The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***Favourite Chapters - Three is Company (LOTR)



noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 19, 6:30pm


Views: 902
***Favourite Chapters - Three is Company (LOTR)

I should start with an apology - it's Sunday evening and I'm not scheduled to post until Monday. But I have a very busy day on Monday, and it would help me enormously to get this discussion posted. I hope that's OK, and please don't stop discussing 'Inside Information' early because of me.


This chapter hasn’t always been a favourite of mine. At one time I would have had a lot of sympathy with Tolkien doing more like what Peter Jackson’s film did - bundle Frodo and Sam out of Bag End immediately after the end of Chapter 2, pick up Merry and Pippin in some “Quick! No time to explain” way and get the whole quartet out of the Shire pretty quickly. I’ve heard various ideas about why Gandalf doesn't insist on making an immediate run for it, and why Tolkien might have wanted an Autumn departure. We can discuss that this week if you like. But in any case, I’ve become a fan of the mini-epic journey across the Shire.


I’ve come to find a lot of things in the chapter I like. There’s an autumnal feeling, and especially a feeling of walking in the countryside in the autumn. But when I read the chapter closely, I find an odd thing - all the description that I think I must have read isn’t really there. In general I notice that Tolkien gives us quick, impressionistic details rather than long paragraphs of description or explanation. But somehow, it’s enough for me to construct a vivid picture. Come to think of it, I feel this is an important part of Tolkien’s writing in LOTR - sketch enough that you recruit the reader’s imagination to fill in the details more vividly than the author could do themselves. But of course it is that method that also gives us our indeterminable arguments about such things as whether balrogs have wings: it’s precisely because people have come to different (vivid) conclusions that they are sometimes confused by discovering the existence of another point of view.

I like the banter and relationship between the three hobbits. I find it easy to imagine walking along with them. There are some nice underplayed little details. For example, Sam is a working man [hobbit] - I think that’s why, unlike his leisurely, aristocratic companions, his geography is limited to expeditions he has been able to make during short holidays..

Does the writing work this way for you too? What sort of countryside do you imagine?

In many ways, this little epic of the journey across the Shire is a preview of the larger quest to come, in style as well as some plot elements. I like the way that Tolkien’s realistic travel and nature writing balances the fantastical elements of the story. (I see that, by the way, as another characteristic Tolkien ingredient.) There’s the way in which the danger of the Black Riders is slowly revealed -- I expect that a lot of readers sense Frodo is in real danger before he’s fully willing to believe it himself. The chapter ends with meeting Gildor and his elves, in which I think we see elvish strangeness in a way I don’t get in Rivendell or Lorien.

A lot of plot stuff is woven into this chapter
For example:
  • Gandalf’s absence - the first occurance of our heroes being split up, unable to communicate, and having to guess what best to do.;

  • Frodo’s temptation to put on the Ring - how we begin to see it’s not the handy magical gadget of The Hobbit, and begin to understand, rather than just take Gandalf’s word for, the danger Frodo is in

  • the messages that Gildor sends out (for the rest of Book 1 we’ll keep on meeting helpers who received them);

  • Sam’s new found determination to see the Quest through.

We can discuss all that if you wish, and all the other things I haven’t listed.

And some themes begin to stir...

I’d like also to point out how Frodo is already having to learn to rely on himself and his friends. Perhaps he hoped to be advised and chaperoned all the way by Gandalf, but Gandalf was reluctant to push him out of the door or tell him where to go - and now has not returned in time for the start. Perhaps Frodo hoped that the Gildor and the elves would take charge of everything and lead him singing and glowing to Rivendell. No luck there either. The elves have of course helped in their limited way, and friends of Gandalf will appear too, even before we meet the gruff old codger himself once more. But what is happening in this chapter sets the pattern for the whole adventure. It will be aided by Frodo’s hobbit friends and unplanned encounters with temporary allies (Farmer Maggot, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, Faramir later, Smeagol/Gollum as an edge case).

So all in all, now that I have the patience for it, I think there’s a lot to recommend this chapter. But I don’t understand the fox. I’m not sure I even like the fox. The fox seems just plain weird to me, though I know some people like it. Happy to talk about the fox, this week, but I hope we don’t only talk about the fox!

As a last point to ponder: what do you make of the chapter title?
In earlier weeks we’ve discussed that Tolkien’s chapter titles can have multiple meanings (e.g. Faramir himself provides a ‘Window on the West’; or there may be more than one ‘Knife in the Dark’). The title of our current chapter must surely be a word-play on “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”, a saying which means:

“Used to say that a third person is not welcome when two people (such as two lovers) want to be alone with each other”
Merriam Webster ;

“Said when two people are relaxed and enjoying each other's company but another person would make them feel less comfortable”
Cambridge

What do you make of it?. It’s possible that Tolkien is refuting the old saying - maybe three chaps can have a fine time together in the country (aside from being chased by creepy Black Riders). Maybe it should be read "Three is Company" and that's why it's not the contraction "Three's Company". But my own take is that Frodo thinks he and Sam are starting their hush-hush disappearance from the Shire. Pippin is outside this conspiracy (or so Frodo thinks, and so the reader should think too at this point). So that makes Pippin something of an inconvenient third wheel, even if we don't subscribe to the fan theory that Frodo and Sam are lovers. With Pippin around, Frodo and Sam can’t plot their adventures, or do anything to make Pippin suspicious. If Frodo had originally planned to ‘vanish’ en route to Crickhollow, he can't now. By the way, another nice thing about this chapter is that you can look back on it once you know that Pippin has something in the conspiracy line going on with Sam, and some of the dialogue makes a new sense. But (hobbit) conspiracy theories aside, what do you make of the title? And would the chapter feel different if Tolkien had titled it as, say ‘The Black Riders’?

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 19, 6:41pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 19, 6:35pm


Views: 779
**Favourite quotations from this chapter - please add ones you like!

As the writing is one of the things that I like in this chapter, it seems right to include some quotations. Please add any that you particularly like!

Autumn feels to me like a time for new beginnings and also a time for bitter-sweet endings. Both of those have resonances in the chapter:

Quote
“When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying, as it always did at that season.”

And....

“And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East”


But...

“The sun went down. Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners.”

And yet...

“The sky was clear and the stars were growing bright. ‘It’s going to be a fine night,’ he said aloud. ‘That’s good for a beginning. I feel like walking. I can’t bear any more hanging about.”



Another autumnal pleasure in this chapter is Tolkien’s nature writing:


Quote

“The night was clear, cool, and starry, but smoke-like wisps of mist were creeping up the hill-sides from the streams and deep meadows. Thin-clad birches, swaying in a light wind above their heads, made a black net against the pale sky.”

Or...

“Away eastward the sun was rising red out of the mists that lay thick on the world. Touched with gold and red the autumn trees seemed to be sailing rootless in a shadowy sea.”
(The PJ film includes a shot which I feel must be inspired by this line - and then the film-makers put it to an ingenious new use by having a Black Rider loom into the shot.

Or...
“The shadows of the trees were long and thin on the grass, as they started off again.”


There are many other examples (what are your favourites?)

I also like the way Tolkien describes sensations of walking the land:


Quote
“They went down the slope, and across the stream where it dived under the road, and up the next slope, and up and down another shoulder of the hills; and by that time their cloaks, blankets, water, food, and other gear already seemed a heavy burden.”


~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 19, 9:38pm


Views: 764
You overlooked


Quote
"Coming, sir!" came the answer from far within, followed soon by Sam himself, wiping his mouth. He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar.



sevilodorf
SnevaH Yerg


Jan 20, 5:31am


Views: 720
"Of course you mustn't vanish,"

" That wouldn't do at all! I said, soon, not instantly!"

The Gandalf here vs the one who hurried Bilbo out the gate without even a pocket handkerchief.

Though another comparison is possible with Gildor's conversation "For it seems to me that you have set out only just in time. If indeed you are in time." (Those Elves always saying both yes and no.)

And all the little touches "They left the washing up for Lobelia." and the complaints about being too flabby and leaving the comforts of home behind.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 20, 3:21pm


Views: 689
Three's Company, Nine's a Crowd

Thanks for leading this chapter, Wiz!

I like this chapter much more than than a similar one, "The Ring Goes South," because the group is happy and the countryside appealing. As you pointed out, it's easy to envision the landscape with the details Tolkien gives us, and it's a place I'd like to go hiking and camping with friends--just without any Black Riders dogging my steps.

I also like how it shows us more about how hobbits act toward each other, both good and bad (since Lobelia and Lotho appear briefly). In particular, I like the teasing banter among friends:

Quote
‘I am sure you have given me all the heaviest stuff,’ said Frodo. ‘I pity snails, and all that carry their homes on their backs.’
‘I could take a lot more yet, sir. My packet is quite light,’ said Sam stoutly and untruthfully.
‘No you don’t, Sam!’ said Pippin. ‘It is good for him. He’s got nothing except what he ordered us to pack. He’s been slack lately, and he’ll feel the weight less when he’s walked off some of his own.’
‘Be kind to a poor old hobbit!’ laughed Frodo.

As for the title, I think Tolkien is being subversive and saying that in the right setting, three is company, as valid as two's company. Pippin is a bit of a lightweight here: Frodo is under a cloud because of the Ring and also because Gandalf has mysteriously disappeared, and Sam shares many of Frodo's concerns. But Pippin is a reminder of how hobbits are supposed to be: happy and carefree.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 20, 3:39pm


Views: 687
Themes begin to stir


Quote
They looked back, but the turn of the road prevented them from seeing far. ‘I wonder if that is Gandalf coming after us,’ said Frodo; but even as he said it, he had a feeling that it was not so, and a sudden desire to hide from the view of the rider came over him.


So what's this--an unexplained urge that is *not* inspired by the Ring? Its influence is felt only a few paragraphs later:

Quote
A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring. He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand. He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe.

This is Frodo's personal, internal struggle spread across LOTR: his own instincts and premonitions warning him to avoid various perils, and the Ring urging him to betray himself and lying to him about its agenda.

What other themes do you see brewing in this chapter?


sevilodorf
SnevaH Yerg


Jan 20, 3:42pm


Views: 684
Pippin a lightweight spy....


In Reply To
. But Pippin is a reminder of how hobbits are supposed to be: happy and carefree.


Yes but something that Jackson ignored due to compressing time and having Sam and Frodo exit stage left rapidly....... Pippin, Merry, Fatty and Sam had been running a conspiracy to spy on Frodo for quite some time. Pippin may have been a "tweeny" but he did do that.... which is why in some ways his inability to continue the secrecy at the Prancing Pony is a regression -- Tolkien didn't have a firm handle on who these characters were yet and the consistency isn't always there.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Finding Frodo
Aessere Lot


Jan 20, 3:56pm


Views: 683
Through Sam's eyes

How exciting to drop in to the RR and find this fun discussion going on!
I enjoy the comical exchanges among the hobbits that others have mentioned. There's also the bit about Sam's hat that I remember discussing once before, long ago. I won't attempt to look for it (WNEBCFTPFY anyone?), but it was apparently a reference to C.S. Lewis' hat, which had seen better days.

The other thing I like in this chapter is Sam's awe at Gildor & Co. Sam walked along at Frodo's side, as if in a dream, with an expression on his face half of fear and half of astonished joy.
At that moment, I'm walking along with the same expression on my face. It's hard to comprehend the other-worldliness of the High-Elves, but Sam helps capture the wonder of the moment.

Where's Frodo?


Finding Frodo
Aessere Lot


Jan 20, 4:10pm


Views: 681
Found it

Why am I obsessed with the hat?
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=53150;search_string=hat;#53150

Where's Frodo?


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 21, 4:13am


Views: 636
What's

remarkable about this passage was that originally it WAS Gandalf who rode around the bend. Then Tolkien started crossing out words and replacing them, and the first Black Rider made its creepy appearance.

