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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***The hobbit-read-through: Ch4 – Over Hill and Under Hill
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CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 11, 10:28pm

Post #26 of 79 (2061 views)
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Gondolin's swords [In reply to] Can't Post

The odd thing is that Gondolin's swords could become famous when it only fought in 2 battles: the Nirnaeth, and its own fall. It would make more sense for constant warriors like Maedhros and his brothers, or Beleg and Mablung, to have famous swords. But whatever.
I too wish Tolkien told us who originally possessed Orcrist, and it's rather odd he didn't somewhere. Maeglin would be one candidate, but maybe Ecthelion or Glorfindel could have been its owner.
If the swords were used repeatedly in battle (and I'm sticking by more than just 2 battles as required for renown), they could have been known by literate servants of Morgoth and their names passed along as legend. Think of how Turin's dragon-helm became famous (and dreaded) among the presumably illiterate orcs of Beleriand. Somehow, the word spreads.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 11, 10:30pm

Post #27 of 79 (2063 views)
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You tried to trim it down! [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, at least you tried Smile


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jun 12, 3:12am

Post #28 of 79 (2052 views)
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Down down to Cirith Ungol Town... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The goblins are nowhere near as menacing as the orcs of LOTR, but I was thinking ahead, and burning up people in trees is more frightful. Then go all the way to the end of the book, and there's nothing humorous at all about the Battle of Five Armies. The goblins there are much closer to the bloodthirsty, kill-them-or-be-killed orcs of LOTR. But in this chapter of The Hobbit, just lopping off the head of the goblin king and then running away is all you need to really think about for ending their threat.


Quite true, and well stated! But Goblin-Town, and later the Tower of Cirith Ungol, are the only two examples in the entire legendarium (to my knowledge, at least) of Goblins in their comfort zone, that is to say, at home, not ranging abroad or warring at the behest of the Dark Lord. I find the contrast interesting, but I don't know what deeper meaning it might have.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph

(This post was edited by No One in Particular on Jun 12, 3:13am)


sador
Half-elven


Jun 12, 3:42am

Post #29 of 79 (2050 views)
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Trust me, I did. [In reply to] Can't Post

You've been here long enough to remember what an untrimmed discussion looks like. Wink


(This post was edited by sador on Jun 12, 3:43am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 12, 6:39am

Post #30 of 79 (2038 views)
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I suppose one difference is... [In reply to] Can't Post

Cirith Ungol was built by Men of Gondor, and later adapted by orcs. So the building might still have a lot of Mannish character.

I’m not sure whether we get any architectural history about Goblin Town: adapted natural caves? Goblin-built? Adapted from tunnels made by other creatures? All of those?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 12, 11:16am

Post #31 of 79 (2035 views)
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Layers - onions, ogres and tales have layers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
squire: So, in the story, the hero descends below the ground, travels east, and re-emerges to greet the rising sun.

Otaku-sempai: That works symbolically, but not quite as well in the literal sense. When Bilbo emerges from beneath the mountains, he is indeed on the eastern side of them, but the sun is already sinking into the west!

That's true of course (and I think that the time of day is an important plot point here, since the coming of night will mean that Bilbo &Co. can be chased by wargs and goblins. Had Bilbo escaped at sunrise, maybe he would have relocated his companions and they'd have got clean away before the pursuit got going). The Fellowship emerging from Moria are put in a similar predicament - but maybe we're anticipating our "Out Of The Frying Pan..." discussion and shouldn't get into too much detail about this yet.

I don't think that negates squire's point though (and maybe, Otaku-sempai, you weren't suggesting that it did?)Another literal objection would be to say that, since both Bilbo and Frodo start in the far West, and have destinations to the east, they must necessarily travel broadly east if they can, when they are forced (usually) to go underground. (And that itself has an exception - Aragorn travels south through the Paths of the Dead.) So there isn't a pattern that would stand up to Brother Ockham, perhaps, but I'm not sure that always matters in reactions to fiction.

