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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
It's Tolkien Reading Day! Post your ABCs of Tolkien here.
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Mar 26 2010, 2:21am

Post #76 of 149 (1763 views)
H is for Halfling! [In reply to] Can't Post

Here is a passage about the much beloved race:

"Hobbits are unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-orded and well-farmed countriside was their favourite haunt. They do not and did not understand or like machines more complecated than a forgebellows, a water mill or a hand-loom, though they were skilful with tools. Even in the ancient days they were, as a rule, shy of the 'Big Folk', as they call us, and now they avoid us with dismay and are becoming hard to find . . "

Hobbits are my favorite race of Middle-earth and because of my generable happy nature and short stature I am beginning to believe that I may very well be one.

My favourite would have to be Frodo Baggins, though he is not always as cheerful as most hobbits, he is strong and determined and I find his undying will inspiring.
Next may be Smeagol (if by the time we meet him he may still be called a hobbit) he went through a lot and could never find peace, from the torment of the mind that the Ring was.

I wish I had posted earlier but have been watching ROTK since 4 pm and after all the delays and stopping to do things it has taken me well over 6 hours . . .
I would post more but am very tired . . .
This has turned out to be an awesome thread by the way! really cool! Thanks everyone!!

(This post was edited by aranelthehobbit22 on Mar 26 2010, 2:23am)


Mar 26 2010, 2:30am

Post #77 of 149 (1703 views)
No worries [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a feeling this thread will be picked over and added to for a while yet.

It's funny, but of Frodo's virtues, his undying will is not one that comes immediately to mind for me. Clearly he possesses this trait though and I thank you for shining a light on it.


Mar 26 2010, 2:33am

Post #78 of 149 (1733 views)
laughter [In reply to] Can't Post

When characters in Tolkien's story laugh unexpectedly in bad situations, they are experiencing a moment of sudden joy in which their spirits are lightened. I see these moments as mini-eucatastrophes, the sudden turns to joy, which Tolkien defines as affording a glimpse of Truth. The quotation that you've posted suggests to me that Gandalf seems to have a direct line into this vast source of joy, maybe even directly to some version of the Truth. Just a theory.

(btw, looooong time no see, Nerdanel!)


Mar 26 2010, 2:40am

Post #79 of 149 (1785 views)
Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

To NE and the other "perpetrators" of this thread and to all who wrote for it. I've read each post and enjoyed everything. TORnsibs are the BEST!

"Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


Mar 26 2010, 2:48am

Post #80 of 149 (1792 views)
How charming... [In reply to] Can't Post

The quote you provide has the flavour of the archaic forms Tolkien was undoubtedly wrestling with at that point in his career. It was a pleasure to read and I may dust off the Lost Tales on your recommendation.

As well, your segue has me intrigued; is The Arda 1200 somehow related to the Encyclopedia of Arda?


Mar 26 2010, 2:54am

Post #81 of 149 (1714 views)
M is for Morwen [In reply to] Can't Post

M is for Morwen

There are 2 Morwens that I will discuss.

The first is found in The Silmarillion. Morwen, daughter of Baragund of the House of Beor. She refugeed to Dor-lómin with Emeldir, mother of Beren. There she met and married Húrin of the house of Hador. They had three children: Túrin, Lalith and Nienor. She remained in Dor-lómin after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and the invasion of the Easterlings. She sent Túrin to Doriath to keep him from being enslaved by the Easterlings. The separation was difficult for Túrin and contributed to his quarrel with Saros. Twenty years after sending Túrin, Morwen and Nienor finally made the journey to Doriath themselves only to hear that Túrin was gone. After the fall of Nargothrond, she insisted on journeying there to learn news of her son. Her party, which included her daughter Nienor, were scattered by Glaurang. She wandered for six years before dying in Húrin’s arms at the grave of her son. Her beauty was such that it earned her the name Eledhwen, Elfsheen.

Unlike many of Tolkien’s female characters, Morwen is very strong almost to the point of foolishness. Her pride prevents her from receiving help from the elves sent by Thingol. She delays going to Doriath and causes Túrin grief. And she stubbornly insists on going to the Nargothrond to seek for Turin against the advice of Melian and Thingol. That action causes her to lose her daughter. She spends her last years wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. Do you agree with my assessment or is she a character that you can sympathize with?

