6. “Strider! What’s Up, Man?”

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Jared’s choice of topic: friendship! Friendship in Middle-earth is a key part of many different characters’ lives, and how it both plays out in stories and simply exists in its own right is well worth considering, from the primary friendship of Frodo and Sam to many other examples throughout the legendarium. How does Tolkien’s own socialization in Edwardian England shape both the friendships of his own life and his portrayals of it in his writing? Is his near-exclusive focus on male-to-male friendships potentially alienating? What are some counterexamples of the strong friendships he portrays—friendships that end in disaster, or false friendships that never were? Perhaps above all else, what makes Tolkien so open to portraying deep visible emotions in his male friendships, and how does that contrast with how male friendships are often shown in modern American creative arts?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle for the episode showcases what he considers to be the apex of Frodo and Sam’s friendship, one of the most famed moments in all of Tolkien’s creative work.

Go see Jared at GeekGirlCon in Seattle in mid-November! You’ll be glad you did.

Indeed, we thank everyone again for all their lovely comments so far, and we do want to especially note Karin Kross’s reaction to Oriana’s talking about Celeborn as a purse.

You don’t know John Mulaney’s work?  You’re missing out.

Variety broke the news of Will Poulter’s casting in the Amazon production. And beyond that...not much is known.

There’s a lot of academic work out there on male relationships in Edwardian England, though much of it is paywalled.  Sarah Cole’s Modernism, Male Friendship, and the First World War is mostly on Google Books, at least! 

When it comes to Tolkien’s own deep male friendships in real life and comparative examples in his work, “Tolkien, Friendship and the Four Loves” at the Council of Elrond site provides a reasonable overview that acknowledges the complex social differences and perception between then and now. Meantime, Anna Smol’s “Male Friendship in The Lord of the Rings: Medievalism, the First World War, and Contemporary Rewritings,” while paywalled, has an extensive abstract.

Homosociality!  It’s an important term.

To say that there’s a lot out there on the Holmes/Watson relationship is to understate.

Beregond and Bergil make for a really enjoyable father/son portrayal in The Lord of the Rings—one could easily imagine their own story in the larger epic on its own.

Kaila Hale-Stern’s “Let’s Talk About That Queer Subtext in Tolkien” for the Mary Sue delves into the portrayal of Tolkien and Smith’s relationship in the 2019 biopic, contrasting it against what we know of the actual friendship.

A Spring Harvest by Geoffrey Bache Smith, one of Tolkien’s close friends who died in the war, is available for free reading on Gutenberg.org, including Tolkien’s preface.

Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen may be the paradigmatic English language poem about World War I by a poet who perished in the conflict, but of course it is far from the only one.

You can get the story of Turin and Beleg in The Silmarillion, but the standalone version The Children of Húrin with Alan Lee’s illustrations is even more detailed and deeper.

Gretchen Felker-Martin’s essay in question is “I Would Have Followed You: Masculine Love and Devotion in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.”

Subscribe to By-The-Bywater via Apple Podcasts | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS.