Episode 4
July 30, 2019

A Series of Small Wounds

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Ned’s choice of topic: “ Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife.” An incomplete effort written in the 1960s and edited by Christopher Tolkien for 1980’s Unfinished Tales, “Aldarion and Erendis” is possibly the most unique story in Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium: a serious and ultimately sad domestic drama about a failed marriage, mixed with the origins of world-changing events. Why is it notable the Númenoreans initially work with wood and not stone? How does the fact that there are protagonists and antagonists but ultimately no heroes shape the story’s impact? And above all else, where to start with that astonishing monologue from Erendis to her daughter, one of Tolkien’s most powerful pieces of writing?

Show Notes.

Oriana’s piece about Peter Thiel and Palantir. As you can see, the title’s a little rude. (Deservedly.) Subscribe to her newsletter!

Yeah, it’s warm. We don’t need to belabor the long-term obvious, do we?

The article that broke the news of J. A. Bayona’s hiring as initial series director for Amazon’s TV series. Review his IMDB page at your leisure; here’s a 2018 interview where he talks about his film career in general, available as both podcast and transcript.

Some local New Zealand articles confirming Amazon’s filming in the country as well as the local impact in Auckland, where filming will be based.

Initial casting news did break literally the day after we recorded! We’ll have more on this next episode.

The NZ ‘Hobbit law’ is very much a sore point still. For further background, we recommend Lindsey Ellis’s three-part series on Jackson’s adaptation, but especially the third episode.

The initial news about Amazon’s collaboration with Leyou on an MMO Lord of the Rings game, and what it supposedly does and doesn’t involve. (The art that Jared was distinctly unimpressed with is from an older game, at least.)

There’s plenty out there on Númenor in general—here’s the Tolkien Gateway summary. (And if you like, here’s their summary of “Aldarion and Erendis” itself.)

A possible comparative example to Erendis’s monologue to Ancalimë, one that Tolkien would be familiar with by default, would be the Wife of Bath’s Tale as written by Geoffrey Chaucer—a male author giving a female character an actual sense of agency as well as voicing not so subtle protest against a societal structure set up for the benefit of men. Specifically, consider the famous ‘who painted the lion’ sequence, as this essay discusses.

Once again, Revolutionary Road. It really does make sense as another comparison point.

To give you an idea of what a Reddit relationship post can be like, here’s a thing.

We all love Ursula K. Le Guin, because she was that great. See the film on August 2nd on PBS if you can.

Plenty of examples of laws of succession and whether women could hold thrones over time. A famous European one: the Salic Law of Succession.

Grimdark is something you really can have too much of.

Religion in Middle-earth—and its overt absence as is generally understood—really is its own discussion topic. Tolkien, who was clear about his work’s Christian and Catholic elements, had his own thoughts on the matter.

The ‘George R. R. Martin wonders about Aragorn’s tax policy’ query came up in a 2014 interview with the author.

The sentiment from Tolkien about how his readers wanted more information than he could provide appears in Letter 187 in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. The specific passage in full: “Musicians want tunes, and musical notation; archaeologists want ceramics and metallurgy. Botanists want a more accurate description of the mallorn, of elanor, niphredil, alfirin, mallos, and symbelmynë; and historians want more details about the social and political structure of Gondor; general enquirers want information about the Wainriders, the Harad, Dwarvish origins, the Dead Men, the Beornings, and the missing two wizards (out of five). It will be a big volume, even if I attend only to the things revealed to my limited understanding!”

There’s a fair amount of attention to plants and trees in Númenor in these specific writings, especially in the introductory “A Description of Númenor.” A striking fan/botanical creation of recent years which looks into that and much more from the legendarium is the Flora of Middle-earth book by Walter and Graham Judd.

The Great Gatsby is out there. But don’t forget Kate Beaton’s riff on it.

The Stone of Erech is an intriguingly strange artifact.

Carl Sagan had the gift of public presentation and high-end research chops in balance. An amazing combination still.

We’re sure Mary Matalin and James Carville love each other and all.

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