Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Points
    7,620
    Posts
    7,470
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    #1
    Reflections on the Magic of Writing,a collection of essays by the late and much lamented Diana Wynne Jones, is reviewed in the current Times LIterary Supplement (August 31 2012)by one T.A. Shippey. Among other things there is more than the odd mention of Tolkien, of whom DWJ was a student and whose work she admired - though not his lecturing style! To quote Shippey:
    She confirms the reports thathe was a dreadful lecturer, disorganized and inaudible, so bad that she wonders if he was doing it on purpose; for in those days, if you had driven your audience away by, say, the third week, you could cancel the rest of the seven-week course "and still get paid".

    A couple of comments here: first, lecturing was a relatiely minor part of the teaching load at Oxford, the bulk of which took place in small tutorial groups and one-to-one tutoring. Second, I wonder if some of Tolkien's inaudibility was due to 1950s dentistry?Might hehave been a victim of the extraction binges of the time, when at least some dentists appeared to regard natural teeth as nothing more than a source of infection that should be replaced with dentures as soon as you were over 50?

    A final quotation from Shippey:
    Her long analysis of The Lord of the Rings as a series of movements, each with its own coda, says more about that narrative than, I suspect, Tolkien could.
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."

  2. Saranna's Avatar
    Lúthien
    Points
    8,749
    Posts
    10,482
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    #2
    Just read this, Dorwiniondil - excellent review. I did hear that a brother of a friend did once witness the Professor's false teeth fall out upon the declamation of Hwaet! - but that's always sounded a bit too good to be true. Still, I feel the dental explanation is probably the right one.


    Remembering halfir by learning more each day





  3. Tolkien certainly had his teeth removed in 1950. There is mention of the teeth in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronologyfor 1948, 1949 and 1950:
    10 February 1949 Tolkien writes to Douglas Veale, the Oxford University Registrar. He asks how he should present a request for a period of leave (including Trinity Term), and points out that in all his years as a professor he has had no leave except for an emergency' fortnight a year earlier on medical grounds. 'Apart from the minor medical object of having all my teeth, which are said to be poisoning me, removed, my main object would be to complete a number of writings I have on hand' (Oxford University Archives FA 9/2/875).
    20 March 1948 Tolkien writes a letter to Mabel Day of the Early English Text Society, who apparently has written to ask what progress he has made on the Ancrene Wisse. He tells her he has 'been unwell for some time, espec[ially] since October, and though X-ray exams revealed nothing immediately serious beyond 19 poisonous teeth, I was obliged, for the first time, to take part of last term off and go away. I still feel far from well, though possibly if I can find time and money for the removal of all my teeth, I may improve. They are said at any rate to account for perhaps 10% of my debility!'
    9 March 1950 Tolkien begins to have his diseased teeth removed.
    10 March 1950 Tolkien replies to Stanley Unwin's suggestion of 6 March. [....]'I have not at the moment anything else completed to submit; but I am quite prepared to make something simpler and shorter soon. I feel, at the end of my leave of absence, a return of energy, and when the present time of trial is over (the process of removing all my teeth began yesterday, and that of removing my household goods begins shortly) I hope to feel still more'(Letters, p. 138).
    4 April 1950 In the morning, Tolkien rings Warnie Lewis and asks him to meet at the 'Bird and Baby' after Tolkien has visited his dentist to be fitted with a set of false teeth.
    14 April 1950 Tolkien drafts a reply to Stanley Unwin's letter of 3 April. [....] He then writes a less confrontational letter, [...]. He apologizes for his delay in replying: 'I have been troubled by dentist and doctors since you wrote. I do not yet know the full report of the specialist and X-ray; but I gather that my throat is in a bad way. Still when all my teeth are at last out (four more went today) it may improve a little, and I may hope to escape any immediate operation. That is at any rate a more cheerful prospect than I had begun to envisage' (Tolkien-George Allen & Unwin archive, HarperCollins; partly printed in Letters, p. 141).


    Edited by: Troelsfo
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  4. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Points
    7,620
    Posts
    7,470
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    #4
    <DIV =WebWizRTE leftmargin="1" topmargin="1" marginheight="1" marginwidth="1">Thanks, Troels! I knew I'd seen this somewhere, but couldn't remember where.
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."

  5. I had just been looking at that period in relation to one of Bruce Charlton's blog posts, so it was at the top of my mind anyway


    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  6. Morgan's Avatar
    Fisherman of Lindon
    Points
    275
    Posts
    126
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    #6


    Fascinating, thanks all of you (Dorwiniondil, Saranna, Troelsfo)! I had by coincidence recently read a book where the author has a remark about Tolkien's teeth on a late 1973 photo he saw in CT's house: the teeth were "surprisingly well preserved, (in case they were not dentures, which I could not tell)" (Tolkiens arv [The Legacy of Tolkien], p. 57, freely transl.). I remember reacting to this passage -- but no mystery here, then!
    I noted that Wynne Jones' collection is available for pre-order at Amazon.com for a quite good price (still not on Amazon.co.uk) -- I took the opportunity to order a copy.

    Edited by: Morgan

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •