Why did you call this blog “The Tolkienist”?

There are a number of obvious reasons to this. First of all, any website would do well in chosing a decent name. I could have called it http://www.damn-i-love-middle-earth-so-much-man.com but that wouldn’t be easy to remember, it wouldn’t sound snappy and wouldn’t really get ‘the message across’. I do think the ‘Tolkienist’ is a name that gives an idea straightaway of what this is all about and that was what I was looking for. I did not invent the word, by the way; for example, there was a German website for quite some time called tolkienist.de run by a fellow member of the German Tolkien Society and it may have been in the back of my mind when I searched for a name (tolkienist.de has been dropped as a project many years ago so there really wasn’t an issue about using a similar title for my endeavours).

Second, I had been thinking a very long time about running my own Tolkien-related blog but for a gazillion of reasons it just wasn’t to be. I had my university degree to finish, a major Tolkien society to run, a job to do, a wife to find (that took long enough, I can tell you!) – there really never was the right moment to do it. However, last year, for another gazillion of reasons I felt the time was right to go ahead and do it. It would take about a hundred manuscript pages to explain those reasons but let it suffice to say that the upcoming “Hobbit” film trilogy had a little to do with it. And the film experience of the last (well over a) decade in general.

Being a 'Tolkien fan' hasn't become any easier ;) *sigh*

Being a ‘Tolkien fan’ hasn’t become any easier. *sigh*

Much has changed because of them, particularly the worldwide Tolkien fandom. And when looking for a name I was most surely looking for a term which would not suggest a site concentrating on the films. I have been a Tolkien fan for over 25 years and to me the Professor and his works always come first. I am no ‘Ringer’ and never will be and although the definition of ‘fanatic’ could surely be applied to me I have always found this term to be used in a derogatory manner – and I quite like what I am doing so it is quite positive to me: taking an interest in the life and works of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, CBE. Tolkien friend, lover, afficionado, enthusiast, Tolkiendil – all terms I may use, depending on the context. However, for a website they would never have been appropriate.

O my god, save the Lasko!

O, don’t worry, I am not taking this too seriously. Honest. No, really.

Thirdly, the -ist suffix implies -ism as well, the idea of a concept, in that case to me the academic research on and profound interest in one of the 20th century’s most influential writers whose importance continues to grow well into the 21st. I would not be so bold as to suggest an “art movement” here but I would like to believe that a term like Tolkienology -which I find horribly cumbersome- could be replaced by Tolkienism. And no, at no point would I believe this to be a religious or political movement; that would be rather odd. The same goes for Tolkienite as I am not a “follower” of a “deplorable cultus” as the Professor himself called it; I am a reader, a literary critic and a writer on a very interesting author.

And yes, one day I might write an article about the development of the different terms describing “people interested in J.R.R. Tolkien and related topics.” 😉 Which would be a study in the worldwide fandom. Not getting any easier by the day.

Just published on the FAQ

TheTolkienist

A Tolkien fan for twenty-five years (and more to come...) Founding chairman of the German Tolkien Society, Co-Founder of Ring*Con, Co-Founder of the ITF, host, presenter and fantasy expert

4 Responses

  1. TroelsForchhammer says:

    I take it you refer to the informal definition of ‘fanatic’, Marcel 😉

    I thought I had something relevant to say — something about intended audiences, and whether we’re writing for fellow Tolkienists, or for a wider audience, but the details have slipped my mind (it’s late Friday afternoon … surely that is the reason!)

    Some of it was to do with taking a look at your list of ‘Fellow Tolkienists’ (and thank you for including my Parma-kenta!). There is a large variety of choices, some with more or less obscure references to Tolkien (how many remember that Merry’s true name, in Westron, was Kalimac? Or know that parma-kenta is Quenya for ‘Enquiry into the books’?).

    I’ll spare you any rambling attempts to recreate any sensible thought behind this — if there ever was one 😉

    • Don’t worry about it, Troels, as always any of your posts are enlightening. I hadn’t really given it that much thought but yes, the list of blogs in my linklist do give you a pretty good idea of what I consider worth sharing. There probably are two or three more I would add …

      • TroelsForchhammer says:

        Oh, and I hope you don’t mind my adopting the name of Tolkienist as a self-descriptor. It’s shorter than “Tolkien enthusiast” or “student of Tolkien” and to my mind fits our particular niche of Tolkienism to a T.