066 – A Slaying Song Tonight: An Interview with Michael Drout

Alan and Shawn are delighted to welcome Michael Drout to The Prancing Pony Podcast! As co-founder and co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies and multiple books on the Professor, Drout is one of the most prolific Tolkien scholars in the field today. We talk to him about his personal discovery of Tolkien, the future of Tolkien studies and fandom, and Beowulf. Plus, we discuss the very highest quality of The Lord of the Rings Online players, and how to write a new Old English poem more well-known than some of the originals.

Follow Michael Drout online at his website, http://michaeldrout.com, or on Twitter (@MikeDrout)

For information about the latest issue of Tolkien Studies, see West Virginia University Press here: http://wvupressonline.com/journals/tolkien_studies

To see the lecture “How To Read J.R.R. Tolkien” given by Michael Drout at Carnegie Mellon University, see here: https://youtu.be/lXAvF9p8nmM

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (HarperCollins, paperback)

Drout, Michael D. C., ed. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (Routledge, paperback)

Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology (Mariner Books, paperback)

064 – And Now, the Larch

As Chapter 6 of The Hobbit opens, Bilbo emerges from the mountains and soon hears the familiar voices of Gandalf and the Dwarves. He sneaks up on them with the help of his new ring, and finally wins some respect with his stealth and the tale of his escape. But the happy reunion proves short-lived; the company move on, coming to a clearing in the woods… and find themselves surrounded by howling wolves. We revisit the nature of wargs, showcase our limited botanical knowledge, and enjoy yet another philological joke from Professor Tolkien.

To learn how to recognize a larch from quite a long way away, watch the classic Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch here: https://www.youtube.com/Tzmp8T2xX2A

The long-anticipated return of our Venn diagram on wolves, wargs and werewolves: (see also Episode 032 – Lady and the Tramp)

The original painting Taur-na-Fuin by J.R.R. Tolkien, which was later redrawn in ink as Mirkwood for The Hobbit: (see also Episode 041 – Make It So, artwork below copyright of The Tolkien Estate Limited or The Tolkien Trust)taur-na-fuin

Looking for the firs from the illustration The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate by J.R.R. Tolkien? See Episode 065 – Lobbest Thou Thy Holy Pine Grenade.

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 85-94, “Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Scull, Christina, and Wayne G. Hammond. J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Two Volume Box Set) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Judd, Walter S., and Graham A. Judd. Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

062 – …Ere the Other Side He See

Our second episode on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Tension mounts as the riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum continues, with Bilbo’s life at stake. His luck saves him in the final round, but when Gollum accuses him of not playing fair, he’s still very much in danger. We compare the current text to the first edition to see how Tolkien transformed Gollum from a hungry, but honest, monster into a “miserable wicked creature” corrupted by the One Ring. And we welcome a listener to the North Wing of the Prancing Pony in a new segment!

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 71-78, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

058 – There Lies a Cave

In Chapter 4 of The Hobbit, our heroes begin the crossing of the mountains under threat of stormy weather and rock-hurling stone-giants. They seek shelter in a cave, but caves up in the mountains are seldom unoccupied, and this one is no exception. We investigate the nature of the mysterious stone-giants, a new Philology Faire segment unveils surprises in Tolkien’s original conception of Treebeard, and we get a little spooky for a listener question about the Dead Marshes.

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 52-57, “Over Hill and Under Hill”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

055 – Pining for the Hoards

We wrap up Chapter 1 of The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party”, where Bilbo’s Tookish side is awakened by the mysterious dwarf-song filling his home, but his Baggins side is less enthusiastic once Thorin and Gandalf lay out the details of the dwarves’ quest. Will Bilbo stay safely in his comfortable hole, or will he rise to the challenge like his great golfing ancestor Bullroarer Took? Also: more word-nerdery as we talk about Tolkien’s use of the plural form ‘dwarves’ in the first installment of another new show segment: Philology Faire.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 14-26, “An Unexpected Party”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)