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**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Lake Town**

squire
Valinor


Feb 24 2007, 6:13pm


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**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Lake Town** Can't Post

The Hobbit and the Dwarves in their barrels arrive at the Raft-elves’ settlement on the Forest River, as we’ve seen. There the barrels are gathered into a raft and transported to the Long Lake, with Bilbo riding invisibly on top.

From The Hobbit, Chapter X, ‘A Warm Welcome”:
Suddenly the cliff fell away. The shores sank. The trees ended. Then Bilbo saw a sight: The lands opened wide about him, filled with the waters of the river which broke up and wandered in a hundred winding courses, or halted in marshes and pools dotted with isles on every side: but still a strong water flowed on steadily through the midst.
After a while, however, the river took a more southerly course and the Mountain receded again, and at last, late in the day the shores grew rocky, the river gathered all its wandering waters together into a deep and rapid flood, and they swept along at great speed.
The sun had set when turning with another sweep towards the East the forest-river rushed into the Long Lake. There it had a wide mouth with stony clifflike gates at either side whose feet were piled with shingles. The Long Lake! Bilbo had never imagined that any water that was not the sea could look so big. It was so wide that the opposite shores looked small and far, but it was so long that its northerly end, which pointed towards the Mountain, could not be seen at all. Only from the map did Bilbo know that away up there, where the stars of the Wain were already twinkling, the Running River came down into the lake from Dale and with the Forest River filled with deep waters what must once have been a great deep rocky valley. At the southern end the doubled waters poured out again over high waterfalls and ran away hurriedly to unknown lands. In the still evening air the noise of the falls could be heard like a distant roar.


Tolkien prepared a map to show the local geography, though in the end it was not published. (We’ll discuss the Lonely Mountain sketch that is on the same sheet of paper in the next post.)


128. The Lonely Mountain and map of the Long Lake
Click here for a larger view of the map only.



Does the map agree with Tolkien’s description of Bilbo’s journey from the Forest to the Lake?

Is the map necessary, that is, should it have been published to make things clearer for the reader?

The actual map is delicately drawn and done with colored pencil, like most of Tolkien’s sketch maps. Had it been published, it would have had to be redrawn in black ink. Would that have helped or hurt this composition?

And why would Tolkien make a colored map when the color is not needed to explain the geography and could not reasonably be reproduced in a book?

Not far from the mouth of the Forest River was the strange town he heard the elves speak of in the king's cellars. It was not built on the shore, though there were a few huts and buildings there, but right out on the surface of the lake, protected from the swirl of the entering river by a promontory of rock which formed a calm bay. A great bridge made of wood ran out to where on huge piles made of forest trees was built a busy wooden town, not a town of elves but of Men, who still dared to dwell here under the shadow of the distant dragon-mountain. They still throve on the trade that came up the great river from the South and was carted past the falls to their town; but in the great days of old, when Dale in the North was rich and prosperous, they had been wealthy and powerful, and there had been fleets of boats on the waters, and some were filled with gold and some with warriors in armour, and there had been wars and deeds which were now only a legend. The rotting piles of a greater town could still be seen along the shores when the waters sank in a drought.
As soon as the raft of barrels came in sight boats rowed out from the piles of the town, and voices hailed the raft-steerers. Then ropes were cast and oars were pulled, and soon the raft was drawn out of the current of the Forest River and towed away round the high shoulder of rock into the little bay of Lake-town. There it was moored not far from the shoreward head of the great bridge.
They would have been surprised, if they could have seen what happened down by the shore, after they had gone and the shades of night had fallen. First of all a barrel was cut loose by Bilbo and pushed to the shore and opened. Groans came from inside, and out crept a most unhappy dwarf.

Hammond and Scull provide a probable source for Tolkien’s Lake Town:


125. Untitled (Reconstruction of a Lake Village) by Robert Munro after A. de Mortillet
Click here for a larger view.



And here is Tolkien’s first sketch of his idea:


126. Esgaroth
Click here for a larger view.



Finally he arrived at this version, which was published:


127. Lake Town (published in The Hobbit)
Click here for a larger view.



What has Tolkien used from the de Mortillet archaeological reconstruction? Is this the same kind of source usage as we saw with Beorn’s house?

What graphic style did Robert Munro use in translating de Mortillet’s ideas? Is it a “successful” drawing? How does it compare to Tolkien’s drawings?

What changes does Tolkien make between his first and second tries at drawing Esgaroth? What is happening in the two pictures?

How much does the final drawing assist the reader in imagining what Tolkien describes in his story?

Here are some earlier comments I made on this drawing; I think it was during the last RR Hobbit discussion. Yes, I’m afraid it involves perspective. But what do you think of this picture, as an illustration and as art?

It is interesting that the War of the Ring site that has posted many of Tolkien’s pictures has also put up this colored-in version of Lake Town:


127A. Lake Town (colored by another artist)
Click here for a larger view.



Does the color improve the illustration? What does the color make clearer? What does it ruin (if anything?) Would Tolkien have approved?

How does this compare with the trend of “colorizing” old black and white movies?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
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

Subject User Time
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Lake Town** squire Send a private message to squire Feb 24 2007, 6:13pm
    I like the Munro very much Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 25 2007, 1:40am
        Who isn't sitting on the edge of ruin in ME? Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 25 2007, 1:49am
            Oh, very good question Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 26 2007, 1:49am
    What drove men to build Laketown? Not the dragon, I trust, since Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 25 2007, 5:36am
        The bridge was gone, and his enemies were on an island in deep water -- too deep and dark and cool for his liking! squire Send a private message to squire Feb 25 2007, 6:01am
            Dorthonion? Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 25 2007, 7:06am
                "They still throve on the trade that came up the great river from the South" squire Send a private message to squire Feb 25 2007, 2:55pm
    The clearest difference FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 25 2007, 8:59pm
        Tolkien was an authoritarian Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 26 2007, 12:42am
            Yes and no. Tolkien preferred an inactive monarch, with Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 26 2007, 11:33am
                Very true, Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 26 2007, 3:08pm
                Leadership FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 26 2007, 5:24pm
    colorizing Luthien Rising Send a private message to Luthien Rising Feb 25 2007, 9:42pm
        I was staggered squire Send a private message to squire Feb 25 2007, 9:52pm
    This ain't no town! linkin-artelf Send a private message to linkin-artelf Mar 5 2007, 5:45am

 
 
 

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