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** Inside Information ** Part IV – A Bird, Bladorthin and Baubles

Morthoron
Gondor


Sep 27 2012, 4:07am

Post #1 of 6 (800 views)
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** Inside Information ** Part IV – A Bird, Bladorthin and Baubles Can't Post

And so Bilbo escaped the dragon scorched, singed and frizzled but still alive. The old thrush returned and eyed the proceedings from a rock, its head cocked to the side. Bilbo, annoyed as he was by his burns (and his unnerving conversation with Smaug), flicked a stone at the spying bird, who merely dodged the stone and alighted back on his perch. As always in such times of peril, this is cause for either a song or a history lesson by Tolkien. Thorin opts to inform Bilbo without rhyme or basso-baritone polyphony:

“Leave him alone!” said Thorin. “The thrushes are good and friendly-this is a very old bird indeed, and is maybe the last left of the ancient breed that used to live about here, tame to the hands of my father and grandfather. They were a long-lived and magical race, and this might even be one of those that were alive then, a couple of hundreds years or more ago. The Men of Dale used to have the trick of understanding their language, and used them for messengers to fly to the Men of the Lake and elsewhere.”

Now, given Tolkien’s English heritage, this thrush is most likely a song thrush (or throstle in some parts of Britain), because they have the habit of using a stone (usually a favorite they return to often) as an anvil to break open the shells of land snails. One wonders if the word escargot originated in Esgaroth, Sorry, rambling.

1. This question is for the birds. In The Hobbit, we have eagles, ravens and thrushes that either speak or understand mannish speech. Then we have crebain with the same ability in LotR. Can you recall another Tolkien tale that had a character conversant with fowl friends?

But Bilbo eventually ignores the thrush and comes clean regarding his little tête-à-tête with Smaug, his regret over mentioning “Barrel-rider” and the one valuable piece of reconnaissance he gleaned from the conversation, “the bare patch in the old Worm’s diamond waistcoat.” The thrush, having heard enough dwarvish blather regarding feints, stratagems, frontal assaults, stabs, jabs and undercuts that Thorin’s troop would obviously never employ to defeat the dragon, flew off when it was sure that nothing of further import was forthcoming.

2. In a story riddled with deus ex machina, would you rate the thrush’s or the eagles’ contribution higher?

But let us skip ahead and discuss something REALLY important: King Bladorthin. You may know that, according to Humphrey Carpenter, “Bladorthin” was the grey wizard in the original Hobbit manuscript, and “Gandalf” was the chief dwarf, which makes sense because in the Old Norse Völuspá, Gandalf was a dwarf as well (nearly all dwarf names in The Hobbit were derived from the Völuspá). But the name Bladorthin was later changed to Gandalf (and thank Eru for that!).

The name Bladorthin itself contains two Elvish elements: the first, blador which is found in blant= “open” or “expansive”, bladwen = “ plain”, or Bladorwen = “wide earth” or “mother earth”, which is another name for Yavanna; and the second, the suffix –thin = “grey”. Thus, Bladorthin could be taken to mean “Grey Pilgrim” or “Grey Wanderer” (but again, thank Eru for Mithrandir!).

But who was this King Bladorthin, precisely? No one knows! Robert Foster seems to think he was an elf, while Douglas Anderson considers him a man. Various theories have him as a king of Dale, Dorwinion or Rhun. That he was a man and not an elf seems consistent with the phrase “King Bladorthin (long since dead)”. Question # 3468 I would like to ask Tolkien.

And then there is the bauble. “The Arkenstone! The Arkenstone!” murmured Thorin. Ah yes, the debatable Arkenstone. “It was like a globe with a thousand facets; it shone like silver in firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon!” Astronomy lesson, Thorin: there is no rain on the moon. Or gravity to hold clouds, for that matter. In fact, there is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.

3. Tolkien conspiracy theory: the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, true or false. Like Eru in the corporeal disguise of Bombadil, this theory never seems to go away.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 1 2012, 2:58am

Post #2 of 6 (378 views)
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Answers fowl and fair [In reply to] Can't Post

1...Can you recall another Tolkien tale that had a character conversant with fowl friends?

What comes right to mind is Mew, the seagull in the Roverandom story. But may I also include Aragorn, who "looked fowl but felt fair"? Wink

2...In a story riddled with deus ex machina, would you rate the thrush’s or the eagles’ contribution higher?

Tough one! Without the Eagles, you'd have dwarf (and hobbit and wizard) flambé. And nothing further in the story. But without the Thrush, you'd have the entire population of Lake-town done up crisp, and a dragon still hungry...and then you'd have dwarf flambé.

3...the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, true or false.

Originally? Yes, according to Rateliff, or at least, "yes" in Tolkien's mind. He offers as support for this theory Tolkien's early Old English version of The Book of Lost Tales, which included the line: "Féanor Noldena hláford worhte þá Silmarillas, þæt wæron Eorclanstánas" ("Arkenstones", meaning precious or holy stones). (pp. 603 on)

Actually, originally this was the Gem of Girion, but the story was revised to make the payment for the mail a necklace of green gems, and the Gem became a totally different item.

