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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Where did you read that? A reading room quiz

squire
Valinor


Jun 22 2010, 11:23pm

Post #1 of 19 (434 views)
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Where did you read that? A reading room quiz Can't Post

As Curious, Atlas-like, double-handedly holds up the RR tradition of close textual analysis of Tolkien’s books, I think the rest of us need to reconnect with the deep roots that the written word has in Tolkien’s ostensibly oral-traditional world. Thus: a squire quiz on reading in Middle-earth.


Can you identify the textual source and speaker/writer of the following quotes? Extra credit for naming the culture or people involved; and extra-footnote-credit for discussing how and why the quote shows the written word to be important in the context of that culture or people’s history.


1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’


2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’


3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”


4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.


5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.


6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.


7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.


8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.


9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’


10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.


ANSWERS ... and QUESTIONS




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


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Curious
Half-elven


Jun 23 2010, 12:38am

Post #2 of 19 (181 views)
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Tolkien had a special love of old manuscripts. [In reply to] Can't Post

It was part of his life long vocation, which was also an avocation. And he enjoyed creating not only fictional languages, but fictional histories written in those fictional languages, and sometimes even fictional texts containing those fictional histories. If he didn't actually illustrate the texts, as he did with some pages from the book of Mazarbul, he liked to describe the texts.

But Tolkien also liked oral traditions, which he also studied. And he also created fictional oral traditions. The Elves liked nothing more than to recite old tales which many of them still remembered, and did it so vividly that for mortals it acted like a kind of enchantment.

Among mortals the love for history and tales, oral or written, was less common, and likely to be the province of eccentric men of leisure in the oldest families or of more common and less literate men and women like The Gaffer or Ioreth in the Houses of Healing. In other words, the tales were collected in obscure books or passed down as old wives' (and husbands') tales.

Note that the "great big book with red and black letters" describes LotR as it was originally meant to be printed, and is printed in the 50th anniversary edition.

I'm doing Atlas's job? Where is Atlas? I haven't seen him around here since March.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 23 2010, 12:39am)


Ethel Duath
Valinor


Jun 23 2010, 2:22am

Post #3 of 19 (214 views)
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For heaven's sake, Don't Shrug! :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


PhantomS
Rohan


Jun 23 2010, 3:34am

Post #4 of 19 (168 views)
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attempting [In reply to] Can't Post


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2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’

Gandalf is talking to Pippin in Minas Tirith.


Quote
6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.

Gandalf and the Fellowship run into the "Chamber of Mazarbul", and the book of the same name.


Quote
And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.

Akkalabeth?


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9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’


Faramir is talking to Frodo in Henneth Annun. The next line is somethng like 'But I know a little of these things,for I have had some teaching'



visualweasel
Rohan


Jun 23 2010, 4:01pm

Post #5 of 19 (175 views)
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Reading as metaphor [In reply to] Can't Post

A great quiz, squire. I will leave it to others to attempt it, but I missed one from your list:


Quote

[Speaking of Gandalf] ‘Well,’ said Pippin. ‘I have known of him all my short life, as you might say; and lately I have travelled far with him. But there is much to read in that book, and I cannot claim to have seen more than a page or two. Yet perhaps I know him as well as any but a few. Aragorn was the only one of our Company, I think, who really knew him.’ (emphasis added)



I've always appreciated this one in a special way. Pippin's metaphorical use of reading is pretty sophistocated.

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


sador
Half-elven


Jun 23 2010, 4:26pm

Post #6 of 19 (180 views)
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Missed those! [In reply to] Can't Post

As Curious, Atlas-like, double-handedly holds up the RR tradition of close textual analysis of Tolkien’s books
Just when did Atlas do it? It's such a shame I joined TORn after he left!


Ah well, to your questions. I have no time for the required follow-up analysis. Just answers:

1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’
No. 1 should be easy, shouldn't it? I'll go with Sam on the stairs of Cirith Ungol, just before his acting the father and son. Famousest indeed!

