International Academic Conference ‘Creative Legacy of J. R. R. Tolkien in the Historical and Literary Context’

Mints M. M. Mezhdunarodyaia nauchnaia konferentsiia ‘Tvorchestvo Dzh. R. R. Tolkina v istoriko-literaturnom kontekste’. Sotsial’nye i gumanitarnye nauki. Otechestvennaia i zarubezhnaia literatura. Seriia 7: Literaturovedenie, no. 3 (2022): 106–119.

The article (in Russian) is about the academic conference ‘Creative Legacy of J. R. R. Tolkien in the Historical and Literary Context’ that took place at the Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 13–16 January 2022 and was timed to the 130th anniversary of Tolkien. It was the first conference of such a scale in Russia focused entirely on his works. More than forty reports were presented altogether, analysing numerous aspects of Tolkien’s legacy, including the probable sources of various images and storylines, place and role of his fiction in today’s culture etc.

Full text of the article

Vector Map of Númenor

NumenorWhile working at the maps for my friend’s book, I’ve also made a ‘canonical’ vector map of Númenor. Here it is, on the chance that it’s useful for someone else as well.

Download the file

The map is in SVG format, multilayered, geographical names in Russian and in English are in different layers. I used Inkscape 0.92 to draw the map, Century Schoolbook L font is used for the names. The map is based on the original map by Tolkien from Unfinished Tales rotated so that the North is strictly at the top, and on the map by Karen Wynn Fonstad. The aesthetics of the map is similar to the map of the Westlands by Chris Taylor.

Particularities of Study of Arda as an Invented World: Theory and Methodology

Mints M. (Amdir), ‘Osobennosti izucheniia Ardy kak vymyshlennogo mira: voprosy teorii i metodologii’, Palantir, no. 80 (2020): 25–42.

The article (in Russian) deals with main questions of theory and methodology of Tolkien studies, including the object of research, the nature of (sub)creative legacy of J. R. R. Tolkien, world of Arda as a separate imaginative work, texts and pictures by Tolkien as primary sources, ‘external’ and ‘internal’ history of Arda, Tolkien studies as a field of interdisciplinary research etc. The text is revised and extended according to the results of its discussion at VesCon-2019 (Moscow annual Tolkien festival) and to the suggestions of the editorial board of Palantir. I’m grateful to everyone who took part in the discussion for their additional useful ideas, as well as to Arthoron who finally made me finish this (nine-years old!) work 😉

Text of the article

Archive of the journal (at the website of the Tolkien Society of Saint-Petersburg)

This work is important for me for personal reasons as well. While being a post-graduate, and for the first years after the end of my term, I had a terrible stage fright, and it was at Major Tolkien Seminar in Saint-Petersburg in 2010 where I made my first report on theory and methodology that I was surprised to feel the fright had disappeared 🙂

Geography of the South and East of Middle-Earth

Godkin D. (Arthoron), Mints M. (Amdir), ‘Geografiia Iuga i Vostoka Sredizem’ia’, Palantir, no. 74 (2017): 21–33.

The article (in Russian) is a revised version of a report Arthoron and I made at the Minor Tolkien Seminar in Saint-Petersburg in 2016.  We tried, using the small pieces of information from numerous sources, to reconstruct the map of the world of Middle-earth as a whole, to represent the Westlands on it in proper place and scale, as well as (as far as possible) other geographical objects ‘outside the map’ of the Westlands ever mentioned in original texts and maps by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Text of the article (PDF, 2.5 Mb)

Archive of the journal (at the website of the Tolkien Society of Saint-Petersburg)

An Improved Vector Map of Middle-Earth

Finally uploaded into Wikipedia an improved version of a vector map of Middle-earth, here you can take it as well:

Download file (SVG, without geographic names, 2.2 Mb).

