Episode 11
February 11, 2020

I Found that Personally Upsetting

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Oriana’s choice of topic: the Dwarves! Tolkien drew on Norse mythology and related traditions when he introduced the Dwarves almost from the beginning of his Middle-earth writing, and the many Dwarves in The Hobbit all have names drawn from such mythology as well. They’re one of the most distinct peoples Tolkien created, influencing endless portrayals since then, yet much like their own history in Middle-earth, there’s a lot we don’t really know about them except very particular instances. Do what degree, if any at all, did Tolkien, unconsciously or not, draw on stereotypes of Jewish people when writing about his Dwarves? How does Gimli act as a contrast to the Dwarves as portrayed in earlier Middle-earth works, and was that a specific decision on Tolkien’s part? And maybe most importantly, can there be such a thing as a hot dwarf? We also spend some in-depth time on two big news stories: the death of Christopher Tolkien and Amazon’s announcement of the ensemble cast for their TV adaptation.

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle for the episode.

That ‘UK police don’t realize they have the One Ring’ story.

The Tolkien Society’s announcement of Christopher Tolkien’s death.

John Garth’s obituary of Christopher Tolkien from The Guardian.

A translation of Christopher Tolkien’s interview with Le Monde.

Amazon’s announcement of their Tolkien adaptation cast via Twitter.

The Television Critics Association. It’s a thing!

The National Museum of Denmark has a page up about Dwarves in Tolkien and their origins in Norse mythology.

Suffice to say that the question of Tolkien’s Dwarves and anti-Semitic tropes has indeed come up a few times. Here’s one instance from last decade.

”Dwarves are Not Heroes”: Antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Writing by Rebecca Brackman.

Uncut Gems was pretty good, it should be said.

As for the Goblins in J. K. Rowling’s work, there’s definitely been talk about it.

The letter from Tolkien to a Nazi-overseen publisher in response to a question about his ancestry is quite well-known indeed.

We don’t recommend a read of Bret Stephens’s column in question. Suffice to say it didn’t go over well.

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