For me though, its like there's a literal layer which can be quite separate from other layers, myself. I like it when stories have layers - which might include allegory, mythical or mystical references, and lots more besides. Similarly the film 'Jaws' is about a shark, and is also not about a shark (see https://www.theguardian.com/...cs-of-america-cinema )

Whether an alleged mystical layer is helpful or not probably comes down to opinion. For myself though I find the underground passages are often very memorable, so something is going on there.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 12, 12:01pm

Post #32 of 79 (2037 views)
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"a sudden attack of amnesia regarding the fact that the dwarves were being made into chutney" [In reply to] Can't Post

That would be the Blue Book Of Harvard version of the tale, I presume?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 12, 12:42pm

Post #33 of 79 (2037 views)
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I would link going underground with going through a forest [In reply to] Can't Post

Both mountains and forests hide things and thereby spark all sorts of speculation/fear on the part of human observers, so it’s no accident that many fairy tales take place there. Not just ancient fairy tales, but even modern ones like Harry Potter, where the woods nearby the school always concealed something dangerous, fascinating, and exciting.

You don’t get the same reaction to plains, deserts, beaches, or empty parking lots where everything is visible. “And then the dwarves began the perilous walk along the beach, while Bilbo trembled to think what monster must be lurking beneath every fragment of seashell or washed-ashore kelp.”

So there’s Mirkwood to get through in The Hobbit, and the Old Forest, Lorien, and Fangorn to get through in LOTR. Wonders/terrors/dangers abide in them like they do in Moria, the Paths of the Dead, and the Misty Mountains, and the characters usually have transformative experiences.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 12, 1:02pm

Post #34 of 79 (2030 views)
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We agree. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
squire: So, in the story, the hero descends below the ground, travels east, and re-emerges to greet the rising sun.

Otaku-sempai: That works symbolically, but not quite as well in the literal sense. When Bilbo emerges from beneath the mountains, he is indeed on the eastern side of them, but the sun is already sinking into the west!

That's true of course (and I think that the time of day is an important plot point here, since the coming of night will mean that Bilbo &Co. can be chased by wargs and goblins. Had Bilbo escaped at sunrise, maybe he would have relocated his companions and they'd have got clean away before the pursuit got going). The Fellowship emerging from Moria are put in a similar predicament - but maybe we're anticipating our "Out Of The Frying Pan..." discussion and shouldn't get into too much detail about this yet.

I don't think that negates squire's point though (and maybe, Otaku-sempai, you weren't suggesting that it did?).


I actually stated that squire's comparison still works symbolically so, yes, we are in agreement. But we are primarily discussing the symbolism of traveling underground at the moment, not so much about journeying East; that just confuses the issue.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 12, 1:10pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 12, 3:14pm

Post #35 of 79 (2007 views)
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Mirkwood [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, confusing and dangerous forests also seem to be a recurring Tolkien theme. I'm sure we'll have a lot of that to discuss in Flies and Spiders week (currently beginning 8 July and introduced by Hamfast Gamgee).

And, just saying', the company passes eastward through Mirkwood Evil

...though any symbolism apart, of course they have to because of where Erebor is...

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Meneldor
Valinor


Jun 12, 3:16pm

Post #36 of 79 (2009 views)
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Anduril was only reforged by elves. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But I wonder why Anduril was not invested with more of a personality. Has he skill of the Ekven-smiths diminished?

Narsil was wrought by the dwarf Telchar in the depths of time (meaning the First Age, as Telchar also forged the knife Angrist that Beren used to cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown).


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. -Psalm 107


sador
Half-elven


Jun 12, 4:32pm

Post #37 of 79 (2005 views)
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Very nice! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I agree this is just a metaphor, and the swords were simply drawn by the duelists; but it really is written as if they acted of their own volition.


InTheChair
Lorien

Jun 12, 6:02pm

Post #38 of 79 (1978 views)
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Is it specified that Orcrist was also from Gondolin? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
A last question regarding the swords - if indeed Glamdring was Turgon's sword, how come it didn't perish with him when the tower fell?


