This special episode features the Dwarrow Scholar, an expert on all things Dwarvish. We discuss Tolkien’s Dwarves—their culture, their history, and their language—as well as the similar creatures of Germanic myth upon which the Middle-Earth race is based.
The Dwarrow Scholar also walks us through some of the innovations and expansions he has made on Tolkien’s Dwarvish language, Khuzdûl. Information on Neo-Khuzdûl and many related matters can be found on his website, www.dwarrowscholar.com.
Further Dwarrow Reading
… on Germanic mythology in general:
- Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythologie), Jakob Grimm, trans. Stallybrass—a treatise on Germanic mythology.
- The Poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems, trans. Bellows—Völuspá compresses the whole of the Norse vision of the universe’s history and future into its 60-odd short stanzas. It is narrated by a seeress, or völva, who is requested by Odin to share her memories and prophecies with humankind, “Heimdall’s young.”
It is generally thought to have been a minstrel poem that was passed down through the centuries by word of mouth. The catalog of the Dwarves that begins in the 10th stanza is an important source of names for the Dwarf characters in Tolkien’s works.
The Dwarrow Scholar personally recommends the 1908 edition by Olive Bray, as it has extensive notes and a very detailed and valuable introduction (especially for people new to the Edda, well worth the read).
It is worth noting, though, that the 1986 translation by Lee M. Hollander comes closer to conveying the full extent of the grandeur and nuance (both aesthetic and philosophical) of the Old Norse texts.
- The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion, Daniel McCoy—written to a scholarly audience, but in a simple, clear, and entertaining style.
- Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, H. R. Ellis Davidson—she was one of the twentieth century’s foremost scholars of Norse mythology, yet most of her works were written for a general audience rather than her fellow academics. This is her most accessible work, and is ideal for beginners who want a scholarly take on Norse religion.
… on Tolkien’s Dwarves:
- The Hobbit and Tolkien’s Mythology: Essays on Revisions and Influences, ed. Bradford Lee Eden
- “Dwarfs in Germanic Literature: Deutsche Mythologie or Grimm’s Myths?” Paul Battles, in The Shadow Walkers: Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous, ed. Tom Shippey
- “Explorations into the Psyche of Dwarves,” David Funk, in Proceedings from the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary Conference
- Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien—“The Quest of Erebor” sheds a somewhat new Dwarvish perspective on The Hobbit that should not be missed.