(At that time Tolkien had no more idea than Frodo what it was or what it wanted... the chapter "Ancient History" (later "The Shadow of the Past") hadn't been written yet, and it was only at the end of the chapter, with Gildor, that Tolkien himself started to guess at the answer).


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 10:01am


Views: 601
Unpredictable Pippin (and a tangent about the hobbits as a rock quartet)

Pippin is certainly an unpredictable character. I certainly agree that he's capable of maturity and insight at some times, and yet behaves impulsively or foolishly at others. So I'm not quite sure whether he's a well-written unpredictable character, or whether he could have used a bit more editing. I do note that he's often a useful character to Tolkien: Pippin is often the one to pose the stupid idea or ask the basic question that's handy for exposition, or his actions make something happen.

I was amusing myself thinking - if the 4 hobbits were a rock band, then who would be who? As is probably obvious, this isn't a particularly serious game, just something that merges cliches about musicians with our quartet of hobbits. But I've got:
  • Frodo has to be the front man, I suppose - but the troubled artist rather than hyper-extrovert kind of singer
  • Sam on drums - has to work constantly through the performance. Does the 'real work' undramatically at the back there. Can if he wants drive things (if the drummer insists it goes at exactly this tempo, then it probably does)
  • Merry on Bass - classic bassist, as I see it. Wants harmony, logic and order, but without drawing much attention to himself
  • That leaves Pippin also on the front line, perhaps as lead guitarist. It does seem to make some sense. Prone to his own ideas and improvisations, not always willing to be #2 behind the front man. The resulting tension and shinanegans might be the making of the group, or it might all collapse acrimoniously after an album or two.


~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 11:15am


Views: 595
Sam's hat, "Jack's hat"

Nice to 'see' you drop in, Finding Frodo!
The article on 'Jack's Hat' to which you link has got more buried in the blog since 2007, but I found and enjoyed it here

And like you I wonder, in a very minor way, what happens to Sam's hat. I'm going to suppose that it was lost in the Barrow with the other gear he had when he was captured. But of course other people may have different or better ideas.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 11:50am


Views: 589
As another theme (or something like it)

We get an appearance of 'The Road Goes Ever On and On". Probably other people are better qualified to discuss the significance of this recurring song, but as a TULIP*, when I read:


Quote
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

...I noted how it seems to set out what is to come in FOTR. Frodo starts from his door, eagerly at least in some ways (while he's reluctant to set out, he also wants to follow Bilbo, were told). He then joins some 'larger way' at the Council of Elrond 'Where many paths and errands meet' in order to go from fleeing with the Ring to launching a strategy to defeat Sauron.

I'm sure that other interpretations are available and might be better in some way. But that's my idea.
While I'm on the subject, I've always supposed that Bilbo's "I sit beside the fire and think" is a sort of continuation of this song. I think you could sing it to the same tune, which I suppose means it has some rhythmical resemblance, or something like that. If anyone knowledgeable about poetry could have a look and let me know I'd be grateful.



--* Totally Unimportant Little Idea to Ponderor is it: Totally Unimportant {Link/loophole/logic/lesson - delete as applicable} I'm Pondering

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 2:56pm


Views: 578
Pippin's reaction to the Elves vs. Sam's

With Sam as the stand-in for the Common Person, having him so enraptured just to be in the Elves' presence (like getting a backstage pass to his favorite rock band) is contagious, at least for me. I love Elves too!

Frodo has some sort of ongoing contact with the Elves, so he's a little more "been there, done that," but I can't figure out why Pippin isn't as star-struck as Sam. Is it because, as Wiz says in another post, Pippin is a character Tolkien tends to use when he needs him and sort of forgets about in other contexts like this one? Or because Pippin is a Took, and maybe being adventurous, they are familiar with Elves? Or because he's an aristocrat, and good aristocrats don't show their emotions like those unwashed plebeians do?

I just think from a writing perspective, it would have been easy to add "and Pippin" repeatedly, as in Sam and Pippin walked along at Frodo's side, as if in a dream, with an expression on their faces half of fear and half of astonished joy.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 3:00pm


Views: 574
That is accurately prescient

the way the poem reflects Frodo's journey and the Council of Elrond in particular. I wonder how much was deliberate on Tolkien's part and how much was just an observation about once you get the travel bug (in real life), it takes you to unexpected places and experiences?


Quote
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.



noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 3:04pm


Views: 573
That's a fine quotation!

I like the way that Sam's drinking from the beer barrel echoes the other hobbits' consuming the wine. Perhaps to much of Tolkien's first audiences, a generation who had seen several wars involving mass conscription, that would have been like the actions of retreating troops, consuming luxuries to deny them to the enemy. (I have a feeling that the British Army had an interesting or amusing name for this, but I can't remember what it is. "Liberating" things would work if the troops were advancing or capturing things from the enemy, but that's not what I'm struggling to recall. Maybe someone knows?)

Did you post title ("You overlooked") mean anything more than "here's a nice quotation for the collection"? Perhaps I am being over-literal, but I provided a few quotations to get the ball rolling and invited people to add more. So of course there was no intention to present some definitive or comprehensive collection, to be scrutinized or criticized for omissions (literally, things I've overlooked).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 3:09pm


Views: 575
Pippin

Funny you should say this, because that was exactly my internal reaction on re-reading this chapter--Pippin is needed for exposition:

In Reply To

I do note that he's often a useful character to Tolkien: Pippin is often the one to pose the stupid idea or ask the basic question that's handy for exposition, or his actions make something happen.



Quote

‘But what has one of the Big People got to do with us?’ said Pippin. ‘And what is he doing in this part of the world?’


And I like the band comparison. Another reason Sam should be the drummer is that the latter usually have to be seated and thus more out of sight, as good servants should be. And Pippin as front man--for sure, he loved being the center of attention. Frodo was the band's creator and leader, but his later, solo career was obscure as he delved into deep, dark, psychological lyrics while the others stuck to commercially reliable boy band music.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 21, 3:43pm


Views: 568
Oh, no!

All I meant was "Here's another one,", not any sort of intimation that your list was somehow deficient!


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 21, 3:50pm


Views: 569
Pippin

As I read him was very bright, but very immature (he is the youngest of the hobbits). "Bumptious" is the word one of my old teachers might have used. Not much self-control, and a tendency to go off half-cocked, running with an idea that did however spring from a pretty active brain.
Some of the confusion of personality in this chapter may derive from the fact that it was originally written for a completely different cast of characters. No Sam; instead Bingo (later Frodo, unchanged except in name), Frodo Took and Odo Took. These last two don't map directly onto the later Merry and Pippin, as Tolkien re-assigned lines of dialogue. Pippin does seem to have inherited Odo's "spoiled rich kid" tendencies though, laziness and petty greediness.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 4:26pm


Views: 562
"originally written for a completely different cast of characters"


In Reply To
Some of the confusion of personality in this chapter may derive from the fact that it was originally written for a completely different cast of characters. No Sam; instead Bingo (later Frodo, unchanged except in name), Frodo Took and Odo Took. These last two don't map directly onto the later Merry and Pippin, as Tolkien re-assigned lines of dialogue. Pippin does seem to have inherited Odo's "spoiled rich kid" tendencies though, laziness and petty greediness.



Interesting that Pippin preserves some of Odo (the first draft Ringbearer's companion). I remember reading the bit of HoME that covers FOTR and thinking I might try and keep track of who became whom, if you see what I mean. I never could keep straight in my head what the first-draft characters were like, in order to see whether (say) the Ringbearer hobbit starts out much more like Bilbo and then turns into the character of Frodo-as-he-is-published, and whether it would be possible to map certain characteristics that remained constant through the changes. I suppose it's also generally true that Tolkien does not give us very much inside-the-character's head view of anybody's feelings and motivations. We're more likely to have to infer and deduce from dialogue and description. (Or at least I think that's true - but I do see it's the sort of statement that just mean's I've forgotten some very obvious counter-examples!)

I also agree Pippin's age might be a factor. We could think of Pippin as roughly a human teenager, I think. In the NoWiz family there's a joke that people act their calendar age plus or minus 50% (I think this still works for me - some days I feel in my 20s, other days in my 70s!). But for teenagers, that's anything between very childish to very adult. Nonetheless, I find Pippin the least satisfying character of the quartet. I've met people who remind me of the other three, not so much of Pippin.

I suppose we do expect that Tolkien - a notably careful worker - read though his later drafts for consistency and took the opportunity to make changes. It's hardly as if Tolkien was stuck with his earlier ideas (as say, Dickens and other Nineteenth Century authors could be, when their novels were initially published in installments, and written as the publication proceeded). But it also seems entirely feasible that one can find residual bits of the progenitor characters (just as Strider seems to remember Trotter's capture in Moria and torture at the hands of the Black Riders).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 4:32pm


Views: 577
The Pippin here is certainly different than the one

who's a captive of the Orcs crossing Rohan, or who's with Gandalf in Minas Tirith, and it's not just because he was more grown-up in those later chapters. From your knowledge of HOME (I'm glad you've read it and are generous enough to contribute here--I, sadly, just can't get very far into HOME before it seems like "work" that obscures my pleasure), it seems like this is a chapter of relics, including the fox, which I find very out of place. And don't get me wrong--I like this chapter. It's a fun adventure of friends in the Shire and works on many levels: comedy, comradery, foreshadowing the greater existential threat of Sauron, and just plain entertainment as a normal walk in the woods becomes a scary pursuit.

I might say it's the chapter where the light-hearted The Hobbit collides with the more somber LOTR, especially the "collision" at the end where the discussion with Gildor gets serious, and he seems a stand-in for Gandalf, clearly knowing more dark things than he's saying and scaring Frodo (and me). Maybe it was an accidental transition chapter rather than a deliberate one, but as we've said, Tolkien's accidents can be eucatastrophes.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 21, 4:57pm


Views: 571
I think you're absolutely right.

Tolkien wrote the Party chapter and began this one as a straight-up Hobbit sequel for children. But then there was that eucatastrophic moment, when a childish prank on the tardy Gandalf transformed - right there on the page - into hiding from a sinister horseman cloaked in black. This indeed is the moment where the "New Hobbit" turned a corner.

Gildor/Gandalf: The first germ of the chapter "The Shadow of the Past" was a conversation between Bingo and Gildor, which was later transferred to Gandalf at Bag End.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jan 21, 5:02pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 6:54pm


Views: 561
But why not complete the transition, I wonder?

I'm stubbornly working away at an idea which I see I keep revisiting as we discuss some LOTR Book I 'favourite chapters' I hope I'm not becoming boring about this (please do say if I am!) We keep noting that early Book I doesn't really fit the rest of the work in tone or style (or, since I'm not sure I mean either of those words exactly, some other term that distinguishes 'Hobbit II' from 'LOTR proper'.)
It's also not just us - I remember A Published Tolkien Scholar (very likely Tom Shippey, but I'm not sure) commenting that you can see LOTR stop being Hobbit II, steady down and find itself in Book I. That being so, I'm wondering: why not yet another revision, to make everything consistent? Publishing technology in Tolkien's day meant that everything could remain fluid until it went to the typesetter (after which there were fees for changes). And as we know Tolkien was sometimes willing to insist on changes even to published work (Hobbit 1e changed to make Gollum's behaviour over the Ring 2e consistent with LOTR)

So, picking up on our latest discussion, I'd read too that what was to be 'Hobbit II' took an unexpected turn, and Tolkien followed his instincts going from a ring that the Dark Lord wanted back to The Ring, and the main plot of Frodo having to try save the world by destroying an evil treasure that nobody can give up. The secondary plot (that of Aragorn and the restoration of the Kings of Gondor) turns up a bit later, if I recall.

Various bits of what we still have in the first half of Book I were written by then. The whole of Book I was revised and re-written several times, if I recall, simultaneously with efforts to draft, sketch and outline later bits. So the development process of Book I, all devotedly documented by Christopher Tolkien in HoME, was very complex.


