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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
How does Tolkien maintain suspense throughout three novels?
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Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 6:13am

Post #1 of 55 (550 views)
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How does Tolkien maintain suspense throughout three novels? Can't Post

Just thinking about the length of LotR and its pacing. How do you think Tolkien keeps us satisfied yet wanting more? How is it that we enjoy TT enough to buy LotR? Where do you think the quitters quit?


Radhruin
Rohan


Mar 8 2007, 7:16am

Post #2 of 55 (204 views)
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I for one [In reply to] Can't Post

Had all three books in hand when I started reading. I know some have picked up TT or RotK not knowing that they were not stand alone novels. I was lucky in that I had influence from siblings and friends who "guided" me. By the time I plowed through "The Council of Elrond" and started "The Ring Goes South" I was completely hooked. Of course after this moment of being hooked and until I had finished RotK, I was not to be disturbed. Needless to say, no one bothered me in those brief days.

As far as new readers go, I think the test is the first ten chapters of FotR. If they get past Tom and the Barrow Downs, and then meet Strider, they'll be hooked. If they aren't hooked by meeting Strider, they need to try again a bit later.

Not sure what you mean by enjoying TT enough to buy RotK. Do you mean that someone finishes TT and is not interested in reading RotK? Then they are not enjoying LOTR in any sense and need to start over!

Interesting question, if I read it right.

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
~Oscar Wilde


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 7:30am

Post #3 of 55 (206 views)
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TT [In reply to] Can't Post

   


In Reply To

Not sure what you mean by enjoying TT enough to buy RotK. Do you mean that someone finishes TT and is not interested in reading RotK? Then they are not enjoying LOTR in any sense and need to start over!



It's interesting to hear about your experience. It's been so long that I can't really remember my first read through.

I agree with you that Tom and the Barrow downs are a bit trying. I generally think FotR is the easiest read. It is really a nice adventure story full of wonder and "action." The other two are darker and more challenging once the Fellowship splits up and new characters and settings are added.

I think a lot of series start well and lose steam. Sometimes they don't have enough resolution scattered throughout the story, other times they seem to stretch things out (eg Harry Potter, which I enjoy but which frustrate other people with the cyclical nature of events that seem to go nowhere each year, if you know what I mean).

RotK is a pretty short book. I imagine anyone who starts it after reading the first two finishes it and is rather disappointed to find that a good chunk of it is the appendix and not the final chapters. I wonder, though, if people who start LotR and don't finish it make it to TT or not?

Back to my initial question, how does Tolkien manage to keep things going across three books? How does it work as a series?


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 8 2007, 7:47am

Post #4 of 55 (227 views)
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The "trying" Barrow-downs. [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyone who stumbles a bit with that chapter would be well-served by reading the discussion series you led (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) or at least the Ursula LeGuin article you cited there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Detail from earliest version of Thror's MapTolkien Illustrated! Jan. 29-May 20: Visit the Reading Room to discuss art by John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and others, including Tolkien himself.

Mar. 5-11: Tolkien's "Visions, Myths and Legends".


elostirion74
Rohan

Mar 8 2007, 10:53am

Post #5 of 55 (203 views)
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changes of perspective is the key, I believe [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I haven't analyzed the pacing of the books in that way. I think much of Tolkien's ability to keep the
attention of the readers depends on his frequent changes of perspective. The story is told by different persons as well as the author, who go from focusing on describing nature to sensing and being aware of the nature and the mood, from listening to or thinking about other characters, to moments of suspense and action, or just pure wonder. Every now and again new characters, surprises and relevant knowledge about ancient history are introduced.
Every book except perhaps the last ends at a crucial moment with something important unresolved and adventure ahead, which makes for a lot of excitement.

Also I believe that the sincerity of emotions seen in Tolkien's writing and characters makes it easier and more enjoyable to stay inside the story for a long time. In many other stories, despite their good prose, you will be kept more at a distance.

I notice the difference between Tolkien's changes of perspective and rhytm and more introspective novels very acutely just now as I am reading "The waves" by Virginia Woolf. To my surprise I find it a good read and a very intense and fascinating book. At the same time the prose is so saturated with images and thoughts that it's difficult to read too much at a time.Most of the time you are nailed to the thoughts of the characters and their particular experiences and observations, with few hopes of rest or escape or being allowed to focus on something else. Although there are six different characters, the rhythm of the book is very much the same, because it is made up of much the same mode of description and observation. It is not a long book, but it's a book which demands of you that you are immediately present all of the time.