The second is found in the Appendix III. She was the wife of Thengel King of Rohan. From Lossarnach, she married Thengel while he was in exile in Gondor from his father’s court. She bore 5 children including Théoden and Théodwyn. She was called Steelsheen by the Rohirrim.

Did you know about the second Morwen? Do you think she knew the story of her First Age namesake?




Mar 26 2010, 3:18am

Post #82 of 149 (1854 views)
The saddest... [In reply to] Can't Post

Because I'm a geek, a few small errors corrected here: Hurin and Morwen's second child was named Urwen, but called Lalaith, which is laughter. This is significant because when the ill wind blows through Dor Lomin and sickens Turin and kills Urwen it is a very early harbinger of the Curse of Morgoth upon the House of Hurin.
Next, the reason Morwen did not go with Turin to Doriath was because she was pregnant with Nienor. Proud she was, but she was the equal of Hurin Thalion in every way. She was stern but her caring was deep for her family. It was that caring that lead her astray by the devices of Morgoth. The terrible curse was laid upon Morwen and Nienor as well as Turin so that even their best choices would lead to mischance.
This is my favourite of all the tales of the Silmarillion and its tragedy is deeper than nearly any other written in English, for me at the least. I feel a profound pity for the most beautiful of mortal women. Even the Easterlings feared the Lady of Dor Lomin.
Indeed I did know of Morwen, Theoden-mother. Even among the Elves, few remembered the Tales of the Elder Days and the oral traditions of the Rohirrim would be very different than those of Westernesse, Morwen Eledhwen's kin.
I wonder, was it a grace or a pity that she died in Hurin's arms?

"Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Superuser / Moderator

Mar 26 2010, 3:33am

Post #83 of 149 (1706 views)
'H' is for, hip, hip, hooray, everyone! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is one of those threads that comes along every once in a while, that one simply *has* to bookmark. It's really turned into a TORn treasure.

The imagination, enthusiasm and originality of everyone's efforts is so impressive. You should all be beaming with pride. Really and truly.

Thank-you, N.E.B. for organizing this wonderful Tolkien Reading Day treat! Smile

Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.

"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase

TORn Calendar


Mar 26 2010, 3:42am

Post #84 of 149 (1735 views)
Yes, a favourite [In reply to] Can't Post

part of Return of the King for me as well.

Ioreth makes me think of my grandmother who was a nurse during WWII. Of course my grandmother was a young (and beautiful!) woman at that time, and I was not party to her doings. Yet I can see her in that situation, chattering on, driving the men almost to exasperation, while all the while knowing somewhere deep inside what needed to be done (or at least being open to sound council). I miss her.

It makes me wonder if Ioreth wasn't modelled after nurses Tolkien encountered during WWI?

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Mar 26 2010, 3:51am)


Mar 26 2010, 3:48am

Post #85 of 149 (1845 views)
M is for Morwen [In reply to] Can't Post

Opps! Thanks for the corrections. I should have been more specific. Morwen refused to go to Doriath after Nienor was born and Thingol had sent elves to accompany them. She waited 20 years and until the situation was beyond recall.


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea

Mar 26 2010, 4:11am

Post #86 of 149 (1817 views)
N is for Niggle [In reply to] Can't Post

Before him stood the Tree, his Tree, finished. If you could say that of a Tree that was alive, its leaves opening, its branches growing and bending in the wind that Niggle had so often felt or guessed, and bending in the wind that Niggle had so often felt or guessed, and had so often failed to catch. He gazed at the Tree, and slowly he lifted his arms and opened them wide.

Niggle was a painter whose favorite painting started with a single, perfect leaf and expanded to include a whole surrounding countryside. It was an ambitious project, just beyond his ability to complete satisfactorily, or in fact at all, before he had to leave on an (allegorical) journey.

I chose this Tolkien tidbit because I sympathize with Niggle. I have trouble finishing big projects, often lacking the time and talent and patience to make them come out the way I envisioned them. Niggle's Tree also brings to mind Tolkien's own struggles to complete LotR and The Silmarillion. As I read The Return of the Shadow, I am grateful that Tolkien Niggled away at LotR for years and years until it was perfect. I also feel sad for him that he did not have enough time to put The Silmarillion through that same painstaking process, and that he didn't have the same degree of support or encouragement to do so.

