Words by the illustrator James Dunning
The year 2000 was a fine vintage year. Cymdeithas Madog, the Society that teaches Welsh language to North Americans, convened that summer in Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin), Wales. There I met many intriguing folks, but prominent among them was one Mark T. Hooker. Mark and I share linguistic interests and background similar in a great many respects. Here in Wales appeared yet another modus operandi. Since 1967 I had known that Tolkien had honored Welsh, "the language of the senior men of Britain" as model and inspiration for his Elven tongue Sindarin. It was Tolkien's Welsh link that brought Hooker to Wales to investigate. I understood completely.
Mark T. Hooker published the culmination of years of his own linguistic investigations into the Welsh roots in Tolkien's work: Tolkien and Welsh: Tolkien a Chymraeg. Some Welsh roots are apparent, others are hidden substrata, and Hooker has conducted a systematic study for years to ferret them out.
Since 2000 Hooker and I have corresponded and collaborated on various enterprises. I have been fortunate and privileged to provide illustrations for two of his volumes of Tolkien commentary: A Tolkienian Mathomium and The Hobbitonian Anthology. Hooker's latest Tolkien and Welsh also features two of my illustrations (1), as well, customized for Hooker's theme:
Dafydd ap Gwilym lived during the catastrophic 14th century, and perhaps died of the Black Plague. But with his cywydd and its distinctive meter, Dafydd reconfigured Welsh poetry. And Welsh scholars honor him today, for Dafydd's literary contributions laid down important background for the modern Welsh language.
Tolkien himself has revealed that his fascination with Welsh inspired the Elven tongue Sindarin. This drawing would portray the connection between Elvish and Welsh. And would a scholar with a medievalist bent like Tolkien know Dafydd? You bet!
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 the Artist James Dunning
James Dunning has authored Tolkien articles published in Beyond Bree, Lembas (NL), and Tolkien in Translation (Walking Tree Press Cormarë Series) and elsewhere. Most recently he published his own original paranormal romance novel The Bright Lady and the Astral Wind and designed and illustrated its cover.
He provided illustrations for A Tolkienian Mathomium and The Hobbitonian Anthology. The artist has read and digested Tolkien's various works for over forty years. He was featured and interviewed in Tolkien Library and received Heren Istarion's 2006-2007 Imperishable Flame Award for Tolkien Inspired Creativity. He contributed artwork to the Beyond Bree 2011 Tolkien Calendar. James Dunning operates a website www.dolmentree.com for Dolmen Tree Art and Dolmen Tree Press.
A note worthy review
Jason Fisher--the editor of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources (McFarland, 2011), and the host of the blog Lingwë: Musings of a Fish -- says:
'Tolkien and Welsh' "should be pretty accessible to most readers." Mark gets "into some of the particulars of Welsh (and Sindarin) phonology--especially on the matter of mutation, a prominent feature of both languages--but Mark writes primarily for the lay person." Where Carl Phelpstead's book 'Tolkien and Wales' "presents a broad survey of the forest as a whole, Mark's book is down at the level of the trees within it, even single leaves, grappling with individual words and names. If you are familiar with his previous books, it is much like those, but with the driving thread being the influence of Welsh on tolkien's nomenclature and storytelling. I think Mark's book and Carl's complement each other and could be profitably read together."
(1) Drawings are executed in black drawing ink on parchment and Bristol board. Mark T. Hooker and Tolkien Library use these drawings by express permission of the artist. © Copyright James Dunning, 2012.
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