Quitting LoTR
I think most of the readers who quit don't get beyond the Old Forest or Tom Bombadil. I guess a first time reader might feel that the books are not going anywhere at this point, there are just a few adventures and funny incidents with no evident connection to each other, as if the author doesn't really know what to do with the story. As others say, once they get to Strider they will be hooked, if they are repelled by the Council of Elrond and wonder why it's there, or why it's so long. Some of the chapters in the first book of The Two Towers (like chapter six or chapter nine) could also be seen as a bit stiff, or just there to tell things in retrospect - which is not very satisfactory unless it's masterfully executed.


drogo
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 12:06pm

Post #6 of 55 (199 views)
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Book I [In reply to] Can't Post

I have known several who have tossed Fellowship aside by about "Three's Company" or Bombadil's house. Tolkien himself was chided by Lewis for indulging in too much Hobbit talk, something he and Christopher loved.

I can understand their reaction to an extent, but I am in the camp that loves the slow build-up to the action in Book II and then in the next parts. I remember reading Wayne Hammond wrote somewhere that the leisurely pacing of Book I is necessary for readers to appreciate the Shire and feel that it is worth saving (we never really feel close to Bilbo's house in The Hobbit because other than getting a sense that it is cozy we never spend any time there).

Those who are impatient for the action to get started may feel the the lack of urgency and bucolic humor of the early stages of the journey is out of keeping with the rest of book. Well, it is a vestige of the "Bingo" story from the original Hobbit-sequel, yes, but it also helps me to see the contrast between the quiet pace of life in the Shire and the frenetic pace of life in the rest of Middle-earth under siege. The latter parts of the novel have far more happen in a single paragraph than happens in pages of the first Book, but that is what keeps people reading, I think. Once you see the Morgul army on the march, you have to know what happens next!


(Formerly drogo of the two names!)


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 8 2007, 12:15pm

Post #7 of 55 (196 views)
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well...it was really one long novel [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile
I mean, I don't know how he maintains suspense, but in the writing of the thing it was just one long novel to him. He broke it up into "books" but always had a "whole" in mind. I think this might help the pacing.

Most modern writers publishing trilogies are making three distinct novels, no matter how connected they are.

The Le Guin article NEB refers to is called "Rhythmic Pattern in The Lord of the Rings". I used to have a link (I thought!) to the article which I found online one time, but can't find now...

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 2:52pm

Post #8 of 55 (184 views)
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The agony of switching books [In reply to] Can't Post

Come to think of it, I remember being really disappointed at switching narratives at the end of each "book." He always seemed to leave you at a cliff hanger and I remember feeling very attatched to whoever I had been spending the last few chapters with and feeling a bit like these other folks were just an annoying commericial I had to endure until we got back to the "good" story. Of course, these feelings would flip flop so that my strong feelings of attatchment were to whoever's story I was deep into at the time.

So, I think Tolkien requires a certain commitment from his reader to persevere through the slow stuff in the hopes of getting some resolution on the nail-biters. I think that's why the rereads are so enjoyable -- you can slow down and enjoy the flowers, so to speak.

Funny about the cyclical discussion you and NE Brigand bring up. What got me thinking about this was reading some people's reaction to Harry Potter and how they dislike the cyclical nature of that series (the pattern of school year begins and ends in big battle v. Voldemort without ultimately resolving that crisis). I think Tolkien's cycles are a bit different -- more subtle, I suppose.


Millican
The Shire

Mar 8 2007, 2:56pm

Post #9 of 55 (190 views)
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the history got me [In reply to] Can't Post

For me it was easy to get into because I am a big history buff, and reading his books is like reading real history but not through a historian, but a mix of a historian and story teller...

I admit, it was hard for me to even get started on the Hobbit... I picked it up in Jr. High and couldn't get past the first 10 pages or so... picked it back up my last year of high school and could only get around 20 pages before saying "okay, enough already"... finally, just after high school (6 or so months before FoTR came out in theatre) I decided I wanted to read it, then every book in the LoTR series before seeing the movies... that's when I got sucked into it... his writing style is different from anything I've ever read, very unique... but I like how he goes into the history of things.


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 2:58pm

Post #10 of 55 (173 views)
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Slipping into someone more comfortable [In reply to] Can't Post

I do remember feeling a bit relieved to get into Pippin, Eowyn, Sam or Aragorn's head for a while. Frodo's story gets to be a bit intense. Good point.

And I agree about Tolkien's sincerity. It's nice to have an author who seems fond of his main characters rather than cynical, I suppose. I like to be free to cheer for the good guys and to take them seriously.


