Episode 46
January 16, 2023

Bad Performance Review as an Actual Plot Point

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned start the new year with Ned’s choice of topic: the short children’s works Roverandom and Mr. Bliss. Tolkien has been described as a children’s author both with praise and disparagement over time, but a more accurate way to put it is that while he was busy working on his cycle of early Middle-earth stories with its high drama and tragedy in the 1920s and 1930s, he was also a loving father to four young children who often made up many stories and tales for them. The Hobbit itself has strong roots in this activity but whether it’s the Father Christmas letters, the original Tom Bombadil stories, the early versions of Farmer Giles of Ham or more besides, it’s a large creative part of his work in those decades. After The Hobbit was accepted for publication, Tolkien provided the manuscripts for, among other submissions, the stories Roverandom and Mr. Bliss for consideration, though the success of The Hobbit and the request for a sequel led him down other paths, with the two stories receiving separate posthumous publication instead. Is there ultimately anything more to Mr. Bliss than a series of random happenings that the titular character barely seems to be at the center of a lot of the time? How does Roverandom work in notable contrast to Mr. Bliss, with its deeper emotions as much as it has a sense of playful satire? How well does Tolkien’s art for both stories achieve a distinct resonance and beauty? And who wouldn’t want to get a newspaper called Ocean Notions, perhaps most applicable these days if you live in a pineapple under the sea?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle – a beautiful and striking moment from an equally striking story.

Join the Megaphonic Patreon! And yes, The Greatest Story Ever Told…isn’t. At least not in that form.

As before, support the HarperCollins union.

A Silmarillion opera cycle exists! And has for years, who knew – not us! More about it, including a link to a fuller interview, via TheOneRing.net.

The Russian Silmarillion musical, whatever it is? There are clips.

Yep, pushing ahead with The Rings of Power. We’ll see…

Roverandom! Mr. Bliss! Very different to be sure.

Earlier episodes on Smith of Wootton Major and Tree and Leaf (with “On Fairy-Stories”)

The Wind In The Willows remains top flight.

“Goblin Feet”…does not.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On was indeed a good movie.

We all know The Velveteen Rabbit. Surely.

Well we all DEFINITELY know Toy Story.

The Man in the Moon is everywhere!

News of the World was a thing. (They shut down because they were completely horrible. Of course Rupert Murdoch was involved.)

The tales of Baron Munchausen are wonderful things. (Gilliam’s movie is remarkable…but read this first.)

Tolkien’s illustration of Roverandom and the White Dragon, with Scull and Hammond’s commentary.

Our early episode on magic.

Oh man do we love Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea. (The Folio Society editions are remarkable.)

Uin the whale. (He’s in this reproduction of Tolkien’s original 1917 Middle-earth map on the left in the layer of water below the main continents.)

Tolkien’s illustration “The Garden of the Merking’s Palace” is a great riot of color in the best way.

Support By-The-Bywater on Patreon and you can hang out with us in a Discord AND hear Ned and Jared talk about Charleton Heston!