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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
History of the Hobbit discussion: Chapter 1(a)
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CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 27 2013, 7:19pm

Post #26 of 41 (144 views)
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Better to pass around chocolates than these worms that keep wiggling up [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the golf history. Since you need such carefully constructed and maintained courses in the modern-day, I just assumed it was a modern sport (like car racing) and had no idea it went back centuries. So I'll give him plenty of leeway on the golf inclusion then, though I wonder how many other readers think of it as modern-only?

RE: anachronisms. Totally agree. He didn't start out perfect and had to learn along the way.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 27 2013, 8:47pm

Post #27 of 41 (142 views)
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All great points here Bruinen [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Wow...so glad to see all the discussion here! Shall I pass some chocolates around? Chocolate Balrogs if you please, Bruinen! Wink

1) the Golf thing--is it or is it not out of place? Obviously Tolkien liked it, as the reference survives into the final published version. I would like to suggest this: it's important for modern readers/film viewers to put ourselves in Tolkien's time and not let ourselves see modern day golf in this reference--but golf as it was in the early 1930s or even earlier. Golf dates back to the Middle Ages, after all. If we can accept Tolkien's use of weaponry circa Middle Ages, why not sports from the same era? So if we shift our thinking into that time frame and envision "golf" in the much simpler form as it was played in Scotland in the early 1400s, the inclusion of golf in TH is a bit easier to accept, I think. What do you think? I have always enjoyed the anachronistic references - there is the golf one, and things like the dragon firework passing overhead 'like an express train' (FOTR). I feel like its a bit of narration magic, literary sleight-of-hand - the narrators voice slipping in here and there, with this ancient text having been 'rediscovered'. I really like your explanation of the Golf reference though Bruinen, and placing it in real-world context; so if we understand it in the context of our real-world history it gives a lovely, albeit subconscious old-time Scottish feel to the Bullroarer, which I think fits the character very well. I would like to know a bit more about how he meant to use it: intentionally anachronistically or with the applied knowledge of its history presumed by the reader (which I am sure he himself knew quite well.) Either way its a sweet and gentle bit of humor which I love.

As a fun aside, there was a law dating 1457 in Scotland that prohibited golf as King James II felt it distracted from the more appropriate pasttime of archery practice for military purposes. I found that a bit humorous...can imagine Thorin cantankerously nixing golf for the same reason. Poor Kili if Bilbo tries to teach him how to play... Oh, so can I !!!! Sly (Cantankerously, thunderously and majestically all at once.)

2) The reference to China. Since Tolkien removes this in subsequent drafts, we can assume he, too, recognized that it was out of place. I've been thinking this was just a beginner's error--many new novelists make this kind of goof in the early stages of world building, and while we view Tolkien as a master in retrospect, he must have had a learning process like any other writer of speculative fiction (aka as SF/F.) I actually see this in a lot of fan art--example, nicely drawn dwarf, but there's an anachronistic modern day door handle in the background. I think it takes a bit of adjustment in the mind of an artist/writer to catch those sort of subconscious real-world bits. Putting your creative self in a completely different place/time is a bit harder than it looks, I suspect. Anyone else have a thought here? Very true, it is difficult to edit out all the things we take for granted. Fascinating that China was edited out of the world, when they were the earliest culture to develop gunpowder...does that leave Gandalf with purely magic fireworks, or shall we credit him with inventing gunpowder in Middle Earth!? And in classic Gandalf fashion, using it only for amusing Hobbits and children and not as a weapon!? Angelic


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


vexx801
Rivendell


Jun 28 2013, 12:14am

Post #28 of 41 (133 views)
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Anachronisms [In reply to] Can't Post

bruinen,
My apologies for not discussing sooner - had a lot going on with work and home. Here I am now!

Three of the things that I rather find myself immensely enjoying every time I pick up The Hobbit are these:
1) The anachronisms
2) The "I" - Narrator
3) The fairy-tale elements (Edge of the Wild, Faerie, heroes fighting in other lands, stories of ogres, so forth).