2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’
Gandalf, speaking about Denethor in the Council of Elrond. Am I right? We should compare it to number 9!

3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”
Bilbo at the end of The Hobbit, just before Gandalf and Balin knock on his door.

4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.
Well, I don't quite remember this quote, but it should be from The Return of the Noldor, speaking of the long peace while the Siege of Angband endured.

5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.
Another one I don't remember; but it probably comes from the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, in the Note on the Shire Records.

6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.
The chamber of Mazarbul! Balin and Gandalf again, in less a serene environment.

7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.
This must be Numenor. Is it from the Akallabeth? I guess so.

8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.
Once again from the Prologue. I would guess it is from Concerning Hobbits.

9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’
I'm pretty sure this is Faramir, speaking in The Window on the West. Quite interesting to compare it to Gandalf, isn't it? Especially when one suspects that Gandalf was wrong, and Denethor actually did study these old parchments.

10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.
The Prologue again! Of the Finding of the Ring, and Tolkien's ingenious explanation of the discrepancy between Riddles in the Dark and the way he ultimately conceived of Bilbo's first encounter with Gollum. Later he decided to fiddle with the older book itself.


Well, time to check how well I've done.



(some time later) - ah, mixed up the Yellowskin one. I remembered there was something of the sort in appendix D, but wouldn't have guessed it. I'll live with my result.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"When Tolkien took me off on the big adventure I was enthralled. By the time he brought me back. I had returned home from Viet Nam and things had changed... at last things looked like they were going to change for the better. But my little town was gone. It was part of the world now."
- Kangi Ska.



(This post was edited by sador on Jun 23 2010, 4:30pm)


dormouse
Half-elven

Jun 23 2010, 10:36pm

Post #7 of 19 (191 views)
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Probably won't recognise them all... [In reply to] Can't Post

but I'll give it a try.


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1. 1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’


I think that's Sam talking to Frodo on the way to the Crack of Doom. And I don't know if it's what you meant about the importance of the written word, but looking at it, I'm struck by the way he identifies what is actually happening to him as part of a story - which it is for us, the readers, on a completely different level, and then makes a distinction between that and tales preserved in writing for the future, and shared by the fireside.


Quote
2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’


Gandalf, describing how he found Isildur's account of the Ring among the records at Minas Tirith? If it is, then I suppose the significant thing there is that the people of Gondor have lost touch with so many of their written records - part of the falling-off of their culture.

Quote

3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”


Bilbo - I thought at first the beginning of LotR, or even at Rivendell, but on second thoughts I'd say at the end of 'The Hobbit', before Gandalf and Balin visit? It links to Sam's tales by the fireside a little, but there's character there too, in the use of 'Holiday', making light of all they went through on the journey


Quote
4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.


That's the Silmarillion, describing the Long Peace after the premature appearance of Glaurung, when the dragon was defeated by Fingon and his archers. So the people are the Elves, and since it is them and they are immortal, I suppose you could say that the written record must play a different role for them than it does for the Hobbits. The writer is supposedly Bilbo isn't it, from his translations from Elvish


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5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.


Not sure if this is from one of the Appendices to LotR or from the HoME


Quote
6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.


This is the Chamber of Mazarbul and the dwarves' written record of their re-occupation of Moria that was found by the Fellowship and read by Gandalf just before the Orcs attacked

Quote

7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.


I think that's Numenor in its beginnings, before the Valar imposed the Ban, from the Akallabeth (sorry, can't do the accents without looking up the codes)


Quote
8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.


That refers to the Hobbits and I think it comes from 'Concerning Hobbits' at the beginning of 'Fellowship of the Ring'


Quote
9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’


Not sure - is that Faramir speaking to Frodo and Sam at Henneth Anun, recalling Gandalf's visits?


Quote
10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.


That's from the beginning of 'Fellowship of the Ring', relating to Bilbo's original account of 'Riddles in the Dark', and the true version

...........

It was really interesting putting those together - thanks, squire. I'm falling asleep over the keyboard now but I'll look at the other questions in the morning.


