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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Nice analysis!


Nov 22 2012, 6:21pm

Views: 1323
Nice analysis! [In reply to] Can't Post

A couple of comments:

In Reply To
More significantly, it celebrates the idea of the Road itself, as a symbol of exploration and growth, where the Hobbit version refers to “roads”, not “the road”, which are a means to an end. It seems clear that Bilbo, after he returned Back Again, internalized the idea of his great adventure and became enamored of the idea of journeying rather than the goal of a journey.

That's an interesting thought.
If so, what do you make of the "Let other follow it who can!" in the last version? It doesn't sound like "journeying" in general.

In Reply To

“eager feet” have become “weary feet”. Is that enough for us to project “gloominess” onto Frodo’s mood, compared to Bilbo’s? I get the feeling of resignation instead.

Maybe "gloominess" was inexact. But I don't think mere resignation would account for the weariness.

In Reply To
The image of a “lighted inn” where he will meet his “evening-rest and sleep” suggests to me that the hobbit expects that Death will not be a final fate, but simply a rest on a new journey on a truly distant Road.

I never thought of that. Thank you!

In Reply To
We might almost assume that Bilbo, as a member of a more oral culture, could come up with the spider verses just from his natural training in composition, but that this poem required more art and craft – enough to be begin qualifying him as a poet and to merit Gandalf’s exclamation.

That sounds reasonable. And pretty much like something FarFromHome would write.

(But in that case it wouldn't "sound"; I don't know whether to make the metaphor consistent)

In Reply To
The whole point of the Elves’ more complex songs, and of Bilbo reciting poetry, is to emphasize that the mood of the beginning of the book cannot – and should not – be recovered.

I tend to agree.

In Reply To

I’m not sure you’re contrasting “prosy” and “prosaic” correctly.

You're right. I stand corrected.

In Reply To
I don’t think it’s all such a see-saw matter as you are implying. Through his adventure Bilbo experiences integration, a combining of the Took and Baggins, rather than displacement of one by the other.

But Tolkien describes it as such - up to the end of the previous chapter.

In Reply To

Would you like to speculate that, if Translations from the Elvish is the book we know as The Silmarillion, then the earlier parts having to do with the Elves and the Eldar represent Bilbo’s Tookish side, while the later tales of the adventures of the Edain (Men) represent the Baggins side, thus achieving your above-noted “harmony”?


In Reply To
The point is that Bilbo refused to believe in adventure tales, and then lived through an adventure and wrote it up truthfully – learning thereby that “tales” are more likely to be factual than we would like to admit.

I accept that.

In Reply To
I wouldn’t go that far. I prefer to reflect on Gandalf’s folly for not investigating Bilbo’s ring when it was clearly a Ring of Power from the beginning.

All right, but that's a different question.
And if we take the information Tolkien added in The Tale of Years and The Istari into account, it seems that his even more glaring folly was trusting Saruman. That guy has Traitor written all over his words and actions, in a far worse way that Jackson's Wormtongue.
In fact, this is a problem with most of Tolkien's re-thinkng - whenever he rewrote his earlier tales to make them tally with the later ones, he sacrficed subtlety for consistency.

In Reply To

Absolutely. I trust the narrator implicitly. He is smart and knowledgeable, and he is not Bilbo. All I don’t do is compare The Hobbit to the accounts of the same events in The Lord of the Rings.

Okay. I don't - at least not when he tries to explain in passing motivations of minor characters. He does that too seldom, and never seems to care about others than Bilbo.
You might say (perhaps even correctly) that I abuse my knowledge of Tolkien's later change of mind to impose my own agenda on the book.

In Reply To
A manuscript tradition that proposes the parallel existence of two manuscripts/books, both by Bilbo, with two differing stories about his encounter with Gollum and the ring, is not credible or suggested by the clues in the writing.

I don't think you've proved that. As you've said, there is no explanation to the two different, ah, tradition of the fifth chapter.
And even without that, once we accept Tolkien's conceit about the 'manuscripts' and his statement that the source for The Hobbit was Bilbo's book, which included false information - a slighter prejudice might have entered other chapters.
It's not that the clues aren't there; it's just that you refuse to play along. We all make our choices just how much to follow the author's lead when reading.

In Reply To

I don’t know. How does the chapter count of the Hobbit and LotR compare to that number?

The neatest internal explanation was to assume that Fire and Water was derived from a different manuscript, as no hobbit was a witness. But most likely it was just a mistake.
I remember Christopher Tolkien mentioning it somewhere in HoME, but I don't remember his suggested answer.

In Reply To
I “like” it for its cleverness. I don’t hold the author to it, as if he has made a mistake wherever the conceit fails to work.

I won't say a mistake, but a failure to keep up with his ambition. If nobody else reads this, we two can agree that Tolkien was not always successful.

In Reply To
Thanks for the excellent questions and presentation this week!

Thank you! Such answers make all the involved work worth the while.

"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand

The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Return Journey!

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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