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**An Unexpected Party** - 6. “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”
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squire
Valinor


Mar 27 2009, 11:53pm

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**An Unexpected Party** - 6. “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.” Can't Post

We continue with the first chapter of The Hobbit. The supper and the music are done with, and Thorin calls the meeting to order: “‘Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins!’” We’ll read to the point where Gandalf produces the map: “‘Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch the lamp, and let’s have little light on this!’”

Thorin begins to speak. He proves to be a gassy windbag. His pompous speech is in after-dinner style, as the narrator agrees: “he was an important dwarf…he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not known already.”

This is another instance of the stylistic modernity of the dwarves. The Hobbit is often called a collision between a fairy tale adventure and a fanciful bourgeois Englishman (Englishhobbit). By that possibly simplistic description, the dwarves should come under the “fairy tale” rubric. But here as before, we see that the dwarves are quite modern in many ways. They themselves represent a parodic collision between Faerie, and the kind of modern ironic comedy we see in the Keystone Kops, or Gilbert and Sullivan (whose style was called “topsy turvy”. Thorin and Pooh-bah would understand each other).

A. Anyway, that’s my theory. What’s yours, starting from Thorin’s speech?

Bilbo “wags his mouth in protest”, but cannot make a noise, because he is in such shock to be hailed as a “fellow conspirator”.

B. Is this a nod to vaudeville – a popular style of stage entertainment in The Hobbit’s era? Does anyone really open their mouth to express surprise, and move it to make sounds, without succeeding? Or does this stock gesture simply present for an audience the emotion that underlies speechlessness under stress?

Bilbo does finally express (ha ha) himself: he shrieks! In fact, the image is a familiar one to later readers of The Lord of the Rings: “it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel.” Familiar, because it is a reference to railroad trains, like the express train at the Long-expected Party. Such trains were a basic fact of life to a 1930s audience, but hardly part of a world “long ago” when things were quieter, etc.

We will honor our elders in discussion, by drawing a stock question from the FotR Chapter 1 discussion:

C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.

Bilbo has a bit of a nervous breakdown. He quakes “like a jelly that was melting” (what does that mean) and then falls “flat on the floor … calling out ‘struck by lightning, struck by lightning!’”

D. Is this an image of shell shock taken from Tolkien’s WW I days?

E. Why “struck by lightning”?

They take Bilbo away and put him in a kind of sanitarium: the sofa in the drawing room, with “a drink at his elbow”.

F. What drink? Alcoholic or not?

Gandalf is obviously mortified, and tries to make the best of it: “excitable little fellow…gets funny queer fits…but as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.” This leads to a comic little injection, somehow getting to the story of the hobbit Bullroarer Took, who was large enough to ride a horse and fight goblins at some (legendary?) battle. He knocked off the head of the goblin king, Golfimbul, which flew 100 yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole. In a phrase beloved to generations of Tolkien fans, thus “the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”

G. Hmmm…. What do you think?

The dwarves will have none of it. As they point out, it was obviously a shriek of sheer terror, not the kind of noise a professional burglar can afford to make while burgling a dragon’s lair. Gloin asks if there hasn’t been some mistake of address, given Bilbo’s bewildered and confused behavior: “He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!”

H. Who called England a “nation of shopkeepers”? Is this a reference to that image, which the English adopted with defiant English pride?

Bilbo has recovered, and overhears this last insulting exchange. Now comes a moment that I have argued is one of the core moments of the book, and is certainly the core of this chapter. His Took side, briefly in charge during the music in the dark, is back again, and takes over completely. He steps forward. He denies knowing anything about any of the business at hand, and suggests that they have indeed come to the wrong address. Nevertheless, as a matter of wounded pride, he will do whatever they have in mind for him: “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”

I. As foolhardy as this sounds, is it wounded pride alone that is speaking? Or is Bilbo really interested in an adventure? “The Took side had won”: does that refer to a defense of “dignity” or a desire actually to walk to the “East of East”?

The dwarves remain dubious. They do defend their thronging of Bilbo’s hole: the mark of a “Burglar” or “Expert Treasure Hunter” was definitely on the door.

J. Is a treasure hunter really the same as a burglar? Would a burglar/treasure hunter necessarily request “plenty of Excitement” along with a reward? In the modern genre of the heist film, the expert burglar is determined to avoid excitement – always in vain, to be sure.

Gandalf regains control of the discussion. He defends Bilbo again, saying the dwarves asked him to find them a Burglar, and Bilbo it is – without Bilbo they can risk the unlucky number of a company of 13, or even abandon the quest and go back to coal mining. He adds a further explanation: Bilbo may not seem a burglar yet, he will be “when the time comes.” He has more in him than he knows himself!

K. When Bilbo shuts his mouth “with a snap” under Gandalf’s glare, is that an example of Gandalf’s wizardry?

L. Why does Gandalf feel he has a right to be angry at the dwarves’ suspicion of the hobbit, when Gandalf himself admits Bilbo shows no signs yet of being right for the job?

Finally, the dark comes to its end. Gandalf calls for a light!



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'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 12:06am

Post #2 of 59 (303 views)
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Anachronism [In reply to] Can't Post

A. Anyway, that’s my theory. What’s yours, starting from Thorin’s speech?

I don't have a theory, but I'm reminded of a quote whose origin I forget (someone quoted it here long ago) that Tolkien's writings are like "Beowulf meets Winnie-the-Pooh."

C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.

I think that the tone of The Hobbit is of a father or grandfather telling a tale to children, and the opening chapter of LotR is the same. So the metaphor is one a father might use to make something clear to the child by referring to a familiar part of life. I don't have any problem with it at all. If Tolkien later wanted to pretend that he was translating some ancient manuscript, then it doesn't really fit. But I would rather see this as a storyteller retelling a story that may once have been a translation. Kind of like Godspell or JC Superstar, with their modern references slipped into an ancient story.