Curious
Half-elven

Mar 8 2007, 3:28pm

Post #11 of 55 (191 views)
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Constant foreshadowing. [In reply to] Can't Post

In the second chapter Tolkien sets up an impossible task for Frodo. It is clearly impossible. So the question is how Tolkien will make it plausible. But the pay-off to that question comes many, many chapters later.

In the meantime, Tolkien maintains suspense by foreshadowing and misdirection. Again and again the hobbits seem to be in peril from strangers, but half the time the strangers turn out to be friends, not enemies. Again and again the hobbits are forced off the easy path and onto the hard one, only to find that the hard path was the only one that would have worked. Each time the peril is greater, the path harder.

After the breaking of the Fellowship Tolkien also balances a World War on one side of the Anduin with two small figures trudging towards their doom on the other side. Even though the war is really just a side show to the quest, we learn to care about the royal families of Rohan and Gondor, and about various other people in those kingdoms, to the point where Tolkien chooses to follow the royal families and leave Aragorn in the background.

Those who quit probably quit early, but I don't see this as a reflection on the Shire or Tom. Many people complain about the archaic language in TT, or about the trudge through Mordor, but by that time they are unlikely to give up on the whole story. They have invested too much in the books.

After the unmaking of the Ring, Tolkien lets us celebrate, but almost immediately foreshadows Frodo's fate with Arwen's gift to Frodo, and then with hints that all is not well in the Shire, and that all is not well with Frodo. One of the pleasures of rereading LotR is picking up on all the foreshadowing, all the clues that we missed the first, second, third, or nth time around.

And of course the nth time around we already know what will happen, and read for other reasons. Frodo's quest is an excuse to travel through Middle-earth, and by the nth time we greet Middle-earth like an old friend, and no longer need suspense to keep us engaged.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 8 2007, 4:14pm

Post #12 of 55 (285 views)
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"An excuse to travel through Middle-Earth" [In reply to] Can't Post

has a lot to do with what keeps even a first-time reader engaged, I think. At least, that's what I think I remember from the first time I read LotR. The world itself is so engaging that the story can sometimes seem like a vehicle carrying us through Middle-Earth. That cyclical rhythm that others have noted has the great advantage of allowing us to stop and look around, and enjoy just visiting each location as the characters rest and enjoy the company. I know I missed the full depth of Frodo's story the first time I read LotR, and although I enjoyed the action and colour of the other side of the story, I think it was Middle-Earth itself that made me want to come back time and time again.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Samantha Baggins
The Shire


Mar 8 2007, 6:35pm

Post #13 of 55 (162 views)
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I remember the first time I had read LotR... [In reply to] Can't Post

I had stayed home from school because I wasn't feeling well, and finished Two Towers in the morning.

Then found that my brother, who considers himself a bigger geek than me, had hid our copy of RotK from me to keep me from reading it before him.

Mad

You can imagine my frustration.

______________________________

*looks around*

Who cleaned up Bag End?


Samantha Baggins
The Shire


Mar 8 2007, 6:44pm

Post #14 of 55 (179 views)
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I found the slow build-up a nice transition [In reply to] Can't Post

LotR is more serious in tone than The Hobbit, so perhaps slow journey and all the hobbit-talk in much of Book I is just a way of easing the audience into this darker storyline.

Gandalf tells Frodo (and us) how serious this quest is in Chapter 2, but the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil,the Barrow Downs, and Bree allow for us to slowly acknowledge that this 'little trinket' that is the One Ring really is an important object. Showing is frequently more effective than merely telling in writing.

______________________________

*looks around*

Who cleaned up Bag End?


Penthe
Gondor


Mar 8 2007, 10:06pm

Post #15 of 55 (167 views)
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Foreshadowing, the reveal and changes of texture. [In reply to] Can't Post

I mostly agree with what you say about foreshadowing. Anyone who can unselfconsciously use prophecy in their work is clearly happy to employ foreshadowing at will.

Tolkien is also a master of the reveal. He gives the reader (and the hobbits) just a bit of information, a close up as it were, or a very long distance shot, and then gives us plenty of options to ponder. Eomer's conversation with Aragorn is a great example. We know that some horses are coming, and hoof beats have been both dangerous and safe before. We see handsome, noble and fierce looking men, but we don't know if they are enemies or friends. Later, Sam makes similar comments about the men arriving in Mordor. But then we get more detail - discipline (which could be good or evil), we hear that Eomer is in conflict with his king (again, could be good or evil), Legolas and Gimli threaten the men, but as more information comes, we realise that Eomer is, in fact, a great guy. He looks fair, and feels fair. We keep on waiting for someone to turn up who looks fair, but feels foul (foreshadowing) but Eomer isn't it. Tolkien isn't above using a handy Mcguffin either, is he?

