“Daddy Grognard” recently posted a nice dwarf figure and added an intriguing excerpt from a letter by Tolkien mentioning that he thought of dwarves as being more like Jews than tiny Vikings or Scots.
I’ve seen some mention else where that the dwarvish language in Tolkien is very Semitic, despite their Scandinavian personal names (and the dwarves apparently don’t use their true names among outsiders anyway…), and also that dwarvish architecture, being huge and monolithic and with massive columns seems Assyrian or Semitic too.
Could the “model” for the dwarves be Jewish or Semitic? (as the model for the Rohirrim, say, was the Anglo-Saxons?) This puts quite a different, and offensive, spin on dwarvish tropes of beards, large noses, famous craftsmanship, secretiveness about their women, ancestral grudges, and love of battle and gold, doesn’t it?
Might the dwarf-elf enmity be a sign of elvish antisemitism?
Well, there is this quote from an interview, and this academic paper on Dwarves in The Hobbit and LOTR. The paper is actually very good, although the author does stretch things a little. The thesis is that the dwarves of The Hobbit are very different from the the dwarves of LOTR, and that to some extent JRRT was “correcting” his unconsciously antisemitic depiction of dwarves. Very interesting reading.