News: I Quaderni di Arda is born: a Journal of Tolkien Studies

I Quaderni di Arda (Arda Notebooks) is a journal dedicated to the study of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and their many connections with the literary, artistic and philosophical fields, promoted by Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani (Italian Association of Tolkien Studies). The journal will be published on a yearly basis and aims to become a reference point for Italian scholars, but not only that.

Our route is the one that since the mid-Zero years has led to a radical change in the approach to an author like Tolkien in our country. After translating and publishing the milestones of international Tolkien studies – a dozen titles in the Tolkien e dintorni (“Tolkien and his surroundings”) series of Marietti 1820 publishing house; after inviting some of the leading international Tolkien scholars to participate in five international conferences and various events in Italy – Shippey, Flieger, Honegger, Garbowsky, Turner, Atherton, Curry, Kloczko; after developing a collaboration with Bompiani publishing house, which resulted in the Italian new editions of Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major, as well as in the re-translation of Letters 1914-1973, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son, and the forthcoming The Lord of the Rings; after the main essay collections of AIST scholars have been translated and published in English (four books in Walking Tree Publishers Cormarë Series); after founding a specialized publishing house a year ago (Eterea Edizioni), with three books already in its catalogue, the natural outcome was to realize a journal.

The first issue will be online in December 2019, and it will include the proceedings of the international academic conference “Tolkien and the Literature of the Fourth Age”, which took place at the University of Trento a year and a half ago, with the addition of further articles on the same topic written by other collaborators. The paper version will also follow.

I Quaderni di Arda pursues an “Italian way” to Tolkien, projecting the scope of research beyond the boundaries of the Tolkienian field strictu sensu towards interdisciplinarity. The thematic studies coming from Italy that, in recent years, have aroused interest in the international community and have been published abroad – Tolkien and philosophy, death and immortality, the synthesis between Pagan and Christian roots in the Legendarium, and even the comparison between Tolkien and the classics of literature – are characterized by an original and unrestrained approach. With the inevitable exceptions, this “Italian way” is not based so much on the millimetric mapping of the subject and the pursuit of a deeper and deeper specialization, as rather on a double movement. On the one hand a centripetal movement, which suggests new points of access to Tolkien’s work, even from unexpected angles; on the other hand a centrifugal movement, which moves from Tolkien’s Legendarium to new territories trying to trace the legacy of an author who is, in all respects, a classic of the Twentieth century but is also still widely influential on literary and artistic production.

Consequently, it is not a coincidence that the journal’s board and the range of collaborators involved in this project include both great foreign Tolkien scholars and Italian academics who, for various reasons, have participated in Tolkien-related conferences in our country without necessarily being Tolkien experts. The aim of this hybridization is precisely to encourage the Italian academics to study Tolkien and the many branches and outcomes his works still produce, with renewed curiosity and without any élitism.

Therefore, the journal is not addressed exclusively to the community of “Tolkienologists”, but rather to a much wider audience of scholars, and it is absolutely open to external contributions. From the ancient and medieval sources that inspired Tolkien’s sub-creation to the influence it has had, and continues to have, on contemporary literature and common imaginary, the research field is virtually boundless and can be explored without restraint, provided the necessary methodological rigour. This is why the Italian collaborators of the journal, in addition to Germanic and Romance philology, English literature, linguistics and translation, cover seemingly disparate subjects and fields of interest and include, for example, a distinguished Latinist, a scholar of science-fiction literature, an anthropologist of the ancient world and even a geographer. Indeed, this is the challenge: to reflect on the creation of fantastic worlds, the contribution of fantastic imagination to literature, the relationship between primary and secondary world, using Tolkien’s sub-creation as a prism through which to look at all that.

The presence of important international scholars in the scientific committee of the journal should be the mean for collaboration and interchange with the major areas of study: Great Britain, United States and Germany (and we hope to be able to add France soon). It is to be hoped that, little by little and with the necessary perseverance, the community of Italian scholars will be able to catch up with the most active ones, overcoming a certain inevitable inferiority complex which, perhaps, has so far prevented us from really thinking big. In the medium term, the aim is also to grow a local generation of young scholars of Tolkien’s works, who can continue the journey.

While the editorial staff is working on the first issue of the journal coming out in December, the topic of the 2020 issue is already being discussed.

In short, the journey has begun and…

The Road goes ever on and on…

(July 2019)

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Disclaimer è una testata giornalistica registrata presso il Tribunale di Roma – Sezione per la stampa e l’informazione, autorizzazione n° 04/2021 del 4 agosto 2021. Direttore responsabile: Roberto Arduini.

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