Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Tolkien as lecturer

Expand Messages
  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
    Charming letter to the editor in the Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 12: Sir -- Christopher Ricks claims that J.R.R. Tolkien could not lecture for toffee;
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 13, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      Charming letter to the editor in the Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 12:

      Sir --

      Christopher Ricks claims that J.R.R. Tolkien "could not lecture for toffee; didn't even try." As a student at Oxford I went to his lecture on the Alfred Jewel, the argument of which was that it formed part of an "aestel" or pointer for a book. I was an English student (1967-70) but attended because of his fame; I was not disappointed. The lecture gleams in my memory like the jewel itself.

      Emma Tristram, Stable Cottage, Binsted, Arundel
    • David Bratman
      ... That s interesting. Was Tolkien still lecturing at Oxford in 1967-70? He retired in 1959, returned for the academic year 1962-63 (stepping in for a
      Message 2 of 13 , Aug 14, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        davise@... wrote:

        >Charming letter to the editor in the Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 12:
        >
        >Sir --
        >
        >Christopher Ricks claims that J.R.R. Tolkien "could not lecture for toffee; didn't even try." As a student at Oxford I went to his lecture on the Alfred Jewel, the argument of which was that it formed part of an "aestel" or pointer for a book. I was an English student (1967-70) but attended because of his fame; I was not disappointed. The lecture gleams in my memory like the jewel itself.
        >
        >Emma Tristram, Stable Cottage, Binsted, Arundel


        That's interesting. Was Tolkien still lecturing at Oxford in 1967-70? He retired in 1959, returned for the academic year 1962-63 (stepping in for a successor on leave), but I haven't found anything in the Companion & Guide saying that he lectured after that. Maybe it was a one-off talk, which he did give some of (he read Smith of Wootton Major to a university audience in 1966). Also, in mid-1968 he moved out of Oxford, making it less likely though not impossible that he'd give lectures there.
      • IcelofAngeln
        Yes, the dates struck me as odd too. Could Ms Tristram possibly have heard Christopher Tolkien instead? By all accounts CT was a very good lecturer.
        Message 3 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          Yes, the dates struck me as odd too. Could Ms Tristram possibly have heard Christopher Tolkien instead? By all accounts CT was a very good lecturer.


          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
          >
          > davise@... wrote:
          >
          > >Charming letter to the editor in the Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 12:
          > >
          > >Sir --
          > >
          > >Christopher Ricks claims that J.R.R. Tolkien "could not lecture for toffee; didn't even try." As a student at Oxford I went to his lecture on the Alfred Jewel, the argument of which was that it formed part of an "aestel" or pointer for a book. I was an English student (1967-70) but attended because of his fame; I was not disappointed. The lecture gleams in my memory like the jewel itself.
          > >
          > >Emma Tristram, Stable Cottage, Binsted, Arundel
          >
          >
          > That's interesting. Was Tolkien still lecturing at Oxford in 1967-70? He retired in 1959, returned for the academic year 1962-63 (stepping in for a successor on leave), but I haven't found anything in the Companion & Guide saying that he lectured after that. Maybe it was a one-off talk, which he did give some of (he read Smith of Wootton Major to a university audience in 1966). Also, in mid-1968 he moved out of Oxford, making it less likely though not impossible that he'd give lectures there.
          >
        • davise@cs.nyu.edu
          I sent an email about it to Prof. D. A. Hinton, of Southhampton, who is an expert on the Alfred Jewel, and published a book about it a couple of years ago. He
          Message 4 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            I sent an email about it to Prof. D. A. Hinton, of Southhampton, who is an expert on the Alfred Jewel, and published a book about it a couple of years ago. He says he is confident that the story is not true. Oh well.

            -- Ernie
          • Zachary Bos
            Dear Ernie: Did you mean to send a note in to Alan Jenkins? If not, I d be inclined to. All best, Zachary
            Message 5 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              Dear Ernie:

              Did you mean to send a note in to Alan Jenkins? If not, I'd be inclined to.

