Just wanted to drop a quick word about a couple of topics.
First, I want to remind people that tomorrow (November 20, 2011) marks the second Legend of the Seeker Tweetathon, scheduled for 12 Noon to 2 PM Pacific (Los Angeles) time. Please check my Save the Seeker blog for more details and links to forums where you can catch up with other LOTS fans.
Second, I’m pleased to announce that 3 new episodes of Middle-earth Talk Radio have now been published. Hawke Robinson has worked hard to bring these episodes to our listeners despite a bout of poor health (not to mention a hectic schedule this summer). Episode 37 was recorded on July 25. Episode 38 was recorded on November 6. And Episode 39 was recorded on November 13.
It’s hard to choose between the episodes if you don’t have 3-1/2 hours to listen to all of them today. But as I mentioned on the Tolkien Studies on the Web blog Tolkien and racism have become a topic of discussion again. Hawke and I discussed the latest brouhaha in Episode 39.
He picked some great music for the opening and closing segments of these shows so I think most people will enjoy listening to them. And we may finally have put the scratchy low-quality recording problems behind us. At least, I was able to hear myself pretty clearly in all these episodes.
Then again — maybe it’s my new Bose headphones.
And if you haven’t been visiting the Middle-earth Website at Xenite.Org lately, you may be surprised to learn there are now over a 100 new question-and-answer articles (and I mean ARTICLES) that look at many questions fans have asked through the years. There’s quite a bit new research in there.
You’ll probably also want to browse the Interviews with Tolkien Scholars series. So far I have been able to interview Janet Brennan Croft, John Rateliff, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, Michael D.C. Drout, and Douglas Charles Kane. There is also a special collection of videos of Christopher Tolkien included in the list of interviews (I did not interview him — these are rarely seen videos of interview footage filmed in the 1990s).
I have to say that I was pleased to learn that Evangeline Lilly considers herself to be a Tolkien purist. She has, of course, accepted the role of the non-canonical Mirkwood Elf Tauriel (who is NOT a love interest for Legolas, as some people had feared).
Peter Jackson has to make two 2-hour movies out of The Hobbit so fans need to cut him some slack for putting some names and faces to those Elves who dance, sing, and fight as stunt characters in the actual book. Also, I think it makes perfect sense to blend in material about the White Council, since Gandalf does run off in the middle of the book to deal with his “real” business away down south.
Anticipation of the new “Hobbit” feature movies due out next year and in 2013 has, of course, inspired every network with a camera and access to a list of “Tolkien experts” to put together interviews, documentaries, and poor excuses for book reviews just so they can slap the names “Hobbit” and “Middle-earth” and “Tolkien” onto some low-budget productions. Still, who are all these Tolkien experts and scholars coming out of the woodwork? You can browse some of their blogs by following the list of links just published at Tolkien Studies on the Web in “The Much Bemusing Bloggery of Online Tolkien Scholarli”.
Speaking of Middle-earth, the Middle-earth Website at Xenite.Org now features four articles in the new “Middle-earth Unplugged” series. It’s not easy to produce those articles, since they require a lot of work on the pictures, not to mention research for all the little details in the articles. Features published so far include “The Eldar Get Their Game On”, “Gondor Rising – Echoes of Numenor in Middle-earth”, “Thunder from the East”, and “Horror In the Woods – How Men Live in Mirkwood”. These articles are about as unlike anything you’ll read elsewhere, so far as I know. The Website has also been answering fan questions about J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and Middle-earth at the rate of 2 or 3 per day. Each answer goes into more depth than I have seen on many so-called “question and answer” Websites.
And in case you’ve been living under a rock, this is Tolkien Week for millions of fans around the world. Because many fans mistakenly believe that Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday actually falls on September 22 in our calendar (it falls on September 14), the Tolkien Society has been promoting the week of September 22 each year as “Tolkien Week”. So, don’t worry about raising a toast to Bilbo and Frodo on the 22nd even though you missed their REAL birthday by 8 days. You’ll have plenty of company.
It seems an idle question, I suppose. But Hawke Robinson raised this question recently as we were talking about the Harry Potter books in comparison to Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythology. Tolkien’s legacy has come close to establishing itself in a longeval niche much like the works of older writers from previous centuries.
If I recall correctly, I think Hawke was suggesting that Tolkien may now be given as much value as Shakespeare as a literary genius — or soon may be. The idea that in 500 years people will still find Tolkien as relevant as Shakespeare teases the imagination into thinking that Tolkien succeeded in creating an “English” novel (exemplifying what he felt might have been the style of some English books had the invasion of 1066 not happened).
This is an example of the kinds of topics we can meander into at Middle-earth Talk Radio but it’s one that deserves attention from other people, including fans of both Harry Potter and Middle-earth. Will J.K. Rowling’s legacy match Tolkien’s? I suppose another interesting question is whether Tolkien’s legacy should match Shakespeare’s, but there is no poll for that (yet).
You can take the poll on the new Middle-earth Radio Website.
Unfortunately, old user accounts at the previous incarnation of Middle-earth Radio could not be brought forward into this site redesign. If you had a user account you will have to sign up again. Please make an effort to do that. Hawke and I appreciate all the feedback we have received for the Middle-earth Talk Radio show.
As for Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings, I think they will both enjoy considerable longevity. I feel the Harry Potter story is relevant to every generation. It’s not really locked into the timeframe in which it was written (the 1990s to 2000s) so much as it is set in a “Harry Potter timeframe” in the same way Middle-earth is set in the Third Age.
The Harry Potter books follow the lives of almost ordinary young protagonists who grow up during a very dark and frightening time. It is a sad statement about human nature that today we have dark lord-like evil Satan-serving enemies of humanity like Osama bin Laden, but the War on Terror does in some way resemble those classic fictional struggles between good and evil.
Please do visit the site and vote in the poll. It’s a simplistic poll but I think it’s worth your time and attention. I hope you agree.