Laughter in Middle-earth

From Tolkien Gateway
Laughter in Middle-earth
Humour in and around the Works of JRR Tolkien
Publication Information
Foreword byTom Shippey
EditorThomas Honegger and Maureen F. Mann
PublisherWalking Tree Publishers
Released24 November 2016
SeriesCormarë Series
Preceded byRepresentations of Nature in Middle-earth‎
Followed byJ.R.R. Tolkien: Romanticist and Poet

Laughter in Middle-earth: Humour in and around the Works of JRR Tolkien is a collection of essays edited by Thomas Honegger and Maureen F. Mann examining humour in J.R.R. Tolkien's works and in artwork and parodies. It was published as No. 35 in the Cormarë Series.


  • Foreword by Tom Shippey
  • "'Certainly not our sense': Tolkien and Nonsense" by Maureen F. Mann
  • "A Fountain of Mirth: Laughter in Arda" by Alastair Whyte
  • "Mirth's Might: The Tenacity of Humour in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien" by Jennifer Raimundo
  • "Plain Ignorance in the Vulgar Form: Tolkien's Onomastic Humour in Farmer Giles of Ham" by Łukasz Neubauer
  • "'This of course is the way to talk to dragons': Etiquette-Based Humour in The Hobbit" by Laura Lee Smith
  • "Parodies of the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien" by Evelyn Koch
  • "Strategies of Humour in The Stupid Ring Parody" by Sherrylyn Branchaw
  • "Humour in Art Depicting Middle-earth" by Davide Martini
  • "Humour, Comedy, the Comic, Comicality, Puns, Wordplay, 'Fantastication', and 'English Humour' in and around Tolkien and His Work, and among the Inklings" by Jared Lobdell

From the publisher

"It is precisely against the darkness of the world that comedy arises, and it is best when that is not hidden."

With these words Tolkien replied to Rayner Unwin's comments upon first reading Book 1 of Lord of the Rings. Rayner had not commented on the comedy of Book 1 but on the overpowering effect of "the struggle between darkness and light", as he put it, and that omission disappointed Tolkien. If this was the response of Tolkien's famous first reviewer, it is not surprising that academic studies have also tended to overlook or disregard both the presence of humour in Tolkien's work and the effect of his work to inspire humour in readers' and artists' responses.

Laughter in Middle-earth: Humour in and around the Works of JRR Tolkien more than compensates for this critical oversight. From onomastic studies and parody, to historical, literary, and social contexts, a history of illustrations, textual interpretations, heroic forms of defiant laughter, and then to a reminiscence of the Inklings' tastes in humour, these scholarly articles analyse the broad range of comedy which arises against the darkness of the world in Tolkien's narratives. As well, interspersed between these studies are numerous comic illustrations, some of which appear in print for the first time, from well-known Tolkien illustrators.

As Eru is reported saying, in a typically egregious internet appropriation of Tolkien, "There is no joke that hath not its uttermost source in me." This book demonstrates that humour is truly a significant aspect of Middle-earth and its influences. Eru, like Tolkien himself, could, indeed, laugh.

External links

Cormarë Series volumes
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