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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
explanations and speculation - something the Tolkiens started!

noWizardme
Gondor


Feb 3 2013, 1:18pm


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explanations and speculation - something the Tolkiens started! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"I am not at all sure that the tendency to treat the whole thing as a vast game is really good - certainly not for me, who finds that kind of thing only too fatally attractive. It is, I suppose, a tribute to the curious effect that story has, when based on very elaborate and detailed workings of geography , chronology and language, that so many should clamour for sheer 'information', or 'lore'.

The Introduction to my edition of Unfinished Tales, quoting from a letter written by JRRT in 1955, written before the publication of the Return of the King

So yes, I think its quite likely that JRRT did not think about when and how Gollum follows the Fellowship out of Moria, and that the matter maybe didn't occur to him later or was one of the "appalling mass of letters I receive [from] people who like that kind of thing". So well done - prettty hard, after all this time to find a new issue like this.

What do we do in situations like that? The fatal attraction to "tendency to treat the whole thing as a vast game" and try to fill in any gaps seems to have won over the Tolkiens in the end (of course - it's too much fun). Both JRRT and for his son Christopher, who has prepared a lot of his father's unpublished works, usually with an editorial apparatus commenting on inconsistencies and any attempt he (Christopher) has made to plug them. A fair old bit of work seems to have gone into filling plotholes, and this is important, I think - too big a plothole and the fiction crumbles (though this effect overtakes different readers at very different points). A lot of threads on The One Ring end up carrying on this (good?) work.

It seems like the whole back-story to Gollum being in Moria may be a bit retrofitted In The Hunt for the Ring (with appears in Unfinished Tales) there are extensive notes (from Christopher Tolkien I beleive) trying to explain how Gollum got into Moria (hiding from pursuit by forces of Sauron and/or the Elves) what he was doing there (speculation - trying to find his way West to get to "Shire" for himself) and why he got no further (speculation and/or gleanings from Prof Tolkien's notes about the mechanics of the Hollin-end doors needing the pushing power of two or more dwarves, and so not being openable by a single scrawny Gollum. But I don't see any reference to the problem raised here; how Gollum gets out after the Nine Walkers.

So carrying on in the great tradition of two generations of Tolkiens, this thread has been playing the game we often like here - find a reasonable explanation. It is of course speculation, and its for anyone to give up on it if it becomes unsatisfying to them. I think we have two reasonable suggestions already mooted. Both are based on the idea that Gollum realizes that following the Fellowship closely is going to be too dangerous once they are being attacked. Then either:
  1. He gets out of Moria ahead of them over the bridge before it is broken, and relies on picking up their trail later . Or;
  2. He knows an alternative, non-bridge way out.
Further speculation about alternative ways out: Having the bridge as the only way in/out on the Lorien side would not be very wise or practical a step for the dwarvish architects to have made. Militarily, a single-file bridge is a great obstacle if you envisage an enemy getting in through the Lorien side, but a complete deathtrap if the enemy has broken in from the Hollin side and if any substantial number of dwarves are trying to retreat or evacuate Eastwards out through the Lorien gate. In peace time, I believe Moria was a vast commercial enterprise, principally mining and processing mithril, in exchange for many other goods. So the bridge would have been mightily inconvenient as a goods entrance. It seems reasonable that there might have been other Lorien-end exits to get goods in and out without having to route them over or around the Misty Mountains. In times of war or threat, these could all be blocked up.

Given the complexity of Tolkien's writings, the number of versions and the many years over which he wrote, its quite surprising how seldom we can't find some kind of promising explanation. Obviously there is no longer any possibility of trying such explanations out on the author to see what he thinks, so we have to play our game by ourselves, with only each other to mark our work.

Of course, beyond conjecturing explanations comes writing your own - fan fiction either filling in events which the original story tells us must logically have happened somehow, or inventing entirely new plots, consistent with the original story but not required by it. I say "beyond" in that the author of such a fan fiction has to choose a particular explanation, rather than say it could be this or that.

Tastes vary on when this all becomes a silly or uninteresting exercise - luckily there is always another thread to try instead.


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...

Subject User Time
How'd He Do That? Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Jan 30 2013, 8:34pm
    The orcs got out rather quickly CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 30 2013, 8:57pm
        No Time...Plus.... Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Jan 30 2013, 11:00pm
    Assumptions Mim Send a private message to Mim Jan 30 2013, 11:24pm
        Silly Me Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Jan 31 2013, 1:24am
            I'm very sorry that Tolkien didn't spell everything out for you. Kassandros Send a private message to Kassandros Jan 31 2013, 3:35pm
                My Reply Tolkien Forever Send a private message to Tolkien Forever Jan 31 2013, 4:45pm
                    explanations and speculation - something the Tolkiens started! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 3 2013, 1:18pm
                        Other uses of the Bridge of Khazad-dum squire Send a private message to squire Feb 3 2013, 2:30pm
                            Nice one! I did say "tastes vary!"... // noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 3 2013, 3:21pm
                    A bit of textual backup... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 5 2013, 11:06am
                        Really like your post... literal versus literary aspects noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 5 2013, 11:29am
                        About the shafts CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 5 2013, 2:50pm
                            'Rope!' muttered Sam.... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 5 2013, 5:06pm
                            Thanks FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 6 2013, 2:05pm
                                Excellent, as usual! // sador Send a private message to sador Feb 6 2013, 2:34pm
                                There are no final answers, but that one is a good one :) // noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 6 2013, 6:23pm
    The mountain seemed to be riddled with tunnels and passages... dormouse Send a private message to dormouse Jan 30 2013, 11:44pm
        So he beat them all out. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jan 31 2013, 5:06am
        This +1 // Rostron2 Send a private message to Rostron2 Feb 8 2013, 5:03pm

 
 
 

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