So why not a final revision, to bring Early Pippin into line with Later Pippin, to get rid of the Fox, or to make whatever other changes seem necessary to make the early bit match the later? (We might differ about the desirable cuts or changes and I don't want to get bogged down in editing the work now in committee! To recap, my question is more - if we are saying that the first part of Book I doesn't really fit the rest in some way that we maybe don't need to unpack in detail right now, how did it come to be left like that, when further revision must have been an option)?

Do we think Tolkien couldn't bring himself to do it - he lacked the energy to revise it yet again; was too fond of what he'd already written, lost sight of the wood for the trees, or didn't see that the change from 'Hobbit-like' to 'LOTR-like' (if you see what I mean) was a bit bumpy? Are we saying - whisper it softly - that Tolkien could have done with a more assertive editor to put a red pen through some of the early survivals that were no longer working with the whole? Shocked That is, I think, the position Elizabeth was taking when we discussed House of Tom Bombadil and she said:

Quote
This whole section was originally written long before Tolkien really had any idea where the story was heading, according to HoME, and although he did retroactively edit it some (e.g. the Black Rider hooves), there's still a lot of extraneous material. Bombadill had previously starred in some other stories he wrote for his kids, and I persist in believing its inclusion here is an indulgence,. This is not one of my favorite chapters.
Elizabeth in "They've all been sleeping outdoors."



Or is there a master plan? Is the transition from 'Hobbit-like' to 'LOTR-like' a deliberate effect - it's like that because we're supposed to notice it and feel .....what? (That's the position I've been experimenting with, because I thought it would be fun to look for a master plan. But I haven't discovered it yet. So maybe Elizabeth is right - as usual, Elizabeth! )
I don't know whether it's relevant, but I notice that The Hobbit also gets more serious as it goes on. The Thorin who lands on Bilbo's doormat don't seem altogether like his later self (last week we were looking at one possible transition point: Thorin's speechifying in 'Inside Information' might be for comedy, but then shortly afterwards he's a brisk and efficient officer trying to get everyone under cover from the incoming Smaug attack. Tolkien doesn't seem to want us to find Thorin funny after that,as far as I remember).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


squire
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 7:23pm


Views: 564
I would go with "it's deliberate, and for effect"

As you say, Tolkien published exactly the "Fellowship of the Ring" that he wanted to publish, completely revised with full knowledge of how the plot and characters would play out to the end.

Perhaps the idea of readers complaining that they couldn't get into The Lord of the Rings, or didn't like it until they got to Book II, or found the whole beginning too juvenile for words, is a more recent one, postdating Tolkien's thoughts and designs by about two or three generations now. I daresay - follow me closely here - that the vast majority of adults these days who try to read The Lord of the Rings for the first time have not just put down The Hobbit and are now looking about for another book about Bilbo and the hobbits.

But that's how I read it - or rather, that's how the books were read to me by my mother, when I was about 7 or 8. We listened to The Hobbit, loved it, and soon enough were promised we could hear another book from the same world. I still remember my angry tears when my big brother snidely informed me that the new book would not have Bilbo as its hero, but some new hobbit I didn't know, called Frodo.

In short, in the early 1950s, for all that Tolkien knew he'd written a vastly more important and adult book than The Hobbit, he nevertheless also knew that he had readers out there, some who had grown from children to young adults in the meantime, who did expect "Hobbit II". I believe the Prof realized they would need to be (or would be grateful for being) gently eased, not booted, out of Bilbo's quasi-comic mode and into Frodo and Aragorn's not-at-all-comic mode, just as he had done for himself in the act of writing the book.

For further context, re-read the original Foreword to the new book. It's much 'cuter' than the second edition Foreword that we now read, and definitely assumes that all the readers of the new book have more or less just put The Hobbit down.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 21, 8:10pm


Views: 547
Well,


Quote
And as we know Tolkien was sometimes willing to insist on changes even to published work (Hobbit 1e changed to make Gollum's behaviour over the Ring 2e consistent with LOTR)


"insist on changes" is not entirely accurate. Tolkien had written a revised 'Riddles in the Dark' around 1947 more or less as a jeu d'esprit, but which he sent to A&U as a 'specimen of re-writing.' He was completely astonished when, three years later, A&U sent him galleys for the Hobbit reprinting and the new chapter was in it! He decided to go with it, although its presence required yet more re-writing in LR. Cf. Letters nos. 128, 129, 130


squire
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 9:01pm


Views: 399
Yes, I only recently saw...

...in the History of Middle-earth volume, the text he'd written in the The Lord of the Rings to explain how Gollum could have let Bilbo have the Ring so casually in the original Riddles episode.

If I remember, it was along the lines of, Gandalf telling Frodo in Ch. 2 that the Ring gnaws at you and if you hold it long enough you begin to wish to pass it on to another person for their torment and your relief. This was then going to explain why Bilbo passed the Ring on to Frodo so easily in Chapter 1!

Thus Tolkien's genuine surprise to find his revised Chapter 5 in The Hobbit, which explained things much more consistently but at the cost of reprinting the earlier book - something he'd really not expected when he wrote out the new scene in 1947. As you say, he had to go back to LotR at once and eliminate all the nonsense about freely passing the Ring on...

One has to wonder about an alternative timeline, whereby Tolkien publishes "Fellowship" in 1954 with the original bit still in it about passing the Ring on because it was so painful to possess. Then in the next year (rather than in 1951) Allen & Unwin cheerfully publish the new edition of The Hobbit, with Tolkien's revised Ch. 5 in it, which they'd never consulted with him about inserting into the text. It would be more than a little inconsistent with the new book's more benign angle on Ring ownership!

How quickly would Tolkien have been able to convince his publishers that "Fellowship's" Chapter 2 needed to be revised and the book re-issued? And how rare would the first edition be and how unknown to readers now, much as the first edition Hobbit is!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 21, 11:21pm


Views: 389
Master Plan vs. What You Can Live With

In my own experience as a college textbook editor working with college professors, there was just never enough time to get everything we wanted in any master plan. Professors have classes, papers to grade, doctoral students to supervise, families to spend time with, vacations to take, relatives who die, etc, and given time constraints, everything was negotiated. So it could have been something like:

Editor: "Hi Tollers. We really, really, really need the final revisions for Ch 3 from you by 4 pm, 23 March, or we'll miss our place in the publishing queue and have to wait 6 months or more to get back in. They can't fire you, of course, but they can fire me, so this is really important to live with things as is. Please help me on this! I know it's not perfect, but it's the best we can get at this point. PS: if you want to keep the fox, that's fine, but as we agreed, you'll delete the pink dancing elephants. Thanks."


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 22, 12:26am


Views: 383
Unwin

didn't edit Tolkien at all, except to the extent they felt some of the Appendices were too long and T had to make abridged versions (and the decision to break it up into 3 vols).

But Tolkien, now, that was another matter....

JRRT and GA&U signed the publishing contract in November 1952, under which T was supposed to submit the typescript - of the whole LR - by March 1953. Naturally, he was late. The process then moved to the galley stage, where the printers set up the printing plates for FR and ran off a trial run, which was then sent back to T for proofreading. Of course, T couldn't confine himself to merely correcting typos! As CT remarked, no work of JRRT's was "finished" until it was literally taken out of his hands.

However, T was very careful to make sure that any replacement passages took up exactly the same number of lines as that replaced, otherwise the whole chapter would have to have been reset.

You can run through Hammond & Scull for all these proof-stage changes; the only ones I can recall off-hand are Zirak-zigil for earlier Zirakinbar, and a new passage in 'The Taming of Smeagol' describing the new, much longer path for the great thunderstorm from the Emyn Muil to Helm's Deep, since Frodo's timeline had shifted relative to the action in Rohan and Tolkien hadn't fixed the storm problem before now.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 22, 9:53am


Views: 342
I think that's the explanation I'm looking for


In Reply To
Perhaps the idea of readers complaining that they couldn't get into The Lord of the Rings, or didn't like it until they got to Book II, or found the whole beginning too juvenile for words, is a more recent one, postdating Tolkien's thoughts and designs by about two or three generations now. I daresay - follow me closely here - that the vast majority of adults these days who try to read The Lord of the Rings for the first time have not just put down The Hobbit and are now looking about for another book about Bilbo and the hobbits.

But that's how I read it - or rather, that's how the books were read to me by my mother, when I was about 7 or 8. We listened to The Hobbit, loved it, and soon enough were promised we could hear another book from the same world. I still remember my angry tears when my big brother snidely informed me that the new book would not have Bilbo as its hero, but some new hobbit I didn't know, called Frodo.

In short, in the early 1950s, for all that Tolkien knew he'd written a vastly more important and adult book than The Hobbit, he nevertheless also knew that he had readers out there, some who had grown from children to young adults in the meantime, who did expect "Hobbit II". I believe the Prof realized they would need to be (or would be grateful for being) gently eased, not booted, out of Bilbo's quasi-comic mode and into Frodo and Aragorn's not-at-all-comic mode, just as he had done for himself in the act of writing the book.


That seems a likely explanation. It reminds me that how we interact with Tolkien's books is partly to do with our prior experiences and environment at the time. There's bound to be some influences common to generations, but of course individual circumstances play out too. This is what makes it interesting and refreshing to hear from people who don't normally post. I can learn more about Tolkien's works in various ways, but what I can't do it to read LOTR as it comes out (maybe someone her did that - you'd have to be in your late seventies, I suppose?). Or to come to the books with other things going on it their lives, whether that's via Harry Potter rather than via Narnia, or via the films, video games etc etc.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 22, 9:58am)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 22, 10:31am


Views: 340
Phew - got stuck in the 'reply' box there, just escaped & can now add the rest....

I suppose I came to LOTR in the easiest possible way: I'd read The Hobbit, and the other books you might expect for a child interested in speculative fiction in the 'seventies' (C S Lewis, Alan Garner, Penelope Lively, Ursula LeGuin etc.) So I was looking for something that I might have phrased as "like The Hobbit but more grown up".

For that reason I didn't get squire's full "BIGWIT" problem (Bilbo Is Great, Who Is This?"). It seemed mildly disconcerting to me for Tolkien to shoo Bilbo away and have this Bigwit, Frodo, who takes a while to warm to as a protagonist. But it wasn't too upsetting - indeed, I think I had a bit of a wish as a reader to get out of the Shire and on with the adventure. But I think I can sympathise with squire's feeling of "BIGWIT" because I remember clearly opening my eagerly-awaited Silmarillion as soon as it published and suffering from severe FIGWRATH ("Frodo Is Great, We Require A Tale of Hobbits!"). I didn't manage to read the Silmarillion until I joined the Reading Room and some joker called CuriousG cheekily suggested that I lead the first chapter of a read-through of it. Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing (My questions were things like "Who are all these Valar? Do I have to remember who is married to who and who is responsible for what? Do I need an org chart? Is it significant that they're all paired up but there's no 'Melkorina'?"). I think that was something of a benefit in a way - if there's one thing the Reading Room responds well to on the whole, it's someone asking for explanations. We tend to run at slightly more than one explanation per poster, after which the discussion tends to take care of itself. I suppose though that this experience leaves me a bit baffled when people say they can't lead a discussion because they don't know enough.

After a while of course our Silmarillion read-though got to The Flight Of The Noldor and I was all FIG-ABS! (which means "Feanor Is Great - A Book Saved": whether Feanor does or does not have sexy abs is probably a more specialized discussion than I want to get into here Wink)

Anyway, I'm very pleased to have had squire's explanation for why the early LOTR chapters might be as they are, and so I say TRRIGERR! ("The Reading Room Is Great: Excellent Reading Room!").

Oops, should that have had a Trrigerr warning?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 22, 2:45pm


Views: 327
Okay, that's interesting,

because I never suffered either BIGWIT nor FIGWRATH.

Maybe because I came to the books both earlier, in time, and slightly later, in age. I was led to The Hobbit because I had read all of Baum's Oz books and asked the librarian if she had "anything else like that." But since what the library had was a first or early second-edition Hobbit, with no blurb advertising the LR, it was some time before I became aware there was a sequel! Wow! And while I remember being delighted by the very hobbity "eleventy-one," I never had a problem with leaving Bilbo in peaceful retirement and going off with his young cousin.

