Tolkien Fandom Analyzed by the New York Times
Despite the growth in the ranks of J .R .R. Tolkien enthusiasts since the “Lord of the Rings” films put his fantasy world of Middle-earth on screen, Tolkien’s most avid admirers still risk being labeled geeks. But wearing elf ears or not, they are a force to be reckoned with.
“The Lord of the Rings” has sold 200 million copies in 39 languages. The movies based on the novel broke box-office records. And while Tolkien, the Oxford don who created “Rings,” “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion,” died in 1973, this year will be another big one for him.
The first “new” work by Tolkien in 30 years arrives in bookstores on April 17. The book, “The Children of Húrin,” is an incomplete manuscript edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher. And the release of a multiplayer Internet game, “The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar,” is set for April 24.
Naturally, the Tolkien faithful organize Tolkien-themed events. Game players, medievalists, linguists and other scholars all have reasons to become lost in the heroic fantasy of “Rings” and can find gatherings to match their sensibilities.
At the most rarefied level, Tolkienism is a field of academic study, and conference participants leave their fur-tufted Hobbit feet behind. Tolkien’s vast created world of invented languages, legends, maps, poetry and creatures invites explication — and debate.
The Tolkien Conference at the University of Vermont in mid-April will offer a keynote speaker, the presentation of papers, a reading and films. “A geek fest,” said Chris Vaccaro, the conference co-founder and an adjunct lecturer at the university.
The undergraduate Elvish Club will put on a 10-minute performance entirely in Elvish, a language developed by Tolkien.