Next to that I recall the lecture "Discussing language with J.R.R. Tolkien" by Arne Zettersten, which left a deep impression on me. It was the first time I heard someone talk about his collaboration with professor Tolkien and the first time I heard first hand experiences on how "clever" Tolkien was with languages. It was the same weekend I first talked with Cor Blok, the artist who received the honour to fill this years Tolkien calendar. He was the second person I spoke who actually talked with Tolkien in person. All this happened at the 5th Unquendor (Dutch Tolkien Society) Lustrum celebration in Baarlo on the 9th till the 11the of June in 2006. This was a weekend that very much changed my life, but more about that in upcoming articles!
Arne Zettersten was, before from 1975 till his retirement, the Head of Department and Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. During his lecture he discussed his collaboration with J.R.R. Tolkien on the AB language and their shared love for languages. From 1960 till the end of tolkien's life, Zettersten was a close friend of Tolkien and they were colleagues as well. In 1965, Zettersten presented his doctoral thesis on the AB language, a medieval literary dialect first identified by J.R.R. Tolkien. From 1992 to 1995 he was the President of the International Association of University Professors of English and from 1980 to 1992 the President of the Nordic Association for English Studies. He is Acting President of the International Council of the English-Speaking Union. Quit impressive right? You can imagine how interesting it is to listen to him talking and on the other hand how relaxed it can be to just enjoy the sun, the garden and smoking a pipe sitting next to him. You can imagine how happy I am now to announce the following news:
Table of contents
As you can see this looks like a nice biography of tolkien's life. But this book is unique in that Zettersten acquired first hand knowledge of how Tolkien related to languages, university studies and both scholarly and fictional writing. The book is a new comprehensive reading and analysis of Tolkien’s strongly visualising fantasy fiction, here examined in relation to his scholarly research in its totality and his unusual life experience.
Into this new reading Zettersten weaves his memories of the linguistic equilibrist who spoke, wrote and reconstructed living, dead and invented languages. Zettersten approaches Tolkien’s creative process through a review of his life within his near-simultaneous, different worlds. These were characterised by changes between his primary, real world, and his secondary, fictional world, between research and fantasy, between evil and humanity, in fiction as in real life.
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