Sil. I had been expecting for a long time, and even had a touch of inside information as to its contents, and since I loved reading Greek and Norse mythology (and the LR appendices) I didn't mind the 'heigh stile' in the least.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 22, 6:02pm


Views: 315
It would also be interesting to compare notes with people who saw the (PJ) film before they read the book

Our current chapter and the other material getting our heroes from Unexpected Party to Bree was heavily edited by the film makers, so maybe it was a surprise to come several pre-Bree chapters it in the book? I wonder whether people found it a welcome surprise, or whether, instead of BIGWIT or FIGWRATH they felt some Bree Is Great - This Is Too Slow
(maybe I'll not give that one an acronym...)

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 22, 6:25pm


Views: 316
ARU

Acronyms are us. Smile

I had a BIGWIT reaction on my first read of LOTR, being slightly irritated that Bilbo was now too old for a quest once we find him in Rivendell, and I was supposed to care about this Frodo guy. But I think I started liking Frodo somewhere around Moria or Lorien, and then started liking the other hobbits in The Two Towers where they had more "stage time," so I got over BIGWIT, but yeah, there was something vaguely disappointing about the initial transition from The Hobbit to LOTR.

It's a good thing the Reading Room dragged you through The Silmarillion, kicking and screaming, because it's like eating your vegetables--it's good for you: SIGFU. That was the first read-through that I led, I think, and it was fun because I learned so much from other people about stuff that I thought I already knew.

As I recall, my initial reaction to The Sil was excitement to find out more about the mysterious world hinted at in LOTR (Gondolin, Luthien, early Sauron), and I wasn't too concerned about leaving hobbits out of the story, but I didn't quite like how Elves could be bad. I think I am Sam-like as in "Three is Company:" it feels good to be around Elves because they're all good people, and better than mortals. Feanor, his sons, Thingol: I didn't like having my bubble burst. But I guess I got over that too, because seeing Elves at their worst made me appreciate them more in LOTR.

I'm not sure about Feanor's abs except via extrapolation: since he was better than everyone at everything, I'm sure he had the best abs in Valinor. The untold story of why he left Valinor was because Melkor's most grievous act was burning down Feanor's favorite gym. The Two Trees were just collateral damage.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 22, 6:48pm


Views: 310
"SIGFU" had me worried for a moment ;)

Like this:

Quote
Oscar: I hate little notes on my pillow. Like this morning. ‘We’re all out of cornflakes. F.U.’ It took me three hours to figure out that ‘F.U.’ was Felix Unger. It’s not your fault, Felix. It’s a rotten combination.
(The Odd Couple, 1968 movie)


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 9:51am


Views: 248
How do you imagine the countryside in which this chapter takes place?

How do you imagine the countryside in which this chapter takes place? Anecdotally, I find that different people imagine things very differently indeed. I find that rather interesting - it's easy for each of us to assume that we are the reference person, and everyone else is interpreting things much as we do. (or perhaps I should write I used to find it easy to assume I was the Reference Person - my own argument must mean that I can't safely speak for a 'we' here!) But I discover that people have wildly different ideas, and I find it interesting to learn about how they think (and, of course, adopt any of their interpretations I fancy!).

For Tolkien's countryside my belief so far is that I think that some people imagine specific places they know; others imagine something more generic (drawn presumably from a sort of internal mood board of what they've seen either in real life or in pictures, films etc.). Other people perhaps have the feeling that there might have been a valley somewhere, and a hollow tree - but they've been concentrating on other aspects of the writing. Which is fine of course: I don't see that there can be a definitive 'right' answer, or a need for competitiveness about who imagines things best! So please do feel it's OK to say whatever it is you personally imagine.

As I said in the starter post, I don't see Tolkien writing long descriptive passages - so our different imaginations are free to be recruited in their different ways. In a way, this subthread would be a sort of companion to the one a while ago in which we discussed what we thought Goldberry looked like. I got the impression that some of us could easily brief an artist or cast an actor, or find a picture that's what they imagine. Others of us might easily cast a singer, because Goldberry to them was a lot about how she sounded. And others had other impressions, or no coherent impression at all.
As a separate point, but perhaps one that is related - do we know what Tolkien imagined? Specific places? Mood board of generic countryside? Something else? Or perhaps we don't know from Tolkien himself, but have some guesses. But perhaps there are people very familiar with any studies that have been done.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 23, 9:59am)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 9:57am


Views: 245
That was a *big* BIGWIT, if you didn't warm to Frodo until Moria or Lorien


In Reply To
I had a BIGWIT* reaction on my first read of LOTR, being slightly irritated that Bilbo was now too old for a quest once we find him in Rivendell, and I was supposed to care about this Frodo guy. But I think I started liking Frodo somewhere around Moria or Lorien, and then started liking the other hobbits in The Two Towers where they had more "stage time," so I got over BIGWIT, but yeah, there was something vaguely disappointing about the initial transition from The Hobbit to LOTR.

[*BIGWIT - "Bilbo Is Great Who Is This" - a negative reaction to finding out that Bilbo won't be major character of the story. It's also an acronym we've just made up for fun, so is of no importance whatsoever]


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 2:55pm


Views: 219
Yes, and I only began to like him then because Gollum did, precious.//

 


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 3:09pm


Views: 223
While Tolkien was probably thinking of Oxfordshire

I was thinking of something more generic on my first read. I grew up in a desert countryside (tumbleweeds and scrub brushes), and before that, we lived in suburban southern California, which means lawns, driveways, shrubs, a few trees: in short, no countryside. So I had no personal reference point, but having watched plenty of movies and TVs, it wasn't hard to picture a green country, rolling hills, thickets, and woods. My general imagery also came from the feeling that the Shire was a geographically mild and gentle place: I could only imagine rolling hills, no cliffs or deep canyons there. And patches of medium-sized trees, reasonably spaced apart, no towering trees nor dense woods. The Shire seemed to me to be a place of "all things in moderation." Rather generic overall, but pleasant, not bland.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 23, 3:49pm


Views: 218
Tolkien

definitely envisioned the Shire as a "well-ordered countryside;' combined with his likening of Hobbiton to "a Warwickshire village about [1897]" I see it as much like rural west-central England, broadly Staffs-Warks-Northants-Leics-Oxon-Bucks. A gently rolling country of fields bounded by low stone walls and (unpaved) lanes, little spinneys and copses with the occasional stand big enough to be called a "wood," and bubbling brooks with once and a while a "river" one could easily toss a rock across.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 23, 4:07pm


Views: 215
Subject



The one disjunct is that while England has a maritime climate- there is no point in Great Britain more than 50 miles from the sea - the Shire is well inland (225 miles from Hobbiton to the Grey Havens) and shielded by the Blue Mountains.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jan 23, 4:08pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 5:41pm


Views: 208
And, ultimately perhaps, the beginning is also to do with the end

When Tolkien was first drafting our current chapter, I don't think he knew that the war would end up with the Scouring of the Shire, the Battle of Bywater and the deaths of Wormtongue and Saruman at Bag End. But of course he did know that once he had a complete first draft and was thinking through revisions, improvements and cuts.

I'm thinking that, to be properly shocked and concerned about what has happened to the Shire during our quartet's absence we need to see it as it was before the War of the Ring. This is something that readers of The Hobbit haven't yet done - if I recall, Bilbo's country isn't even named, and The Hobbit moves from Bag End to Roast Mutton pretty sharply, with minimal description of what it's like. So it seems to me that (although it wasn't what he initially intended) Tolkien gets a pay-off at the end by showing us the Shire's people and its countryside in more detail. It probably also enhances the wildness of the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 7:20pm


Views: 213
Oxfordshire(-ish) countryside

Oxfordshire(-ish) countryside is certainly what I imagine, prsonally. But then I live there, so it is the landscape I know best.

What does that look like? Well, something like this (link to Photobucket slideshow) - all these were taken a day's march from Oxford Professors who would freeze your blood if you didn't know the answer to their tutorial questions.
(that is, they're all less than 20 miles from Tolkien's old house in North Oxford)

But I'm certainly not saying that's the 'correct' answer and in a way it's a bit of a boring one. I remember being interested, watching some of the documentaries that came with my PJ film discs to hear that PJ and others of the team had imagined it all happening in New Zealand. And that, as they showed us, seemed to work just fine.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 7:28pm


Views: 206
maritime climate

That's a lovely photo.

In Reply To
The one disjunct is that while England has a maritime climate- there is no point in Great Britain more than 50 miles from the sea - the Shire is well inland (225 miles from Hobbiton to the Grey Havens) and shielded by the Blue Mountains.



I'd not thought about that! I wonder what kind of climate it ought therefore to have - something much colder and drier, perhaps? I suppose it's another way in which the Shire wouldn't really work (Shockedalmost as if it's a fantasy place Shocked). Similarly it's an odd place economically - the Bagginses and the like seem to have the consumer goods that suggest extensive trade links or a reasonable -sized empire. And yet the Shire is pretty small and self-contained. Nor is the climate really suitable for growing smoking tobacco or 'Old Winyards' (which I assume is something red and strong of the kind that the British historically imported from Bordeaux or Portugal to make damp British winter evenings a little more cheery).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 23, 7:41pm


Views: 209
Such

a shame this forum has no "like" button. This post would get one if it had.


Otaku-sempai
Latrommi


Jan 23, 9:13pm


Views: 198
The Shire: Weather, Water and Climate


In Reply To
That's a lovely photo.

In Reply To
The one disjunct is that while England has a maritime climate- there is no point in Great Britain more than 50 miles from the sea - the Shire is well inland (225 miles from Hobbiton to the Grey Havens) and shielded by the Blue Mountains.



I'd not thought about that! I wonder what kind of climate it ought therefore to have - something much colder and drier, perhaps? I suppose it's another way in which the Shire wouldn't really work (Shockedalmost as if it's a fantasy place Shocked). Similarly it's an odd place economically - the Bagginses and the like seem to have the consumer goods that suggest extensive trade links or a reasonable -sized empire. And yet the Shire is pretty small and self-contained. Nor is the climate really suitable for growing smoking tobacco or 'Old Winyards' (which I assume is something red and strong of the kind that the British historically imported from Bordeaux or Portugal to make damp British winter evenings a little more cheery).


Yeah, assuming south-westerly winds, the Shire shouldn't get very much precipitation due to its location east of the Blue Mountains, but that should apply to all of the former kingdom of Arthedain. One might expect the region to be fairly arid. The main sources for water in the Shire would have included the Brandywine River and run-off from the North Moors, the South Downs and the White Downs. Maybe the region also benefited from natural artesian wells? The Shire, and the Northfarthing in particular, was near to Lake Nenuial (the source of the Brandywine).

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 23, 9:20pm)


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 9:15pm


Views: 200
It's amazing how well NZ worked

considering Tolkien was loosely thinking of Europe for Middle-earth, not NZ. Yet I don't think the UK has any river gorge like the Argonath that could be dressed up the way that one in NZ is, correct? My point being that if someone reshot LOTR all in the UK, I think we'd be disappointed given the comparison. Other things really stick with me, like Edoras: it would be hard to find a competing location.

But then Rohan, for me, could have been anywhere: the Great Plains of the US, the Russian steppe, Mongolia. Grasslands are a dime a dozen.

It might have been cool to shoot Mt Doom around active volcanoes in Hawaii. And for Mordor in general, anywhere that there's been a lot of strip mining would probably do.

In sum, my imagination pulls on different places I've seen to fill in the blanks in the descriptions. Some are fuzzier than others.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 23, 9:16pm


Views: 189
That final photo with the cloudy sky is a keeper. //

 


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Jan 23, 11:26pm


Views: 185
Lovely photos all round

And I'm oddly pleased to see a bunch of Tolkienists discussi g the landscape itself, given the author sweated it so hard.