I normally read The Hobbit 2-3 times (or more) each year, usually with a different purpose or approach each time, and usually having learned more about the Middle Earth legendarium, having read more, having researched more, so forth. So one of the things I absolutely adore about The History of The Hobbit is the little things that are excluded or changed in the final published book - such as the reference to China!

I find those little anachronisms (and more direct addresses from the narrator) to be quite enjoyable, and I am really having a lovely time sipping my tea while enjoying new pieces of the Professor's writing that I've not been exposed to before, particularly pertaining to my favorite book. That said - I am also really looking forward to reading the 1960 partial rewrite, because I am interested to see some of the changes. I understand his reasoning for not finishing the rewrite, but I'd very much like to read it - but not until I read everything up to that point first.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 28 2013, 3:26am

Post #29 of 41 (131 views)
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My biggest disappointment with the partial rewrite [In reply to] Can't Post

is that Tolkien stopped it just before they got to Rivendell - I had so wanted to see what he would do with the "tra-la-la-lally" Elves! Shocked


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jun 28 2013, 1:30pm

Post #30 of 41 (122 views)
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Rivendell [In reply to] Can't Post

I wanted to see if Tolkien would have accounted for the presence of the future king, Estel. Bilbo could have even met and befriended the lad, all unknowing of who and what he would turn out to be.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


bruinen
Bree


Jun 28 2013, 4:30pm

Post #31 of 41 (112 views)
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Good question.... [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a whole chapter on the first drafts of the Rivendell chapter coming up in a couple weeks. But I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the answer will be no...the point of story development where we are now in the HOTH book is in the 1939-1935 era. I don't believe Tolkien had conceptualized the whole ring aspect of the story yet at this early stage. From what I can tell, he's focused on the initial story of getting a burglar to help take the gold from the dragon. He hasn't even added the aspect of taking back Erebor yet. Tune in a couple weeks from now and see if we discover something more, though.

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 28 2013, 4:59pm

Post #32 of 41 (104 views)
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I believe you are completely correct Bruinen [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There's a whole chapter on the first drafts of the Rivendell chapter coming up in a couple weeks. But I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the answer will be no...the point of story development where we are now in the HOTH book is in the 1939-1935 era. I don't believe Tolkien had conceptualized the whole ring aspect of the story yet at this early stage. From what I can tell, he's focused on the initial story of getting a burglar to help take the gold from the dragon. He hasn't even added the aspect of taking back Erebor yet. Tune in a couple weeks from now and see if we discover something more, though.




I know you say tune in, but I shall chime in early anyway, simply to prove you right, with this bit from Letter #163 (Discussing the linking of TH and LOTR) "It is really given, and present in germ, from the beginning, though I had no conscious notion of what the Necromancer stood for [except ever-recurrent evil] in The Hobbit, nor of his connexion with the Ring. But if you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If you then wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I arrived at that point."

So you are quite correct in your theory here Bruinen. At that time it was simply a device in the tale of TH. His natural and subconscious linkage years later I think is a tribute to, as we have discussed here before, the immensity and internally compatible logic of his imagined world (or time, in this case!)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


bruinen
Bree


Jun 28 2013, 5:11pm

Post #33 of 41 (106 views)
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The map, secret door, and keyhole... [In reply to] Can't Post

So here's the OTHER thing I've been thinking about this week...the Pryftan Fragment is very focused on the reveal of the map and the secret door, and the accompanying early version of the map gives a note about the secret lettering which first says "the moment of dawn on Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole," changed to "last light of Durin's Day will shine on the keyhole."

So even at this moment of the whole story's inception, Tolkien has in mind the mountain, the dragon, the dwarves, the hobbit-burglar, the map, the secret door, a keyhole, and the moment (whether dawn or sunset) of importance on Durin's Day. Amazing to me that all that is in place within the first 12 handwritten pages he ever wrote. Just kind of heady to take all that in. However, at this point, the story has not really grown past "we're taking the Hobbit to the mountain to steal our gold back." It's not even about taking back their kingdom...it's just a burglary to get their long forgotten gold.

BUT Tolkien was missing an important plot point here and he apparently struggled for a few subsequent years before resolving it. Do you see what it is? (We, of course, have the benefit of hind-sight.)