G. Hmmm…. What do you think?

I looove the story of Golfimbul. This is the kind of silliness that made The Hobbit remind me of the Oz books of my childhood (where, for example, the wizard's initials were O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D., which is why he shortened his name to Oz.)

K. When Bilbo shuts his mouth “with a snap” under Gandalf’s glare, is that an example of Gandalf’s wizardry?

I think Bilbo was trying to make it as clear to Gandalf as he could that he was cooperating, before he got into big trouble. Nothing magical about it, just a huge "uh-oh!"

L. Why does Gandalf feel he has a right to be angry at the dwarves’ suspicion of the hobbit, when Gandalf himself admits Bilbo shows no signs yet of being right for the job?

I think Gandalf is angry because he vouched for Bilbo, so the dwarves suspicion is a vote of no confidence in Gandalf.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Mar 28 2009, 12:06am)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 1:01am

Post #3 of 59 (250 views)
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My thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

  
A. Anyway, that’s my theory. What’s yours, starting from Thorin’s speech?


Has there ever been an era without its gassy windbags? Human nature can't have changed that much over time. Shakespeare certainly recognized the type in Polonius.


B. Is this a nod to vaudeville – a popular style of stage entertainment in The Hobbit’s era? Does anyone really open their mouth to express surprise, and move it to make sounds, without succeeding? Or does this stock gesture simply present for an audience the emotion that underlies speechlessness under stress?


Blush I must confess that I have not only seen this, but been guilty of it.

C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.


While I would derive a lot of pleasure in finding a way to explain how a train-whistle found its way into Middle Earth, I will let you have your anachronism if you want it so very, very badly.

D. Is this an image of shell shock taken from Tolkien’s WW I days?


I don't know whether it is or not, but you can hardly expect someone a absurdly sheltered as Bilbo to act blas`e.

E. Why “struck by lightning”?


Because Gandalf, alarmed by Bilbo's alarm, flashed out a sudden light to find out what the heck was going on. Just the sort of reflex that later saved his fanny in the Misty Mountains.

F. What drink? Alcoholic or not?


Oh definitely alcoholic. Standard remedy of the day. Folks used to carry brandy-flasks for just such an emergency. Come to think of it, the common use of such flasks, and that piece of furniture called a "fainting couch" would lead me to speculate that Bilbo did not react so strangely for Tolkien's day. That would make sense--mass-media has perhaps hardened us to shocks of every kind. People used to worry about calamities causing widespread panic in the past, but I can remember my husband having a hard time, as an emergency volunteer, trying to get people to evacuate from a fire zone when they wanted to sit in their lawnchairs and watch as though it all happened on television.

(I can't help but wonder if this medicinal shot of presumed brandy had something to do with the triumph of his Tookish side.)

G. Hmmm…. What do you think?


I love the introjection of the mini-story of Bandobras Took! It really enriches story to include glimpses of other stories interconnected with it.

H. Who called England a “nation of shopkeepers”? Is this a reference to that image, which the English adopted with defiant English pride?


I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that one.

I. As foolhardy as this sounds, is it wounded pride alone that is speaking? Or is Bilbo really interested in an adventure? “The Took side had won”: does that refer to a defense of “dignity” or a desire actually to walk to the “East of East”?


I think it's some of both. I'm not sure if Bilbo himself understands his own motivation.

J. Is a treasure hunter really the same as a burglar? Would a burglar/treasure hunter necessarily request “plenty of Excitement” along with a reward? In the modern genre of the heist film, the expert burglar is determined to avoid excitement – always in vain, to be sure.


Among other jobs, Tolkien helped to translate ancient manuscripts. Anyone in academia who deals with ancient artifacts of any kind says "treasure hunter" with the same contempt normally reserved for words not printable in this family-friendly site. To their mind, these are people who disturb artifacts from the context of their surroundings, and often clumsily damage them, and certainly destroy more than half of what scholars might have learned from them, all for the sake of a trophy. Nowadays many treasure-hunters are much more informed, and primarily locate treasure for the scholars to actually handle, but the stigma remains.

Regarding excitement, honestly, nobody goes into treasure-hunting without desiring excitement. And while the professional burglar keeps the excitement down to a minimum, it does appeal to the adrenaline junkies more than many other ways of earning income. They certainly would rather avoid a shoot-em-up mayhem scene, but they get an intense thrill out of the possibility of it, as they sneak silently in and out. (Once again I reveal too much about seedy acquaintences that I've had, although I will hasten to say that I have only known ex-burglars, reminiscing about a perhaps romanticized past.)

K. When Bilbo shuts his mouth “with a snap” under Gandalf’s glare, is that an example of Gandalf’s wizardry?


Not unless my Grandma is a wizard. Haven't you ever met an elder who can shut mouths with a glare?

L. Why does Gandalf feel he has a right to be angry at the dwarves’ suspicion of the hobbit, when Gandalf himself admits Bilbo shows no signs yet of being right for the job?


Projection? He has doubts that he doesn't want to entertain, so he's getting testy with them for the same doubts? And because he's gone through a lot of trouble to set up something that even he fears might not work? And because relying on intuition can get really nerve-wracking, especially when intuition steers you straight towards seeming disaster? And because he was called "quick to anger" even in LotR?

