|Some time ago I was contacted by Didier Willis, the president of Le Dragon de Brume about their first publication on Tolkien, called Tolkien, le façonnement d'un monde (volume 1, Botany and Astronomy).
It is not the first time I have to announce a publication on Tolkien in French and need to add that next to the English publications there are some very interesting publications in other languages that deserve to be read and should be added to any library for people who wish to learn more about anything Tolkien.
Probably because I live in Belgium and am able to read French I always find it sad to see so many good publications to get unnoticed by the English world and so I asked Didier Willis to write about this new book and also about Le Dragon de Brume.
Tolkien, le façonnement d'un monde (volume 1, Botany and Astronomy)
We wanted this collection of essays to primarily focus on those small and sometimes strange details that make Tolkien's invented world of Middle-earth so rich and vivid. You know, these sort of anecdotal and (apparently!) not so important things that are mentioned only in passing, without much explanations, in the stories - such as a plant or a tree, a mysterious star, or an obscure place name, all details that eventually play their role in Middle-earth's verisimilitude. Thus, initially, the book was to deal with botany, astronomy and geography in Tolkien's legendarium. However, the project took much longer than we would have expected (around two years and a half), so we decided to postpone articles about geography in another future volume...
The final 276-page book, as presented to the readers, includes 9 essays, 4 on botany and 5 on astronomy. A detailed description in French is provided on our website (https://sites.google.com/site/dragonbrumeux/home), and a brief description in English follows.
In the botanical part, Stéphanie Loubechine studies several aspects of the symbolism of trees in Tolkien's stories and poems, focussing on the opposite and complementary roles of the Willow and the Birch.
Alain Lefèvre, noting the apparent contradiction between the golden alfirin of Legolas' song in Lebennin and the white alfirin growing on funeral mounds, reinterprets them under the light of their likeness with the elysian amaranths and asphodels. Didier Willis analyses some of Tolkien's strategies in naming trees in his Elvish languages, trying to cast some light on the obscure lebethron tree mentioned twice in The Lord of the Rings. Finally, Lionel Pras applies his science of gardening to all invented trees of Middle-earth, commenting and discussing all we know about them.
In the astronomical part, Professor Kristine Larsen very kindly authorized us to publish a French translation of her article about Borgil, previously issued in Tolkien Studies (vol. 2, 2005) and where she provides the most definitive and likely interpretation of this star name. Didier Willis discusses possible astronomical interpretations for the Crown of Durin and tentatively interprets the repetition pattern in Gimli's Song of Durin under the angle of axial precession and its implications in historically dating the Tale of Arda.
François Augereau and Didier Willis study the scientific implications in the definition of Durin's Day and the nature of the Moon-letters on Thror's Map in The Hobbit, providing an account of the structure of the Dwarvish calendar that can be deduced from them.
Alain Lefèvre briefly discusses one of the little-known mention about the fate of Tuor and Idril in one the many versions of the tale as presented in The Book of Lost Tales, which could possibly hint toward a representation of Mercury.
François Augereau concludes this volume with a thorough study of all eclipse patterns in Tolkien's works, whether explicit astronomical phenomenons or implied literary and stylistic occultations, from Roverandom and The Father Christmas Letters to The Lord of the Rings and Morgoth's Ring.
About "Le Dragon de Brume"
"Hiswelókë - Le Dragon de Brume" started as a personal page on the Web, back in 1997, where I wanted to share my passion and interest in Tolkien's legendarium. Over the years, the website received a few contributions from other Tolkien fans and was hosted on one of the main French Tolkienian website at the time, with once a very active forum, where several of us wove close ties of frienship.
After more than ten years of presence on the Web, a few of us however felt that our articles on J. R. R. Tolkien's wonderful creation could possibly deserve a better visibility and be distributed in the form of printed books. Traditional publishers may be reluctant to publish collections of essays, especially when they are the work of Tolkien enthusiasts, primarily made for other Tolkien enthusiasts. Fundamentally attached to "paper" and fine typography, we nevertheless thought that it should certainly be possible to produce good quality articles and essays and to provide them to interested readers in printed form, so that they may store them in their collection of Tolkien-related books and also read them in a more pleasant way than on the Web.
Therefore, we made "Le Dragon de Brume" a non-profit association (under French law 1901) so that we would have a flexible and transparent framework for our projects, and we gathered a small group of authors and contributors to work on our first collection of essays.
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