Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Back from the Summer

Hello, out there. I am back after a long busy summer which let me get through a good pile of books (not all!) and change jobs. The literary focus of my summer has been getting to know the works of William Morris - a very important influence on Tolkien whose works include several great historio-romantic stories set in the times of the fall of Rome - The Roots under the Mountain and The House of the Wulfings (set in the forest of Mirkwood) and I very enjoyable series of journals Morris kept when he travelled to Iceland in 1871 and 1873. Morris had a great gift for description and as I read his description of the volcanic landscape of places like Thingvellir I could here echoes of Tolkien's description of Mordor - well worth a read.

In addition to literary pursuits I also exchanged variety theatre to have the extreme luck to be working at one of the most beautiful opera companies in the world - Glyndebourne Opera - set in the rolling Sussex countryside - my office looks out green hills and the ba'ing of sheep. Glyndebourne is one of the most innovative opera companies in the world and as we just finished mounting an excellent world premiere opera based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Lovers and other Demons - For me and many others, Glyndebourne is truly Valhalla (with some more Wagner to come).

So in the coming weeks I shall be quiet busy getting Glyndebourne under my skin and will try to keep faithful to this blog with items on Tolkien, languages, etc - so more too come!!!


J. B. said...

Morris echoing Tolkien? Er!? Morris' writing came well before Tolkien and Mr.T "borrowed" profusely from Morris, not the other way around.

Without Morris there would be no Tolkien.

Jason Fisher said...

as I read his description of the volcanic landscape of places like Thingvellir I could here echoes of Tolkien's description of Mordor

J.B., I think you’re taking Andy too literally; clearly, he knows the proper order, as he mentions Morris’s influence on Tolkien. Besides, the echoes to which Andy referred were those in his own hearing and refer more properly to his own reading experience, in which Tolkien preceded Morris. So give the guy a break; I think what he said makes perfect sense.

P.S., J.B., what do you mean by putting borrowed in scare quotes? Are you implying something untoward? :)

Andrew Higgins said...


Thanks for coming to the defense - and apologies for any vagueness here - what I was trying to get across, as you say, is the fact that the very vivid description of Iceland by Morris may have formed part of the inspiration for Tolkien's vivid description of Mordor - and I am certainly not implying JRR directly borrowed - more inspired by. Indeed I have not read such vivid descriptions of landscape since Tolkien then in Morris' Travels in Iceland - interesting that both Tolkien and Morris were not only writers but also illustrators.

Hope well - I am building my autumn Tolkien reading list - have you read the new book The Mirror Cracked -

Namarie Andy

Blog Archive