Elven swords I suppose are made not to perish, but if it was there, one might wonder who dug it out of the rubble, and how did it make its way through the ages down to the Ettenmoors?

Perhaps more likely Glamdring was just one sword owned by Turgon, and not the one he used at the time of the fall of Gondolin.


Quote
And more to the point, whose was Orcrist?


Might have been Turgons as well, though there is no telling if the two swords were always together or if they made their separate journeys before ending up in the trolls hoard.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 12, 6:24pm

Post #39 of 79 (1975 views)
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Orcrist and Glamdring [In reply to] Can't Post

In the text, Elrond only specifies Glamdring as belonging to Turgon, though both swords came from Gondolin:


Quote
"These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!"


As Bilbo's knife Sting shares the same property of glowing in the presence of goblins, it was also presumably crafted in Gondolin.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


sador
Half-elven


Jun 13, 10:45am

Post #40 of 79 (1922 views)
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“He found himself in what appeared to be a large cavern, surrounded on all sides by crowds of goblins, ugly and grim” [In reply to] Can't Post

My profound apologies for being late, and for the length of the coming post; the next will be shorter.

There is a major difference between the way The Hobbit was written, and the way it is read today. Most Tolkien-fans today cannot separate The Hobbit from The Lord of the Rings, and they re-read the earlier book based on what they know from the latter, greater epic. However, when writing the book, JRRT had no inkling of the fact that there will be a further book – arguably, he did not think that hobbits will ever become an integral part of the Middle-earth mythology. So while LotR is clearly written as a sequel to The Hobbit – on one level, I am reluctant to subjugate The Hobbit to LotR.
Regarding The Silmarillion, however, the situation is quite different. As Rateliff shows in his History of The Hobbit – at least at first, The Hobbit was supposed to happen in the world of the Sil. However, one must take this with three caveats: 1) Most of the story takes place in a geographic scene far away from Beleriand. 2) The story of The Silmarillion underwent a constant evolution, until long after LotR was published; so the world in which The Hobbit is placed is the world of the Silmarillion as envisioned by Tolkien in the early 1930s. 3) As The Lord of the Rings was being written, “the tale grew with the telling”, and so did its backstory – no less than six thousand years were added between the end of the First Age and the time The Hobbit was supposed to have happened.
So while the greater book was being written, Tolkien’s own vision of The Hobbit has changed; and obviously, once we try to create a complete, consistent history of Middle-earth – we need to follow the story in LotR and the appendices (and Tolkien himself tried to achieve that). But The Hobbit still includes many “fossils” of the earlier conception.

One example of this is the stone-giants. In The Hobbit they are a real menace; probably neutral regarding the dwarves – in Out of the Frying-pan into the Fire, Gandalf thinks of recruiting “a more or less decent giant to block it (the goblin’s cave entrance at the top of the High Pass) up again”.
Giants are found in the Northern sagas Tolkien studied and was inspired by; and they do appear in the early Silmarillion drafts, although they play only a peripheral part in it. The three trolls in Roast Mutton are the best giant-writing by Tolkien.
When writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien came up with an amusing but malevolent character – Giant Treebeard. However, pretty soon his character had evolved, settling ultimately on becoming an Ent (or The Ent). And not only are ents not akin to stone-giants, but the trolls have become mere counterfeit ents (this also went through a process – see dernwyn’s summary here). I do not recall a further reference to stone-giants in later writings.
What happened to them? Have they fallen out of Middle-earth? If not, how do they fit in the scheme of Eru’s creation?

Let’s suppose my last suggestion was too provocative. Consider this exchange, from The Ring Goes South:


Quote

'We cannot go further tonight,' said Boromir. 'Let those call it the wind who will; there are fell voices in the air; and these stones are aimed at us.'
'I do call it the wind,' said Aragorn. 'But that does not make what you say untrue. There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs..."


Why can’t they be stone-giants? Does this mean that it is too South for them? Aragorn was surprised by the heavy snow-fall, and by the Wargs coming west of the mountains. Was he simply wrong yet again?
The description seems quite similar to that in our chapter, which seems suggestive.

