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***The hobbit-read-through: Ch5 – Riddles In The Dark
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CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 20, 11:40pm

Post #26 of 54 (707 views)
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Fog on the Barrow-downs, anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Bilbo starts the chapter at a low ebb. His ability – eventually – to face going on as the only sensible choice seems like a Tolkien theme to me: doing what you have to do, even if you’d prefer a different menu with nicer options. Does anyone else see this as an important moment in Bilbo’s development?

None of Bilbo’s thoughts seem to be about his companions, who for all he knows are being ‘made into Chutney’ at this point (as the authors of the Blue Book of Harvard version of the tale point out). Should Bilbo – one of the only three armed members of his expedition – give more thought to attempting a rescue? I notice that rescuing others is exactly what he does think about when the rest of the company is in trouble in future chapters - is that contrast an example of ways in which this chapter marks a change in Bilbo?

I agree, this is similar to Frodo's moment in the Barrow when he had to decide between giving up or fighting on, and Frodo's choice leads to a growth arc for him which ultimately redeems him. Contrast Frodo's arc with both Saruman and Denethor who each essentially gives up the fight against Sauron, and look at the harsh fates they suffer.

But growth comes slowly and in stages. This is the stage where Bilbo seizes control of his own fate. We need to wait for the Mirkwood spiders for him to take responsibility for the rescue and well-being of his friends. Yet once he goes down that path, he never falters, and he spends the rest of the story trying to help them, even with his ill-fated (since I just brought it up in another post) attempt to prevent war and slaughter by surrendering the Arkenstone to the Elven-king. That wasn't the betrayal Thorin thought it was, nor was it selfish--quite the opposite, as he was trying to spare them all a nasty end in a pointless war. (It's not his fault it didn't work out. His heart was in the right place.)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 21, 10:27am

Post #27 of 54 (675 views)
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Gollum versus Yoda (still not The Arena) [In reply to] Can't Post

Your description of Gollum as 'part absent-minded/eccentric professor' (somehow) made me think of another fantasy character with eccentric speech - Yoda from Star Wars.

Its an interesting contrast. As I see it, the gag about Yoda when he first appears (Empire Strikes Back) is that Luke Skywalker is expecting some very impressive warrior-monk-mentor. Instead this small strange creature he finds Hmmmm? Some time he takes, to learn by appearances to judge not.*

Yoda is done mostly by changing the word order (verb to the end and so on). It works for me - I think I see George Lucas playing with the old 'You Not Take Candle' trope (characters are often given garbled grammar to suggest they're primitive or stupid - good article on that here http://tvtropes.org/...Main/YouNoTakeCandle )**


Gollum is equally characteristic, but I don't suspect 'you no take candle' (c.f. Ghan-buri-ghan , a character I very much see being made to do 'Tonto Talk'.) What I see in Gollum's case is:

Lots of sibilants - starting with the jokey 'bless and splash us', but often done without overtly twisting the dialogue. It's a gift for a read-a-louder wanting to do a sinister hiss, and it also suggests to me echoes bouncing off the cave roof.

Gollum talks to himself but used 'we'. It enables him not to address Bilbo but to appear to talk about him over his head (e'g' 'what has it got in its pocketses'). Not only is it unsettling, but the effect for me is to disempower Bilbo -like he's a child and adults are talking about him over his head.

Gollum calls Bilbo 'it'. I suppose it could be too dark to assess gender, but it suggests to me that Bilbo is dehumanised in Gollum's eyes - an 'it' that might be et, if you will.

Reading this chapter I wasn't completely sure Tolkien had yet thought of 'Precious' being the ring, rather than Gollum's pet name for himself. Nor do I see the sort of Gollum/Smegol split one does in LOTR (and which was performed so memorably by Andy Serkis in the PJ film) If I have time I'll re-read on the look out for that, or if someone has done it already and report, that would be great.


--
*This makes me recall shopping with my family and finding a Yoda T-shirt for my then Star Wars obsesses WizKid#1 (he would have been about 6). The T-shirt had the caption "judge me by my size, do you?" So I joked about whether they had the same design in boxer shorts, but I chickened out when Mrs NoWiz dared me to ask the shop assistant.

** Yoda's speech also parodies beautifully - I think this 'Seagulls, Stop it now' parody by Bad Lip Reading is very funny: https://youtu.be/U9t-slLl30E

~~~~~~
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 21, 10:29am

Post #28 of 54 (675 views)
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Do we have any bilingual contributors? [In reply to] Can't Post

I was wondering how Gollum's speech patterns has been translated into other languages, and whether there are any interesting differences or nuances a reader would get reading Gollum in the translated version?