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jun 24 2010, 2:43am

Post #8 of 19 (151 views)
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Because I cannot resist a quiz [In reply to] Can't Post

1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’
Samwise - hobbit in LotR. The written word is rare and special and helps remember important things.

2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’
Gandalf - Wizard, referring to Denethor - a man in LotR. The written word is so abundant that it becomes difficult to organize and stay familiar with everything.

3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”
Tolkien - a man, referring to Bilbo - a hobbit in TH. The written word is personal.


4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.
Elves in The Sil. The written word is a work of art.


5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.
Hobbits in an Appendix. See #1

6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.
Dwarves in LotR. Can't be gleaned from this excerpt, but from knowing that the burned book was a logbook, I'll say that the written word was utilitarian.

7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.
Dunedain? in The Sil. The written word is perishable.

8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.
Hobbits in an Appendix. See #1

9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’
Denethor - a man in LotR. See #2

10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.
Tolkien, a man, referring to hobbits in an Appendix. See #3.

Where's Frodo?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 24 2010, 12:58pm

Post #9 of 19 (185 views)
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I peeked [In reply to] Can't Post

Blush

Couldn't resist that "...AND QUESTIONS".

Some thoughts on your questions:


In Reply To
1. The Lord of the Rings, IV.8, “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”. Sam is speaking, presumably of hobbit-customs for preserving and transmitting stories. Why does he seem to value equally the idea of oral and written traditions?


Is Sam speaking about hobbit-customs generally? Or perhaps about his own experience in the house of Bilbo? His own family are illiterate and seem to prefer it that way.

I wouldn't say that he values oral and written traditions "equally". Storytelling is oral in his imagination - even the written stories are "read out" (i.e out loud), to audiences who want to "hear about" their favourite heroes. The written, you might say, is in the service of the oral. I think this reflects the state of affairs when manuscripts were literally written by hand and were therefore rare and valuable (as a "great big book with red and black letters" sounds likely to be!). Writing the story down preserves it, but reading it is still a public event rather than the private pastime it will become once moveable type is invented. The invention of the printing press must have had an effect similar to the one that's currently underway with personal entertainment devices. Something that was communal and social becomes a matter of private enjoyment, and those who remember the old ways can't fail to regret the loss. But that hasn't happened in the Shire - storytelling is still a communal event, the way watching TV was in the 1950s!


In Reply To
2. The Lord of the Rings, II.2, “The Council of Elrond”. Gandalf is speaking. He is commenting on the unique nature of a written text to preserve knowledge, if it can be decoded, after the knowledge of the language involved has been lost by its original owners. The culture in question is Gondor. Is its loss of language-knowledge symptomatic of its decline, or a natural process to be expected?


The change in language is a natural process, to be sure. But the loss of language-knowledge is a sign that the "lore-masters" have been cut off from their roots. The early languages have "become dark to later men", implying a kind of "dark ages" between the flourishing of Gondor and the time of LotR. If Gondor is based on the classical world of Greece and Rome, then there is an example of something like this in the real world. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin gradually fractured and turned into the various European languages we now know as French, Italian, Spanish etc. But this happened so gradually that no-one was really aware that they weren't speaking Latin any more. It was only when Charlemagne, believing that the Latin of his time had become "debased", ordered his scholars to research and use correct Latin, that people realised they were now speaking and writing a different language altogether!


In Reply To
3. The Hobbit, XIX, “The Last Stage”. Written by the "narrator" of The Hobbit who is... Well, Bilbo is writing his memoirs at the end of the story, with a subtitle that matches the subtitle (“There and Back Again”) of the book he is a character in. This begins the “frame-device” that is extended in The Lord of the Rings: wherein the two books, written by Tolkien, are imagined to have been recovered and translated from ancient accounts written or compiled by the hobbits themselves. Why did Tolkien feel the need to add this “layer” to our reading of his story?


