Spotlighting Tolkien Resources – The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth
The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth  by John Garth

Reflections by Dan Cruver and John Pletcher

For many years, fans and scholars alike have enjoyed conjecturing about those places—the regions, locales, and situations—that might have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterful creation of Middle-earth. John Garth’s recent book aims to make a significant contribution to such pondering, but with serious grounding that moves Tolkien readers beyond mere conjecture.

Garth’s new book includes “a wealth of breathtaking illustrations, including Tolkien’s own drawings, contributions from other artists, rare archival images, and spectacular color photos of contemporary locations across Britain and beyond, from the battlefields of World War 1 to Africa . . . He reveals the rich interplay between Tolkien’s personal travels, his wide reading, and his deep scholarship . . . Garth draws on his own profound knowledge of Tolkien’s life and work to shed light on the extraordinary process of invention behind Tolkien’s works of fantasy.” (from the back cover)

In this reflective article, Dan Cruver and John Pletcher spotlight two of the book’s focus areas, sharing favorite highlights and discoveries.

Spotlight on Tolkien’s “Roots of the Mountains” (by Dan)

Gollum: ‘What has roots as nobody sees?’ Bilbo: ‘Mountains, I suppose.’ That’s how Garth begins the fifth section of his book (p. 83), namely, with one of Gollum’s riddles from The Hobbit. Bilbo and Gollum were deep inside the roots of a literal mountain when they engaged in their riddle battle, but with a clever metaphorical flick of his pen, Garth turns Gollum’s riddle into an invitation to explore the origins of the mountains of Middle-earth in the subterranean regions of Tolkien’s mind. The title of this fifth section of Garth’s book is “Roots of the Mountains” (pp. 83-99).

As soon as I read Garth’s opening sentence of the section on The Alps, my immediate thought was, “Of course!” He wrote, “A single visit to Switzerland laid the foundations for almost every mountain scene Tolkien wrote” (p. 83). On the opposite page (82) is a breathtaking photo of the valley of Lauterbrunnen with this caption, “[T]he first glory of Tolkien’s 1911 Swiss walking holiday and the clear inspiration for Rivendell.” In the photo, off in the distance, are two towering (pun intended) wispy waterfalls, the water of which plunges several hundred feet to the valley below. To look at that photo is to see “the roots” of Rivendell’s waterfalls.

Want to read the rest?

Members receive access to everything.

Eucatastrophe members have unrestricted access to the whole site!

Eucatastrophe members have unrestricted access to the whole site!