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

(This post was edited by Dreamdeer on Mar 28 2009, 1:05am)


Morthoron
Gondor


Mar 28 2009, 2:55am

Post #4 of 59 (294 views)
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A few observations... [In reply to] Can't Post

A. Anyway, that’s my theory. What’s yours, starting from Thorin’s speech?

As was stated previously, windbaggery is a cornerstone of the eogtisical shrine of oratory. In this era of brief sound bytes we are not as aware of the laborious speeches of previous generations.

For instance, Sydney Smith (1771-1845) once said to Thomas Babington Macauley, "You know, when I am gone you will be very sorry you never heard me speak."

Lincoln said of Stephen Douglas, "He can compress the most words into the smallest idea better than any man I ever met."

Queen Victoria once exclaimed regarding Prime Minister W.E. Galdstone: "Mr. Gladstone speaks to me as if I were a public meeting."

And the best one, by Senator William McAdoo on President Warren Harding: "His speeches leave the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea. Sometimes these meandering words would actually capture a straggling thought and bear it triumphantly a prisoner in their midst until it died of servitude and overwork."

In any case, Tolkien's characterization of Thorin's pomposity is a great building-block for a well-rounded character -- one of the few fully-realized roles in The Hobbit.

B. Is this a nod to vaudeville – a popular style of stage entertainment in The Hobbit’s era? Does anyone really open their mouth to express surprise, and move it to make sounds, without succeeding? Or does this stock gesture simply present for an audience the emotion that underlies speechlessness under stress?

I've seen the expression countless times. The word 'nonplussed' best describes the action (or inaction, rather).

C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.

Yes, definitely an anachronism, and one of those Tolkien forgot to edit out (like tobacco and potato, for instance).

D. Is this an image of shell shock taken from Tolkien’s WW I days?

I didn't get that impression. Perhaps it is more akin to 'Fear, fire, foes!" or merely a hobbitish ejaculation of utter fear or surprise.

G. Hmmm…. What do you think?

The aside is a wonderful instance of Tolkien's humor. One of my favorites, right along with Gaffer's idiomatic adages.

H. Who called England a “nation of shopkeepers”? Is this a reference to that image, which the English adopted with defiant English pride?

Napoleon said it. He also said, "The English have no exalted sentiments. They can all be bought," and "It is cowardly to commit suicide. The English often kill themselves -- it is a malady caused by the humid climate." Obviously, Bonaparte was not overly fond of the English.


Read the ongoing serialization of MONTY PYTHON'S 'The HOBBIT', found here:
http://www.fanfiction.net/...y_Pythons_The_Hobbit

(This post was edited by Morthoron on Mar 28 2009, 3:01am)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 4:38am

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Napoleon! I should have known that!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 12:06pm

Post #6 of 59 (265 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thorin begins to speak. He proves to be a gassy windbag. His pompous speech is in after-dinner style, as the narrator agrees: “he was an important dwarf…he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not known already.”

This is another instance of the stylistic modernity of the dwarves. The Hobbit is often called a collision between a fairy tale adventure and a fanciful bourgeois Englishman (Englishhobbit). By that possibly simplistic description, the dwarves should come under the “fairy tale” rubric. But here as before, we see that the dwarves are quite modern in many ways. They themselves represent a parodic collision between Faerie, and the kind of modern ironic comedy we see in the Keystone Kops, or Gilbert and Sullivan (whose style was called “topsy turvy”. Thorin and Pooh-bah would understand each other).

A. Anyway, that’s my theory. What’s yours, starting from Thorin’s speech?


Faerie is by definition timeless. It happens "once upon a time," i.e., outside of historical time. Therefore I don't see any clash between Bilbo and the dwarves' modern speech patterns, including the fun Tolkien has with those speech patterns, and the fairy-story being told.

The clash comes when we attempt to reconcile Thorin of The Hobbit with Gimli and Legolas and Theoden and Denethor and Imrahil of LotR, let alone the characters in The Silmarillion. In the context of LotR, Thorin seems too modern and too comical. But of course The Hobbit is not LotR, nor was it written as a prequel to LotR. I do wonder how they will handle this clash of tones in the movies.

One of the marks of Bilbo's evolution in the tale is when he realizes that the dwarves are not any better at adventuring than he is. It takes him a while to realize that -- perhaps until Mirkwood, when Gandalf is no longer around to save them, and suddenly Bilbo realizes he is as smart and brave and capable as anyone in the party. By the time they reach the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo takes for granted that he will have to go confront the dragon alone, and Smaug cleverly plays on this fact and gets him wondering whether he has made a bad deal with the dwarves.

The readers, however, should catch on to this a good deal sooner. The way Thorin made his entrance, with fat Bombur falling on top of him, and now Thorin's windbag speech should make it clear that the dwarves are not experienced dragon hunters, and that Bilbo really should think twice about adventuring with these clowns. As Gandalf admits, what they really need is a Warrior (Bard!) or a Hero (Beorn!). But they're all busy, so they best they can do is a Burglar -- or someone with the potential of becoming a Burglar.

The dwarves don't have much of a character arc, either. Gimli grows and evolves in LotR. He starts out full of bravado, arguing with Elrond about whether to swear to stay with Frodo to the end. First he is excited to be in Moria, but Balin's fate, and the confrontation with Durin's Bane, hits him hard. Celeborn offers him no comfort, but Galadriel, surprisingly, does, and Gimli changes his opinion of elves. Gradually Gimli forms an unlikely friendship with Legolas. Then he and Legolas team up with Aragorn in Rohan and Gondor, and in doing so come to terms with the new Age of Men, and gain respect for the new King of Men. All this despite the fact that Gimli is not as central to the tale as the four hobbits, Gandalf, Aragorn, or even, perhaps, the royal families of Rohan and Gondor.