~~~~~~
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 21, 11:37am

Post #29 of 54 (676 views)
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Why this coming did we not see it, Precious? [In reply to] Can't Post

“Gollum calls Bilbo 'it'. I suppose it could be too dark to assess gender, but it suggests to me that Bilbo is dehumanised in Gollum's eyes - an 'it' that might be et, if you will.”

Gollum definitely dehumanizes/de-hobbitizes Bilbo by calling him “it,” the easier to eat him, I am sure.

But while we leaped ahead to LOTR and Frodo’s indignant denial that Gollum isn’t a hobbit, where is the narrator in either book telling us, “Of course by now you’ve spotted the obvious.”? Which is: Gollum was a hobbit and should have recognized Bilbo as one, but he never does, and in LOTR, he refers to Sam & Frodo as hobbitses, as if he doesn’t belong in that race. Granted, he’s been twisted over time and has forgotten his own name (though I think that’s out of guilt too), but in the passage of the Dead Marshes, his memory is good enough that he recalls the old war stories from his hobbit-youth about how they became that way.

So, he remembers events of world history that didn’t involve him, but he can’t recognize a member of his own race? Odd for Tolkien to gloss over that, it is, but perhaps he was distracted by slogans on boxer shorts. (Maybe Gollum lost the Ring for the same reason, especially glow-in-the-dark boxers.)

I like your point about his snake-like voice echoing off the cave roof—Gollum is creepy for many different reasons, and that’s just another one to add.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 21, 12:35pm

Post #30 of 54 (668 views)
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It was the accent :) [In reply to] Can't Post

As Bilbo explains to the trolls, he's a Burra hobbit

Burra is an old copper-mining town in South Australia, so I suppose Bilbo's Australian and has an Australian accent.
Stands to reason - you've just found yourself a nice quiet spot by a little-known lake, so the most likely non-local visitor to come along would be an Australian backpacker.... Wink


How would glow in the dark boxer shorts work even, unless someone went around without their trousers on?
And where did Gollum get his boxers then? Oh, I know - they come from his old hobbit days & he got them from the quartermaster stoor's?
Do they say 'what have I got in my pocket'?

~~~~~~
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 21, 1:15pm

Post #31 of 54 (663 views)
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Three cheers for Unwins... [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think Tolkien was always the easiest of authors to work with, and I imagine there were often cases of 'the black speech' coming out of Editorial or Production.

~~~~~~
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 21, 1:59pm

Post #32 of 54 (651 views)
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more seriously though, I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree - it is hard to see why Bilbo doesn't remind Gollum of the hobbits (or hobbit-like creatures, at least) with which he used to live.

~~~~~~
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


Petty Dwarf
Bree


Jun 21, 7:42pm

Post #33 of 54 (625 views)
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Well, it's been a few hundred years. [In reply to] Can't Post

Old Gollum's memory may not be what it used to be. Wink

As for him calling Frodo and Sam "hobbitses" as though he wasn't one; well, it is noted that the word was not in use when Smeagol was living down by the river.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


sador
Half-elven


Jun 22, 11:44am

Post #34 of 54 (617 views)
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Late Again [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, you take some of the blame for it, for introducing me to the NeverFeltBetter blog... but it was mostly the calls of RL, as well as a burnt-out feeling after last week (I'm not as used to these discussions as I used to be).


Anyway, no more excuses. Let's get to work.


is it [Sting] like Galadriel’s phial and how it supports Frodo and (perhaps especially) Sam both physically and morally (spiritually?) at Shelob’s Lair and Cirith Ungol?
Well, Sting will feature at Shelob's Lair, and Frodo will mention its history then.
But I agree the Phial seems to help Sam more. This is another manifestation of something I have mentioned several times before - that Sam seems to be Bilbo's true heir. Frodo becomes a tragic savior figure; but Sam is the one who goes There and Back Again, and ends up being the torch-bearer of the story to latter generations.
Sam is also the homely and rustic hobbit - an innocent abroad, like Bilbo was in The Hobbit. And Tolkien makes fun of him, and patronises him, just like Bilbo here.


Any thoughts as to why Tolkien used this device at least twice (here and in Moria)?
We are in a world which is still pretty unexplored. And the deeps of the earth were always a fascinating, mysterious place.


Is this a way of settling down the intended child-at-bedtime reader with a little more gentle material after a tense chapter? Does it fit symbolically, or in other ways?
In a way, it is. But it also reinforces the image of the goblins we know from the previous chapter.


To what extent is the whole chapter a riddle? The narrator makes sure that we notice Bilbo getting the ring, by saying it will be the turning point of his career. But it is some time before we find out what this means.
Hardly so, as Tolkien himself did not yet know what it means. Bilbo uses the Ring in this chapter, and at the beginning of the next one - and then promptly forgets about it, until he needs it when fighting the spiders.
Obviously, once knowing The Lord of the Rings, it surely seems so. But I have always assumed the one who asks the riddle should also know the answer when asking.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22, 2:58pm

Post #35 of 54 (603 views)
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Way Down We Go [In reply to] Can't Post

To me it makes a sort of symbolic sense that deeper levels underground become wilder. The goblins after all have a civilisation (not the same thing as being civilised). Something older, more primal, wilder lurks below - and the goblins are afraid of it.

Perhaps for creative people there's a further applicability:


Quote
With athletes it’s ‘going for the burn’; with writers (at least, this writer) it’s ‘dipping in the slime’. A matter of sliding a fist and even a forearm into the unholy ooze that collects in the dark depths of the imagination. Into the Parisian-sewers-of-the-mind with you, boy, and see what you can find.

Give The Anarchist A Cigarette (Pimlico)" by Mick Farren


