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In my corner of the world, cold winds are lashing up rainstorms and snowfalls for the start of the new year: good days to stay cozy at home, to read, think, and write. To accompany any reading or re-reading of Tolkien in this winter season, I thought that it would be fun to highlight every weekend a podcast or video featuring a different Tolkien scholar: a “Talks on Tolkien” series. Some of the videos and podcasts will be recent; others buried a little further in the files of the web, but all, I hope, thought-provoking and informative.

Because I’m posting the first selection late in this weekend, I’ll keep it short, a twenty-minute video by a foremost Tolkien scholar, Verlyn Flieger, who is one of my favorite critics. In this talk, “Imaginary Creatures — Real Experience,” Professor Flieger, I believe, gets to the core of The Lord of the Rings and argues that it is not the simplistic good vs. evil story many people think it is.

Recently, an opposing opinion has been expressed by the writer Michael Moorcock in an interview on Dr. Karl Siegfried’s Norse Mythology Blog. In Part Two of that interview, Moorcock says that “it’s the simplification, rejection of the world’s complexity, that discomforts me with Tolkien.” Take a look at Moorcock’s argument; listen to Flieger’s in the video. Let me know what you think!

(In case you can’t see the video on your device, try this link: http://youtu.be/q87vHzNFadU)

Coming up in the next few weeks: talks by Tom Shippey, Michael Drout, Dimitra Fimi, John Garth, Janet Brennan Croft,  John D. Rateliff, and more. Check back every Friday or Saturday for the next installment of “Talks on Tolkien.”  And please note: my intention is to curate a series of already-available resources online; I’m not planning on producing any new talks on Tolkien, though I do hope I can suggest some interesting contexts for my selections.

You can find out more about Verlyn Flieger’s work on her website, mythus.com.

Comments / discussions are welcome!