Tolkienists 1 Medievalists 0

Warning: this picture is only tangentially related to the following post. You know, like how they do it on the Gawker Media.

A friend shot me a link to this Gothamist piece that asks the pressing question, “Is This the Greatest NY Times Correction of All Time?”  Of course it isn’t,* but I’ll take any opportunity to shame my cohort.

In a nutshell, here’s the “This”:

A Mets beat reporter thought that he was writing a story about how quirky and literary R.A. Dickey (the Mets’ knuckleballer) is.  It seems that Dickey likes to give his bats nicknames taken from swords from famous works of literature. Turns out, the story is instead that R.A. Dickey isn’t actually very good with his sword-nickname-provenance (or, possibly, that the reporter who interviewed him is a sloppy transcriber).  Eagle-eyed Tolkienistas in the comments section almost immediately pointed out that Orcrist the Goblin Slayer, while a pretty cool nickname,** was not the sword that Bilbo Baggins carried into the Misty Mountains but rather a sword belonging to Thorin Oakenshield.  Seriously nerdsmacked, the Grey Lady was forced to issue a correction.

The real story here, as far as I’m concerned, is how slow on the take we medievalists were.  Dickey (or his copyist) also claimed that another bat was named Hrunting after the sword that Beowulf used to kill Grendel’s mother.  Self-satisfied Anglo-Saxonists are no doubt exclaiming as they read this, “But Hrunting failed Beowulf! The decidedly un-Jolie-esque helldam was felled instead by a special monster-killing sword that Grendel’s monstrous mother kept on her wall for reasons it’s best we not go into!”*** But wipe that smug smile off your faces, Anglo-Saxonists, and get your finger out of the air, people only do that in movies**** .  “Tara” from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY came to your rescue and pointed that out, but a full TWENTY-FOUR HOURS after the Tolkienists got their correction in.  I know timeliness is not a virtue to which medievalists often pretend*****, but come on, you can do better than that.  Here, gaze upon the damning evidence of your pathetically lethargic response time:


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  1. * That honor belonging to this from the week before. []
  2. ** But for a knuckleball.  Why is a knuckleballer nicknaming his bats?  Did he have a nickname surplus he had to dispose of? []
  3. *** Non Anglo-Saxonists, I assure that this is absolutely how Anglo-Saxonists talk. []
  4. **** and at Kalamazoo []
  5. ***** I, with my irregular posting schedule, certainly don’t. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://fencingbearatprayer.blogspot.com Fencing Bear

    Ahem: Tolkien. Pronounced Tol-keen.

    • http://www.gotmedieval.com/ Got Medieval

      You can hear me mispronouncing things over the internets? Really?

      • http://ceirseach.blogspot.com Hannah Kilpatrick

        There is also a scary number of academic articles/monographs that spell it “Tolkein”, as I realised when chasing up half a century of responses to “The Monsters and the Critics”. It made me very sad. What kind of a mediaevalist was not raised on LotR? or better, the Hobbit?

        Hm. Tara seems to have conflated Grendel’s mother with Grendel, re bare-hand-slaughtering. And in fact he never resorts to his bare hands, he prefers them, for the ultimate ub4r manliness of doom. Maybe we should leap into the comment thread and demonstrate that, while we may be late (after all, we regularly critique texts 1000+ years after the event), we can be hyper-pedantic with the best of them!

      • http://fencingbearatprayer.blogspot.com Fencing Bear

        Oh, yes, I’m that kind of Tolkienist!

        • Krazzletoff

          Well now there YOU go mispronouncing it. pish posh

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