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Tour de force


Nov 20 2012, 7:48am

Views: 1542
Tour de force [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent article, sador, even by your own high standards!

I'll try not to repeat squire and FarFromHome, though I am wont to plagiarism when I can get away with it.

Frequency of songs: I'd never noticed them disappearing later in the book, though I can say that in general, I skip over Tolkien's songs anyway. I don't think they're bad, but they just don't seem to do much for me as a reader, unless they're funny--I really like the dwarves singing in Bag End about breaking all of Bilbo's plates. Do you suppose they stole his silver spoons during the ruckuss, instead of Lobelia? Anyway, given how much Tolkien likes adding in songs and poems, it is surprising that he doesn't put some into the later chapters. Even though the action and drama intensify, I can think of a couple of places where they might have worked naturally enough, such as Bilbo singing in his mind to keep up his spirits as he went down to Smaug's lair, and the dwarves singing songs of victory when they reclaimed the dragon hoard. So my question is: do you suppose the omission of songs was deliberate on JRR's part, or was he just so focused on other aspects of writing the chapters that he didn't think of adding songs/poetry?

Is Bilbo's shifting attitudes to the dwarves' songs due to a difference between the songs, i.e. a change in the dwarves, or a change in himself? Is it the same change Gandalf remarked upon?
It seems a little odd that Bilbo doesn't like the songs later in the story, specifically in Esgaroth. He's like a wet blanket on the party. But I think this is Bilbo growing up from his earlier version of "gee whiz, adventure!" to a more skeptical "now that we're at the end of the road, isn't this adventure going to stir up a lot of trouble instead of gold and glory?" I think he's becoming more insightful about things, which culminates in his trying to mediate between the different races to prevent a war.

"The stars are far brighter / Than gems without measure…" – how does this compare to Gimli's accolade of Galadriel's hair (Farewell to Lórien)?

'… which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine'.
Most people, including me, would never make that connection--bravo!

Is the poetry connected to Bilbo's 'Tookish' side, and the prose to the 'Baggins' side? If so, is the 'Tookish' side reasserting itself in the poem he recites before the return home, which the 'Baggins' side wished for at the end of the previous chapter?
I think it's clear by the end of the book that the Tookish side has grown very large and become a permanent fixture of Bilbo's personality, and it coexists with his Baggins side that resettles comfortably in Bag End. He has become a mixture of prose and poetry and is no longer the somewhat dull, predictable (but respectable!) hobbit we first meet. I think Gandalf expects that when Bilbo gets back to the Shire, he'll revert to his Baggins self, so he's surprised and pleased to see that the Took hasn't died out in him upon his return.

Has the Baggins side won? Or have the two achieved a harmony?
More harmony than either side winning. If the Baggins side truly won, Bilbo would dedicate the rest of his life to fitting in and being respectable. But "harmony" might not be the right word. In the beginning of LOTR, Bilbo is tormented inside. Is this entirely from the Ring, or is he unable later in life to make peace between his Baggins and Took characteristics, or is the Ring exploiting those differences as his weak spot?

Move a little further, and the Bilbo we see in Rivendell seems entirely Tookish: he's traveled the world again, and has no intention of going back to live in the Shire, preferring to live with outlandish folk and study foreign languages and non-hobbit things. Any victory the Baggins side has upon his return to Bag End is not going to last.

Do you like the Red Book conceit at all?
Verily forsooth. That is to say, yes and no. Or more simply, no. [from Goodgulf in Bored of the Rings] I should stick with yes and no. In some ways I think the Red Book conceit makes the story more self-contained, and there's a charm in thinking that everything we know comes to us from hobbits. Since most of the trilogy and The Hobbit is told from the perspective of the hobbits, that makes plenty of sense. But there are times when trying to make it work not only seems forced, it fails altogether for me. And that's fine. I think it would diminish the story if I was truly supposed to believe that it was like fairy tale movies where a book opens and closes at the beginning and end of the movie--that device seems to simplify things too much.

Subject User Time
The Last Stage, part III - Poetry and Prose sador Send a private message to sador Nov 15 2012, 9:23am
    “Picaresque” – nice! squire Send a private message to squire Nov 18 2012, 1:25am
        I'm glad you like it. sador Send a private message to sador Nov 19 2012, 8:57am
    Songs and tales FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 19 2012, 11:26am
        Thanks for the links! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 21 2012, 10:50am
    Tour de force CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Nov 20 2012, 7:48am
        Good point FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 21 2012, 10:20am
        Thank you! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 22 2012, 1:17pm
    *What* goes ever on and on? squire Send a private message to squire Nov 22 2012, 6:13am
        Nice analysis! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 22 2012, 6:21pm
        Truth and fiction FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 23 2012, 11:36am


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