Sorry to report that this is only a nod in the direction of a blog as only 3 of us managed to make the meeting: Laura, Ian and me (Lynn). Everyone else being ill, on holiday, or committed elsewhere, we few, we happy few, came to the conclusion that it would be better to leave the discussion of the story of Beren and Luthien until there was at least a quorum! This led me on to confess that I will be away next time, but at least Angela should be able to put forward the points herself that she emailed to me to raise in her absence, although of course, I couldn’t have developed them as she would/will.
Having decided, therefore, to carry over all serious discussion until 23rd June, the three of us engaged in some informal but no less hobbit-like conversation. Our first topic was the propagation of hops, without which there could be no beer in the Ivy Bush, the Eastfarthing or anywhere else.
We went on to consider the choice of luncheon venues in Oxford for our post-exhibition refreshment in August. The choice has been made an approved, we simply acknowledged it as acceptable as an alternative to the Inklings pubs.
Ian and I briefly exchanged thoughts about our various roles in the Tolkien Society and the pressures that led us to give up major volunteering commitments.
Eventually we moved on into matters of dialect, and Ian compared the length of time Joseph Wright’s Dialect Dictionary took to write against the time taken to write The Lord of the Rings. Of course the two are not strictly comparable but Ian was responding to a critic who had remarked on the time The Lord of the Rings had taken. This led me to recall Tolkien’s famous statement that with regard to the legendarium, the languages came first and he then wanted to create the environment in which they existed and operated. I went on to consider the possibility that The Lord of the Rings particularly might be seen in the same light – as a means of giving all sorts of dialect words, archaic and otherwise, a suitable ‘home’. I proposed a comparison with Tolkien’s work on the Anglo-Saxon word ‘ofermod’, for which he wrote his famous 1953 essay and accompanied this with the short drama The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son, as an illustration of the environment and consequences in which the term was to be understood in his view.
Ian countered this by observing that The Lord of the Rings has no glossary in the way that The Book of Lost Tales and The Lays of Beleriand have glossaries, because the Dialect Dictionary is that glossary! Ian also argued that in later complex works of sci-fi such as Dune, glossaries are needed because that world is not our world as The Lord of the Rings notionally is. Ian added the distinction between Tolkien and Wright is that Tolkien uses words for art, Wright used them for education.
On that note we actually ran out of time as usual! So our next meeting (which I shall miss) will address the story of Beren and Luthien.