We see none of that in The Hobbit. If Thorin learns anything, it is only after he has been fatally wounded and finally acknowledges that Bilbo was right. The rest of the dwarves have very little personality of their own, and what they have doesn't change much during the book. Bombur is the same at the end as at the beginning -- well, perhaps a little thinner, but no wiser. Balin may develop a fondness for Bilbo, but otherwise doesn't change much himself. LotR was about a vast ensemble of characters, most of whom evolved during the tale -- heck, even the hobbits back in the Shire learned a thing or two -- look at Lobelia, for example. The Hobbit looks like it has an ensemble cast, but really it is all about Bilbo. There's another challenge for the movie makers.

Bilbo “wags his mouth in protest”, but cannot make a noise, because he is in such shock to be hailed as a “fellow conspirator”.

B. Is this a nod to vaudeville – a popular style of stage entertainment in The Hobbit’s era? Does anyone really open their mouth to express surprise, and move it to make sounds, without succeeding? Or does this stock gesture simply present for an audience the emotion that underlies speechlessness under stress?


My children do this all the time, usually when they fall and hurt themselves. They wag their mouths as if they are crying, but at first no sound comes out. Then they shriek like a train coming out of a tunnel. Adults, for the most part, have learned to suppress such expressions of emotion, but in times of great stress they may revert to it. I'm thinking of the end of Godfather III, for example, when Al Pacino, whose character was famous for keeping a lid on his emotions, reacts with tremendous emotion to the death of his daughter.

Of course that is a moment of great tragedy, not great comedy, but the principle is the same. It's the context that makes it comic or tragic, as the case may be. Here it is comic, and perhaps does strain credibility, to think of Bilbo reacting so violently to being called a "fellow conspirator," as if that were the worst fate in the world. But The Hobbit strains credibility all the time, if we judge it by the standards of the Primary World or by the standards of LotR or The Silmarillion. Within it's own subcreated world, however, The Hobbit is, for the most part, internally consistent -- although there is a noticeable and perhaps not entirely consistent shift in tone at the end.

Certainly within the context of this chapter, Bilbo's reaction strikes me as consistent with the slapstick tone Tolkien has already created. You mentioned the Keystone Cops (it was never "Kops," I have learned) and Gilbert and Sullivan. I also think of Laurel and Hardy and other silent comedies, each operating by its own internally-consistent set of rules. Or how about the Three Stooges or Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Look at the Roadrunner cartoons -- one of the internal rules of those cartoons is that the coyote doesn't fall until he realizes he is walking on air. The coyote also walks away from every fall, no matter how painful. And he never learns from his mistakes. It works in the context of the cartoon, although it violates the natural laws of the Primary World.

Bilbo does finally express (ha ha) himself: he shrieks! In fact, the image is a familiar one to later readers of The Lord of the Rings: “it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel.” Familiar, because it is a reference to railroad trains, like the express train at the Long-expected Party. Such trains were a basic fact of life to a 1930s audience, but hardly part of a world “long ago” when things were quieter, etc.

We will honor our elders in discussion, by drawing a stock question from the FotR Chapter 1 discussion:

C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.


First, in the context of the Secondary World of The Hobbit, I'm not sure this is an anachronism. For all we know, in the world of The Hobbit there is an express train to Bywater -- although that would make the world a good deal less quiet. But fairy tales can take place in a world of trains -- look at the story The Polar Express, for example. Furthermore, the narrator of The Hobbit, unlike the narrator of LotR, is clearly from our Primary World, and not from the Secondary World of his story, and it is really the narrator who compares the sound to a train whistle.

Bilbo has a bit of a nervous breakdown. He quakes “like a jelly that was melting” (what does that mean) and then falls “flat on the floor … calling out ‘struck by lightning, struck by lightning!’”

D. Is this an image of shell shock taken from Tolkien’s WW I days?


WW I combat might have brought out reactions to tragedy that, in a different context, could be considered comic. But the context would be very different, and I doubt Tolkien intended to allude to WW I shell shock.

On the other hand, one of the very few stories my dad liked to tell about WW II was of a fellow combatant who tripped over a tent rope, thought he was hit, and heroically yelled "Save yourselves! Save yourselves!" Comedy does sometimes happen in war.

E. Why “struck by lightning”?

As others have noted, Gandalf had lit up the room with his magical staff.

They take Bilbo away and put him in a kind of sanitarium: the sofa in the drawing room, with “a drink at his elbow”.

F. What drink? Alcoholic or not?

Alcoholic, I'm sure. The "ale" and "wine" has already been flowing steadily. Indeed, that might help explain Bilbo's behavior -- perhaps he's drunk! Not something you explicitly tell the kiddies, though.

Gandalf is obviously mortified, and tries to make the best of it: “excitable little fellow…gets funny queer fits…but as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.” This leads to a comic little injection, somehow getting to the story of the hobbit Bullroarer Took, who was large enough to ride a horse and fight goblins at some (legendary?) battle. He knocked off the head of the goblin king, Golfimbul, which flew 100 yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole. In a phrase beloved to generations of Tolkien fans, thus “the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”

G. Hmmm…. What do you think?


I love it. The brief tale is comic, but it also reinforces the theme that Bilbo has more potential for heroism than is immediately apparent. It also, once again, reinforces the modernity of this fairy tale, since golf is a fairly modern game, and this apparently happened about a hundred years before the time of the tale.

The dwarves will have none of it. As they point out, it was obviously a shriek of sheer terror, not the kind of noise a professional burglar can afford to make while burgling a dragon’s lair. Gloin asks if there hasn’t been some mistake of address, given Bilbo’s bewildered and confused behavior: “He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!”

H. Who called England a “nation of shopkeepers”? Is this a reference to that image, which the English adopted with defiant English pride?


