Tolkien and the Hobbit

PBS’ Newshour marked the opening of The Hobbit by interviewing Jason Fisher, editor of Tolkien and the Study of his Sources: Critical Essays (a collection to which Diana contributed) —

How did language play into his creation of mythology?

Jason Fisher: Tolkien envisioned a whole series of different languages; languages spoken by elves, men and dwarves. Because he was actually trained in what would become historical linguistics, which was mainly called philology in his day, he was trained in how languages related to one another and changed over time. He attempted to mimic [that evolution] in his own creative world.

Tolkien’s interest in language led him to create languages, and he therefore wanted to create a mythology and a world in which those languages might have been spoken. For him it started with languages, with words, with names, and from those he created narratives and full stories.

Diana, the Arkenstone

Diana Glyer and Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) headlined the 13th annual conference of the C.S. Lewis and Inklings Society last weekend (April 9-11) in Oklahoma City.

Jason Fisher, who will co-chair Mythcon 41 in July, was there. Jason had high praise for Diana’s speech and reading:

Diana Glyer gave a terrific after-banquet keynote speech, in which she discussed the central hypothesis of her own book, The Company They Keep: whether, and to what extent, Lewis and Tolkien (and to a lesser degree, the other Inklings) influenced one another, and moreover, what “influence” itself really means. I say “hypothesis”, but the persuasive power of Diana’s argument is such that it is hardly that any longer. I regard it as established fact…

Finally, a real gem, the very Arkenstone of the entire weekend’s embarrassment of riches: Diana Glyer and Michael Ward performed a reading of selected letters from the unpublished (as yet) correspondence of Major Warren Lewis and Blanche Biggs, a missionary doctor stationed in Papua New Guinea. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, Warren Lewis? But trust me, their correspondence, of which we heard roughly a quarter of the extant material, was funny, affectionate, clever, and in the end, profoundly moving. It brought tears to my eyes.

Diana and I will be reading these letters again at Mythcon 41, but since I can’t promise to acquire a British accent by then Michael Ward’s performance is likely to remain unequalled.