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Nov 25 2012, 9:52am

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In Reply To
Sauron himself didn't return to Dol Guldur after the 10 years, he just sent a few Nazgul to occupy it, which perhaps wasn't quite as bad, from the perspective of the denizens of Mirkwood?

Perhaps; but Legolas didn't give this impression in his report to the Council of Elrond. Neither did Haldir on Cerin Amroth.

In Reply To
To me, this part of the Silmarillion always feels like it's being told from a different perspective - the "historical" perspective of later Gondorians who emphasised the parts of the story that were most important for them. The war to end the Age, and the "strange chance" that saved the world, are the focus of this history, so the words of as great a seer as the Queen's father in this context are given great weight. But are they a literal report of what he actually said, or a historical recreation of his later thinking? In other words, is this "historical revisionism"?

I'm pretty sure that is not what Tolkien was aiming at.
He rewrote the stories again and again, each time with a different view of the characters and events he was writing about, leading to several contradicting accounts.

Now these contradictions leaves the reader three options:
The one of "proper" scholarship. what NEB once called "Tolkien studies", is to analyse how Tolkien's attitudes developed, and try to figure out what that says about him as a thinker and an artist.
The path you seem to adopt, is that of "Middle-earth studies" - trying to map the varying attitudes as reflecting different sources, each with its own traditions, lacunae and even prejudices.
A third one is to try and evaluate the different versions critically, as to which works better.
Obviously, the three do not contradict each other; personally, I like all three, which results in my asking questions in all three approaches.

While the "Middle-earth studies" approach is great fun, I really don't think we can attribute it to any deliberate attempt of Tolkien's side to reconstruct a web of different historical accounts and traitions. My impression is that he did try to achieve a single coherent vision of what "really" happened, and simply never attained it.
Except for the Riddles in the Dark episode, I know of only once when he played with this idea - when he came to the conclusion that the story of the world being made round at the Fall of Numenor made no astronomical sense, and the elves would never have made such a stupid mistake - therefore the whole Silmarillion must have been a garbled Mannish tradition. I'm glad that Christopher decided to drop this development.

As I've said before, I like the "Middle-earth studies" approach - which is why I can live in peace with Jackson's attempt at a different re-telling, even if it involves a new, unauthorised version. If we look at The Lord of the Rings as one historical account - well, "revisionist" scholars do much worse to real sources, don't they? So this vast attempt at fan-fic needs be judged by its success as such, and I personally find it pretty good.

In Reply To

Inspiration is an incredibly powerful force, but where the inspiration comes from is left for the reader to decide for themselves... It's inspiration versus pragmatism, and in Middle-earth there's not much doubt which one will prevail! In the real world the outcome isn't so certain, but the idea that believing strongly in something will make it happen is one that inspires many great deeds in the world.

I agree.

In Reply To
if Gandalf is indeed saying that a "guiding hand" makes the prophecies come true, he's also implying that one such guiding hand is Bilbo himself

As far as the sentence you've quoted goes, you might be correct; but I think the following sentence means more:

You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?

Had I wanted to superimose skepticism on The Hobbit, I might have managed to; but I think this is a clear indicator of Tolkien's own belief.

In Reply To
I haven't been around as much as I'd have liked for the Hobbit discussion, but I'm glad I turned up in time for the end!

So am I!

"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 V - Prophecies and Providence sador Send a private message to sador Nov 20 2012, 7:33pm
    The Necromancer Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Nov 20 2012, 11:26pm
        In The Hobbit alone, you are right. sador Send a private message to sador Nov 22 2012, 3:53pm
            The name of the Necromancer FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 24 2012, 5:43pm
                But I thought sador Send a private message to sador Nov 25 2012, 9:11am
                    That's the odd thing. FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 25 2012, 10:52am
    prophecy, providence and pforesight telain Send a private message to telain Nov 22 2012, 6:22pm
        True or false viviosns? sador Send a private message to sador Nov 23 2012, 10:48am
    Both no and yes... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 24 2012, 5:13pm
        Thank you! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 25 2012, 9:52am
            Thank you for the excellent summary FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 25 2012, 3:53pm
    Gandalf had a lotta splainin' to do! squire Send a private message to squire Dec 1 2012, 8:11pm
        The Hobbit a train wreck as a prequel to Lotr????????????? Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Dec 4 2012, 12:21am
    Thanks for a wonderful post! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Dec 3 2012, 9:15pm


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