • The Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies 2010
  • Merlin DeTardo (bio)

Tolkien studies in 2010 featured five collections of essays on three themes. Two of these were devoted to the subject of music (very broadly considered), from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (with one essay appearing in both volumes). These were Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien, edited by Bradford Lee Eden (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010) and Music in Middle-earth, edited by Heidi Steimel and Friedhelm Schneidewind (Zurich: Walking Tree Publishers, 2010). A few other uncollected essays also discussed musical topics, including one nominally on Tolkien and Wagner, which would be the subject of two monographs from Walking Tree Publishers two years later.

Two more anthologies focused on Christian approaches to Tolkien’s work. Tolkien and Lewis: Masters of Myth, Tellers of Truth, edited by Joseph Pearce and Robert Asch (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2010) is a special issue of St. Austin Review (Vol. 10 no. 1, dated January/February 2010). The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Paul E. Kerry (Lanham, MD: Farleigh Dickinson University Press) though dated 2011, actually appeared in 2010; a companion volume, Light Beyond All Shadow: Religious Experience in Tolkien’s Work, followed in 2011.

The third theme was “Tolkien and Romanticism,” subtitle of Vol. 7 of Hither Shore: Interdisciplinary Journal of Modern Fantasy Literature, published by the Deutschen Tolkien Gesellschaft. Each of these five collections includes works that easily could have fit elsewhere. Joseph Pearce, to note one example not mentioned below, discusses musical creation stories in his brief editorial (Pearce and Asch 1–2). Contributions to these collections are considered separately in the notes that follow, rather than being arranged by their parent work.

The contents of a sixth 2010 gathering are likewise scattered below, as that work had no theme: Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Kathleen Dubs and Janka Kaščáková (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010). Nor, as usual, were there themes in the year’s other journals that focus largely on Tolkien’s work. Besides Hither Shore, already mentioned, these were two issues of Mythlore from the Mythopoeic Society, edited by Janet Brennan Croft: Vol. 28 nos. 3–4 (109–10, dated Spring/Summer 2010) and Vol. 29 nos. 1–2, (111–12, dated Fall/Winter 2010); issues 4 (Spring 2010) and 50 (Autumn 2010) of the Tolkien Society’s journal, Mallorn, edited by Henry Gee; Vol. 19 of the linguistic journal, Parma Eldalamberon, [End Page 253] edited by Christopher Gilson; issue 3 (dated 2009–2010) of Silver Leaves from the White Tree Fund, edited by L. Lara Sookoo; Vol. 27 of Seven: An Anglo-American Review, edited by Marjorie Lamp Mead; and Vol. 7 of this journal, Tolkien Studies. Mythlore and Seven also feature articles on other fantasists, while Mallorn and Silver Leaves also include fiction. Those items are not discussed here.

Despite the paired theme collections named above, 2010 was not the year that Tolkien scholarship learned to sing or the year that Tolkien studies found religion, but the year of the essay. Though there were no monographs of special note in 2010 (and no new monographs at all solely about Tolkien), the shorter works took up the slack, with many fine studies, led by the contributions of Vladimir Brljak, John Garth, Yoko Hemmi, Janka Kaščáková, Helios De Rosario Martínez, John Holmes (twice), and David Bratman, as well as Verlyn Flieger’s edition of Tolkien’s own “Story of Kullervo” and essays on the Kalevala. That said, many articles, even some of the better ones, make the same points again and again. “On Fairy-stories” is repeatedly paraphrased. Several musical articles are at pains to justify a focus on poetry by emphasizing the ancient unity of song and story. Tolkien’s differentiation of allegory from applicability should by now be taken as a given, but isn’t. And too many authors believe their analysis is complete when all they have generated is a list. There were some other less frequently seen clusters: five essays on fate and free will, two...


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