I suppose my idea of the Shire has drawn heavily on my native northeast US, but for whatever reason, our fields and the Oxford fields shown above don't look so different (as opposed to Andean or Thai fields which can seem like another planet). Because they were laid out by the same blokes, I suppose?

I always feel bad for knowing too little about plants to really absorb all the information he offers. I have at least tried to pick up on some of the baroque landscape vocabulary.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 24, 2:44pm


Views: 150
baroque landscape vocabulary

If it's any consolation, a lot of Tolkien's nature vocabulary is also obscure to me, a sample British English speaker (though not, of course the 'reference' one, who presumably is kept in some vault under the Oxford English Dictionary offices).

Perhaps using somewhat archaic terms helps give the Middle-earth of LOTR some of it's medieval flavour, but without using a style that is very different to much Twentieth Century writing? Or perhaps some of this vocabulary was more part of everyday speech to Tolkien's immediate audience than it is to readers now? The second issue does cause trouble elsewhere (we periodically get queries from someone who doesn't happen to know that 'fly' can be a past tense of 'to flee' and so wonders whether such and such a character can really be traveling through the air.). Yet another possibility is that Tolkien was a poet, and I think he's very alert to the sonic possibilities of his word choices, and had a gargantuan vocabulary from which to choose the right word for sound and rhythm as well as meaning and style.

Or maybe all of those.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 24, 3:01pm


Views: 152
Thanks - that's the River Thames from Eynsham Toll Bridge

Or, to be more exact from the top deck of a bus passing over the bridge. I was lucky that both the clouds and the bus were moving slowly enough that I could capture the moment I'd seen.

I suppose that rivers like this (yes, you could probably chuck a rock across!) are in my imagination when I think about, say, The Brandywine. There even used to be a ferry worked with ropes nearby at Bablock Hythe (some pictures of that on this website - you'll need to scroll down past the maps). I don't think that runs now, which was a shame when I walked there once, and found I was on the opposite bank to the pub. The Brandywine must be a more formidable river though - people swim across and up and down the Thames at Eynsham in the autumn, and I imagine that what a child can swim, a horse can swim. (This being relevant because Merry says he doesn't think the Black Riders can reach Crickhollow by swimming the Brandywine. But that's another chapter).

Anyway, it seems plausible to me that most of Tolkien's landscapes are composites of real-life experience and imagination, rather than usually being a direct lift of something from real life.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 24, 4:14pm


Views: 410
Thanks but Don't encourage me "You do not know your peril" :)

I'm worse that Merry when asked about pipe-weed, and could carry on discussing my home county and posting photos until I caused mass wisteria


[caption - a street of Oxfordshire cottages on which a lot of wisteria is flowering]

One piece of trivia that might interest folks though is that the John Tolkien was parish priest of an Oxfordshire Catholic Church, which consequently now has a rather familiar design to its weathervane:


[Caption - a weathervane at St Peter's RC Church Eynsham, Oxfordshre, in the form of the JRRT monogram]

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 24, 4:14pm)


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 24, 4:58pm


Views: 404
I get lost in all the plant names too


Quote
I always feel bad for knowing too little about plants to really absorb all the information he offers.


When Tolkien goes on about something like "the elders were beginning to fade, while hickory was about to bloom, and the mahogany competed with the lotuses...", my eyes just glaze over, as if someone were saying "the cadmium nickel alloy interacted with the dihydrogen phosphate dilution to produce a helium argon composite." And I do like plants! But he talks about them in a way that suggests that the reader not only knows them, but also knows a lot about them and can keep up with him, which I just can't. But, the overall effect is always good.





Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 24, 4:59pm


Views: 402
Yes


In Reply To
Anyway, it seems plausible to me that most of Tolkien's landscapes are composites of real-life experience and imagination, rather than usually being a direct lift of something from real life.


Certainly. For example, it has been pointed out that his striking image of the brown Withywindle, covered and surrounded by willows and yellow willow-leaves, could almost be a portrait of the Cherwell above its confluence with Isis in late September-- except that the Withywindle isn't in the middle of a busy city! T would certainly have been familiar with it, as Addison's Walk was one of his favorite strolls.

WRT vocabulary: an awful lot of his "archaic" words in this part are actually dialectical or colloquial: words still (at least in the 30s-40s) used by country-folk long after we clevers abandoned them for sleek urban modspeak.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jan 24, 5:01pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 24, 6:42pm


Views: 391
NZ locations were magnificent.

...and quite likely they help a lot of modern readers imagine the book. I certainly would not want someone to join the discussion at this point and think I was claiming that only British locations would be 'authentic' in some way (I'm not worried about those of us who've read the whole thing forgetting that I made that point earlier, but I think sometimes people jump in where the post title looks promising and get the wrong idea).

Anyone trying to shoot a film or imagine the book in the UK (for whatever reason) would have a number of problems finding locations, I expect. I can't think of a suitably dramatic river gorge, and we don't have any active volcanoes. A major problem would surely be the lack of high dramatic mountains. You can't have Middle-earth without mountains. I think the idea is that Tolkien drew upon things he'd seen in a trip to the Alps (though my guess is that it all got stewed up with other things he'd read or thought about - I think that's what creative people often do) . So we'd end up outside the UK even with an attempt to shoot at/ imagine the places that Tolkien is known to have visited personally and which are believed to have influenced him.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Hamfast Gamgee
SnevaH Yerg

Jan 24, 9:14pm


Views: 384
Of Gildor

I have assumed that Gildor and his company where making their way to the Grey Havens, but now I suppose that there is no proof of that. I wonder what journey his company where going to.


Hamfast Gamgee
SnevaH Yerg

Jan 24, 9:17pm


Views: 385
OOOh

I'd have quite liked the dancing pink elephants. Or maybe brown ones. Or maybe oliphants. But not in the Shire. Unless they are pink.


Hamfast Gamgee
SnevaH Yerg

Jan 24, 9:20pm


Views: 382
A question about the Shire

Is there actually anywhere an official map of it? I have wondered where it's precise borders are. it sounds like it could be a bit bigger than I imagined if one takes the ultimate possibilities of its border.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Jan 24, 11:12pm


Views: 381
I thought I remembered

That they were on their way to the towers on the far downs, if not the Havens.

I've had precious little time to weigh in here, but here's at least the germ of the thought I keep wanting to stick in: particularly with respect to the discussion of how the early chapters welcome readers hot off the Hobbit, the arrival of Gildor and his people marks the first appearance of the dignified, high and holy sort of elves we feel reverence for. That's not really present in the Hobbit, where the elves are a good bit more waggish and fey and susceptible to their own oafish behaviors. Here, though, we begin to see them as wee angels, still steaming a bit with the memory of Heaven.


Otaku-sempai
Latrommi


Jan 25, 1:41am


Views: 372
Maps of the Shire


In Reply To
Is there actually anywhere an official map of it? I have wondered where it's precise borders are. it sounds like it could be a bit bigger than I imagined if one takes the ultimate possibilities of its border.


(Christopher?) Tolkien's map of the Shire, generally found at the end of the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring only shows the central region and only extends to the eastern border and the Old Forest. For a more complete map that shows the borders of the Shire, you have to look at other sources. Here is a map by the late Karen Wynn Fonstad from The Atlas of Middle-earth:



Click on the pic for a larger image. At the time of the War of the Ring, the Shire measured perhaps 150 miles from east to west, and about 140 miles from north to south.

#FidelityToTolkien


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 25, 2:08am


Views: 371
Subject


In Reply To
That they were on their way to the towers on the far downs, if not the Havens. .


According to The Road Goes Ever On, they had just been on a pilgrimage to Emyn Beraid (to look in the Palantir), and were on their way back to Rivendell.

Why on earth they didn't take Frodo with them is unanswered.....


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Jan 25, 3:52am


Views: 370
Guess I had that backward

And yes indeed, if so it seems mad not to travel together. Gildor knew the hobbits were making for Rivendell, didn't he? Alao, why do we not see them there once we arrive?


ElanorTX
SnevaH Yerg


Jan 25, 9:11am


Views: 345
perhaps Gildor

was the one who left the beryl-stone on the Last Bridge. Or did Glorfindal do it? He says he left a token on the Bridge of Mitheithel.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 25, 3:15pm


Views: 316
Shire Map

Apparently there exists - not in print - CT's original map of the Shire ca. 1943, of which the published one was a cropped copy. It was here that CT added many of those very hobbity place-names, most borrowed from real places in England, since apparently his father had given him a "feel free" for the blank areas


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 25, 3:32pm


Views: 316
Why don't the elves fly with Frodo to Rivendell?

I read Gildor as very reluctant to take charge of a situation that is clearly delicate, but which he doesn't understand (see long quote below for the bit I'm reading that makes me think this). Perhaps this shows he's wise - I expect most of us have seen someone take charge of a situation they haven't mastered, and, then make it far worse or thwart someone else's perfectly fine plan?

There's a bit of 'being foiled by our own security'. Frodo has been guarded in what he's said to Gildor ("You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?"). What plight does Gildor imagine Frodo is in? Clealry some very hush-hush wizard business requires Frodo to go to Rivendell (Frodo tells Gildor that, prompting Gildor to say his bit about not meddling in the affairs of wizards). But I'm not sure Gildor's guessed the whole truth, and therefore the full significance of Frodo's journey. Perhaps it would all be different if Frodo told Gildor all that we readers know.

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't be different. I notice that people who do know all about Frodo's situation are eager to show him options, but very reluctant to make choices for him. Examples include:
  • Gandalf - has been reluctant earlier in this chapter to tell Frodo when or in which direction to set out. Perhaps this is just as well. A more hasty Gandalf might have bustled Frodo off to Orthanc to consult Saruman immediately. That probably would not have gone well.
  • Council of Elrond - waits for Frodo to volunteer rather than orders him to go
  • Galadriel and Celeborn - don't insist on Frodo looking in the Mirror; equips the Fellowship with boats so as to postpone the Mordor or Gondor choice.
  • Aragorn at Parth Galen - leaves Frodo to make the Mordor or Gondor choice
I think the wise in Middle-earth try to sense what is 'meant to happen', and then help to make that so. My sense of this is to do with Gildor's comment "In this meeting there may be more than chance; but the purpose is not clear to me, and I fear to say too much." I read that as Gildor saying it's possible that this meeting with Frodo has been 'arranged' (by Fate, the Valar, Eru, or other options as you wish). But to what purpose, if indeed the meeting wasn't just a random encounter after all? Gildor is waiting for some further sign before intervening more fully than being Frodo's host, and then doing low risk stuff like sending out messages to alert Rivendell, Bombadil and Aragorn. Perhaps it would have been different had Frodo asked to be escorted to Rivendell (maybe that would be a sign that Gildor &Co. are to be Frodo's bodyguard). But Gildor doesn't feel it's appropriate to offer things Frodo hasn't asked for.

Here's what Gildor says:

Quote
“‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you? But if you demand advice, I will for friendship’s sake give it. I think you should now go at once, without delay; and if Gandalf does not come before you set out, then I also advise this: do not go alone. Take such friends as are trusty and willing. Now you should be grateful, for I do not give this counsel gladly. The Elves have their own labours and their own sorrows, and they are little concerned with the ways of hobbits, or of any other creatures upon earth. Our paths caross theirs seldom, by chance or purpose. In this meeting there may be more than chance; but the purpose is not clear to me, and I fear to say too much.’”