~~~~~~
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


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 22, 10:54pm

Post #36 of 54 (586 views)
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Gollum and Goblins [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum has been in the Misty Mountains for over nine-hundred years, Now the Goblins of Goblin-town are a relatively new addition. Although Goblins did have an up and down history over those years, but they do not seem to be always there, so did Gollum eat things like fish other than Goblins when they where not about? Or as a bit of speculation and a bit like Smaug, maybe he knew the taste of Dwarves. After all, there where times when Dwarves passed that way, in the war of the Dwarves and Orcs for example and possibly Gollum did snag a few!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 23, 12:13am

Post #37 of 54 (582 views)
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How long? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Gollum has been in the Misty Mountains for over nine-hundred years...


That would be some trick considering that Gollum would have been a little over 500 years old when Bilbo encountered him!

"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 23, 12:14am)


sador
Half-elven


Jun 24, 1:49pm

Post #38 of 54 (513 views)
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"Hey, daddy-o / I don't wanna go down to the basemewnt / There's something there" [In reply to] Can't Post

If Gollum is diabolical (for the purposes of this interpretation) is it fitting that Bilbo has to save himself by a trial of wits rather than by force or fleetness of foot?
Diabolical? Gollum is no Balrog or Smaug, and not even a Shelob.
But this is another foreshadowing of the coming conversation, as well as the fight with the spiders - in which he uses his sword, the Ring, and indeed running and jumping.


And what to make of Bilbo doing this without realising he has something absolutely diabolical in his pocketses?
We don't know that yet, not until the sequel.

Well, Riddles in the Dark was re-written after Tolkien knew pretty much about the Ring - but this symbolism was written into the chapter long before that.

If you really want to think of this question, I would see this as a manifestation of the unexpected luck of widows' sons.


Compare and contrast Gollum and the Balrog. To me the balrog comes across as something to which the only responses are fight or flight.

Quote

"Do you think they're friendly?" said Legolam, trembling like a leaf.
"That I cannot say," said Stomper. "If they are, we have no worries; if they are foes, we must escape their wrath through craft."
"How?" asked Gimlet, seeing no hiding place on the flat plain. "Do we fight or flee?"
"Neither," said the Ranger, falling limp on the ground. "We'll all play dead!"
Legolam and Gimlet looked at each other and shook their heads. There were few things on which they both agreed, but Stomper was definitely one of them.




One contrast is that, because the riddle contest requires Gollum to talk extensively, we see much more of his character – essential I suppose if we are to understand Bilbo’s eventual decision to spare Gollum.
Yes, I agree. Frodo will later feel the same.



Gollum is given a very characteristic way of speaking (compare the stock-character mockney of the trolls, which fades out as soon as the reader has been cued to understand what kind of character they are). How does this contribute to how you read his character?
squire had a nice take on this.



I’m wondering to what extent Gollum is Bilbo’s shadow – is Gollum what Bilbo fears he might become, should he never get out of the mines and yet decide to continue living by whatever means?
Well, this part was added in 1947, so I think this is possible.
I'm not entirely sure I accept Ursula Le Guin's take on Gollum in general, but once you accept her premise, this works for Bilbo as well.



