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Episode 16: Extremely Specific Middle-earth Q&A with The Tolkien Professor—Corey Olsen

By Thomas V. Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Sep 04, 2018

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In part two of my interview with Corey “The Tolkien Professor” Olsen, we discuss several extremely specific questions about Middle-earth, including: What is “magic” in The Lord of the Rings? Who and what is Tom Bombadil exactly? Do the good consequences of Eowyn’s disobedience to Theoden justify her actions? Are orcs—possessing free will but seemingly evil by nature—metaphysically coherent?

Links

Signum University https://signumuniversity.org/

Mythgard Institute (Signum’s free programs for the public) https://mythgard.org/

The Tolkien Professor Podcast https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tolkien-professor/id320513707?mt=2

Corey Olsen’s website https://tolkienprofessor.com/

Timestamps

Corey Olsen

2:06 The ambiguity of “magic” as used by different beings and races in The Lord of the Rings

12:13 Is Tom Bombadil God or a Christ-figure? What does it mean that “he is,” and that he is “the Master”? Is Tom a Maia? West vs. east and resurrection in the barrow-wight episode

35:04 Does Eowyn’s fulfillment of prophecy in slaying the Witch-King justify her abandonment of her duties to stay behind and rule/protect her people in the King’s absence? Simplistic feminist misinterpretations of Eowyn; Rohan’s vs. Gondor’s cultural values

44:26 Eowyn’s despair vs. Sam’s; different kinds of hope; Sam’s attitude towards his duty and the sense in which he lacks hope

59:38 More on Eowyn, Rohan’s debased cultural values

1:07:02 How Tolkien developed in his concept of flat vs. round Middle-earth

1:09:17 Are orcs evil by nature? How can that be if they have free will?

1:15:22 What is the basis of the differences/superiorities/inferiorities among the races of Middle-earth, and how is it different from real-world racist theories?

1:26:16 This week’s reading: J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories” https://amzn.to/2Cgo9Pm

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All podcast music by Thomas V. Mirus unless otherwise stated.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist, composer, and occasional amateur comedian living in New York City. He produces and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

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