Genealogy of Hobbits and Hiawatha

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Through his research for an article for the journal Tolkien Studies, John Garth believes he has discovered a surprising source text for several episodes from Middle Earth: Longfellow’s trochaic epic, “The Song of Hiawatha.” The dragon Smaug has long been associated with the hoard-dragons of ancient Icelandic sagas; Garth suggests that the particular manner of his death—felled by the hero’s Hail Mary arrow—points back to Hiawatha’s battle with Megissogwon, a spirit of wealth. The article makes a compelling case for the influence of Longfellow, and the Native American myths he drew from, on Tolkien’s stories and characters. If you make it out to see the new Lord of the Rings movie, consider it part of a long study in cross-cultural influence through the reach of popular entertainment.


Dinah Fay is a poet, copywriter, and social media maven living in Brooklyn. She is the co-host of the Brick City Speaks reading series in Newark, where she is pursuing an MFA in writing from Rutgers University. More from this author →