It has been a week of findings!  One is clear-cut and glittering, like a gem fallen from the crown of Academia.  The other grows among the grasses, as homely and down-to-earth as a hobbit monastery.  They are both very rich sites, the former especially if one desires the keen eyes of a professor to spy out Tom Bombadil’s role in the Tale of the Ring, and every possibility for his identity.  The second is especially useful if one is a Catholic, or not a Catholic, wanting to know what Catholic ideas might be playing through the features of Tolkien’s stories.

Why, I ask myself, are there no people in the blogosphere (a word I am sure Tolkien would have grimaced at) attempting to blog in the erudite style of Prof. Eugene C. Hargrove?  The answer must be that it would take too much time.  Reflecting on Tom Bombadil is one thing; doing research on him is another.  And the scholarly world fits one to do nothing if not research.

I’m not opposed to Catholic interpretations of Tolkien.  I do not perpetrate them myself, because I am not Catholic and would not know how to go about it.  But it strikes me as eminently probable that Tolkien, being Catholic, had access to a world of Catholic symbols and images that he might easily allude to or impart to the offspring of his imaginings.  (I believe there is currently some contemporary lingo for this kind of thing:  “intertextuality” they liked to dub it in my English classes.)  It also seems eminently probable to me that these allusions and impartations would be easily recognized by other Catholics, and not so easily recognized by those who weren’t initiated into the same symbolry and imagery.

And so, as I said, I’m inclined to think a Catholic interpretation here and there rather a good thing, at least in regard to a good Catholic like Tolkien.

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