As others have noted, it was supposedly Napoleon. And as you have noted, the remark, which may or may not have actually been stated by Napoleon, has been preserved by the English as a point of pride, particularly because they defeated Napoleon. In fact, there is some speculation that Napoleon was repeating a common assumption of the time, and an assumption previously recorded in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

One of the romantic themes of The Hobbit is that someone who looks like a grocer can have hidden talents for fighting, and that does seem like a particularly-English romantic notion. In fact, the advantage of a nation built on commerce may have less to do with forming armies than with funding them, but that notion isn't quite so romantic, particularly to Tolkien, who wasn't a fan of industrialization.


Bilbo has recovered, and overhears this last insulting exchange. Now comes a moment that I have argued is one of the core moments of the book, and is certainly the core of this chapter. His Took side, briefly in charge during the music in the dark, is back again, and takes over completely. He steps forward. He denies knowing anything about any of the business at hand, and suggests that they have indeed come to the wrong address. Nevertheless, as a matter of wounded pride, he will do whatever they have in mind for him: “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”

I. As foolhardy as this sounds, is it wounded pride alone that is speaking? Or is Bilbo really interested in an adventure? “The Took side had won”: does that refer to a defense of “dignity” or a desire actually to walk to the “East of East”?


I like my new theory: he was drunk. But remember, he also thought of adventure as a glorified camping trip, something that might at worst make you miss breakfast. Before he gave his little speech he thought to himself that "He suddenly felt he would go without bed and breadfast to be thought fierce." He really had no idea what he was getting into.

The dwarves remain dubious. They do defend their thronging of Bilbo’s hole: the mark of a “Burglar” or “Expert Treasure Hunter” was definitely on the door.

J. Is a treasure hunter really the same as a burglar? Would a burglar/treasure hunter necessarily request “plenty of Excitement” along with a reward? In the modern genre of the heist film, the expert burglar is determined to avoid excitement – always in vain, to be sure.


Here's an explanation of why someone might turn to crime from characters in the movie Goodfellas, which was based on a true story. First, the wife of the main character:


Quote

One night, Bobby Vinton sent us champagne. There was nothing like it. I didn't think there was anything strange in any of this. You know, a twenty-one-year-old kid with such connections. He was an exciting guy. He was really nice. He introduced me to everybody. Everybody wanted to be nice to him. And he knew how to handle it. ...

After awhile, it got to be all normal. None of it seemed like crime. It was more like Henry was enterprising, and that he and the guys were making a few bucks hustling, while all the other guys were sitting on their asses, waiting for handouts. Our husbands weren't brain surgeons, they were blue-collar guys. The only way they could make extra money, real extra money, was to go out and cut a few corners.



Then the main character:


Quote

Didn't matter. It didn't mean anything. When I was broke, I'd go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over.

And that's the hardest part. Today everything is different; there's no action... have to wait around like everyone else. Can't even get decent food - right after I got here [in the witness protection program], I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I'm an average nobody... get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.


So yeah, I think the excitement is a big part of the attraction.

Is a treasure hunter the same as a burglar? Is this an insult to treasure hunters, or a compliment to burglars? After all, Bilbo is the hero of the story. I think it is interesting to contrast the motives in The Hobbit, which are based in large part on pure avarice, with those in LotR, which are much higher in tone. I think by calling Bilbo a burglar Tolkien is highlighting the moral ambiguity of the quest, and setting up the subsequent fight over the treasure. He also, by the way, is setting up an allusion only readers of Beowulf would appreciate, for in that tale a burglar also woke a dragon by stealing a golden cup, and a bear-like man, Beowulf (= bee (honey) -wolf = bear = bee (honey) lover = Beorn), saved the day.

Gandalf regains control of the discussion. He defends Bilbo again, saying the dwarves asked him to find them a Burglar, and Bilbo it is – without Bilbo they can risk the unlucky number of a company of 13, or even abandon the quest and go back to coal mining. He adds a further explanation: Bilbo may not seem a burglar yet, he will be “when the time comes.” He has more in him than he knows himself!

K. When Bilbo shuts his mouth “with a snap” under Gandalf’s glare, is that an example of Gandalf’s wizardry?


It didn't strike me as such. I don't think wizardry was necessary.

L. Why does Gandalf feel he has a right to be angry at the dwarves’ suspicion of the hobbit, when Gandalf himself admits Bilbo shows no signs yet of being right for the job?


Because he's Gandalf! And perhaps because the dwarves aren't such great adventurers themselves, and Gandalf knows it. They need him, and now they dare to question him. Gandalf seems quite confident that Bilbo will transform into a competent burglar, a confidence not at all supported by the evidence. Luck has much to do with it, and Gandalf believes in luck -- so do the dwarves, apparently, since this is the main argument for adding to their number.

Again, this is very different from LotR, in which Gandalf is not at all confident of Frodo's success, and originally intends to accompany him to Mordor. Aragorn has a similar crisis of confidence. Fate or Higher Powers have to intervene to isolate Frodo and Sam.

But it is also similar to LotR in that luck, or fate, or faith, or reading the signs, or going with your gut are all more important than logic and deduction and evidence. Also, the hobbits, as humble instruments of Providence, are more suitable to the task at hand than the Great and the Wise. Still, The Hobbit looks like a lark compared to LotR.


(This post was edited by Curious on Mar 28 2009, 12:12pm)


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 2:02pm

Post #7 of 59 (222 views)
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I love it! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
First, in the context of the Secondary World of The Hobbit, I'm not sure this is an anachronism. For all we know, in the world of The Hobbit there is an express train to Bywater -- although that would make the world a good deal less quiet. But fairy tales can take place in a world of trains -- look at the story The Polar Express, for example.