What is your Tree? Do you have something that you love to tinker away on but can't devote all your time and attention to? Do you think you will be able to finish it in your lifetime? If you believe in a heavenly reward, do you think Tolkien might have a perfect finished copy of The Silmarillion, the way he would have done it if he could, on his heavenly bookshelf? Or does he get to live right in the Middle-Earth of his creation, just as Niggle bicycled right into his own landscape?

Where's Frodo?


Mar 26 2010, 4:12am

Post #87 of 149 (1678 views)
"Why is Faery important? How important is it to you?" [In reply to] Can't Post

It is that sense of wonder that we must never lose, ever. In an ancient teaching, we are told to be as children -- to whom a sense of wonder comes naturally -- open to the less obvious, the seemingly insignifigant, the peculiar... it is what keeps alive.


Mar 26 2010, 4:52am

Post #88 of 149 (1866 views)
Yes but don't forget... [In reply to] Can't Post

... the "British wit" or understatement that you discussed with Magpie under the letter T...


To use his own words from the 1966 Foreword to the Ballentine edition of LotR: “I cordially dislike allegory, and have always done so, since I grew old, and wary enough to detect its presence.

"Cordially", a word based on the Latin word for "heart", is often associated with warm and friendly feelings, but in a case like this means "whole-heartedly", or "very strongly". TheFreeDictionary.com give these examples of the two meanings:

1. Warm and sincere; friendly: a cordial greeting; cordial relations.
2. Strongly felt; fervent: a cordial abhorrence of waste.

So "cordially dislike" is pretty close to "despise", especially if you bear in mind Tolkien's preference for British-style understatement.

The same with "since I grew old and wary enough...", I think. To me, his phrase implies that he always disliked it but perhaps as a child wasn't always able to detect it in things he read, and so took them at face value. I don't think he's in any way suggesting that he himself ever used allegory - he seems to be talking about reading allegories, not writing them.

Still, I think his attitude to allegory isn't as extreme as it sometimes seems - it seems to be only "straight" allegories, in which something in a story stands for one particular thing as decided by the author, that he dislikes so heartily. In a radio interview from the 60s, he actually uses the word "allegory" to describe something in his own work! But he's referring to something very general (Bilbo's indomitable nature as an "allegory" for the human race), and later in the same interview, when asked whether LotR is an allegory, he says, "No. I dislike allegory whenever I smell it". This interview was recorded in January 1965 (according to a note in a blog post by our own VirtualWeasel, so it probably predates his writing of the Ballantine Foreword. But I think his attitude comes through loud and clear - he totally rejects the idea that LotR is a ("straight") allegory, but has no problem with the other, more general kind of "allegory" for which he later used the term "applicability".

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

N.E. Brigand

Mar 26 2010, 6:42am

Post #89 of 149 (1937 views)
Y is for Yggdrasil. [In reply to] Can't Post

Laden in heavy streams there wade
men perjured, men who have betrayed
the trust of friend; and there the coward
and wolvish murderer is devoured:
the dragon who yet Yggdrasil
gnaws at the roots there takes his fill.

That is the seventh stanza from "The Prophecy of the Sybil", the third of four previously unpublished poems that appeared last year in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, and the only one of the four (I think) of which there had been no earlier mention in the literature on Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien says this poem exists "in a single very fine decorated manuscript" with no earlier drafts.

Tolkien's twelve six-line stanzas of rhyming couplets all seem to be based on stanzas in the "Völuspá", a much longer (and unrhymed) poem from the Old Norse text called the Poetic Edda. (This is the poem from which Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves for The Hobbit.) However, Tolkien adapts only about one fifth of the original stanzas; he reorders those stanzas to tell just the story of the world's destruction, the suffering in the land of the dead, and the world's rebirth; and he translates, or adapts, those stanzas rather loosely.

Here is the source of the stanza above, concerning the fate of those who go to Hel's land.
First in Old Norse, in the edition by Sophus Bugge:

Sá hon þar vaða
þunga strauma
menn meinsvara
ok morðvarga
ok þanns annars glepr
Þar saug Niðhöggr
nái framgengna,
sleit vargr vera -
vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

Now in the translation of Benjamin Thorpe:

She there saw wading
the sluggish streams
bloodthirsty men
and perjurers,
and him who the ear beguiles
of another’s wife.
There Nidhögg sucks
the corpses of the dead;
the wolf tears men.
Understand ye yet, or what?