Interesting that the frame-device has its origins right in The Hobbit - I'd never noticed that before! But well before this, the narrator of The Hobbit has made it clear that he's a modern "translator" (and adaptor), able to put the world of the hobbits into a context that we can relate to. And he hints a few times that he knows much more than is to be found in the story he's currently telling. I think this is all part of the effect Tolkien is creating, of a glimpse into a lost world - a glimpse only, because we have only the few manuscripts that survived from that time, and so much else can only be wondered about.


In Reply To
4. The Silmarillion, 13, “Of the Return of the Noldor”. Written by the "narrator" of The Sil. The Elves of the First Age, in time of peace, partly define their civilization through literature. Is it likely that Elves, who are immortal, would have imperfect memories and so need to record written texts just as short-lived mortals do?


No memory is perfect. The Elves may seem practically perfect in every way to the hobbits, but we see in the Sil that they are a bit more "human" than they appear. But even if an individual Elf could remember a story, or piece of history (same thing, essentially, in pre-modern times) perfectly, it would be impossible to communicate it verbally to everyone who might be interested in it, so writing it down would still be useful. It also guards against knowledge being lost if the Elf who possesses it dies. We see in the house of Elrond that the Elves spend a lot of time singing their history and remembering it that way, as oral history. But we also learn in The Council of Elrond that "Elrond himself set [historical events] down in his books of lore..." The Elves, for all their immortality, are really a version of "us" - an idealized, cerebral and powerful version of us, but essentially human nevertheless, with human passions, weaknesses and habits. And, it seems, a need to set down their stories in concrete form.


In Reply To
5. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, “Calendars”. The writer of this appendix is indeterminate, within the frame-device of LotR being a recovered and translated work. Along with being a parody of medieval scholarship, how does this passage establish specifically the nature and limits of the hobbits’ uses of written text to preserve cultural memory?


The implication is that even the hobbits have fallen from a more noble past to their narrow and slightly shabby present. The "Yearbook" sounds like just the kind of document a researcher wants to find - most knowledge of day-to-day things in even the quite recent past comes from reading the clues in documents that were written for purposes other than "history" - old account-books, diaries and so on. A Yearbook is along the same lines - written for the personal use of the family, I suppose, but containing things that can help a historian to understand what the people of the time took for granted and so would never have bothered to deliberately record for posterity. Texts written specifically "to preserve cultural memory" are few and far between, even in the real world. There are histories focusing on great events and great individuals (more or less propagandized, depending on the source), but very little about the everyday. It takes imaginative distance to even realize that such information will ever be wanted - after all, everyone already knows what everyday life is like, don't they? If we can see the need now, maybe it's because change is happening so much faster now.


In Reply To
6. The Lord of the Rings, II.5, “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm”. Written by the "narrator" of LotR. This book of Mazarbul was written by the Dwarves as a chronicle of their history in Moria. Its deteriorated and difficult-to-read state is a parody of medieval scholarship, referring among other things to the surviving manuscript of Beowulf. From what we know about them in The Hobbit and LotR, is it fitting that dwarves are explicitly included among the races who use traditional books to preserve cultural memory?


I don't think the book of Mazarbul was written in a deliberate attempt to "preserve cultural memory". It's not so different from the Yearbook of Tuckborough - written to record and keep track of current events. I wouldn't call it a "chronicle", which suggests an author sitting down to compose a history in hindsight. The book of Mazarbul is written in different hands, noting day-to-day events, and is more a kind of log-book, kept for the writers' own reference rather than for "posterity" (although a secondary purpose of a log-book would be to leave behind a record in case of disaster).

In the movie, the Chamber of Mazarbul has carved runes all over the walls, which I thought was based on something in the book although I can't find a reference to it. This might be more likely to be the way Dwarves would deliberately record their history, while books would be for short-term, practical purposes.


In Reply To
7. The Silmarillion, “Akallabeth”. Written by the "narrator" of Akallabeth, who is Elendil in some traditions. The reference is to the Numenoreans, the race of Men who most resembled the High Elves of ancient times. If the things the loremasters recorded are now “forgot”, how does the writer know they were “of wisdom and wonder”?


