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Just Enough Light: Guy Gavriel Kay Delivers JRR Tolkien Lecture

20th May 2021

On 11th May the eighth annual JRR Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature was delivered by award-winning Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay, entitled 'Just Enough Light: Some Thoughts on Fantasy and Literature'.

The talk began with some of Kay's reflections from his time in Oxfordshire (where he helped to edit Tolkien's Silmarillion prior to its publication) and went on to discuss the vital importance of the unsaid and the unexplained in fiction. Drawing on quotations from both Tolkien and Bagehot, he grappled with the question of "how comfortable in our responses to art are we with mystery, with not knowing [and with] the presence of the numinous that we do not fully grasp?"

For the second year running, the event took place in a virtual format, allowing 300 attendees from around the globe to watch along live and submit questions for the post-lecture discussion chaired by Alexander Rutherford (MEng, 2016) and Lindsey Cohick (MPhil International Relations, 2016).

A recording of the full lecture has been made available on YouTube, where it attracted a further thousand views within twenty-four hours of being uploaded. For all the advantages of an online event, Pembroke looks forward to hosting next year's event — when we will hopefully be welcoming R.F. Kuang, awarded Best New Writer at last year's Hugo Awards ceremony — in person.

The Tolkien Lecture committee would like to thank Guy Gavriel Kay for giving such a fascinating talk, along with the Kadas Foundation and donors to the Pembroke Annual Fund for making the lecture series possible.

A screenshot from the Tolkien Lecture
A screenshot from the Tolkien Lecture
Guy Gavriel Kay, speaker at this year's lecture
Guy Gavriel Kay, speaker at this year's lecture