Is this what makes Gollum disturbing (rather than terrifying, like a Watcher or Balrog or some ferocious animal)?
I don't think so. His talks does.



Reading this chapter of The Hobbit (rather that ‘the trilogy’) do you hate, or feel you’re asked to hate Gollum?
No.



And, actually, is Gollum ‘evil’ on the evidence we have from this chapter (that is, set aside our post-LOTR knowledge that he’s a murderer)? Or is he a hungry carnivorous creature who is now unwilling or unable to leave his underground life, but no more evil than (say) a real-life wolf, bear or lion?
In The Hobbit alone, we are not called to pass moral judgment on minor characters. So the question is moot.



If Gollum started out looking something like a hobbit, he has changed a great deal physically. What do you imagine has caused that?
We do not know this at all. If you look at Douglas Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit, you have several illustrations from early editions of The Hobbit. Some have Gollum looking radically different.





sador
Half-elven


Jun 24, 2:34pm

Post #39 of 54 (505 views)
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"Near a tree by a river there's a hole in the ground / where an old man of Aran goes around and around" [In reply to] Can't Post

Who else tried to solve them on your first reading (i.e not just reading on until you got the answers) and how did you get on?
I doubt that I did try; I definitely did not succeed solving any.



Do you think the characters of Bilbo and of Gollum are illustrated by the riddles they choose –if so, then how? What other significance, if any, do you see in the riddles Tolkien chose?
Yes, of course. For one thing, Bilbo is domestic, even homely; Gollum is more dark, and refer more to the Wilds. They are also more antique-feeling, while Bilbo's is nearer to our experience.




Is that just inevitable – a hero needs some luck so that they can have can have perilous, suspenseful adventures and yet survive? Or do you read it as something we’re supposed to notice, and infer that there is more than regular luck at work?
I've referred to this before.
I think it is obvious - and the dwarves will, too, in Flies and Spiders.

Is this too much? I don't know enough of the genre to assess that.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 24, 4:31pm

Post #40 of 54 (502 views)
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The unexpected luck of widows' sons. [In reply to] Can't Post

Does that still count if your mother wasn't widowed until after you reached adulthood?


In Reply To
And, actually, is Gollum ‘evil’ on the evidence we have from this chapter (that is, set aside our post-LOTR knowledge that he’s a murderer)? Or is he a hungry carnivorous creature who is now unwilling or unable to leave his underground life, but no more evil than (say) a real-life wolf, bear or lion?
In The Hobbit alone, we are not called to pass moral judgment on minor characters. So the question is moot.


Well, Gollum is an intelligent humanoid with cannibalistic tendencies. And we know that if he had not lost his ring, he would have tried to kill and eat Bilbo in spite of his promise. So, yeah, I think characterizing him as 'evil' is a fair cop.

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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 24, 5:59pm

Post #41 of 54 (501 views)
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What counts as cannibalistic? [In reply to] Can't Post

At first sight this might look tediously pedantic and lexical, but I believe the question improves upon acquaintance. It could lead, I hope to thinking about whether 'the wonderfully repulsive and degraded Gollum' [Ursula K Le Guin] should realise he's doing wrong.

I think that cannibalism is normally about eating your own species. Gollum has only done that if we see goblins as his own species. And even if he did eat Bilbo (which would certainly mess up the rest of the story!) on the basis of The Hobbit text alone we should probably think of him as predatory rather than cannibalistic. That's because it is only in LOTR that we learn that Gollum was once a hobbit himself (or something like it). So the cannibalism charge relies, I think, upon the assumption that gollums and goblins are the same species.

In real life eating people vary in their opinions about eating other animals (from always wrong, which makes Gollum wrong to eat fish) to a taboo against eating other people, but most other things are OK. I suggest that debating the rights and wrongs of these opinions about food is out of scope for this board, but I think it might be non-tedious to think about whether Gollum would know he was in the wrong, or ought to be so judged.