How indeed? This must be oral tradition. It's pretty common for ancient manuscripts to contain cryptic, tantalising references to other, greater stories that the author has perhaps read or at least heard tell of, but that are now lost.


In Reply To
8. The Lord of the Rings, “Prologue”. Written by the "editor" of LotR. The reference is to the hobbits of the Shire. Why is it said that only in the “older families” did a “few remain” who still studied the world and its works through scholarship and reading?


The "older families" are the ones that have kept their family traditions alive (and are still living in their ancestral homes), and so perhaps have enough old written records in their keeping for the occasional eccentric scholar to pop up and provide a bit of insight into history for anyone who might be interested. Bilbo is the eccentric scholar that we come to know best, of course.


In Reply To
9. The Lord of the Rings, IV.5, “The Window on the West”. The speaker is Faramir of Gondor. Why does he focus on the physical aspects of the texts, when we know he is in fact one of the few who can read them?


Faramir can read in them only "a little". The essential point is that these are all very old, very picturesque, and very difficult to read. I've never handled an ancient manuscript (although of course I've seen plenty under glass), and any research I've done was using microfiche which is a very unnatural way to read. But I think it would be thrilling to be in the presence of original manuscripts, with their rich and strange appearance - the texture of the vellum, the vividness of the colours and the gold leaf, the flowing lines of the scribe's inked words. A scholar like Tolkien would presumably have had that experience. That Faramir remembers so vividly the look and feel of the manuscripts suggests that he's a scholar at heart too.


In Reply To
10. The Lord of the Rings, “Prologue”. Written by the "editor" of LotR. This speaks of Bilbo’s “original” account of his encounter with Gollum, paralleling and explaining the changes Tolkien made to The Hobbit’s riddles episode after the writing of The Lord of the Rings made the earlier version seem absurd and childish. Doesn’t this imply that the “revised” edition of The Hobbit (i.e., any edition published since 1951) should contain both versions of the story, just as “some” copies of the Red Book do?

Well, the Prologue also says that The Hobbit is "derived" from the account in the Red Book, implying that the narrator/translator took the account he found there and told it in the form of a children's tale - turning Bilbo's (presumably) first-person memoir into a third-person narrative, and adding his own voice to explain anything that might be unfamiliar to children in his own time. Subsequently it seems he read other copies of the Red Book with the variant version of There and Back Again, and (of course!) discovered that this second version accorded better with the rest of the "great history" once he came to decode that. But The Hobbit remains a children's story, not a historical text, and I assume the translator would feel no need to provide both versions of the story to the children who are his intended audience. He's taken plenty of liberties already to make the story suitable for children, so keeping the story simple and unambiguous is just another liberty taken for the same purpose. But he does include this comment about the underlying ambiguity of Bilbo's story, for anyone of a "scholarly" bent who wants to follow it up...

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



Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Jun 24 2010, 11:09pm

Post #10 of 19 (149 views)
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I'm not learned but I'll try. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’

Sounds like Sam talking to Frodo in Mordor.

In Reply To
2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’

Gandalf talking to Frodo about the records in Minas Tirith, where he read the account of Isildur.

In Reply To
3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”

Obviously Bilbo, but I'm having a hard time placing the scene exactly. Probably an interview with Frodo shortly before Bilbo leaves the Shire.

In Reply To
4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.

This must be from the Sil, but I've only read it twice in my life so I can't get any closer than that.

In Reply To
5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.

Either from the Prologue to LotR or the Appendices. Probably the Prolgue. It must be describing a record book of the Tooks.

In Reply To
6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.

This is the books of the Dwarves in Moria (the Book of Marzabul, though I'm probalby slaughtering the spelling.) It was a record of their doings in Moria, and contained a record of the last seige.

In Reply To
7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.

My first thought was Rivendell, but I think it must be Gondor.

In Reply To
8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.

This must be from the Prologue to LotR as well, describing the hobbits of the Shire.