Another example is the train to Hogwarts. When I did my reply, I didn't mention it, but I was thinking of "Wicked", where Glinda and the Wicked Witch take a train through the Gillikin country. The world of "Wicked" isn't the real Oz to me, but it has fairy-tale elements. I'm sure there's not really an express train to Bywater, but I kind of like the idea anyway. A world without trains would be a sadder world.


In Reply To
On the other hand, one of the very few stories my dad liked to tell about WW II was of a fellow combatant who tripped over a tent rope, thought he was hit, and heroically yelled "Save yourselves! Save yourselves!"



Great story!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Mar 28 2009, 2:02pm)


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 2:03pm

Post #8 of 59 (202 views)
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Thanks for that McAdoo quote! :-D // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Curious
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 2:10pm

Post #9 of 59 (219 views)
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Mmm. [In reply to] Can't Post

Love those cookies!




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 28 2009, 2:34pm

Post #10 of 59 (249 views)
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John Rateliff concurs. [In reply to] Can't Post

"Some of the so-called anachronisms, however, are nothing of the sort; it is the narrator, not one of the characters in the story, who compares the scream welling up inside Bilbo to a train-whistle, just as in The Lord of the Rings it is again the narrator who compares the noise made by the firework ragon to an express train rushing by". (Mr. Baggins, p.43)

Beowulf meets Winnie-the-Pooh! I love that! Laugh


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 28 2009, 2:48pm

Post #11 of 59 (226 views)
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*takes the dare* [In reply to] Can't Post

The phrase "it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel" is a loose translation of:

"it burst out like the screech of the mill-wheel coming to a sudden stop down at Sandyman's mill the day that Lobelia Bracegirdle mistakenly put her grain into the bag containing the laundry she'd just taken off the clothes-line, and her girdle got caught in the grindstones."

Not quite the sort of thing you'd want to tell the kiddies!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 3:13pm

Post #12 of 59 (249 views)
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Although the narrator in The Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

is more obviously a part of the Primary World than the narrator of LotR. (I'll give the LotR narratorphiles that much!)


Elven
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 3:32pm

Post #13 of 59 (212 views)
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Some thoughts .... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Bilbo “wags his mouth in protest”, but cannot make a noise, because he is in such shock to be hailed as a “fellow conspirator”.
B. Is this a nod to vaudeville – a popular style of stage entertainment in The Hobbit’s era? Does anyone really open their mouth to express surprise, and move it to make sounds, without succeeding? Or does this stock gesture simply present for an audience the emotion that underlies speechlessness under stress?



This maybe one of Bilbo’s traits – his manners, coupled with his astonishment of such a statement, he can’t speak – there are no words to describe – well none which wouldn’t be counteractive and possibly offensive – about what he sees and thinks of himself as what they see and call him. and who knows what a Dwarve or Wizard might do to him. He is also playing host to what seems to him to be a very important meeting, in which he regularly would be ‘most gracious’ – its a case of the customer is always right but, – he’s outnumbered by Dwarves and is an a state of ‘flabergastory’.

------

Bilbo does finally express (ha ha) himself: he shrieks! In fact, the image is a familiar one to later readers of The Lord of the Rings: “it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel.” Familiar, because it is a reference to railroad trains, like the express train at the Long-expected Party. Such trains were a basic fact of life to a 1930s audience, but hardly part of a world “long ago” when things were quieter, etc.
We will honor our elders in discussion, by drawing a stock question from the FotR Chapter 1 discussion:
C. Is this an “anachronism”???? I dare you to call it a “translation” and suggest what the original written phrase was that the translator chose to render in railroad terms, because the original was unsuitable for a modern audience to understand. Be specific.


Here I think the narrator is more animated than the story. (The narrators manner of expressing and punctuating Bilbo’s reaction). I find it very effective and apt. Reason: where I live the steam trains still ride the tracks and pass my house. You feel the rumble first and then hear the whistle blowing – it carries on the wind and by the time the train is level with the house it is an extraordinary sound!

-------

Bilbo has a bit of a nervous breakdown. He quakes “like a jelly that was melting” (what does that mean) and then falls “flat on the floor … calling out ‘struck by lightning, struck by lightning!’”
D. Is this an image of shell shock taken from Tolkien’s WW I days?
E. Why “struck by lightning”?


Well, I think of jelly as being gelatine Jelly, as in Aeroplane Jelly 1947
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny5m5WflQ4M
It wobbles a lot, and I can see Bilbo doing that. I’m not of the melting moment – but it Aeroplane Jelly is sort of watery around the edges ..
And the struck by lightning - The Gandalf effect.
(as mentioned by others)
-------

They take Bilbo away and put him in a kind of sanitarium: the sofa in the drawing room, with “a drink at his elbow”.
F. What drink? Alcoholic or not?


Alcoholic – a sherry, or a tot of Brandy maybe.

--------

Gandalf is obviously mortified, and tries to make the best of it: “excitable little fellow…gets funny queer fits…but as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.” This leads to a comic little injection, somehow getting to the story of the hobbit Bullroarer Took, who was large enough to ride a horse and fight goblins at some (legendary?) battle. He knocked off the head of the goblin king, Golfimbul, which flew 100 yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole. In a phrase beloved to generations of Tolkien fans, thus “the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”
G. Hmmm…. What do you think?


A lovely interjection and as memorable as can be – and for a narrator, a nice tangent of distraction for his audience before he brings them back to the drawing room at Bag End.
Actually the same thing it is craftily done in a few instances. The reader/listener is drawn outside only to be brought back promptly to Bag End and what is happening.