And in the translation of Henry Adams Bellows:

I saw there wading | through rivers wild
Treacherous men | and murderers too,
And workers of ill | with the wives of men;
There Nithhogg sucked | the blood of the slain,
And the wolf tore men; | would you know yet more?

Note some changes: Tolkien omits adulterers but adds cowards. The tearing wolf is gone, but the murderers are described as "wolvish". (In this stanza, Tolkien omits the narrator, but she does appear elsewhere in his poem.) And instead of letting the name "Niðhöggr" stand, as Thorpe and Bellows do (though Ursula Dronke, in yet another translation, renders the name as "Malice Striker"), Tolkien tells us that this is the worm that ever gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. And what is that? As visualweasel explained not long ago, Yggdrasil is the tree that contains the nine worlds, including those of gods, men, elves, giants, and so on.

What does the name "Yggdrasil" mean? Wikipedia offers several explanations, but says the most widely accepted is that it means "Odin's horse": "Ygg" (terror) is one of Odin's many names, and "drasil" means horse. Why that name? Because in a sacrificial act, Odin hung himself from the tree (but he got better), and a "gallows can be called 'the horse of the hanged'" -- I don't quite get that part.

Wait a minute: haven't we seen "drasil" somewhere else in Tolkien? Yes, just a few months ago, but nobody remarked on the meaning of the word. In Letters from Father Christmas, among the the cave art in the 1932 letter are pictures drawn by goblins, which "must be very old, because the goblin fighters are sitting on drasils: a very queer sort of dwarf 'dachshund' horse creature they used to use, but they have died out long ago" (emphasis original).

Has anyone noted the meaning of "drasil" in connection to the Father Christmas Letters before? Google says yes, in 2006 (and probably before then, too). But a few further questions: Who calls the goblin-horses "drasils" -- the goblins or Father Christmas? Does that mean that either the goblins or Father Christmas is of Norse descent? And did Tolkien mean anything by attaching the name to dog-like creatures rather than normal horses, or was he just using the term in its sense of "steed"?

Discuss Tolkien’s life and works in the Reading Room!
How to find old Reading Room discussions.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 26 2010, 9:23am

Post #90 of 149 (1700 views)
Yep [In reply to] Can't Post

I just couldn't resist Wink. I was flipping through my book on search for remarks about Rosie when I came along the poem and could almost slap myself. R is for Rosie, well of course, but what is the books name Lord of the R.... yes, oh, gasp, Blush, why didn't I pick that one. Oh well, than just sneakily sneaking in two R's, I hope I don't get expelled from the Reading Room Angelic.

Wow, translating the Ring-verse, that would have made some interesting language classes. I've never had Spanish lessons but German and French would have been much better. Although I'm glad I wasn't forced to read The Lord of the Rings in English classes, I don't think I would have appreciated struggling through 1000 pages of endless descriptions of whatever at the age of 15. I really hated to read anything just slightly resembling literature when I finished highschool after being forced to read over 40 (most of them boring) books in one year. So I'm glad I discovered the beauty of LOTR later, when I could appreciate it, though it still is a lot of reading, especially in English, but then you can really appreciate the descriptions and some smaller word twists that don't get lost in the translation.

Tol Eressea

Mar 26 2010, 12:24pm

Post #91 of 149 (1782 views)
Ack - they're everywhere! [In reply to] Can't Post

Heh heh - thanks for the additional glowing eye reference.

Thanks even more for a very informative & well thought out post - it certainly helps to add some depth to a "minor" race in LOTR.

"Fruit of Morgoth" indeed....I'm going to have to use that one sometime.


Tol Eressea

Mar 26 2010, 12:28pm

Post #92 of 149 (1797 views)
A is for N.E. Brigand - [In reply to] Can't Post

Both for the clever nick (which I read for years before finding out why the subject of this post is appropriate...), but most of all, you get an "A" for organizing this great Reading Day expedition, and for all your efforts in the Reading Room!

Cheers for N.E!



Mar 26 2010, 12:31pm

Post #93 of 149 (1951 views)
Seconded! [In reply to] Can't Post

He has shown a pretty good following, hasn't he?