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 25, 6:08pm


Views: 304
Yes

I suspect generally you're right. OTOH, what Gildor does know is that Frodo is being pursued by freakin' Nazgul! Shouldn't that have been enough to knock him off his neutrality high horse? The Riders alone would have told him that whatever Frodo had gotten himself into it was a very, VERY big deal, and that whatever it was was of an importance to Sauron unprecedented for long centuries.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 25, 8:21pm


Views: 290
I'm 50-50 on Gildor and what he should have done, but maybe this goes back to


Quote
The Lord of the Rings is, of course, a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”

I'm not Catholic, but someone in the Rdg Room quoted a Catholic once as saying that this means everything works according to God's plan, or alternatively, nothing can be accomplished without God, so do whatever you're going to do and expect help from God in making it succeed. So in that sense, Gildor was being a good Catholic and trusting to saints, angels, wizards, and Iluvatar to help Frodo out with the big stuff. Meanwhile, Gildor would send messages ahead for people to help him, a sort of mashup of traditional fairy tales (the quest's path is lined with helpers who just materialize along the way) and Catholicism.

I still don't find that personally very satisfying, and I'm not trying to be dismissive of the idea that Gildor made an unbelievably bad judgment call, but it's how I try to make sense of Tolkien's thinking.

And then I think in real life about people not doing the obvious rational, logical thing that is throbbing right in front of them, and that happens pretty often. Real life is just as illogical and frustrating as fiction.

And I still think Gildor blew it. But so did Gandalf with the ridiculous decision to not ride directly to Rivendell to summon help for Frodo and instead dismiss Shadowfax and make that preposterous journey on foot.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Jan 25, 11:18pm


Views: 276
I think our best shield against this reading

other than fatalism, anyway--is to drum hard on the idea that the powerful allies are slow to realize the magnitude of what Frodo's mixed up in. Which means it's perpetually out of the question for anyone to just guess that the One is involved, save Gandalf alone. But also maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul. Cos if he did--dude. You can't just drop that on a hobbit.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 25, 11:28pm


Views: 275
Good point

Especially because it took our Wise Wizard years to figure out it was Sauron's One Ring. Gildor couldn't figure that out in an evening with Frodo withholding information.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 11:25am


Views: 217
I agree - "maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul."

   

In Reply To
it's perpetually out of the question for anyone to just guess that the One is involved, save Gandalf alone. But also maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul. Cos if he did--dude. You can't just drop that on a hobbit.
Uncle I ( a bit upthread, but the point with which Curious G and I are agreeing)

To us, of course 'Black Riders' is a synonym for Nazgul, because that's the sense of the story. It's clear that we're toe regard the Black Riders of Book 1 as the same creatures as the Nazgul when they turn up later (though they do seem to have had a upgrade while we've not been watching them, and whether and how that works is a possible further thing to talk about).
But it does seem to me that Gildor could be different. It's frightened talk of 'black riders' (he probably can't hear the capitalization) that persuades Gildor to take the hobbits in for the night, and in his talk with Frodo it's clear that he's assumed these black riders are agents of the Enemy. So the question is whether it should be totally obvious that these black riders are the reappearance of the Nazgul. For some bizarre reason I've spent a while thinking about this. I suppose that concluding that black riders = nazgul requires some reasoning, whichbreaks down into further questions (I've numbered them so you know I mean business Wink):
  1. If you knew about them from the Second Age but didn't realise they'd been unleashed in the Third Age present of this story, would you expect the Nazgul to appear as riders in black?
  2. Are there many other riders in black, who are servants of Sauron, but not Nazgul?
My own reasoning is that it's
  1. No
  2. Yes
...and I reach that conclusion as follows:

1) Gandalf reports to the Council of Elrond that Radagast told him about the Nazgul as follows:

Quote
"I have an urgent errand,” he said. “My news is evil.” Then he looked about him, as if the hedges might have ears. “Nazgûl,” he whispered. “The Nine are abroad again. They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black.”"
(My italics)

My thought is that "They have taken the guise of riders in black" is redundant if the nazgul are always dressed like that.

I'm also reminded that Strider tells the hobbits that the nazgul use the robes to clothe their nothingness (or something like that, if that's not the correct direct quote). Presumably any kind of concealing clothing would also work for that? So not conclusive, I agree, but I persuade myself.


2) I can think of at least one person who can be described as a black rider (someone wearing black and on a horse) but who isn't a Black Rider (synonym for Nazgul):

Quote
“The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’”


Indeed, as I read it, Sauron has a host of black riders:

Quote
"All that host was clad in sable, dark as the night. Against the wan walls and the luminous pavement of the road Frodo could see them, small black figures in rank upon rank, marching swiftly and silently, passing outwards in an endless stream. Before them went a great cavalry of horsemen moving like ordered shadows...”

(OK, I can also read that so the at infantry is clad in black - first sentence - and we haven't been told in the second sentence what colour the cavalry uniforms are. But I'm going to infer black. I think Sauron has a thing about black.

Sadly I don't think we get a description of how Sauron's messenger to Dain is dressed - just "A horseman in the night" if I recall. But in any case, I'm personally happy to conclude it's not unreasonable for Gildor to conclude that 'black riders' means Sauron's troops or agents, rather than it being unavoidable to conclude that its the Nazgul. That for me makes sense of Gildr saying (to Frodo in our chapter)

I also agree that Gildor might not get to the truth because the truth is pretty improbable. Radagast clearly considers that his news for Gandalf is pretty rad and they're both aghast. But he doesn't seem to have worked out why the Nazgul are abroad. Only Gandalf and Saruman have nearly all the pieces of the puzzle.
As a final thought (just occurred to me so may be wrong): in some ways Gildor is one of the last people to be able to work it out. The travels of the Nazgul are supposed to have given all the mortals who see them the screaming heebie-geebies. Maybe only the otherwordly elves haven't heard about this?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 26, 11:32am)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 11:46am


Views: 211
Is there also a point here about the story's genesis?

We've discussed earlier that the Black Riders sort of popped up into the story without Tolkien consciously having expected it. When he wrote the Gildor episode I don't know whether Tolkien had realized that the Black Riders were the awful Nazgul. I have a hazy memory that for a while there were many rings and many black riders, before Tolkien heightened it to The Ring and The Nazgul?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 11:47am


Views: 212
Is there anything else in this chapter you'd like to discuss?

It's our last day as chapter of the week, after which we plunge back underground to face the long dark of Moria. This thread won't be locked off once it's no longer chapter of the week, and so further thoughts can always be posted. But of course it's right to support whoever is hosting the current week's chapter!
So what have we not discussed yet that you'd like to raise? Ask, theorize or otherwise share away!

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


sador
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 1:06pm


Views: 209
You not on time? What about me, a week late?

Well, I have a sort of an excuse - I did plan to respond last week, and for some reason the server had problems. I hope this comes through - and that I will be able to post the discussion I am supposed to lead in two weeks' time!



In Reply To

This chapter hasn’t always been a favourite of mine. At one time I would have had a lot of sympathy with Tolkien doing more like what Peter Jackson’s film did


I never felt that way. Possibly because I was a Bakshi-firster, and had two extras who are only differentiated (ever so slightly) when captured by the orcs - I was overjoyed to find they have their distinct personalities.







In Reply To

I’ve heard various ideas about why Gandalf doesn't insist on making an immediate run for it, and why Tolkien might have wanted an Autumn departure. We can discuss that this week if you like.


All ideas for not making an immediate run read like excuses - except for the one Gandalf himself states: It was a blunder. At first, Gandalf had no real sense of urgency, and preferred to indulge Frodo (and also enable a less provocative disappearing for him); and after hearing Radagast's news, he both panicked and decided to trust Butterbur.
The wish for an Autumn departure if all fine and dandy - but Tolkien didn't really have to place The Shadow of the Past that early in the year.




In Reply To
I’ve come to find a lot of things in the chapter I like. There’s an autumnal feeling, and especially a feeling of walking in the countryside in the autumn.

Is this a specifically English thing?





In Reply To
But when I read the chapter closely, I find an odd thing - all the description that I think I must have read isn’t really there. In general I notice that Tolkien gives us quick, impressionistic details rather than long paragraphs of description or explanation. But somehow, it’s enough for me to construct a vivid picture. Come to think of it, I feel this is an important part of Tolkien’s writing in LOTR - sketch enough that you recruit the reader’s imagination to fill in the details more vividly than the author could do themselves.

That's a very nice observation. I like it very much.
Apart of the effects you've mentioned - it also personalizes our experience of Middle-earth. We care about the place itself, and that is because we were so (unknowingly) active in constructing it.





In Reply To
I like the banter and relationship between the three hobbits.

So did Tolkien himself, and Christopher (as a boy). As a matter of fact, Tolkien confessed that the early chapters took him so long to write, because he enjoyed writing and re-writing this part so much.



Does the writing work this way for you too? What sort of countryside do you imagine?
Oh boy, I have so little in way of visual imagination - I have no idea.
I guess that is a part of why I enjoyed the films so much - without having much of an opinion on how well they represented Middle-earth.




In Reply To
There’s the way in which the danger of the Black Riders is slowly revealed -- I expect that a lot of readers sense Frodo is in real danger before he’s fully willing to believe it himself.

Seeing how Gandalf allowed him to dawdle on the way - why should he?
And unlike the reader - Frodo did have three calm months, to lull him into a flase sense of security.




In Reply To

The chapter ends with meeting Gildor and his elves, in which I think we see elvish strangeness in a way I don’t get in Rivendell or Lorien.


That's not a bad way of putting it.


plot stuff:

In Reply To
Gandalf’s absence - the first occurance of our heroes being split up, unable to communicate, and having to guess what best to do.

Is Gandalf a hero? I would say he is a mentor and a guide, rather than a companion. As a matter of fact, that is the same as in The Hobbit.





In Reply To
Frodo’s temptation to put on the Ring - how we begin to see it’s not the handy magical gadget of The Hobbit, and begin to understand, rather than just take Gandalf’s word for, the danger Frodo is in.


We don't quite understand yet - but now we have Tolkien's word for it, as well.




In Reply To
the messages that Gildor sends out (for the rest of Book 1 we’ll keep on meeting helpers who received them)


Yes. I have written several times on these boards, that Gildor's messages - and his blessing Frodo in the name of Elbereth - amount to a lot of help, hardly less than actually taking the hobbits with him. And it did give Frodo a lot of schooling.
But I do sympathize with the feeling that he should have taken Frodo with him. Would it actually have been better? Who knows?





In Reply To
Sam’s new found determination to see the Quest through.

Somebody pointed out his farewell to the beer-barrel.
As far as I remember, we only learn of his determination in the next chapter, do we not?





In Reply To
I’d like also to point out how Frodo is already having to learn to rely on himself and his friends.

I've mentioned that above, regarding Gildor. And yes, it will be some time before he is any good at it - but without this schooling, he would never have been able to make it into Mordor.
But here's a point to ponder - if Gildor had just looked in the Palantir, and since he has some mystic connection to Varda - might he have been guided more clearly than others, and intuited that it would be better to just let Frodo go on his merry way alone?
This is a massive stretch, of course. Call it a UUT (an Utterly Unsupported Theory).



In Reply To

But I don’t understand the fox. I’m not sure I even like the fox. The fox seems just plain weird to me, though I know some people like it. Happy to talk about the fox, this week, but I hope we don’t only talk about the fox!



It is a leftover from The Hobbit. Fun in itself, and a way for Tolkien to point out how unusual this situation is - but not even mentioned later as being in cahoots with Bombadil (which I might have expected, seeing how familiar he is with badgers).


As a last point to ponder: what do you make of the chapter title?
Well, it makes sense to me, as it reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:12: "...and a threefold cord is not quickly broken".


However, the author of Bored of the Rings have sort of adopted your suggestion at the beginning of the post - and made this chapter into "Three's company, Four's a bore".



Thinking about things I don't understand


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 2:54pm


Views: 194
Look, black is a slimming color that never goes out of style

so there's Sauron's fashion-sense to consider, as well as him being self-conscious about his Third Age belly.

But more seriously, the Mouth of Sauron came to my mind too when I thought of alternatives to the Nazgul that Gildor might know about. And you make a good point that he wouldn't have heard the capitalization of Black Riders in the hobbits' voices.

Gildor's final words on the topic seem mixed:

Quote
Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me! But my heart forbodes that, ere all is ended, you, Frodo son of Drogo, will know more of these fell things than Gildor Inglorion. May Elbereth protect you!’