The other new people who join us are the goblins. These are obviously the orcs we know from The Lord of the Rings, as is specified in the Of the Finding of the Ring section of the prologue; in the latter books the words are used apparently interchangibly – with "goblin" being the term used by hobbits between themselves, while the elvish "orc" is used by other people. In this context, the use of "goblin" in The Hobbit fits in with the book being Bilbo's memoir, as well as the general tone of the book.
But as some have commented, the goblins in The Hobbit seem different – "cruel, wicked and bad-hearted" to be sure, but quite comical. The orcs in The Lord of the Rings are the foot-soldiers of the Dark Lord, coming straight from the grim world of the Silmarillion, while our goblins belong to a different tradition.
Two of the incidents in the Silmarillion tradition are attributed to the goblins here: the conquest of Gondolin, and the sack of Doriath (the Nauglafring chapter in The Book of Lost Tales) – the latter is probably the incident referred to in this chapter, speaking of some dwarves who have allied themselves with goblins (in the published Sil, this detail has been omitted). But the Gondolin story is curious.
What I mean is that the fall of Gondolin is referred to several times in The Hobbit, but the details do not fit into the story as told in The Book of Lost Tales. That was the only time Tolkien told the story in full – as well as the story of the sack of Doriath; but if one story has changed dramatically, what of the other?
As I have pointed out in a previous post, in is not clear how Turgon's sword came into the trolls' possession; also, in A Short Rest, Elrond says Glamdring and Orcrist "were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars" – which implies a series of wars, rather than a surprise attack. Also, Elrond says "dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago" – not a word of balrogs, who led the attcak! And the dragons in BoLT are quite pathetic.
Tolkien never wrote the story of the fall of Gondolin after the very sketchy summary in the 1930 Quenta (HoME vol. IV). Do these discrepancies reflect a considerable change in his vision of the story, or could you reconcile them?
I also note Elrond's words "many ages ago". This seems to indicate the passage of a long time. This throws a damper on Rateliff's theory that the events in The Hobbit as first written were supposed to happen soon after those at the end of the Silmarillion story – at the very least, as early as the third chapter, Tolkien has changed his opinion.
So again, how did the goblins recognize the swords immediately? Should we ignore Elrond's words as a slip, and suppose they mean just a couple of decades? Or does this support the theory that, being corrupted elves, goblins live a long time and thus could remember them?

Still, the goblins are different from the Lord of the Rings orcs. Or are they? The orcs in the latter book do sing (Sam hears harsh singing at the end of The Two Towers, and there is also this, of course) and laugh (at Merry's reaction to his medicine, or Gorbag at the thought of interrogating Frodo). There is one difference I notice – in respect to authority. Consider this address to the Great Goblin:

Quote
"He is a liar, O truly tremendous one!" said one of the drivers. Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are as dead as stones. Also he has not explained this!"


I chuckle at the style! Don't you? But still – do you note the subservience? Was the Great Goblin simply a more effective tyrant than Ugluk or Shagrat, or was he simply a free agent? Or is this indicative of the difference between the goblins in the books?
The goblins seem to be quite loyal, even after the Great Goblin is dead – they venture far and wide to the east to avenge his death. But once they find the dwarves (in Out of the Frying-pan into the Fire), they sit down and laugh at their enemies' predicament, as if they are not burning with rage.
What does this callousness say of them? Or is it normal for soldiers at combat?
Anyway, none of this seems in place in any of the stories of The Silmarillion.

I tend to think the goblins in The Hobbit are fundamentally different from the Silmarillion orcs, with the Lord of the Rings orcs a synthesis of the two. The goblins we read of in this chapter belong to a different tradition – that of George MacDonald, and before him the wonderful story of the goblins who stole a sexton, from which the quote in this posts’ title is taken (The Pickwick Papers, ch. 29. I think the link is to a legal site; if not, admins – please remove it). Tolkien followed this tradition in his early poem Goblin_Feet, and used it in the Father Christmas Letters.
Do the two traditions contradict, or complement each other? What is the effect of them on the reader? Which one do you prefer?