I don't know how I'd feel about eating goblin, if such a thing were possible. It's hard to imagine, because of course there are no goblins to eat and we are used, in real life to the idea that talking sentient creatures are other people. Not of course that we always treat each other any better than goblins, but that is the language of politics, which I shall not utter here. Is eating goblins (as Gollum does) much worse that killing them all in battle, no surrender (which our LOTR heroes do)?

~~~~~~
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


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 24, 8:11pm

Post #42 of 54 (493 views)
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Gollum's diet. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am using the term 'cannibalism' in the looser, more general sense of any thinking humanoid viewing anyone who could normally be counted as a person as just another source of food. I am not attempting to explore the ethics of ritual cannibalism or the eating of human flesh as a last resort in a life-or-death situation. I feel confident in stating that cannibalism as practiced by Gollum, Orcs or Trolls would in Middle-earth be considered to be an act of evil. However, I was also writing of Gollum's plans to betray his promise to Bilbo, not just his eating habits.

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


squire
Half-elven


Jun 25, 3:09am

Post #43 of 54 (479 views)
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Whence this creature's precious features? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the reference to my 2009 post on Gollum's original way of speaking. It reminded me that I expanded it into a slightly more formal essay for the TORn front page the following year. I am still fond of this thesis and occasionally muse about pursuing it further with more complete examples of contemporary style and British nursery customs.

In general with Gollum, the Ring, and most other aspects of the story, I remain fascinated by just how much of this chapter, and subsequent chapters of The Hobbit, were written without reference to The Lord of the Rings -- because it hadn't yet been imagined. For all of Tolkien's later and brilliantly reconstrued connections, including the major rewrites in this chapter, I much prefer to read and think about The Hobbit as a stand-alone novel with its own themes, and its own portrayal of the world later transformed into Middle-earth.

I don't really like to work on trying to explain away apparent contradictions, although of course it's a fun game to play with friends around here. I much prefer to embrace the contradictions for the breathing space they give the earlier book.



squire online:
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sador
Half-elven


Jun 25, 7:25am

Post #44 of 54 (457 views)
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"And I'm giving youy a longing look / every day I write the book" [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I guess I should stop this kind of silliness.
To your questions!


I think that Frodo's 'Hobbits don't cheat therefore Bilbo can't have' is the kind of bad argument known as a 'genetic fallacy' (like arguing 'English people take tea at 4pm, so no English person could have committed a burglary at that time'.)
Well, Frodo did also claim in The Scouring of the Shire that no hobbit ever killed each other on purpose. He's good at making this kind of claim.

And didn't Bilbo cheat Throin when taking and keeping the Arkenstone? I know why he did that; but perhaps we should modify Frodo's argument to 'Hobbits don't cheat without a really good reason'?


I also wonder what would have happened had Bilbo lost the riddle game fairy – did he really intend to surrender his neck passively to Gollum’s throttling fingers?
He did mean to, but then instinct kicked in - and by sheer coincidence, his sword was in his hand. He's really sorry.



Do you find these defence of Bilbo's behaviour convincing?
Well, I live in a cynical age, and am affected by it.


Are they intended to be convincing?
Yes. Tolkien was hoping to educate reprobates like me. Unlike CS Lewis, he went about it in a subtle way.


Why does Tolkien make so much of this business of cheating (intentional or excusable or neither) and of false accounts?
To prepare us for the Arkenstone business.


How seriously ought I take the idea that the riddle game is ‘sacred’ – would cheats expect to be cursed– as in damned or doomed?
I think quite seriously. Ancient times took this kind of challenges seriously - think of the Sphinx, and the "what object stays on the table in the morning, on the wall at noon, and in your handbag at evening"? riddle.
And this was a riddle-game - not something profane such as cards or quoits (something Bilbo was adept at, too).


Does Tolkien seem to take this idea any further (do you think anything bad happened to Gollum or Bilbo because they cheated)?
Well, Bombur got the "don't grumble about orders, or something bad will happen to you" for Thorin, and something bad indded did happen.
Which led to Thorin and co. having to caqrry him around. Be carefgul what you threaten subordinates with...


Or is it a plot device used to explain the lack of more flagrant cheating, and then forgotten?
Well, Bilbo needed to explain his own actions by subterfuge. He naturally couldn't just say "well, I was transplanted here from a modern time, and I don't really follow you so-called sacred rules".


Does this tell us anything interesting about Tolkien’s attitude to inventing (or discovering) Middle-earth?
Well, that's a telling example of the Red Book Conceit.


Are we grateful to Unwins for allowing Tolkien to behave in this eccentric and expensive manner?
As CuriousG implied, it was a rarity. It was quite good of the Unwins to agree.



did Tolkien’s changes improve the storytelling of this work?
I tend to think so, as it seems to be more in line with Bilbo's actions later regarding the Arkenstone.
But this might just be my bias, being used to this version and never reading the early one till well after I've joined this website.



Thank you, nowiz, for this discussion! I'll try to join your next one, possibly tomorrow.




sador
Half-elven


Jun 25, 7:27am

Post #45 of 54 (454 views)
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I remembered the longer one as well [In reply to] Can't Post

But did not know how top find it. Thank you!


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 25, 11:41am

Post #46 of 54 (437 views)
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Arkenstone rehersal [In reply to] Can't Post

Which sounds like a name from Skulduggery Pleasant, but is actually me admiring


In Reply To

Why does Tolkien make so much of this business of cheating (intentional or excusable or neither) and of false accounts?

To prepare us for the Arkenstone business.


I hadn't thought of that, expecting responses more along the lines of the dishonesty showing the ring's effect on Bilbo's character.