Now, all the characters have to go on at this point is that there's a map and a secret door. They don't suspect anything about hidden runes yet. As a reader, however, we would have the early map and the text of the runes.

If you're reading along in this discussion group, I would like to nominate keeping on eye on Tolkien's process with this particular plot point as we watch him work through what I think was a bit of a monkeywrench for him. I did peek ahead because I was gnawing this detail...it's a bit funny to see his first tries at resolving this.

(I have to say I literally heard Dean O'Gorman's voice in my head saying, "If there's a keyhole, there must be a key!") Because--there is NO mention of a key in the Pryftan Fragment--it is not handed over with the map.

Tolkien doesn't add it into the story for a couple years--though it is there by the printed edition. (whew!) Anybody else think this is as interesting as I do?

I think my geek is showing...

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.

(This post was edited by bruinen on Jun 28 2013, 5:12pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jun 28 2013, 7:23pm

Post #34 of 41 (100 views)
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I think that you missed something... [In reply to] Can't Post

Vexx, Dernwyn and myself were discussing the uncompleted 1960 rewrite, not the early drafts of The Hobbit. Both TH and LotR were completed at that time (discounting the 1966 edition of TH with its revisions). There is every possibility that Tolkien might have included Estel at Rivendell and later accounted for the activities of Legolas from when the company was in Mirkwood through the Battle of the Five Armies.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


bruinen
Bree


Jun 28 2013, 8:45pm

Post #35 of 41 (90 views)
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Eeek! [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right! didn't sort that thread very well, did I? Apologies. Blush

May I offer a Chocolate Balrog?

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.


vexx801
Rivendell


Jun 29 2013, 2:22am

Post #36 of 41 (97 views)
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1960 Rewrite [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it'd be rather fun to speculate, honestly, about what he would've added to the rewrite to make it more in line with the The Lord of the Rings and the Middle Earth legendarium as a whole (reference or two to Valinor, anyone?).

Professor Tolkien would likely have included a young Aragorn as Estel and expanded the Rivendell chapter quite a bit, including bringing the character of the elves as well as that of Elrond more in line with the mythology. He would likely also include more detail about the Necromancer (possibly a chapter or two involving the White Council/Dol Goldur/Gandalf subplot?), possibly a later ending where Balin mentions returning to Moria with Ori and Oin, elements of The Quest for Erebor would've likely been accounted for, Legolas would likely have been in Mirkwood and the Elvenking would have had the name of Thranduil, so forth.

Any other ideas?


vexx801
Rivendell


Jun 29 2013, 3:15pm

Post #37 of 41 (68 views)
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Pick me! [In reply to] Can't Post

I shall take a chocolate balrog, if you please. I should like to have one while I sip my breakfast tea and read more Tolkienian material. I'm sure Gandalf would like a chocolate balrog for the road as well. Gandalf the White, that is - though I shouldn't think he'd be fond of getting chocolate on his white robe.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jun 29 2013, 8:30pm

Post #38 of 41 (83 views)
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No worries [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You're right! didn't sort that thread very well, did I? Apologies. Blush

May I offer a Chocolate Balrog?



As long as the Choco Balrog doesn't shuffle off before it can be eaten.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


bruinen
Bree


Jul 3 2013, 12:41am

Post #39 of 41 (44 views)
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Unexpected luck of widows' sons [In reply to] Can't Post

I always imagined this line in LOTR as a reference to Estel (Aragorn.) I like your idea that perhaps JRR might have expanded the Rivendell scene...

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.


bruinen
Bree


Jul 3 2013, 12:46am

Post #40 of 41 (40 views)
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Your memory serves! [In reply to] Can't Post

He does change it to were-worms eventually, but in the very first drafts JRR spells it wire-worm. So you're correct!

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.


bruinen
Bree


Jul 3 2013, 12:50am

Post #41 of 41 (52 views)
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Great comments on Dwalin [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for linking us to that earlier post--well worth a read!

My Avatar: the desk Tolkien used when he wrote The Hobbit...now on display at Wheaton College.

(This post was edited by bruinen on Jul 3 2013, 12:51am)

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