              All best,

              Zachary

              On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 9:04 AM, <davise@...> wrote:
              >
              > I sent an email about it to Prof. D. A. Hinton, of Southhampton, who is an expert on the Alfred Jewel, and published a book about it a couple of years ago. He says he is confident that the story is not true. Oh well.
              >
              > -- Ernie
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > ------------------------------------
              >
              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              Did he explain why he is confident that it s not true? Wendell Wagner In a message dated 8/15/2011 9:04:11 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, davise@cs.nyu.edu
              Message 6 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                Did he explain why he is confident that it's not true?
                 
                Wendell Wagner
                 
                In a message dated 8/15/2011 9:04:11 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, davise@... writes:
                He says he is confident that the story is not true.
              • davise@cs.nyu.edu
                Zachary, You mean to publish in TLS as a correction? I m not particularly planning to. I don t see the point in arguing in public with a 70 year old woman
                Message 7 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                • 0 Attachment
                  Zachary,

                  You mean to publish in TLS as a correction? I'm not particularly planning to. I don't see the point in arguing in public with a 70 year old woman about her fond memories from her youth.

                  -- Ernie



                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Zachary Bos <zakbos@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Dear Ernie:
                  >
                  > Did you mean to send a note in to Alan Jenkins? If not, I'd be inclined to.
                  >
                  > All best,
                  >
                  > Zachary
                  >
                  > On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 9:04 AM, <davise@...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > I sent an email about it to Prof. D. A. Hinton, of Southhampton, who is an expert on the Alfred Jewel, and published a book about it a couple of years ago. He says he is confident that the story is not true. Oh well.
                  > >
                  > > -- Ernie
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > ------------------------------------
                  > >
                  > > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                • Zachary Bos
                  I d meant a correction, but not an abuse -- your point is well taken. When one is used to engaging folks online in this way, it becomes easy to forget that
                  Message 8 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I'd meant a correction, but not an abuse -- your point is well taken.
                    When one is used to engaging folks online in this way, it becomes easy
                    to forget that print is another audience, with other mores altogether.
                    I shan't write, of course.

                    - Z



                    On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 9:46 AM, <davise@...> wrote:
                    > Zachary,
                    >
                    > You mean to publish in TLS as a correction? I'm not particularly planning to. I don't see the point in arguing in public with a 70 year old woman about her fond memories from her youth.
                    >
                    > -- Ernie
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Zachary Bos <zakbos@...> wrote:
                    >>
                    >> Dear Ernie:
                    >>
                    >> Did you mean to send a note in to Alan Jenkins? If not, I'd be inclined to.
                    >>
                    >> All best,
                    >>
                    >> Zachary
                    >>
                    >> On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 9:04 AM,  <davise@...> wrote:
                    >> >
                    >> > I sent an email about it to Prof. D. A. Hinton, of Southhampton, who is an expert on the Alfred Jewel, and published a book about it a couple of years ago. He says he is confident that the story is not true. Oh well.
                    >> >
                    >> > -- Ernie
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> > ------------------------------------
                    >> >
                    >> > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >> >
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                  • David Bratman
                    I agree with Ernie: there would be little point in pursuing this in the TLS, unless, perhaps, if one were absolutely certain the statement was wrong, and I m
                    Message 9 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment
                      I agree with Ernie: there would be little point in pursuing this in the TLS, unless, perhaps, if one were absolutely certain the statement was wrong, and I'm only very skeptical that something is wrong about this story. But that something might be the date.

                      In this forum, though, I can also mention being skeptical that Tolkien would have lectured on the Alfred Jewel. Tolkien was a philologist, not an archaeologist nor an art historian, and while he might have had something to say about the Jewel's inscription, it strikes me as out-of-place that he would have been giving a formal lecture on its utilitarian purpose.

                      The point the letter-writer was making, though, was that Tolkien was a good, not a bad, lecturer. On that question, opinions differ. Some tell the most horrid stories of his detachment and unintelligibility. Others, who are definitely talking about him, say he was riveting. I've seen similar spreads about other Inklings, about their lecturing, their tutoring, and so on. One student hated CSL as a tutor so much he dropped out and sniped about it. Another thrived and wrote a worshipful memoir.
                    • John Davis
                      If, as seems the case, Tolkien - and perhaps CSL as well - were somewhat unusual, not to say idiosyncratic lecturers, it would seem reasonable that some
                      Message 10 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                      • 0 Attachment
                        
                        If, as seems the case, Tolkien - and perhaps CSL as well -  were somewhat unusual, not to say idiosyncratic lecturers, it would seem reasonable that some people would think their lectures excellent, and others find those same lectures dreadful. 
                         
