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Speaker Spotlight: Jared Lobdell

A Tolkien Compass by Jared Lobdell
A Tolkien Compass
by Jared Lobdell

Hail and Well Met Friends!
Today we begin a new feature as we move closer to the Conference entitled Speaker Spotlights.  This feature will give Conference attendees a look at a specific Conference presenter, who they are and what they will be presenting.

Our first Speaker Spotlight feature is Tolkien and Inklings Scholar: Jared Lobdell.

Perhaps the first book of essays about J.R.R Tolkien I ever read as a teenager, was A Tolkien Compass, published in 1975 (when I was 3) and edited by Jared Lobdell. It is comprised of 10 essays, which also includes a special meaning and pronunciation guide by J.R.R. Tolkien himself.  A Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings (edited version) written by Tolkien himself was included in A Tolkien Compass for use by translators of The Lord of the Rings.  It was later re-titled “Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings,” and was published in 2005 in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull

This was my first foray into Tolkien Scholarship and would later inspire my own research and contributions in the field.

Here is a brief look into the extensive career of Tolkien & Inklings Scholar, and Presenter at the New York Tolkien Conference Jared Lobdell.

In 1981, Lobdell published England and Always: Tolkien’s World of the Rings, which explores the influence of Tolkien’s English, Catholic, and academic background upon his writing and analyzes the popularity of Lord of The Rings.

In 2004, The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien was released, which examines Tolkien’s methods and his worldview by following the thread of three influences:

1. the Edwardian adventure story;

2. the science of philology, or comparative languages;

3. Roman Catholic theology. The “Edwardian mode” of adventure story (King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost World) is one in which a small group of Englishmen make an expedition to foreign parts and find supernatural terrors awaiting them, finally returning home, mission accomplished. The architecture and narrative style of these adventure stories is followed completely in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s towering erudition in ancient Germanic and Celtic languages helps to explain his successful use of a mixture of period styles in his story-telling, as well as his amazing facility coining memorable names. Although Tolkien’s stories betray a strong Christian conception of virtue and suffering, his Catholic background raises difficult problems for understanding the tales, with their heroes who are basically irreligious.

Are these stories before the Fall of Man, or is there some other explanation for the absence of Christ? Lobdell pursues many subtle clues to arrive at a balanced answer.

In 2005 Lobdell saw publication of The Rise of Tolkienian FantasyWhen J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings appeared in 1954, it was hailed by readers but dismissed by critics as juvenile escapism. For many years both critics and professors of literature refused to take Tolkien seriously, yet today they reluctantly admit that he was indeed a great writer. The literary achievement of Tolkien in fact represents a new mainstream of literary development. The future of fiction lies in fantasy, he argues, and Tolkien is part of a vital organic growth with roots in the past. Professor Lobdell surveys the predecessors of and influences on Tolkien, from Rudyard Kipling to William Morris and Kenneth Grahame. He explores the web of elements, Celtic revival, medieval revival, and “feigned history” that make up Tolkienian fantasy. And he looks closely at the heirs of the master, modern fantasists Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King (for the Dark Tower series), and the J. K. Rowling.

102553For the 2011 Light Beyond All Shadow: Religious Experience in Tolkien’s Work an anthology of scholarly essays on the influence of Christianity in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lobdell wrote “Ymagynatyf and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Roman Catholicism, Catholic Theology, Religion in The Lord of the Rings

In between writing, editing and contributing to these books,  Lobdell was the editor of Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams (McFarland, 2003) the Chairman of Papers & Panels for MythCon 1987; and has written extensively on C.S. Lewis, and the Inklings.


On Saturday June 13th, 2015 Lobdell will present: Hugo’s Home?

A shorter follow-up to his Forgotten Leaves: Essays from a Smial essay (Myth Ink Books, 2015) “AN IRISH FRIENDSHIP IN ENGLISH LIT, AND MORE: NEVILL COGHILL, C. S. LEWIS, THE “CAVE”AND WHAT CAME AFTER”, which is one of a series looking at the Inklings who came over from the “Cave” — besides Lewis and Tolkien — Coghill, Dyson, Lord David Cecil, and C. L. Wrenn. “Hugo’s Home?” looks at H. V.D. Dyson’s creation of himself as Hugo Dyson, at its ultimate irony and (perhaps) undercurrent of sadness, while celebrating his wit and insight. Nevill Coghill (1899-1980) playwright, literary scholar, member of the Inklings

During the Conference Lobdell will take part in the Forgotten Leaves: Essays from a Smial book launch panel, and his fiction chapbook, Seeking the Lord will be available for the first time (Myth Ink Books, 2015)


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