In Reply To
9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’

This is Gandalf again, describing the books in Minas Tirith.

In Reply To
10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.

This is from the Prologue to LotR, describing the history of the account of LotR and the Red Book of Westmarch.

ANSWERS ... and QUESTIONS



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Penthe
Gondor


Jun 26 2010, 10:13am

Post #11 of 19 (143 views)
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Out of practice. [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice one Squire. I haven't been reading any Tolkien for a long time, so I have forgotten a great deal, I'm afraid. Just shadows in the mind.

1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’
Sam, in Ithilien, to Frodo. The important thing, for me, is the foreshadowing of the bard singing of Frodo the nine-fingered and Sam's tearful joy at the Field of Cormallen. And then, of course, Sam's family become the keepers of the Red Book.

2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’
Gandalf to Frodo when they are first discussing the Ring, either just before or just after he puts it in the hearth fire at Bag End. I think we can guess, by Denethor's knowledge of the Ring, that the records were not as strange to him as Gandalf assumed.

3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”
It's about Bilbo, of course. It must be at Rivendell, perhaps just before he gives Frodo Sting and the mithril coat. Although it may be at Bag End when Gandalf first arrives in A Long Expected Party.

4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.
Silmarillion maybe. It must be about the long war with Morgoth, in one of the lulls and quite early on, before the only remaining elves were outlaws or in hidden realms.

5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.
I got nothing.

6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.
In the Chamber of Mazarbul, and the book is the record of Balin's ill-fated adventures in Moria - they cannot get out! Poor Dwarves, even more so than the Elves lost from their ancestral homes.

7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.
Not sure which text, but it must refer to Men, the Numenoreans. So probably from the later section of the Silmarillion that deals with the Ring and Sauron's relationships with Men and summarises the events of LOTR.

8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.
I'm guessing from the hobbitlore forward of LOTR. Which makes me raise the question - which books did Hugo Bracegirdle not return anyway? Any that were precous among the older families would surely not be lent out to unreliable Bracegirdles, and there seems to be little tradition of frivolous literacy. It's been bothering me lots recently.

9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’
Utterly no idea. Actually, perhaps it is Denethor or Faramir, reflecting what Gandalf said to Frodo.

10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.
Wondering if this is the same part of the Silmarillion as in question 7.


Now?


Ethel Duath
Valinor


Jun 26 2010, 9:48pm

Post #12 of 19 (140 views)
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Here goes: [In reply to] Can't Post

1) a. End of Two Towers b. Sam c. Hobbits/Shire d. Sam's little speech illustrates that the Hobbit culture was likely steeped in storytelling of all kinds, oral and written, since in the midst of great stress, during a little window of rest and thought, storytelling was the first thing that came to Sam's mind, possibly as a means to make their suffering meaningful--for themselves and hopefully for others (and to put their presently very narrowly focused efforts in a wider perspective): and possibly that the written word was held in highest esteem in Hobbit culture, since Sam takes the trouble to spell out just how he imagined it would be bound and printed, in words that seem to signify something held in high regard: a great big book with red and black letters be put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of, years and years afterwards.’

2) a. Fellowship of the Ring b. Gandalf c. Gondor (decayed Numenorian) d. Certainly the written word had been of great importance, since these written records were part of a "hoard." I had even imagined that the hoard entirely consisted of written material, although it doesn't specifically say that. In other words, these records were considered part of the culture's treasures: and it seems to imply that there was a vast amount of them, also indicating that writing in a more or less permanent form was of great value to these people. It is also obvious that in more recent times, people did not value the old records highly enough to bother to learn how to read them ("
. . . records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.") although they may have venerated them in a way, as mementos of the age and greatness of their civilization. It doesn't seem to say much about how the people valued "present-day" writing, in languages with which they were familiar, although it implies it is still valued, or they would not have a class of people known as "lore-masters."

