The first was a conference which took place in Parma on 1st December and was organised by the Linguistic Department of the University of that town in collaboration with Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani (AIST, Italian Association of Tolkien Studies). The conference (‘Tolkien, linguist and glossopoeist’) focused specifically on the
lifelong, deep and fascinating bond between the Professor and ‘the language’, or, to put it better, ‘the languages’, either ancient or modern, fictional or real. Foreign and Italian scholars like Prof. Fulvio Ferrari, Prof. Leo Carruthers and Prof. Federico Gobbo thoroughly examined the linguistic influence that Beowulf, Kalevala and other poems had on Tolkien’s works, and the troubled relationship he had with Esperanto. The last two speakers were Elisa Sicuri, who talked about the Sanskrit as a possible source of inspiration for Tolkien, and Roberto Arduini (AIST president), who gave a speech about the Elvish languages and the reasons and tools to study and learn them these days.
The second event was held on 14th-15th December, when the University of Trento, in partnership with AIST, hosted an international convention with the participation of several European and Italian scholars and professors. The convention, named ‘Tolkien and the Literature of the Fourth Age’, revolved around the connection between the Professor’s works and other modern authors. Thomas Honegger underlined points of contact and divergence between Tolkien and Lovecraft, Tom Shippey spoke
about William Morris and his influence, and Allan Turner focused on Kenneth Morris and Mary Renault. Other speakers outlined unusual parallelisms with Ezra Pound (Prof. Roberta Capelli), James Joyce (Roberto Arduini), W.B. Yeats (Saverio Simonelli), and the Surrealists, specifically Breton (Claudio A. Testi), while a more general perspective was adopted by others, concerning Tolkien’s connection with science-fiction (Prof. Alessandro Fambrini) and with previous fantastic authors such as George MacDonald, Eddison or Robert E. Howard (Fulvio Ferrari). The issue of Tolkien translation was also treated (Prof. Andrea Binelli), as were the subjects of Tolkien’s comments to his own works (Lorenzo Gammarelli), and the contacts between Tolkien and the experimentation that characterised his times, with a special focus on Leaf: by Niggle (Prof. Francesca Di Blasio).
As expected, both conferences attracted a large, attentive and participating audience, who overtly manifested their looking forward the organisation of other Tolkien-related events in the future.