                        John
                         
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 3:01 PM
                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien as lecturer

                         

                        I agree with Ernie: there would be little point in pursuing this in the TLS, unless, perhaps, if one were absolutely certain the statement was wrong, and I'm only very skeptical that something is wrong about this story. But that something might be the date.

                        In this forum, though, I can also mention being skeptical that Tolkien would have lectured on the Alfred Jewel. Tolkien was a philologist, not an archaeologist nor an art historian, and while he might have had something to say about the Jewel's inscription, it strikes me as out-of-place that he would have been giving a formal lecture on its utilitarian purpose.

                        The point the letter-writer was making, though, was that Tolkien was a good, not a bad, lecturer. On that question, opinions differ. Some tell the most horrid stories of his detachment and unintelligibility. Others, who are definitely talking about him, say he was riveting. I've seen similar spreads about other Inklings, about their lecturing, their tutoring, and so on. One student hated CSL as a tutor so much he dropped out and sniped about it. Another thrived and wrote a worshipful memoir.

                      • Mike Foster
                        David, Were you referring to George Sayers’ memoir? Mike David, Were you referring to George Sayers’ memoir? Mike
                        Message 11 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                        • 0 Attachment
                          David,
                          Were you referring to George Sayers’ memoir?
                           
                          Mike
                           
                        • David Bratman
                          Mike Foster wrote, ... He d be another good example, but I was thinking of John Wain, who thrived academically under Lewis. The student who dropped out was,
                          Message 12 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Mike Foster wrote,

                            >Were you referring to George Sayers’ memoir?

                            He'd be another good example, but I was thinking of John Wain, who thrived academically under Lewis. The student who dropped out was, of course, John Betjeman.

                            I've read equally contradictory memories about David Cecil and Hugo Dyson.
                          • Larry Swain
                            Assuming for the moment that the memory reported in the letter is mostly true but filtered, I suspect that Tolkien lectured on the production of the Alfredian
                            Message 13 of 13 , Aug 15, 2011
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Assuming for the moment that the memory reported in the letter is mostly true but filtered, I suspect that Tolkien lectured on the production of the Alfredian corpus of Old English prose literature, or more particularly the Preface to Alfred's Pastoral Care.  In that context, the Alfred Jewel universally arises since something that looks and sounds like the jewel is mentioned as being sent out to the bishops of Alfred's kingdom with copies of the book, and the most common understanding of the jewel's purpose was that a rod was attached and that it was used as a pointer for reading the manuscript.  I suspect that if this lecture were given, that the mention of the jewel and its purpose were a very small part of a larger more literary and philological lecture.
                              --
                              Larry Swain
                               
                              On Mon, 15 Aug 2011 07:01 -0700, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
                               

                              I agree with Ernie: there would be little point in pursuing this in the TLS, unless, perhaps, if one were absolutely certain the statement was wrong, and I'm only very skeptical that something is wrong about this story. But that something might be the date.

                              In this forum, though, I can also mention being skeptical that Tolkien would have lectured on the Alfred Jewel. Tolkien was a philologist, not an archaeologist nor an art historian, and while he might have had something to say about the Jewel's inscription, it strikes me as out-of-place that he would have been giving a formal lecture on its utilitarian purpose.

                              The point the letter-writer was making, though, was that Tolkien was a good, not a bad, lecturer. On that question, opinions differ. Some tell the most horrid stories of his detachment and unintelligibility. Others, who are definitely talking about him, say he was riveting. I've seen similar spreads about other Inklings, about their lecturing, their tutoring, and so on. One student hated CSL as a tutor so much he dropped out and sniped about it. Another thrived and wrote a worshipful memoir.
                               

                              -- 
                              http://www.fastmail.fm - Access all of your messages and folders
                                                        wherever you are
                              
                            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.