Death and Immortality in Middle-earth: Proceedings of The Tolkien Society Seminar 2016.
J.R.R. Tolkien deplored allegory and rejected any suggestion that The Lord of the Rings has an inner meaning or message. In reading back the tale, however, he became aware of a dominant motif:
‘The real theme for me is […] Death and Immortality: the mystery of the love of the world in the hearts of a race “doomed” to leave and seemingly lose it; the anguish in the hearts of a race “doomed” not to leave it, until its whole evil-aroused story is complete’ (Letters, p. 246).
Despite the lucidity of this statement, the theme of death and immortality has been left relatively unexplored in Tolkien studies. In recognition of this, and to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, The Tolkien Society called for presentations on this important topic for its seminar in Leeds on 3 July 2016. Published under the auspices of the Society’s Peter Roe Memorial Fund, this book features a collection of twelve papers delivered on the day by aspiring and established Tolkien scholars alike.
Introduction - Daniel Helen
Tolkien and the Somme - Matthew B. Rose
Tolkien and T.S. Eliot: the waste land and a fallen king - Tânia Azevedo
Tolkien and disability: the narrative function of disabled characters in Middle-earth - Irina Metzler
Facing death: how characters in The Lord of the Rings meet the prospect of their own demise and the loss of others - Giovanni Carmine Costabile
The elven perspective of life, death and immortality, and its influence on humanity - Aslı Bülbül Candaş
Mortal immortals: the fallibility of elven immortality in Tolkien’s writing - Anna Milon
Gifts in harmony? A philological exploration of Tolkien’s invented words for ‘life’ and ‘death’ - Andrew Higgins
Music of life: the creation of Middle-earth - Sarah Rose
Transmission: an escape from death in Tolkien’s work? - Gaëlle Abaléa
Recurrent pattern of the Fall in Tolkien’s legendarium Massimiliano Izzo
Frodo and Saruman: euformation, dysformation, and immortality in The Lord of the Rings - Adam B. Shaeffer
‘Tears are the very wine of blessedness’: joyful sorrow in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings - Dimitra Fimi [This article has won the TS Awards 2018].