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From: Dan Rabin <wolfe-lists@danrabin.com>
Subject: (urth) Tolkien's Wargs
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 21:53:21 

I happened to be flipping through my copy of _The Annotated Hobbit_, 
just now, and ran across the following citation from a letter by 
J.R.R. Tolkien that addresses the etymology of "warg", the name that 
Tolkien gives to the ferocious wild wolves who menace the 

     It is an old word for wolf, which also
     had a sense of an outlaw or hunted
     criminal.  This is its usual sense in
     surviving texts.  I adopted the word, which
     had a good sound for the meaning, as a name
     for this particular brand of demonic wolf
     in the story.

Editor Douglas A. Anderson continues by noting that "Tolkien derived 
the word from Old English _wearg-_, Old High German _warg-_, Old 
Norse _varg-r_ (also = "wolf", especially of a legendary kind)."

The letter in question was written in 1966 to one Gene Wolfe.

Editor Daniel E. Rabin comments that this shows Wolfe's early concern 
with words, especially those bearing on his surname (contributors to 
this mailing list have noted several cases of his literary plays on 
"Wolfe").  The letter also pleases said editor in that it shows a 
meaningful connection between his two favorite authors.

Perhaps this is not as remarkable in the grand sweep of things as the 
fact that Gandhi corresponded with Tolstoy, but it's Definitely Up 

The note is on page 111, for those of you following along at home.

   -- Dan Rabin

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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