In The Hobbit, Tolkien edges towards separating the two: the word “orc” appears in the book two and a half times: the name Orcrist is translated as goblin-cleaver, indicating both are the same; the sentence in Riddles in the Dark, suggesting “even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground” (however, that was added when that chapter was re-written in 1947); and Gandalf's warning of "goblins, hobgoblins and orcs of the worst description" in the Grey Mountains (Queer Lodgings), which indicates three different species. At the very least, they are three subsets, with the orcs being the largest.
But even that is contradicted by Tolkien – as in The Passing of Boromir, the larger Uruk-hai, which Treebeard will speculate are the product of cross-breeding with Men, are described:

Quote
There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands.


Does this choice of words mean something? Why use ‘goblin’ in a scene with no hobbits?

And last, there is Tolkien’s conceit that Middle-earth is in a way, prehistoric Earth. This is referred to in this chapter:

Quote
It is not unlikely that they [the goblins] invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far.


Do you like this kind of ‘speculation’? What do think of Tolkien view of history?

I just must mention that this chapter provides a better context to the statement attributed to Tolkien, “we were all orcs in the Great War” – if he meant the goblins in this chapter.
Unfortunately, this attribution has been debunked by the RR.



sador
Half-elven


Jun 13, 12:26pm

Post #41 of 79 (1926 views)
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"I've been waiting so long" [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
Even in this book, not to say LotR, it's clear that Bag End is the original "under Hill" location. "I come from under the hill, and under hills and over the hills my paths led" is how Bilbo riddles Smaug.


That's true.



Quote
It's fairly well known that Tolkien hiked the Alps when a young man, and based most of his 'mountain' writing on that experience


Yes. I have not mentioned this reference, but I expected someone to raise it (and Okatu-sempai did, too).



In Reply To
I am more curious about the crack in the back wall of the cave. Apparently, it opens and closes rather elastically. How the heck does that work with solid stone?


That's a good point - one which I haven't noticed before Thank you!




Quote

The interview between Thorin and the Great Goblin is exquisite parody, right up there with the more famous (because more significant) dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug.


Yes, but I think it is also revealing about Thorin and dwarves in general. I have asked about it in another post - but compared it to other dialogues.




In Reply To

No citation needed. You know the source. Admit it.


Guilty as charged, your honour.
And I am still waiting for the discussion of Minas Troney in a Soup. Need I wait much longer?




In Reply To

I've spent years on the problem, and I'm happy to report that by now I have almost completely forgotten the movie.


Is Die Hard that better?


sador
Half-elven


Jun 13, 12:31pm

Post #42 of 79 (1917 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

I did not know this blog; and I love reading other readers' experiences. I will look this up - next week, naturally


sador
Half-elven


Jun 13, 12:44pm

Post #43 of 79 (1918 views)
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The Gladden headwaters pass [In reply to] Can't Post

Is mentioned in The Ring Goes South, as one of the routes the scouts sent by Elrond took; they crossed the Anduin and came to Rhosgobel; but Radagast was not at home.


I always wondered whether Tolkien simply forgot that route in the debate in A Journey in the Dark, when Gandalf assured Boromir there are no other passes across the Mountains. The other explanation I can think of is that Gandalf was pulling a fast one on the malcontent.


(This post was edited by sador on Jun 13, 12:45pm)


sador
Half-elven


Jun 13, 12:47pm

Post #44 of 79 (1919 views)
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Tom Shippey wrote about this comparison [In reply to] Can't Post

In Author of the Century.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 13, 1:03pm

Post #45 of 79 (1910 views)
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Mountain Passes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is mentioned in The Ring Goes South, as one of the routes the scouts sent by Elrond took; they crossed the Anduin and came to Rhosgobel; but Radagast was not at home.


So it is; thanks for the reminder!