Rateliff also has the answer to "Who was Bladorthin"? His response: "...a sad relic for what had been the name of one of the story's main characters" (p. 525). How the mighty have fallen!


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






elevorn
Lorien


Oct 3 2012, 4:54pm

Post #3 of 6 (316 views)
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birds, names and trinkets of desperate desire [In reply to] Can't Post

The birds in all of Tolkien's stories make me think first to Manwe and his live of birds. One cannot be placed over the other in my mind, because they seem to always be moved by his divine will of sorts.
Sadly my experience with Tolkien is limited to Middle Earth, but that will soon change.

In regards to the Arkenstone, I have to keep going back to a Silmiral of sorts. geologically I suppose it is possible that the ground spat the one that fell into the crevasse back up though miles away, not sure how the timeline goes with that. Since it is something that was found and not made, my first theory from long ago that perhaps it had been made by the dwarves in an attempt to recreate a Silmiral seems somewhat useless. In the end we must realize that there was a curse upon those jewels that burned people when the touched them(did it not?). Nothing like that takes place with the stone. So i guess we are left with a pretty jewel unlike any other.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


justbennett
The Shire

Oct 4 2012, 8:06pm

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"Rain upon the moon" [In reply to] Can't Post

 
This would clearly mean falling rain viewed with the moon as the back light as the other similes describe materials views in relation to a source of light. Thorin also did not think there is "water in the sun."

My view on the Arkenstone. It is definitely NOT a Silmaril. It is a lesser stone with some other great, yet forgotten, history. When you read the accounts of the craft of the First Age you could imagine a stone like this was just a toy for one of Feanor's kids.

Your comments on Bladorthin are very interesting. It makes me wonder how close the Hobbit might have been to being a completely different story.


sador
Half-elven


Oct 9 2012, 9:22am

Post #5 of 6 (284 views)
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Late answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Can you recall another Tolkien tale that had a character conversant with fowl friends?
Well, according to the second version of The Lay of Leithan, Beren did understand the carrion-crows.
Turgon, Gandalf and probably Fingon spoke with eagles.

2. In a story riddled with deus ex machina, would you rate the thrush’s or the eagles’ contribution higher?

The eagles are more of a dues ex machina, the thrush is more of a wonder.

3. Tolkien conspiracy theory: the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, true or false. Like Eru in the corporeal disguise of Bombadil, this theory never seems to go away.

It won't, even if I say false.

"Bard is known as someone who forebodes gloomy things like floods and poisoned fish. Floods I can see, but poisoned fish? How and why would Bard forebode poisoned fish? Or is this just a slander against Bard?"
- Curious



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CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2012, 12:01am

Post #6 of 6 (435 views)
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Bladorthin and Knifeorfat [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, we are blessed that first drafts aren't final drafts, or I for one would love Tolkien much less.

Can you recall another Tolkien tale that had a character conversant with fowl friends?
You can't get the Eagles to shut up; they talk to everyone, even when they don't want to listen.
Then there were the Bree geese screaming at the Nazgul (according to Frodo). And for the record, those geese showed more gumption in protecting their turf than a Man like Butterbur did, so once more, we see Manwe's indomitable spirit in the feathered folk.

The winged creatures the Nazgul rode didn't seem talkative, but one screamed at Eowyn, apparently annoying her enough to make her cut off its head to put an end to what must have been insulting invective.

2. In a story riddled with deus ex machina, would you rate the thrush’s or the eagles’ contribution higher?
I like the thrush. It's like a hobbit--a small, unnoticed, unexpected hero. It probably steals stuff too.

But who was this King Bladorthin, precisely? Well, I thought "Gandalf" came from "wand-elf," and if Gandalf was a dwarf with a name saying he's an elf, then I'm a hob-goblin. I mark this up to successive drafts, where it would have been better if the originals were destroyed. Didn't Tolkien at one point call the Elves the Gnomes? I'm glad he didn't. Would we see those ceramic things in people's gardens and say, "Oh, look, it's Elrond, the garden gnome."

"like rain upon the Moon!” >> he was waxing poetic, i.e., poetic license, i.e., he may have been drunk. I think it's a cool line, nevertheless.

3. Tolkien conspiracy theory: the Arkenstone was a Silmaril, true or false. Like Eru in the corporeal disguise of Bombadil, this theory never seems to go away.
I confess to living in a cave all my life, because I've never heard either of these theories. Arkenstone: I don't think it's the one that Maedhros had, the one that found its way into the depths of the earth. The Silmarils seemed to have a much more powerful effect on people than the Arkenstone did. All the same, I think the Arkenstone had creepy, corrupting properties like the Silmarils, awakening lust for them that leads to no good for good people.

Eru = Bombadil? Bombadil seems more like Santa Claus in a summer residence. A stronger connection could be made between those two than Tom and Eru.

 
 

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