The initial map is not mine; as I can understand, its author is Chris Taylor who, for his part, had vectorized manually (!) the original map by Christopher Tolkien. Hope he won’t be angry 😉 My revision is minimal: I just removed a ‘bare area’ in Mirkwood (which is absent in the original map), added cays in the Sea of Rhûn and the lower reaches of the river Harnen. Will be glad if this map is useful for anybody 🙂

And Once More about the Geography of Middle-Earth

About a month ago I received a surprising invitation to give a lecture on Limmud Moscow 2018 conference about… the geography and cartography of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth 😉  So this Saturday, from 11:30 to 12:30 PM, I’ll be talking about Tolkien’s own maps, and about how well the inhabitants of Middle-earth knew the geography of their own world, and how researchers and artists tried to imagine the Middle-earth as a whole (not only the Western Lands, a well-known map of which can be found almost in every publication of The Lord of the Rings), and finally, how the geography of the East and the South of Middle-earth could ‘really’ look like, according to available texts.  Hope it’ll be interesting 🙂

A Map of Middle-earth

Dmitrii Godkin aka Arthoron and I have finally finished our map of Middle-earth.  Its current version looks like this (the picture is clickable):

map of Middle-earth in the Third Age

You can also download a PDF version here.  We used Inkscape to draw the map, I can send the source file in SVG format personally, if anybody is interested.  I don’t want to post it here in open access because it contains scans of several other maps by other authors.

A detailed rationale for the map is still available only in Russian, unfortunately, it can be seen in the Russian version of this post.  We presented the map at the Tolkien Seminar organized by the St. Petersburg Tolkien Society on 23 April, then the discussion went on in Arthoron’s blog.  The final version of the map which you can see above is drawn according to the results of those discussions.

Our main goal was to map all the geographical objects outside the West of Middle-earth, i.e. outside the territory shown on the well-known map of Middle-earth published in The Lord of the Rings and in Unfinished Tales.  We also tried to correct some calculations of Karen W. Fonstad because on her maps of Middle-earth as a whole the world looks very small, almost as small as Mars (see her The Atlas of Middle-earth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), pp. VIII, XI, 4–5), although we know that J. R. R. Tolkien regarded his own fiction as a kind of mythological past of the Earth.

For our own calculations we used first of all map V  from the Ambarkanta which we superimposed on a map of the world in polyconical projection.  We also used map IV from the Ambarkanta and the map of Middle-earth by Pauline Baynes for additional information.  What was a result is mostly a product of our own imagination, but we did our best to prevent any contradictions between our fantasy and known Tolkien’s works.  That is why the eastern and southern parts of the map look rather schematic.  Several most important moments should be noted:

  1. We had to ‘sink’ the north-western part of Africa/Harad as if it went into the sea at the end of the First Age; otherwise the contours of Harad would contradict to the known maps of the West, especially to the map of Pauline Baynes.
  2. The Sea of Helkar is rather small on our map and is separated from the Sea of Rhûn that corresponds to the later texts, but contradicts to map V from the Ambarkanta.  We decided that map can be seen as a map of Middle-earth in ‘prehistoric’ times.  So on our map we marked the borders of the Sea of ‘Paleo-Helkar’ which correspond to the coastline of the Sea of Helkar on Tolkien’s map V.  Its contours are also quite similar to those of the Paratethys sea about 7–9 million years ago.
  3. We divided the Southland into two parts in order to make our map a bit different both from the real map of the world and from the map in Ambarkanta, as the geography of Middle-earth in the Third Age should have differed both from the First Age and from the today’s geography of the Earth.  In the real geological history of the Earth, Tolkien’s Southland corresponds to the continent that existed approximately 90–40 million years ago and then divided into Australia and Antarctica.  In Tolkien’s world, the Southland could divide in the days of the downfall of Númenor.
  4. Although we have drawn a coordinate grid on our map, our superimposition of the map of Middle-earth on a map of the world is an approximate one, especially as there are no exact maps for the eastern and southern parts of Tolkien’s world.  So our map cannot be used to calculate exact geographic coordinates for any places in Middle-earth.  It was probably Brandon Rhodes who made the most correct superimposition of the map of the West on a map of Europe (see, but even his method raises doubts.

Theory and Methodology of Tolkien Studies (in Russian)

The report was made at the 6th Tolkien Seminar in Saint Petersburg on 30 January 2010. I am analysing the existing approaches to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien and trying to form a new synthetic approach that could resolve various issues of Tolkien studies using methods of different academic disciplines on the basis of a common methodology. The text of the report (PDF, in Russian).