Yesterday at work a bright orange slip of paper caught my eye from between the pages of an innocent looking children’s book. It was on the trolley with all the recent returns, and the label adorning it proclaimed it was ‘banned’. Of course, I had to query this – why would a children’s book be banned, and if so, why would it be so conspicuously displayed (if at all)? To my great delight, one of the permanent staff at that library had begun a special and intriguing display – books of all kinds which have been banned at some time somewhere in the world.
The display had its own information booklet explaining why these books had been banned – some of the reasons are obvious and well-known, however others are rather surprising and just fascinating. It is common knowledge that modern American Fundamentalists hate the Harry Potter books with a passion, and that Nabokov’s Lolita caused uproar on its release – but I bet you didn’t know that the list contains such harmless titles as The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, or Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
I spent some time supplying the small display with other titles from the booklet, and thought I’d share my favourite discoveries with you.
If you’ve spoken to me at all recently you may have noticed the sudden and intense interest I’ve taken in sewing, dressmaking, card-making, painting and all things creative in general. I’ve made so many things in the past month or so that I decided to a) record what I’d done for posterity and b) share with you all what I’ve been up to.
I’ve named this post so as a little joke, as one of the costumes I’ve been working on recently is a seamstress (a la Discworld/Terry Pratchett) Victoriana corset and bustle skirt outfit for this year’s Hogswatch celebrations in November. Discworld aficionados will know all about the double entendre attached to the word ‘seamstress’. However I can assure any sniggering male Pratchett geeks out there (I *know* who you are) that the type of seamstress I am rapidly becoming is the type which wields a needle, thread and five pound sewing machine. Be warned.
Today I thought I’d share another of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings in an audio recording.
The two excerpts I’ve chosen are from the first of the three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, and concern the great council held at the elven fortress of Rivendell on the 25th October in the 3018th year of the Third Age of Middle-earth; more commonly known as the Council of Elrond. Though there were many other topics discussed at this meeting of elves, dwarves and men, by far the most pertinent of these was the fate of the One Ring, which had been brought to Rivendell by the hobbit Frodo Baggins.
In the first of the excerpts, Boromir of Gondor tells the council of the prophetic dream which had led him on the long journey into the north to attend the council of which he knew not the purpose.
The second excerpt comes a little later on, when the ranger Strider reveals himself to be Aragorn, the heir of Isildur. The steward’s son Boromir is dubious of his claim. The ranger’s old friend Bilbo Baggins then steps forward in annoyance to recite a poem which is one of Tolkien’s most beloved and well-known pieces of verse.
The following is a recording of myself reading from one of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings.
The Departure of Boromir is, in my opinion, the saddest part of the whole trilogy. Those who haven’t read the books will perhaps not be entirely familiar with this beautiful and melancholic passage, which can be found in the first chapter of The Two Towers.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come across Boromir, lying among the woods upon Amon Hen. The son of the steward has fallen to the hands of the cruel Uruk-hai in a valiant effort to protect his charges, the hobbits Merry and Pippin; the great horn he carried split in two. In their grief, the three place the fallen Boromir into a boat with his shield and horn and the swords of his enemies at his feet. Then follows Tolkien’s most elegaic poetry; the song of the three winds, which Aragorn and Legolas sing as they send their companion out on his final journey.
Ever wanted to write your name in Elvish?
I always admired Tolkien’s fabricated languages; especially the Elven ones, Quenya and Sindarin, which are based on two of the most beautiful sounding tongues in the world; Finnish, and Welsh. But I’ve been really taken in by the strange beauty of Tengwar, written Elvish, and the rather clever way in which it can be used to write almost any words you can think of.
I must admit I’ve gotten quite obsessed with transliteration this week. I started with a poem I wrote a while back which a friend translated into Elvish for me; then I started transliterating names. It’s an oddly addictive hobby, and one that you can pick up quite quickly as there is a lot of good information out there.
If you fancy trying it yourself, here’s how you do it.
[Scene – The Tower of Orthanc. Saruman is using his palantir to make a much needed clothing purchase, but is having some problems. He paces around impatiently. Cheesy music fills the chamber.]
Music: – Oh! won’t you come back to me, my love, the mushrooms are getting cold. The days are so blue, I’m missing you, and the pipeweed is growing mould. Oh! –
Auto-voice: – I am sorry, all of our palantiri are busy at present. Please hold, your call is important to us. –
[Saruman looks up at this in expectation, but rolls his eyes as the music resumes. Some minutes later, a splutter is heard on the line, and he rushes to the palantir.]
Salesperson: Hello, Lothlorien Robemakers! My name is Ailawen! How may I help you today?
Saruman: Hello, I would like to make an order please.
Morning comes, yet all is dark
Over the plain of the Pellenor Fields
Rohan has emptied its men and its steeds
Noble men riding against evil
And in a dark cave in the Morgul Vale
Eärendil’s star shines into the black
Under the shadow, mist and despair
The flagging hopes of mankind
Under the sun, the battle finished
Let kin asundered be apart no more
For in a dark where all lights go out
Eärendil’s light has come again