Friday, September 3, 2021

Oxonmoot, day 2

As usual with these online events, I didn't get to as much of it as I'd like.

There was a very interesting panel on translating Tolkien. Marcel Bülles (from Germany) spoke of the economic imperatives which often keep publishers from undertaking translations. As the topic of discussion was technical posthumous Tolkien books like the History of Middle-earth series, I wondered if there was much of an audience deeply interested in Tolkien - for you have to be very deeply interested in Tolkien to want to tackle these - that didn't have enough English to read them in the original? I posed this in the chat, and was informed: maybe not in countries like Germany or Slovenia, where knowledge of English is widespread, but otherwise in Hungary, where it isn't.
José Manuel Ferrández Bru (from Spain) spoke of the invisibility of non-English language Tolkien scholarship to the English-speaking readership, instancing the increased attention his biography of Tolkien's guardian (who was Spanish by birth) received after it was reissued in English translation. I'm uncomfortably aware of this gap, and I'd like to do something about it ... sometime ...
The panel also had a goodly amount of the usual fare at Tolkien translation panels, which is comparative discussions of how to render various names and words in different languages, including Latin from an American student who is (slowly) working away at The Lord of the Rings in Latin; there's already a published Hobbit in that language, and she compared her work to that.

John Rosegrant gave one of his psychologically insightful papers, this one on the Scouring of the Shire and its expression of the contrast between Tolkien's sense of enchantment and his frustration at seeing its elements turned rancid by totalitarianism. A lot of great incidental insights. Of course Wormtongue in his decay is like Gollum in his; clear enough when pointed out. Also, we learned that John has a book coming; to judge by his sequence of conference papers, it should be a good one.

I also got into the online pub quiz, one of about 75 participants. The first sequence of questions was about hobbits, and on maybe the second question I actually had briefly the second highest cumulative score, having gotten right a question that tricked most everyone who'd gotten right the previous question. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember a later trick question. Which of these 4 is not the name of a horse or pony, and among the choices were Brego and Strider. Most people picked Strider, but I had the vague feeling that was an equine name somewhere, and indeed it was: Frodo gave that name to the pony he rode home from Minas Tirith and later to the Grey Havens. Whereas Brego was an early King of Rohan and certainly not the name of a horse. So I picked Brego and was right. But all the film junkies in the audience remembered that Jackson had given that name to a horse in the movie and weren't sure it wasn't from Tolkien in that capacity. Well, it wasn't. (We'd been reminded at the start that this was a Tolkien quiz, not a Jackson quiz.)
I felt pretty good about my avoidance of immersion into movie trivia, but I got wrong a whole series of detailed questions about orcs - I'm not interested in orcs much more than I am in Peter Jackson; considering his attention to orcs they're too close to being the same thing - and finished up the quiz at no. 29.

In the evening, another Banff string quartet concert, this one from the Dalí Quartet, an emsemble I'd once reviewed, finding their renditions of wild and crazy South American dance music far more enjoyable than the competent but uninspired Mozart they'd inserted to show their serious classical chops. This time their dance music was all by Piazzolla, and they also did well with more somber music by two Hispanic composers: Ginastera's modernistic First Quartet, and a slow movement by Juan Arriaga, a Beethoven-era Spanish Basque, who'd have been destined for great things had he not died at 19.

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