Friday, July 7, 2017

Giants in the Earth

So, over the holiday weekend I dug out a cassette tape I thought  had Taum Santoski's talk from the 1983 Marquette Tolkien Conference on it. It turned out to be Clyde Kilby's guest-of-honor speech instead -- still something I'm v. glad to have but not what I was looking for.

At the end of Kilby's performance, however, Taum's voice comes on as he makes some announcements regarding the following (and final) day of the conference. In particular he calls out all the speakers giving presentations at the conference, and I found myself more and more impressed as the names roll by:

Jared Lobdell*

Karen Wynn Fonstad

Jim Allan

Lyle Dorsett

Mike Foster

Dr.  Blackwelder

Darrell Martin

Gary Hunnewell

Deborah Webster Rogers

Verlyn Flieger

Clyde Kilby.

Dr. Joseph McClatchy

Lester Simons

and Anders Stenstrom (his famous exopoemic/epipoemic/empoemic piece).

That's a lot of talent in one room at one time and place. And there were other luminaries besides the speakers: it was at this conference that I met Wayne Hammond, whom I immediately introduced to Richard West, feeling that Tolkien bibliographers shd get together when the occasion offered. And of course there was Taum himself, just at that point starting to come into his own as a Tolkien linguist and resident expert in the Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette.

All these years later, some are gone (Kilby, McClatchy, Fonstad, Dr. Blackwelder, Lester, Taum himself). A surprising number are still with us thirty-eight years later, many still deeply involved in Tolkien scholarship. It was a smallish conference, but I think it played an important role in bringing together Tolkien scholars who'd been working largely in isolation and creating a kind of critical mass, the effects of which are still with us today, and in a good way.

--John R.
current reading: "Fragments of the Epic Cycle" (so that's where Lin Carter got it all from).

*whose keynote speech helped introduced the ideas of Tom Shippey to an American audience

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