But I think the best thing about Tolkien's pacing is the repetitive use of light and shade, fast and slow, adventure and rest, intimate scenes and big scale public scenes. He's wonderful at keeping the pace going with these devices. It's like a rollercoaster.


Radhruin
Rohan


Mar 8 2007, 11:14pm

Post #16 of 55 (156 views)
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As far as three books go [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Back to my initial question, how does Tolkien manage to keep things going across three books? How does it work as a series?



I have never really thought about LotR as a series for some reason, at least when reading it. I'm afraid I'm not educated enough in literary styles to tell you why Tolkien's style works as opposed to other authors. Although I do agree completely with your HP analysis. I hadn't really thought about what bothers me about those books, but it is definitely their "cyclical" nature. But I still find them very enjoyable. As others have said very eloquently in this thread, the foreshadowing/prophecy theme must have something to do with why LotR works. It's "epic" in nature.

As far as when people quit and why...I stand by my previous post about it being the first 10 chapters of FotR. I personally did not find those chapters to be a stumbling block, but I can see that someone not fond of fantasy in the first place might find them a bit tedious. Once one has reached TT and RotK there is a certain amount of personal investment in the story to just quit at that point.


"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
~Oscar Wilde


Menelwyn
Rohan


Mar 9 2007, 1:20am

Post #17 of 55 (163 views)
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different storylines helps [In reply to] Can't Post

At least once we get to TTT, after the breaking of the Fellowship. We go through the first half of TTT not knowing what is going on with Frodo and Sam--and theirs is the main story!--and wondering what is happening. Then we finally get to Book 4 and can read about them, but we are left wondering about what happened to poor Pippin, to Aragorn, to the Rohirrim. And the pattern repeats with Book 5 and the start of Book 6. Not only that, but we do have the cliffhangers at the end of each Book--Tolkien does pick exciting places to end each part. And even within (say) Book 3, we switch between the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli storyline and the Merry/Pippin storyline for long sections, without knowing what's going on with the others. That gets even more complicated because, for example, Aragorn finds Pippin's brooch, and we wonder how it got there until we read about Pippin's escape attempt.

The movies show just how effective this technique of Tolkien's actually is, since in the movies we are constantly jumping between the various storylines. There may be small moments of suspense, but it's not sustained the way it is in the book.


OhioHobbit
Gondor

Mar 9 2007, 2:29am

Post #18 of 55 (146 views)
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Have to agree with a lot of you here. [In reply to] Can't Post

   In the movie extras, Tom Shippey talks about how Tolkien breaks the writing rules by having extended periods of time after the fellowship breaks up when any one group has no idea what is happening to the others, and neither does the reader. When I was reading the books for the first time I was not only engrossed in what I was currently reading, but I had to keep going to find out what was happening to the others. And when I did move on to another group I wanted to know what was going on with the people I left.

I think foreshadowing and misdirection does have a lot to do with it, and changes of perspective, and the pure wonder of Middle-earth itself.

I think that people who give up on the books do so very early. It seems that either it speaks to something inside you or it doesn't. It may not on the first try, but if it doesn't, I don't think most people would go very far before putting it down.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 9 2007, 2:55pm

Post #19 of 55 (142 views)
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That's what I loved too. But it does put off some first-time readers. [In reply to] Can't Post

Back in 2000 I belonged to a messageboard following a first-time reader:
http://www.electricpenguin.com/blatherings/lotr/

She kept commenting disparagingly at the beginning about all the "up hill and down dale stuff". I think she was hooked about the time we met Strider. She commented "I bet *he* doesn't have hairy feet!" (She also wasn't sure she trusted him: "Never trust anyone who refers to himself in the third person.")

When I read LotR out loud to my kids (ages 9 and 5 at the time) they wheedled me into skipping ahead through the Council of Elrond, and through some of the descriptive passages. I remember in particular skipping through the description of Ithilien for their sakes, though I loved it for my own sake.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com

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


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 9 2007, 3:08pm

Post #20 of 55 (161 views)
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Oh, and the one bit of suspense that really kept Deb reading [In reply to] Can't Post

was "what is going to happen to Bill the Pony? Nothing bad better happen to Bill."