Any Wise person would counsel the hobbits to avoid the Mouth of Sauron at all costs--it's enough to know he's a servant of the Enemy, and he seems pretty deadly. But "fell things" is a different category. And if the riders were just Black Numenoreans, there wouldn't be that much to know about them, but Gildor's foreboding that Frodo will know more about them than Gildor does seems like there's something special, and awful, to to know about these particular black riders. Possibly Gildor himself isn't sure of what they are, and he certainly hasn't seen them: maybe they're Nazgul, and maybe they're just Sauron's servants wearing black. I think the reader knows more than Gildor, overall.


squire
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 4:32pm


Views: 187
Come on Inn - and other trivia

A few thoughts after re-reading, at your invitation.

1) I suddenly noticed that Frodo's decision to sell Bag End as the chapter opens is said to reach both the Ivy Bush and the Green Dragon. Truth to tell, in all my readings of the book, I'd never noticed that there are two, not one, Shire inns filled with gossips at the beginning of the book.

So, as I found, the Ivy Bush is "on the Bywater Road", and it's the place in Chapter One where the Gaffer and the Miller and others discuss Bilbo's and Frodo's history and affairs in the run-up to the farewell party. The Green Dragon, on the other hand, is in Bywater itself, and it is the place in Chapter Two where Sam and Ted and others discuss what's happened in the Shire in the years since Bilbo's party.

I couldn't help but notice that the first place features the older generation, while the second involves their sons. Presumably this conveys some passage of time, as well as the handing of the story's torch from Bilbo (older "Hobbit" generation) to Frodo (younger "Lord of the Rings" generation).

But why not hammer it home by having both conversations take place in the same Inn, assuming readers are even attentive enough to remember one inn from another (as I was not)? Since this chapter refers to both Inns as recipients of the news of the next part of the plot, are we supposed to think that the Gaffer and Sandyman are still monopolizing the Ivy Bush, while their sons, seeking a way out of their fathers' shadows, have colonized a new hang-out for themselves?

2) Another aspect of the story that I notice today is that Frodo manages to find a way East from his hole to Crickhollow that allows him to travel unnoticed, as Gandalf had originally advised him to do. That is, he crosses the main river valley and Great Road under cover of darkness, and ascends into higher country to the South, said to be on the edge of the Tooklands. From there he heads East on an old, little-used "road" that leads to the Woody End in the Eastfarthing.

So far, so good. But they walk mile after mile through what seems to be wooded country, yet open enough to provide vistas of the more distant lands they are headed towards. The road is too narrow for carts, and there is "little traffic to the Woody End", in explanation for why "they had not met a soul on the road" (except for the fox, of course). There are no farmhouses; there are no woodsmen's huts; there are no fields or meadows; there are no travellers coming in the other direction. In short, in the heart of the Shire, the only place in all of Eriador that is intensively populated and cultivated, there is a perfectly mysterious and hidden semi-wooded and hilly corridor from Hobbiton to the Brandywine River.

I have to assume that, as you've been asking this week, this landscape is inspired by some corners of rural England that Tolkien had tramped in, some part that is actually unfarmed, ungrazed, and unsettled and yet is not considered a "forest" as The Old Forest is.

It's certainly very convenient, and quite reminiscent of most of the rest of the journey: wherever the Company walks on the Road that goes ever on, they never meet anyone who is not directly connected with the plot. Not on the Great Road from the Downs to Rivendell, not in the wild country from Rivendell to Moria, not on the next Great Road from the Morannon to the Crossroads, and not on the dire Road from Udun to Barad-dur.

I accept that this is how Tolkien has built his questing story, but it sometimes gets to me. In this chapter and the next particularly, when they are still in the Shire, I miss the lack of happenstance, of hail-fellow-well-met and how's the weather, of The Hobbit's more realistic transition from "a wide respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business" to "lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before" to "the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, no inns, and the roads grew steadily worse". After all, at this point Frodo is not trying to hide from the Shire-folk in order to conceal where or in which direction he is headed, as he and Gandalf had discussed at the beginning of the summer and despite his dislike of "too many eyes prying". His relocation to Buckland is public knowledge and had our three-hobbit company walked along the Great Road, it would or could have been of little consequence. One involuntarily concludes that Frodo is quite simply looking for an adventure right out of the gate.

3) Finally, is it an anachronism that Frodo says "All aboard, Sam?" when Sam emerges from the beer cellar? I associate that phrase with the departure of railroad trains: it's the traditional cry of the conductor warning travelers to get 'aboard' the train before it leaves them far behind. But perhaps it derives from an earlier usage regarding sailing ships in similar circumstances: get "aboard" before the boat leaves the dock? If the latter case is true, that might excuse Frodo from using an English colloquialism of the industrial era, at the expense of assuming there's a hobbit idiom that relates to overseas travel on pre-industrial sailing ships. (Unfortunate desire to check ... and yes, Cirdan says "All is now ready" rather than "All aboard", but then then sure enough, "the Elves were going aboard" the ship at the Havens.)



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 5:16pm


Views: 181
Gildor's final words - maybe that's where Tolkien wobbles?

The meeting with Gildor combines two things about this chapter I really like, and perhaps Tolkien has just stacked up too many unstable ingredients.

To recap my initial post, I like the way that Tolkien has been able to nudge and wink me as a reader into more alarm about these Black Riders than Frodo is yet feeling. I imagine that's a delicate balance to write - characters have to convey things they have not fully interpreted themselves (or have interpreted differently to us). But yet they have to act naturally, rather than something like "Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me! You're not supposed to find out any more until you meet a chap called Strider! Oh bother - I wasn't supposed to tell you that!"

Gildor's advice - don't accept sweeties from strangers, basically - is a wise generic rule for actual or potential servants of the Enemy whether they are evil Big People or the dread Nazgul. I was thinking until just now that Gildor isn't giving any more specific advice because he doesn't know what kind of pursuers Frodo has, and therefore doesn't know what they will do. But in fact he says something a little different - it's because he doesn't know why Frodo is traveling that Gildor can't guess what the pursuers will do. I'm beginning to think Tolkien is overdoing the creating suspense here. Yes, arguably any servant of the Enemy is a 'deadly...fell creature'. But Gildor's logic (seemingly that the less Frodo knows the more likely he is to press on to safety) is a bit odd.

The other thing I really like, but which seems a bit unstable is the way the elves are presented here. I do like it - they wander into and out of the Shire on their own inscrutable business, and do so mostly unseen. Even Sam, who'd dearly like to see one hasn't managed it for sure before this. Respectable hobbit folk don't believe in, let alone have any truck with, such uncanny folk as elves. Yet here they are, crossing the Shire at will and setting up hidden greenwood dining halls, without a moment's bother about whose coppice they're camping out in. For a mortal to encounter them is a dreamlike experience (and then we'll find next chapter that they're gone in the morning). And it's something of the elves' choosing -- Gildor says he's seen Frodo more than Frodo has seen him.
So the elves in this chapter don't seem much like the elves of The Hobbit at all, but I see some similarity to the mysterious disappear-when-you-approach-their-campfire elves we first try to meet in Mirkwood. Gildor &Co. certainly seem stranger than than the pointy-eared Prince and his regional political power we get to know during the dwarves' imprisonment and the diplomacy and battle at Erebor. Nor do Gildor &Co. seem to me totally like the Rivendell or Lorien elves later in LOTR (or to Legolas). So maybe Gildor is caught between being too fey to help and too good and wise not to understand why he should help (as well as being unable to spill the beans because Tolkien isn't quite ready to have them spilled yet). Or maybe it all makes sense to Tolkien (or to the rest of you). But I'm now going to hum Joni Mitchell - "I really don't know elves at all."




~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 6:05pm


Views: 296
The Shire's porous borders

I sometimes wonder about how the Elves feel so entitled to traipse all over the Shire and have campouts in the woods there, and yet even Elf-philes like Sam can't find them. And as you point out, they can see Frodo without him seeing them.

But there's the larger issue of how foreigners enter the Shire that isn't nailed down for me:
1. Dwarves regularly use the main road across the Shire and stay at its inns and pubs. Hobbits even talk to them.
2. Gandalf is a Man and no hobbit, and he has easy entry, even if Hobbiton gossip becomes unfavorable to him.
3. In this chapter, Frodo says, "‘There are some Men about,’ .... ‘Down in the Southfarthing they have had trouble with Big People, I believe. But I have never heard of anything like this rider. I wonder where he comes from.’ And no matter how unnerving the Black Riders are, it seems the Bounders either haven't tried to keep them out or raised the alarm when they broke in.
4. Elves cross the Shire easily and without notice, and they don't seem to use the main road that Dwarves do. They also don't use inns like Dwarves do (so much for supporting the local economy), and they only talk to rare hobbits like Frodo and Bilbo.

I suppose Tolkien is being plot-driven here, and he's more appropriately concerned with telling a good story than figuring out the Shire's visa and passport requirements. But it is hard to figure out how hobbits can live and feel so isolated when they have strangers passing routinely through their land.


Quote
There were, however, dwarves on the road in unusual numbers. The ancient East–West Road ran through the Shire to its end at the Grey Havens, and dwarves had always used it on their way to their mines in the Blue Mountains. They were the hobbits’ chief source of news from distant parts – if they wanted any: as a rule dwarves said little and hobbits asked no more. But now Frodo often met strange dwarves of far countries, seeking refuge in the West. They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and of the Land of Mordor.



noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 6:20pm


Views: 294
Thanks for these!

 

In Reply To
are we supposed to think that the Gaffer and Sandyman are still monopolizing the Ivy Bush, while their sons, seeking a way out of their fathers' shadows, have colonized a new hang-out for themselves?

That would be my guess. Or that there are differences of opinion about the choice or quality of the beer in the two establishments. Or (in the pressure-cooker social life of a small village) its down to who you want to meet or don't want to meet when trying to relax with a drink, or finding somewhere where people won't immediately tut or gossip about what you're doing and who you're doing it with.


In Reply To
Another aspect of the story that I notice today is that Frodo manages to find a way East from his hole to Crickhollow that allows him to travel unnoticed, as Gandalf had originally advised him to do. That is, he crosses the main river valley and Great Road under cover of darkness, and ascends into higher country to the South, said to be on the edge of the Tooklands. From there he heads East on an old, little-used "road" that leads to the Woody End in the Eastfarthing.

So far, so good. But they walk mile after mile through what seems to be wooded country, yet open enough to provide vistas of the more distant lands they are headed towards. The road is too narrow for carts, and there is "little traffic to the Woody End", in explanation for why "they had not met a soul on the road" (except for the fox, of course). There are no farmhouses; there are no woodsmen's huts; there are no fields or meadows; there are no travellers coming in the other direction. In short, in the heart of the Shire, the only place in all of Eriador that is intensively populated and cultivated, there is a perfectly mysterious and hidden semi-wooded and hilly corridor from Hobbiton to the Brandywine River.

I have to assume that, as you've been asking this week, this landscape is inspired by some corners of rural England that Tolkien had tramped in, some part that is actually unfarmed, ungrazed, and unsettled and yet is not considered a "forest" as The Old Forest is.