In Reply To
I always wondered whether Tolkien simply forgot that route in the debate in A Journey in the Dark, when Gandalf assured Boromir there are no other passes across the Mountains. The other explanation I can think of is that Gandalf was pulling a fast one on the malcontent.


Well, the Fellowship's mission starts out in the winter, so perhaps the Gladden Pass is snowbound at this time. The Redhorn Pass is farther south and so gave some hope of being traversable. Also, they would have had to back-track to reach the other passage, wasting time and effort while continuing to expose the Fellowship to pursuit.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 14, 12:52am

Post #46 of 79 (1867 views)
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Oh dear. [In reply to] Can't Post

Minas Troney! Squire took Chapter VIII, so this chapter is my problem responsibility, I have been remiss! Blush

Let me see what I can throw into the pot...Angelic


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 14, 1:33am

Post #47 of 79 (1848 views)
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Great minds think alike. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jun 14, 1:45am

Post #48 of 79 (1852 views)
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The mountains were rife with Orcs... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is mentioned in The Ring Goes South, as one of the routes the scouts sent by Elrond took; they crossed the Anduin and came to Rhosgobel; but Radagast was not at home.

I always wondered whether Tolkien simply forgot that route in the debate in A Journey in the Dark, when Gandalf assured Boromir there are no other passes across the Mountains. The other explanation I can think of is that Gandalf was pulling a fast one on the malcontent.


We have no knowledge of what transpired during the scouts' journey, other that that they crossed Anduin and visited Rhosgobel. Maybe the trip back to Rivendell over the mountains was not as uneventful as just walking up the Eastern side and back down the Western; they may have been fighting or fleeing Orcs the entire trip through the pass.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 14, 9:08am

Post #49 of 79 (1830 views)
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Mystery and completeness [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

There is a major difference between the way The Hobbit was written, and the way it is read today.Most Tolkien-fans today cannot separate The Hobbit from The Lord of the Rings, and they re-read the earlier book based on what they know from the latter, greater epic. However, when writing the book, JRRT had no inkling of the fact that there will be a further book – arguably, he did not think that hobbits will ever become an integral part of the Middle-earth mythology. So while LotR is clearly written as a sequel to The Hobbit – on one level, I am reluctant to subjugate The Hobbit to LotR.


...obviously, once we try to create a complete, consistent history of Middle-earth – we need to follow the story in LotR and the appendices (and Tolkien himself tried to achieve that). But The Hobbit still includes many “fossils” of the earlier conception.


I think that's right, and for myself I see some tension:

+>I don't think I'd like Tolkien's work so much if it didn't have a feeling of order and completeness - that there probably is a further story here there and everywhere that Tolkien knows but doesn't choose to tell right now.

+>But, at the same time, I don't think I'd like his work as much if he didn't seem to go off on all kinds of wild inventive tangents which don't tie neatly into anything else.

I want to know the answers, but on the other hand, knowing them isn't ultimately satisfying for me because that's the end of a pleasing mystery.

The Tolkien critic Prof. Tom Shippey has a section in his book 'The Road To Middle Earth' in which he rather laments the organising principle taking over in Tolkien's later years, with Unfinished Tales and his unsuccessful attempts to finish the Silmarillion. This left Tolkien (Shippey claims):



Quote
...an author looking back over his own work and trying to reduce it to order. ... turning against the sources of his inspiration.

Tom Shippey, 'The Road To Middle Earth' a section called 'The dangers of going on'


I'm inclined to agree, and to conclude that it's the tension between Tolkien's wild inventiveness and his tidiness that makes it work so well for me.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 14, 9:28am

Post #50 of 79 (1829 views)
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Stone giants, specifically [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading the stone giants now, they seem to me to be a personification of the wildness of the mountain storm, but one that is then made amusing by Thorin's 'football' comment. I'm tempted to see them as one of the many odd creatures that are personifications of some aspect of Middle-earth and that's that.

Or, of course if one want to 'create a complete, consistent history of Middle-earth', then that can't be that Wink

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

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