In Reply To
Back in 2000 I belonged to a messageboard following a first-time reader:
http://www.electricpenguin.com/blatherings/lotr/


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com

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


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 9 2007, 3:11pm

Post #21 of 55 (143 views)
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Those cliffhangers annoyed me too. [In reply to] Can't Post

On my last couple of readings, I've taken the books out of order, and followed one group of characters to their reunion, and then gone back and followed another group. It makes for a very different experience, almost like reading two or three completely different books. I find that when I read it that way, I get into the story more deeply, and care more about the characters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com

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


Curious
Half-elven

Mar 9 2007, 5:28pm

Post #22 of 55 (168 views)
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And isn't it great that Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

answers that question? Gandalf's blessing of Bill is typical Tolkien magic, subtle and almost unnoticed, until we find out many books later that it worked. That is one of many loose ends Tolkien is careful to tie, and all those loose ends keep us engaged, especially when we develop faith in Tolkien's ability to come back and tie them up later. That's part of what I mean be foreshadowing -- LotR is like an immense tapestry, where every thread has purpose and meaning.

Even when we know all about the main thread, we can enjoy following new threads in each re-reading. Let's follow the wind this time. Or the animals. Or the minor characters. Or the orcs. How about the poetry. Or the stars. Or the trees. Or the colors. Or the symbols for Sauron. Oh wait, how about references to the Silmarillion. Or to The Hobbit. Let's really study the map. Let's make a timeline. Where is Frodo when Denethor looked into the palantir? Oh look, Frodo was captured! Did Denethor see that? There's always something new to discover, or so it seems.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 9 2007, 5:34pm

Post #23 of 55 (142 views)
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Looking fair and feeling foul [In reply to] Can't Post

We keep on waiting for someone to turn up who looks fair, but feels foul (foreshadowing)

That comment of yours makes me wonder - do we ever come across anyone who looks fair but feels foul (the natural complement to Aragorn, in other words)?

I can only think of Denethor, who certainly comes across to many readers as fair when we first meet him. But whether he just looks fair, or really is "fair" when we meet him, and is only corrupted during the story itself, is harder to say. For me, his description really is very much a mirror-image of our first view of Strider, who we are told looks "rascally" but is actually described with words that are a dead giveaway that he's really okay - the "pale stern face", the "keen grey eyes". Whereas Denethor's description, the "carven face with its proud bones" and "the dark deep eyes", sounds much less reassuring, even though he has been introduced to us as one of the good guys.

But perhaps after all the ultimate in looking fair and feeling foul is really the Ring.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Mar 9 2007, 6:20pm

Post #24 of 55 (143 views)
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Those early chapters should have been edited more. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have known several who have tossed Fellowship aside by about "Three's Company" or Bombadil's house. Tolkien himself was chided by Lewis for indulging in too much Hobbit talk, something he and Christopher loved.

I can understand their reaction to an extent, but I am in the camp that loves the slow build-up to the action in Book II and then in the next parts. I remember reading Wayne Hammond wrote somewhere that the leisurely pacing of Book I is necessary for readers to appreciate the Shire and feel that it is worth saving (we never really feel close to Bilbo's house in The Hobbit because other than getting a sense that it is cozy we never spend any time there).

Those who are impatient for the action to get started may feel the the lack of urgency and bucolic humor of the early stages of the journey is out of keeping with the rest of book. Well, it is a vestige of the "Bingo" story from the original Hobbit-sequel, yes, but it also helps me to see the contrast between the quiet pace of life in the Shire and the frenetic pace of life in the rest of Middle-earth under siege. The latter parts of the novel have far more happen in a single paragraph than happens in pages of the first Book, but that is what keeps people reading, I think. Once you see the Morgul army on the march, you have to know what happens next!


The vestige of the "Bingo" story is precisely the problem. A first-time reader gets the impression that the author doesn't know where the story is going, because that was precisely the case. Retrofitting stuff into "The Shadow of the Past" totally failed to clean up the aimlessness and childish atmosphere of the early chapters, which is so inconsistent with the rest of the books.

We can enjoy that bucolic atmosphere and hobbity talk because we know what's coming, and can savor the contrast. But the first-time reader is quite misled. It may be heretical to say this, but I think the whole thing would have benefitted from a tough editor who insisted on a more consistent tone early on, including chopping a lot of this material.

For that matter, if he'd had a good editor right along (instead of the friendly indulgence of his pub buddies and his son) he might have progressed more quickly and with less pain.




Queen Mary II approaching Honolulu harbor
February 9, 2007, 7:30 am


Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 9 2007, 9:08pm

Post #25 of 55 (127 views)
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Or, [In reply to] Can't Post

we can enjoy that bucolic atmosphere and hobbity talk because we like that sort of thing. I agree entirely with your analysis. But Book 1 is my favorite part, much as I love the high doings that come later. I think just about my favorite scene is the dinner with Gildor Inglorien, with the lights of Woodhall twinkling through the trees.


In Reply To

We can enjoy that bucolic atmosphere and hobbity talk because we know what's coming, and can savor the contrast.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com

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

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