-------

The dwarves will have none of it. As they point out, it was obviously a shriek of sheer terror, not the kind of noise a professional burglar can afford to make while burgling a dragon’s lair. Gloin asks if there hasn’t been some mistake of address, given Bilbo’s bewildered and confused behavior: “He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!”
H. Who called England a “nation of shopkeepers”? Is this a reference to that image, which the English adopted with defiant English pride?


It reminds me more of Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours – a British comedy of a shop keeper.
Then again the ‘grocer’ at our corner shop has politely been called a Burglar – you should see what he charges for a packet of chips!
-------

Bilbo has recovered, and overhears this last insulting exchange. Now comes a moment that I have argued is one of the core moments of the book, and is certainly the core of this chapter. His Took side, briefly in charge during the music in the dark, is back again, and takes over completely. He steps forward. He denies knowing anything about any of the business at hand, and suggests that they have indeed come to the wrong address. Nevertheless, as a matter of wounded pride, he will do whatever they have in mind for him: “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”
I. As foolhardy as this sounds, is it wounded pride alone that is speaking? Or is Bilbo really interested in an adventure? “The Took side had won”: does that refer to a defense of “dignity” or a desire actually to walk to the “East of East”?


He is ‘accommodating’ – once more he is being very polite, even if they are not at the ‘wrong address, but puts the onus on them that they may have made a mistake. He offers his services to those in need – a polite and sincere gesture.
-------

Gandalf regains control of the discussion. He defends Bilbo again, saying the dwarves asked him to find them a Burglar, and Bilbo it is – without Bilbo they can risk the unlucky number of a company of 13, or even abandon the quest and go back to coal mining. He adds a further explanation: Bilbo may not seem a burglar yet, he will be “when the time comes.” He has more in him than he knows himself!
L. Why does Gandalf feel he has a right to be angry at the dwarves’ suspicion of the hobbit, when Gandalf himself admits Bilbo shows no signs yet of being right for the job?

I think Gandalf maybe angry because he is questioned, and if he cannot gain the respect and trust of the dwarves with the addition of Bilbo, then he is going to have a job ahead of him in the future keeping things on track – Gandalf’s reputation maybe questioned ... eekk.

It also gives a hint to Gandalf’s keen insight which will be correct in the long run.
-------

Cheers
Elven x



Swishtail.

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!

Avatar: Liberace - The other Lord of the Rings.

Quote of The Week: The thing is I always write in the morning, and I know that if I go to the Net I won’t write ... you can start in the most scholarly website and end up at Paris Hilton dot com .. GdT


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 3:53pm

Post #14 of 59 (197 views)
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Cookies for you! [In reply to] Can't Post

That was hysterical!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



squire
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 4:15pm

Post #15 of 59 (196 views)
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I thought of this one. [In reply to] Can't Post

At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like a mighty sea-wave between the cliffs of Drengist.

My thought is that a translator wouldn't exchange an anachronistic phrase for one from the period of the tale, unless it was very obscure. The "original" phrase given above, although totally familiar to anyone in Middle-earth who knows the tale of Gondolin, wouldn't mean much to modern readers.

When we decide that the modern narrator, not Bilbo or the dwarves, is using locomotives as a simile, thus excusing the anachronism, we of course are abandoning the idea that The Hobbit is a translation of Bilbo's memoirs.



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'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 4:39pm

Post #16 of 59 (203 views)
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Disparate comments [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a couple of comments to add to yours. (And I agree with you--in addition to the flowing wine and ale, our esteemed Mr. Baggins earlier braced himself with a nip in the hall, to handle the shock of this unexpected party--which was not, after all, described as an unexpected feast. Which just goes to show that the final drink to settle his nerves wasn't the first, in an evening that would have driven any respectable hobbit to drink.)

You point out the moral ambiguity of "The Hobbit" as opposed to "The Lord of the Rings", and I agree. I think that this is an essential element in Bilbo's journey. Up until now he has led a life of perfect respectability, which is not true perfection at all, but merely absolute conformity to imperfect expectations. He has this comfortable assumption of always being in the right--otherwise he would not repeat his opinions so predictably that nobody has to ask him about them. Everything that does not conform he has shoved down into his Shadow side.

Which means that he can only grow by way of a detour through the Shadow. He cannot become a better person until he ventures, for a little while, into worse. It is as though he had accidentally thrown a great treasure into a rubbish heap, and cannot now reclaim it without getting dirty. Mind you, this is by no means doctrinally correct in the context of Tolkien's religion, but it is psychologically true. Here's where Tolkien, like Gandalf, follows his intuition rather than his reason, in calling upon Bilbo to become a burglar.

Regarding golf: according to Wikipedia, the earliest evidence of a golf precursor is in an illustration in a French prayer book in 1460, aiming the ball at a stake. By 1480, a French book of hours (spiritual meditations for various times of day) depicts aiming the ball at a hole in ice, and by 1505, a Flemish prayer book shows them aiming the ball at a hole in a green. (What golf has to do with religion, I don't know! I do understand that the name of God comes up occasionally on the links, but rarely in the form of prayer.) So it is not all that young, although the final Scottish form would be.

Not from Wikipedia, but from a collection of other sources that I have run across and cannot now remember, Scottish golf used to be a wild and woolly sport! The Laird of the land would send his servants out onto the beaches and the countryside to establish golf-holes and mark them with banners--no neatly manicured lawns, here! The term "links" originally referred to islands of grass on the tops of sand-dunes by the beach--such courses were mostly sand-traps, and the water-hazard was the sea. (I have a semi-cite for that, recalling Robert Louis Stevenson referencing this in one of his more morally ambiguous stories, the name of which I can't remember--not one of the more wellknown ones, unfortunately.)