~~~~~~
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 25, 11:43am

Post #47 of 54 (439 views)
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I think that's a really interesting idea - Gollum as gothic horror granny [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Even in the original The Hobbit, Gollum was a ghoul and a monster, but he was a strangely endearing one because of his language. Isn’t it possible that Gollum’s original, pre-Ring personality was that of a nursemaid-turned-monster, to the thrilled horror of the Tolkien children? At the core of the caricature is a childless old lady who cannot let a precious infant go, but will continue to baby it, coddle it, spoil it, and dominate it, long after it is time to let the child grow up – and so she becomes the child, and the child becomes her.

Looked at this way, Tolkien’s satirical rendering of a pathologically self-infantilized child-creature relates very well to the story of Bilbo, a child-sized adult who rediscovers his lost but strong inner fantasy-child. The original Gollum, and Bilbo, have a monster-victim relationship that is most appropriate to The Hobbit with its strong theme of Childhood Lost and Regained – wherein Gollum is Childhood Endlessly Prolonged.

squire http://www.theonering.net/...-does-it/#more-35932


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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


squire
Half-elven


Jun 25, 12:09pm

Post #48 of 54 (438 views)
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There's cheating and then there's cheating [In reply to] Can't Post

I tend to see the immense importance of 'cheating at the Riddle Game' as being necessary to explain why Gollum, having lost, placably agrees to walk Bilbo out of the caves when he can't find the promised present.

Bilbo's willingness to appropriate the Arkenstone, later in the story, seems to me to be more about the terrible power of the Dragon-spell to overcome his honesty. The major 'criminal' theme of The Hobbit is not the Ring, of course, which is just a super-burglary device to even Bilbo's odds. The Dragon-spell of greed for treasure is what drives the entire story, and Bilbo is naturally sucked up by it as well, for a brief time, before redeeming himself by giving up his treasure in the cause of peace.

It's fun to remember that, when faced with writing a sequel, Tolkien seriously considered reviving the Dragon-spell as the motivation to get Bilbo out on a second adventure. Of course the Ring proved to be an excellent hook instead, once he realized he could transform it into the totem it became with relatively few changes to the previous story. But the fact that he stuck with the treasure and the dragon at first speaks to how seriously he took The Hobbit as a story in its own right. His larger model, the existing Silmarillion with its iconic jewels (for which the Arkenstone was an obvious stand-in), is far more about a world-war and conflict over Treasure than Power, after all.

I would be curious to trace whether Tolkien, having lived through the previous decade of rampant totalitarianism in Europe, didn't find his mind far more interested in the question of corrupting Power by the late 1930s and 1940s, than he did when first composing his epic and medieval-modeled quests for treasure, the Sil and The Hobbit, in earlier years.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 25, 12:53pm

Post #49 of 54 (437 views)
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But. some of my best friends are cannibals [In reply to] Can't Post


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I think it might be non-tedious to think about whether Gollum would know he was in the wrong, or ought to be so judged.

I think most people find the idea of consuming the flesh of a thinking, talking being to be morally and socially objectionable.

Though for me, I think Gollum's habit of eating anything that comes within reach is more to depict him as a scary monster for kids. After all, what do scary monsters do to you? They smack you a couple of times and steal your lunch money, or break your favorite toy, or tell your parents you ate more cookies than were allowed. That's all too commonplace. A scary monster is going to eat you; authors go for that primal fear we have of being eaten by anything or anyone.

The trolls, Gollum, the wolves, the spiders, and Smaug liked eating sentient people--scary monsters. The goblins just wanted to kill Thorin & Co, unless I missed a reference to eating their prisoners too.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 25, 1:26pm

Post #50 of 54 (432 views)
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Oops, I did miss a reference [In reply to] Can't Post

Next chapter, when Bilbo is complaining about the lack of supper and being tired, Gandalf says they must carry on or they will become supper. The context is still about goblins and before there's any mention of wolves.

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