3) a. End of The Hobbit b. Bilbo c. Hobbits/Shire d. Although Bilbo was not one to care too much about others' opinions--at least, other Hobbits--it seems unlikely he would be writing of his adventures if hardly anyone in his culture was ever likely to read them. The fact that he was literate himself implies that there was a culture, at least in his social class, that valued the written word enough so that it was not remarkable, but perfectly ordinary without the need for explanation, to have Bilbo sit down to write his adventures for both himself and others to read ("memoirs" to me implies the hope for it to be read by people in the future, possibly when he was no longer around to tell the tale himself).

That's all I can manage for today! Hopefully I can revisit the rest soon.

Thank you, Squire! I always enjoy an opportunity to think.



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 27 2010, 1:12pm

Post #13 of 19 (155 views)
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Meaning no harm [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for this fun bit of questing, squire! Now, to follow that link...

1. ‘Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.’
No need to look up this first one: it's Sam, on the stairs of Cirith Ungol, contemplating his and Frodo's place in the great scheme of things in Middle-earth. In spite of the Gaffer's dislike of "book-learning", it is evident from this that some Hobbits do make a habit of preserving their history, taking special care in the preserving of the written word.


2. ‘And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few now can read, even of the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.’
Gandalf at the Council of Elrond, speaking of his journey to what passed for a "library" in Minas Tirith. What a waste of distant history, this seems, to not have continually taught the knowledge of the older texts in their collection. This speaks of a disregard, or unwillingness to acknowledge, the history of their people.


3. [He] was sitting in his study writing his memoirs - he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”
Bilbo's activity when Balin and Gandalf visited him, at the end of "The Hobbit". The importance of the written memoir - but what a light title, for such a harrowing experience! Still, that's Hobbits for you: they do tend to get over traumatic experiences easily, and make light of them.


4. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich. Behind the guard of their armies in the north the Noldor built their dwellings and their towers, and many fair things they made in those days, and poems and histories and books of lore.
Probably the Sil...I'll have to check this one in the link.


5. At the end of the Third Age far the most notable survival was Yellowskin, or the Yearbook of Tuckborough. Its earliest entries seem to have begun at least nine hundred years before Frodo's time; and many are cited in the Red Book annals and genealogies.
Time and Appendix D of LotR: 900 years is a long time for a book to be preserved, they must have taken great care of it! And hopefully made copies. It must also have been read, or read from, often enough for its contents to have been generally known, especially concerning genealogy.


6. There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had been slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read.
The discovery by the Fellowship of the diary of Balin's return to Moria, discovered in the ruins of the Chamber of Mazarbul ("Chamber of Records"). If this is indeed where Dwarvish records were kept, it is interesting that they were contained in iron-bound chests, as if they were gold and jewels. And note that both runes and script were used. But with a people who traded their crafts with other races, it's not surprising that they would be excellent record-keepers and know other scripts and languages.


7. And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot.
Does this refer to Númenor? In its glory days, much was preserved. But I doubt that much could be preserved from the Fall.


8. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.
The LotR Prologue: we see the Gaffer's distaste for book-learning is common among the common populace, but among the more well-to-do written histories were appreciated. Brings to mind the old British lairds and their massive personal libraries.


9. ‘…there are moreover in our treasuries many things preserved: books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Some none can now read; and for the rest, few ever unlock them.’
Faramir and Frodo chatting as they walk in Ithilien - and Faramir bemoaning the lack of interest in current-day Gondor of all its written treasures. Appalling, isn't it, for a city that size to not have a library?


10. This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.
From the LotR Prologue again. Bilbo - and perhaps Mad Baggins - had become such a revered figure, even during his lifetime, that those who knew him were loathe to correct his "error".


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"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


Jun 29 2010, 12:40am

Post #14 of 19 (68 views)
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And to consider your questions... [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Why does Sam seem to value equally the idea of oral and written traditions?
Oral traditions abound among Hobbits, obviously, especially if the "lower classes" cannot/do no read. And Sam has also been influenced by Bilbo, in particular hearing from him those stories which are not among common Hobbit tales, especially those about Elves. No doubt Sam eagerly learned his letters so that he, too, could take a look through some of Bilbo's books.