So knocking a goblin's head into a rabbit-hole fits in quite nicely with this very rugged sport of hearty nobles hardly recognizable in their "gentler descendants".

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


batik
Tol Eressea


Mar 28 2009, 4:40pm

Post #17 of 59 (207 views)
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any connection between 'golf' and "Fingolfin"... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
In a phrase beloved to generations of Tolkien fans, thus “the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”

G. Hmmm…. What do you think?



It's charming and I love it! Kind of like an *urban legend* (or maybe a rural rumor?) that ties an important 'historical' event with a current, harmless sport. Now, I know I have read lots of things similar to this...of a "how" or "why" nature (origin myths, I believe) that relate to nature but does anyone know if there are other game/sports "origin" myths out there or is this unique to Tolkien/The Hobbit?

Also, part of the charm is this being so much less *serious* that Tolkien's sun/moon creation in The Silmarillion.



Quote

As foolhardy as this sounds, is it wounded pride alone that is speaking? Or is Bilbo really interested in an adventure? “The Took side had won”: does that refer to a defense of “dignity” or a desire actually to walk to the “East of East”?


Both (maybe neither). I think Bilbo is a bit offended at this point and that maybe a glimmer of ***adventure!!!*** is running through his mind. Of course neither disclosing that he is offended nor showing any interest in adventure comes naturally to him. He does need a little nudge to act upon what is within him--I can relate to that!



Quote

Is a treasure hunter really the same as a burglar? Would a burglar/treasure hunter necessarily request “plenty of Excitement” along with a reward? In the modern genre of the heist film, the expert burglar is determined to avoid excitement – always in vain, to be sure.


Hmm..."burglar" indicates criminal and "treasure hunter" brings to mind adventurer. Don't those that seek/find "treasure" have to get some type of permission from some entitiy at some point in the quest? (I'm thinking about Egyptian tomb hunters or seekers of sunken ships.) Then again there are the everyday users of metal detectors!
Both need to have the skill of identifying trash from treasure, I suppose,--along with the ability to act quickly, with little to no detection of being spotted. But are they the same? Not-- based on the meaning behind each word.



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 28 2009, 4:51pm

Post #18 of 59 (197 views)
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Okay, then. [In reply to] Can't Post

If one wants to hold onto the view of "the Hobbit" being Bilbo's memoirs, one could say that dwarves, of course, are much more technological than elves or men or hobbits, and regularly transport ore by way of underground trains, which do come shrieking out of tunnels. And Bilbo came to know dwarves very well, and visited them now and then at home even as he visited elves (the Blue Mountains not being very far from the Shire at all) and so he knew perfectly well how a train would sound, even though he much preferred them to stay underground with lots of insulating rock between them and the countryside.

I cannot, of course, prove any of this. I will hold onto the fantasy, nevertheless, because it pleases me. (Although I do love the shriek of the millstone trying to grind up Lobelia Sackville-Baggins's girdle!) Sometimes the best stories are like a coloring book--you get to fill in the colors of your choice, within the framework that the author provides.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


sevilodorf
Gondor


Mar 28 2009, 5:10pm

Post #19 of 59 (218 views)
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Going sideways again, or backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

(and not so much a reply to Aunt Dora as just seeming to fit here in the anachronism strand)

The bit about the train is the narrator speaking so I'm leaning away from anachronism.

However, what about earlier when Thorin et al fall on Bilbo's doormat and Gandalf says, "It's not like you, Bilbo, to keep friends waiting on the mat, then open the door like a pop-gun!"

When were pop-guns invented?

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 28 2009, 5:34pm

Post #20 of 59 (217 views)
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"Narratorphiles"! [In reply to] Can't Post

Curious, you've coined a new word! Cool Cookie for you!




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 28 2009, 5:36pm

Post #21 of 59 (179 views)
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Mmm...thanks! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 5:43pm

Post #22 of 59 (201 views)
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Hmmm, well-spotted! [In reply to] Can't Post

Theoretically, I could see pop-guns going back a long way, and being related to blow-dart guns. They wouldn't necessarily have to be copies of firearms. As toys (in the context of the story) they might have evolved from slide-whistles. I did a quick google search and came up with this description of a home-made toy. It's fairly modern, dating from about a hundred years ago, but technologically it could go way back:

link

Interesting question!

Edit: This page puts it as least as far back as the 1700s. I would think if the dwarves made magical toys, popguns might come up in their repertoir, even if they weren't toy firearms. After all, fireworks predate firearms too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Mar 28 2009, 5:53pm)


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 28 2009, 5:50pm

Post #23 of 59 (184 views)
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As a matter of fact...yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

Heading back to the History of the Hobbit again, to the earliest known draft (the "Bladorthin Typescript").

This passage originally read: "If you have [ever] seen a dragon in a pinch you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit - even to Old Took's great-uncle Bullroarer, who was so large that he could just ride a shetland pony, and charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields. He knocked their king Fingolfin's head clean off with a wooden club..."

A note here states that an "ink revision" changed "Fingolfin" to "Golfimbul".

Great thinking - you caught Tolkien at his own "game"! Smile


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


sevilodorf
Gondor


Mar 28 2009, 5:53pm

Post #24 of 59 (194 views)
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chinaberries are so much more elegant [In reply to] Can't Post

than goat dung... http://southernsudan.prm.ox.ac.uk/...ils/1922.25.5+.1+.2/

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 28 2009, 5:56pm

Post #25 of 59 (185 views)
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What a great find! [In reply to] Can't Post

When I got up this morning, I never dreamed I would be so curious about the history of pop-guns. What fun! That one definitely looks like it could have a very long history behind it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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