"It will support thee and defend thee from weariness" - Cirdan.

Tol Eressea

Mar 26 2010, 12:48pm

Post #94 of 149 (2024 views)
One of the amazing things about the depth of Tolkien's writing - [In reply to] Can't Post

Look at the wonderful prose and story written for a character who, in the "final" works, shows up almost not at all.

Thanks - I had no idea who Voronwe was before this...



Mar 26 2010, 1:30pm

Post #95 of 149 (1776 views)
(laughs) [In reply to] Can't Post

I was going to post on "applicability" until you covered it with your last line! I wasn't aware of the 2nd definition for 'cordial' so that surprises me some, as I'd always envisioned it as more of a mild remonstrance and honestly, I still think he wasn't so vehement as some (Carpenter?) believed UNLESS provoked.
I disagree with you on your interpretation of "since I grew old...", I think that is a genuine commentary on how his views have wizened as he aged and not something he carried with him in early adulthood - I forget at the moment whom, but the Beowulf poster posited - and I agree with him - that Tolkien very much used allegory in that essay.
I believe Professor Tolkien's attitude towards allegory was shaped, at least in part, by his growing dislike of his friend CS Lewis' use of it in the 50s (recall they had a fairly serious falling out over those years) and allegory may have been among the 'casualties' of that disagreement? It is my contention that observing Lewis' use of it guided Tolkien to use the more subtle art of 'applicability' in his own works from that time forward, but probably not beforehand as his understanding of allegory grew from watching another as opposed to anything he noticed in his own work and/or life?

"Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


Mar 26 2010, 1:33pm

Post #96 of 149 (1643 views)
Intriguing idea indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post

But from what little I know of that era and especially given Gandalf and Aragorn's gentle treatment of her I should think you may be onto something there.

"Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

White Gull

Mar 26 2010, 2:00pm

Post #97 of 149 (1786 views)
Light of eyes [In reply to] Can't Post

I've noticed the frequency of this word choice, too. Legolas is said to have "bright eyes," and Frodo is known by Goldberry as an Elf-friend by the "light in his eyes." I've wondered if this is kin to the Biblical illustration of the eyes being the window of the soul. If eyes are light, then so is the soul, and the same with darkness.

A poet is a nightingale that sits in the darkness and sings to cheers its own solitude with sweet sounds.
-Percy B Shelley


Mar 26 2010, 2:05pm

Post #98 of 149 (1750 views)
I have to agree [In reply to] Can't Post

Now you mention The Monsters and the Critics, I have to agree that Tolkien was not averse to using allegory in that. Leaf by Niggle seems pretty allegorical too. And I already mentioned his own unselfconscious use of the word "allegory" in describing Bilbo in that interview where later he reacts very strongly against the idea of "allegory" when applied to LotR.

You may be right about CS Lewis' use of allegory being what turned Tolkien against it. Or it may just have been his annoyance when people insisted on "interpreting" LotR allegorically in terms of recent history - the Ring as the atomic bomb and so on. This kind of restrictive allegory really seems to have bothered him, especially when it was applied to LotR, which of course has much wider "applicability" than 20th century history, and was never intended to be read in that way. In fact, what he's calling "allegory" in the Foreword is more like what the French call a "roman à clé" - a fictional work in which everything stands for something in the real world. Reading LotR that way, you would lose everything that Tolkien wanted his story to be - it's the antithesis of what he describes in On Fairy Stories. No wonder he was upset!

I still think that in the Foreword he's being about as forceful as he can be, in his own English academic way, about his dislike of allegory. But I think it's only this one special case of allegory that has got him so ticked off. I agree that he uses ordinary allegory - the kind that's mostly metaphor and symbolism - quite a lot.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea

Mar 26 2010, 2:33pm

Post #99 of 149 (1733 views)
Whoops! [In reply to] Can't Post

I apologize for the accidental repetition of words in my quote. Serves me right for posting in haste, and late!

Where's Frodo?

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 26 2010, 3:43pm

Post #100 of 149 (1768 views)
Concurring with GAndy [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien did draw upon his experiences in that War - and of course, he would have had known first-hand what it was like in the "houses of healing" related to the battlefields and back home.

How often would he have heard those nurses complaining, despairing, and offering sage folk wisdom...!


"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

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