2. Is Gondor's loss of language-knowledge symptomatic of its decline, or a natural process to be expected?
Considering that this was story was written by a philologist who studied such things, I would say that it shows the decline of the civilization.

3. Why did Tolkien feel the need to add this “layer” to our reading of The Hobbit?
It brings a nice, homey touch to the ending: the hobbit is writing about his adventures, just as Tolkien's sons might write about theirs, or as Father Christmas writes about his.

4. Is it likely that Elves, who are immortal, would have imperfect memories and so need to record written texts just as short-lived mortals do?
Could it simply be, that Elves, who love crafting things, had a fondness for "exercising" their writing-craft by producing books? Pages and pages of nothing but alphabets would be quite boring; written words are, well, prettier, and writing books gives an excuse to make letters.

5. Along with being a parody of medieval scholarship, how does this passage establish specifically the nature and limits of the hobbits’ uses of written text to preserve cultural memory?
Keeping the facts straight - especially as applies to how one hobbit is related to another - is of supreme importance, and the written word is the last word in arguments.

6. is it fitting that dwarves are explicitly included among the races who use traditional books to preserve cultural memory?
This is not so much preserving cultural memory, as it is proper record-keeping. Dwarves were the businessmen of Middle-earth.

7. If the things the loremasters recorded are now “forgot”, how does the writer know they were “of wisdom and wonder”?
From the bits and pieces that remain.

8. Why is it said that only in the “older families” did a “few remain” who still studied the world and its works through scholarship and reading?
Typical British class structure. The lower classes were farmers and tradespeople; the upper, "older" classes had more leisure for study.

9. Why does Faramir focus on the physical aspects of the texts, when we know he is in fact one of the few who can read them?
Note that Faramir is describing the books similar to the way Gimli described the Glittering Caves: with awe, and desire, and sadness that others do not appreciate them.

10. Doesn’t this imply that the “revised” edition of The Hobbit (i.e., any edition published since 1951) should contain both versions of the story, just as “some” copies of the Red Book do?
Are we sensing a tad of guilt on Tolkien's part here, for having to rewrite parts of The Hobbit in order to make it come in line with LotR?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"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


Jun 29 2010, 12:49am

Post #15 of 19 (84 views)
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Verrry funny, sador! [In reply to] Can't Post

(ah, that is, I'm assuming you were punning with TORn member Atlas and squire's comparing Curious to the mythical Atlas...)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"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




sador
Half-elven


Jun 29 2010, 4:25am

Post #16 of 19 (104 views)
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*shrugs* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"When Tolkien took me off on the big adventure I was enthralled. By the time he brought me back. I had returned home from Viet Nam and things had changed... at last things looked like they were going to change for the better. But my little town was gone. It was part of the world now."
- Kangi Ska.



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 30 2010, 2:40am

Post #17 of 19 (111 views)
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"Oog," mumbled Orlon. [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm...I think it's about time for another installment, and I do believe it's my turn to win the booby prize...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"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




sador
Half-elven


Jun 30 2010, 6:21am

Post #18 of 19 (133 views)
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"But wait a bit," sador cried, [In reply to] Can't Post

"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are ...

Well, I'm not going there again, especially as it is not quite true... Pirate

But as I wrote to Curious here, in the next two or three weeks I will be unable to render ample justice to the, err, choice morsels of Lalornadoon you have in store.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"When Tolkien took me off on the big adventure I was enthralled. By the time he brought me back. I had returned home from Viet Nam and things had changed... at last things looked like they were going to change for the better. But my little town was gone. It was part of the world now."
- Kangi Ska.



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 30 2010, 11:29pm

Post #19 of 19 (247 views)
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Oh, no need for concern! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have lots going on here in the next couple of weeks, so will have to work on it intermittently.

Perhaps in August...in the meantime, I've got to try to catch up on Curious's chapter posts! Crazy

(And hope all ends up well with your "better half"!)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"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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