|The winner of the highly coveted Beyond Bree Award was announced during The Return of the Ring at Loughborough University.
The award was bestowed on Mark T. Hooker, the author of a number of books on J.R.R. Tolkien, including Tolkien Through Russian Eyes and Tolkien and Welsh.
The readers of Beyond Bree present the award in recognition of outstanding contribution to the study of J.R.R. Tolkien.
This is only the fifth time that the award has been made.
The first Beyond Bree Awards were given to Charles Elston and Dr Richard E. Blackwelder.
The second Awards went to Richard & Perri West and Gary & Sylvia Hunnewell.
The third honored Rene van Rossenberg and Mike Foster.
The fourth recognized David & Dorothea Salo, Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull, and Anthony Burdge & Jessica Burke.
These are all names that are writ large in the field of Tolkien studies and fandom.
Hooker is known for his unconventional approach to Tolkien Studies. This was, perhaps, expressed most succinctly by the reviewer of his second book (A Tolkienian Mathomium) in the journal Tolkien Studies:
“Hooker's professional activity has mostly involved the Slavic languages, but he has also studied Welsh, and speaks modern Dutch. Because this breadth of expertise is somewhat unusual for Tolkienian linguists, most of whom come from the Old English/Old Norse quadrant, Hooker has a wide variety of things to say that have not been heard before.”
A commentator at The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, discussing the article “Magnus Thomas Bombadilus Oxoniensis” in Hooker’s third book (The Hobbitonian Anthology) says that
“Tolkien most certainly could well have walked the path that Mr. Hooker has outlined in coming–up with the name Tom Bombadil. His formidable philological skills, his love of punning, his play of words within words all fit the template so skillfully and compelling drawn by Mr. Hooker in his paper. Whether he did or not, one cannot say with certainty, but I rank this the best explanation yet of how the name Tom Bombadil came into being.”
In Tolkien and Welsh, Hooker has added an explanation for the equally enigmatic name of Tom Bombadil’s wife, Goldberry. In the “Preface” to Tolkien and Welsh, Hooker says that
“examining Tolkien’s linguistic creations and Legendarium specifically through the lens of Welsh produces a “myopic” vision of his work, but intentionally so,”
because there are not many people working in Tolkien Studies who are able to comment from the Welsh Perspective, while there are more than a few who can comment from the perspective of Germanic studies. As the well-respected Tolkien Scholar Jane Chance said in an interview,
“the northern European influence seems more important than the Celtic, from what I have been able to tell. Perhaps that is because so much of the work done on Tolkien’s medievalism thus far has focused on the northern European influence.”
In other words, in his new book, Hooker continues true to form by taking another step outside the northern European box around Tolkien Studies to show that there is more to it than that.
The Beyond Bree Award is, therefore, quite appropriate to a researcher whose work can be likened to the proverbial Strange as news from Bree. We over here at The Tolkien Library can only congratulate Mark T. Hooker!
About the author Mark T. Hooker
Mark T. Hooker is a specialist in Comparative Translation at Indiana University's Russian and East European Institute (REEI). Retired, he conducts research for publication. His articles on J.R.R. Tolkien have been published in English in Beyond Bree, Parma Nölé, Translating Tolkien and Tolkien Studies, in Dutch in Lembas (the journal of the Dutch Tolkien Society), in Polish in Ancalima, in Brazilian-Portuguese by the Brazilian Tolkien Society (Dúvendor), and in Russian in Palantir (the journal of the St. Petersburg Tolkien Society). He has presented papers at a number of MythCons and at the fourth Lustrum of the Dutch Tolkien Society. He is the author of Tolkien Through Russian Eyes (Walking Tree, 2003), The Hobbitonian Anthology (Llyfrawr, 2009), Implied, But Not Stated: Condensation in Colloquial Russian and The History of Holland (Greenwood, 1999).
One of his essays is included in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings" volume of Dr. Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations series, billed as "the most comprehensive collection of literary reference in the world." Dr. Bloom is currently the Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University.
The review of A Tolkienian Mathomium in Tolkien Studies says, because Hooker’s "breadth of expertise is somewhat unusual for Tolkienian linguists, most of whom come from the Old English/Old Norse quadrant, Hooker has a wide variety of things to say that have not been heard before."
He contributed the article "Reading John Buchan in Search of Tolkien" in the excellent Tolkien and the Study of his Sources, Jason Fisher (ed.).
Read an interview with the author.
About Beyond Bree
Beyond Bree is the newsletter of the Tolkien Special Interest Group of American Mensa and is published once a month. A typical issue is 12 pages long, contains short articles on J.R.R. Tolkien and his works; reviews of books, games, films, events by, about, or inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and his works; reviews of books, games, films, events by, about, or inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and his works, and general fantasy which might be of interest to the Tolkien fan.
Also readers' views; fan publications, news, art, occasional poetry and puzzles. We seldom publish fiction. Since we are too widely scattered to meet in person, Beyond Bree carries news of conventions and gatherings where the Tolkien fan might find others of similar interests. And, if readers have questions about Tolkien or his works, we try to answer them.
You can learn more about us at our website at http://www.cep.unt.edu/bree.html
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