I hadn't noticed that! Maybe it's not too implausible though. For a long time you'd not have expected to see the whole of the English landscape being obviously farmed. It was more woodland pasture, I believe. In those muscle-powered days, productive bits went under the plough, but other parts weren't feasible to cultivate and those were anyway valued as 'outfield' - for grazing, foraging, 'pannage' (allowing animals to forage in woodland, e.g. for acorns), supplies of fire wood and construction wood, and 'furze' (material such as dried gorse for kindling). The scale of things is probably too small to need a woodsman's cottage - you walk back home when you've got your wood. What's been productive to plough up or farm for dairy has varied a lot over time with changes in available man power, prices of farm inputs and produce and (latterly) subsidy schemes Tolkien was witnessing a big change in the countryside as he wrote - in the Second World War and after there was a huge patriotic drive to turn every last acre over to food production, something that could be maintained after the War by use of the tractors built by factories making tanks only a few years before and the fertilizers made from Nitrogen that would have been destined for explosives only a few years before. If The Shire is English countryside, I think it's a sort of mashup of remembered English countryside. Perhaps Tolkien has conflated recent times (where farming is heavily automated and you're more likely to see walkers than workers about in the countryside) with older times. And then again of course I agree - Tolkien wants the countryside quiet and so it is.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 6:25pm


Views: 297
Elves cross the Shire easily and without notice

I'm imagining they get in via the 'Heigh Stile', which I fancy is a series of hidden steps that they use to climb over the High Hay. Wink

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


squire
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 6:50pm


Views: 294
[said coldly] “You jest, Lord NoWiz, as is your way."

In fact I like this subthread for the echoes it has with my recent one.

I'd forgotten that Frodo's "mysterious corridor" allowing a surreptitious transit of the Shire was also, evidently, long used by the Elvish companies like Gildor's. One of the clues for that, actually, is a visual image we're given when the hobbits have begun their night-time walk along this unpopulated stretch of hilly wooded country:
Thin-clad birches, swaying in a light wind above their heads, made a black net against the pale sky. (LR I.3)
I remember, quite a while ago, linking this to a description I'd come across of the Elves' view of themselves in Arda. They see the stars through the net of tree branches in which they dwell - a net that holds them to the Earth and keeps them from seeking the star-giver in Valinor. So in a way, this little glimpse of the Elvish world-view, even if seen from a hobbit's perspective, may be telling us the trio is entering the Elf Zone in the Shire.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 7:14pm


Views: 289
hobbit-like, I jest about things I take seriously....

I suppose there's little hope really in working out how the elves might get over the Shire's East border unobserved? A pity really, since Frodo is about to realize that he needs to do just that and his Old Forest shortcut doesn't go too smoothly. Perhaps if Gildor had decided to help, Frodo could have escaped via whatever route elvish pilgrims actually used.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 26, 7:19pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 7:25pm


Views: 290
A prosaic explanation for Frodo's route might be

 Frodo does after all look in the mirror and make a comment about needing some strenuous walking. A prosaic explanation for Frodo's route might therefore be that he wants a walk that will get him into shape more quickly (as well as taking a scenic route for his farewell tour of the Shire).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 7:30pm


Views: 292
I like this "mysterious corridor" idea

If someone takes on 'Shortcut to Mushrooms' as their favorite chapter, we'll see the manhunt (well, hobbit-hunt) across some of it, and how, small though it is, you can get lost in a panic. Then the tame, ordered country re-appears towards Farmer Maggot's land as the immediate threat of the Black Riders recedes.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 8:35pm


Views: 285
It explains the fireworks

Gandalf distracts the hobbits with fireworks while the Elves climb over the hedges unnoticed. Textbook.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 26, 8:41pm


Views: 285
Fell beings and fey Elves


In Reply To
So the elves in this chapter don't seem much like the elves of The Hobbit at all, but I see some similarity to the mysterious disappear-when-you-approach-their-campfire elves we first try to meet in Mirkwood. Gildor &Co. certainly seem stranger than than the pointy-eared Prince and his regional political power we get to know during the dwarves' imprisonment and the diplomacy and battle at Erebor. Nor do Gildor &Co. seem to me totally like the Rivendell or Lorien elves later in LOTR (or to Legolas). So maybe Gildor is caught between being too fey to help and too good and wise not to understand why he should help (as well as being unable to spill the beans because Tolkien isn't quite ready to have them spilled yet). Or maybe it all makes sense to Tolkien (or to the rest of you). But I'm now going to hum Joni Mitchell - "I really don't know elves at all."

I got distracted by my own passport issues and forgot to address your point, but yes, the Elves here seem like the fey circle Elves of The Hobbit, and it doesn't take much imagination to think that if an uninvited hobbit did come across one of their campsites/woodhalls/fey circles, there would be a poof! of magic, and they'd all disappear in a flash, making the hobbits wonder if they'd seen real Elves or just an illusion.

Certainly the Elves farther down the Quest's road seem more substantial. There's nothing fey-circlish about the flet where Haldor and his brothers live. If anything, I always feel slightly disappointed that it seems so rustic and ordinary, as if Elves ought to have nicer living quarters everywhere, at all times, even if on a smaller scale.





Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 27, 12:34am


Views: 273
"All aboard" does indeed

derive from an earlier usage related to ships, although not necessarily ones going to foreign parts. The OED's earliest reference to the phrase only dates back to 1704, but "aboard" itself for boats is centuries older (C14th). As an aside, the OED describes the use of "All aboard" for trains as "chiefly U.S."

Hobbits might perhaps use "All aboard" for the Brandywine ferry - or even perhaps a farm cart.

Again from the OED, the sense in which Frodo appears to be using it here: "[all aboard] In extended use, as an encouragement or signal to set off on a course, start a task, etc."


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


(This post was edited by Kimi on Jan 27, 1:49am)


Solicitr
Rodnog


Jan 27, 1:38am


Views: 265
Subjects

The noun bord "side of a ship" and adjective a-bord "on a ship, across the side of a ship" go back to Anglo-Saxon; no Victorianism here! (Cf. starboard, from steorbord "Steering side (of a ship)."

---------------------------------------

Gildor etc do feel a little eerier than Hobbit-elves, or Legolas... but then, they are Noldor.

--------------------------------------
While T wrote the chapter very early before he knew where the story was heading, that certainly wasn't the case in 1967 when he came up with the bit about Gildor & co. returning from Emyn Beraid!


squire
Nevle-flah


Jan 27, 2:42am


Views: 261
'They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, ...'

'Let them sail! But I warrant you haven’t seen them doing it; nor any one else in the Shire.’ (Ted speaking, LR I.2)

Thanks for the research! I am impressed to see that my first reaction to Frodo's phrase, the railroading one, is misplaced as a USA-specific variation.

But if we see that the phrase 'All aboard' only dates to the 1700s in British English, and that the basic vocabulary 'aboard' relates to sailing ships, I would tend to say now that Tolkien has committed not so much an anachronism as a cultural disconnect.

As he emphasizes several times in the story, the hobbits of the Shire typically have an aversion to water travel and are not adventurers on the open seas. We may see the hobbits as quintessentially English, as Tolkien certainly did, but this particular land-lubberly quirk is unlike both the actual English people and their Norse or Germanic ancestors, from whose vocabulary our modern language descends.

We can always explain it away by retreating to the "translation" gag about the Red Book, etc. But really, it seems to me at least that a hobbit simply shouldn't have the phrase "All aboard, Sam?" in his word-hoard.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Jan 29, 3:33am


Views: 172
I would like to say both no and yes.

I have two reactions to the critique of the Shire as being so sparse that Frodo could find a deserted, woody avenue across the half of it, and that elves drift through unseen on the regular. First: I'm fine with it, because I think it's easy for us moderns to overestimate the human population even of familiar places even a couple centuries back. Grimm tales hardly work if the forest isn't a looming unknown; Gawain apparently runs into too many mythic creatures to list in a month's journey around England in the winter; Robin Hood and his crew of over a hundred seem to have been able to hide out indefinitely in Sherwood Forest when the government was actively looking for them. Modern England scarcely has forest at all, but I don't actually think it's too remarkable if the Shire's pre-industrial agrarian landscape included many effectively unsettled stretches, or anyway little-trodden areas, land perhaps that was even just a little less easily arable than plenty of other land close by. The fact that they seem to be running along a slight ridge for part of their hike only supports this. One farmer or family may well work the land out of sight in every direction; there won't be people in every field every day, anyway.

BUT then there's my other reaction, which is that this shades into another matter of the north kingdom that often threatens to unsettle my suspension of disbelief. Tolkien believes in the power of kings and their synecdochal fortunes, all right, or at least within this world he does, but I have real trouble swallowing the implicit notion that when the north kingdom fell by degrees into no state at all, the population itself dried up and blew away, so that the land stands more or less empty. Are we to believe that all the people were slaughtered by the forces of Angmar? Or that there was anybody much up here apart from the Numenorean aristocracy, and the population density of Bree would have been on the high side even back then? It follows them clear through Hollin, this idea of a whole entire landscape empty of settlements because a past dynasty of royals was overthrown. It's like everybody has been turned to gingerbread men and they're just hidden in the trees waiting for a king to appear again so they can come forth and return to their regularly scheduled peasantry.


Otaku-sempai
Latrommi


Jan 29, 3:19pm


Views: 163
Re-population of Eriador


In Reply To
BUT then there's my other reaction, which is that this shades into another matter of the north kingdom that often threatens to unsettle my suspension of disbelief. Tolkien believes in the power of kings and their synecdochal fortunes, all right, or at least within this world he does, but I have real trouble swallowing the implicit notion that when the north kingdom fell by degrees into no state at all, the population itself dried up and blew away, so that the land stands more or less empty. Are we to believe that all the people were slaughtered by the forces of Angmar? Or that there was anybody much up here apart from the Numenorean aristocracy, and the population density of Bree would have been on the high side even back then? It follows them clear through Hollin, this idea of a whole entire landscape empty of settlements because a past dynasty of royals was overthrown. It's like everybody has been turned to gingerbread men and they're just hidden in the trees waiting for a king to appear again so they can come forth and return to their regularly scheduled peasantry.


Many of the people of Eriador likely were killed or driven away by the forces of Angmar; and many died previously in the Great Plague of 1636-37 (though the North-kingdoms weren't hit nearly as hard as Gondor). Yes, it is arguable that the population should have probably recovered greatly in the years since the fall of Angmar, even after the fall of the North-kingdoms. It's possible that it did so, we do have the evidence that Tharbad remained a living city for many years. What we might need to remember is that any such recovery was reversed by a succession of devastating events: 1) the Long Winter of 2758-59; 2) the Fell Winter of 2911; and 3) the floods of the following year that brought ruination to Tharbad and the rest of the region of Minhiriath. Still, the lands probably shouldn't have been as sparsely populated as Tolkien states, and we could argue that such reports underestimated the truth and less than completely accurate.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 29, 3:20pm)


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Jan 29, 3:28pm


Views: 160
That does seem to be Tolkien's assumption


In Reply To
It's like everybody has been turned to gingerbread men and they're just hidden in the trees waiting for a king to appear again so they can come forth and return to their regularly scheduled peasantry.


I find it odd, myself, but it seems the implication of Aragorn's return to Arnor as King (instead of a mere Ranger) means the population will increase again. And part of the waning of Gondor's population seemed due to not having Kings, just second-rate Stewards, so once Aragorn was Gondor's King again, the empty houses of Minas Tirith became full again, etc.

It's a little hard to reconcile this force at work when the Shire has no King and needs no King, yet its population increased enough while Arnor simultaneously depopulated that the Marish could settle Buckland in an expansionist move.


Otaku-sempai
Latrommi


Jan 29, 3:46pm


Views: 158
The Management of the Shire


In Reply To
I find it odd, myself, but it seems the implication of Aragorn's return to Arnor as King (instead of a mere Ranger) means the population will increase again. And part of the waning of Gondor's population seemed due to not having Kings, just second-rate Stewards, so once Aragorn was Gondor's King again, the empty houses of Minas Tirith became full again, etc.

It's a little hard to reconcile this force at work when the Shire has no King and needs no King, yet its population increased enough while Arnor simultaneously depopulated that the Marish could settle Buckland in an expansionist move.


Perhaps the Shire continued to prosper because its own stewards (the Thains) did not beak faith with their responsibilities to the kings of old.

I expect that some of the recovery of the population of Eriador came from immigration from parts of Gondor and Wilderland. However, some of the folks may have been there all along, living uncounted and unremarked in the Lone-lands. After all, there must have been someone living there for the Trolls to prey upon. And Bree-land must have had folk dwelling on the fringes raising cattle, sheep, crops, etc.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 29, 3:49pm)