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***The Hobbit Read-through; Ch 9 - Barrels out of bond
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noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 17, 3:22pm

Post #26 of 48 (1760 views)
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I wonder whether SF tends to be more mechanism-y than fantasy? [In reply to] Can't Post

Both fantasy and science fiction are broad churches or countries with poorly defined borders, so perhaps the question is meaningless, unless one goes in for the sport of defining the border and then marching up and down with a peaked cap and clip-board impotently trying to enforce one's own definition. Let's not do that, it's so boring.

But I have met some folks who life Science Fiction but think Fantasy is silly, and it tends to be because they prefer stories where the non-real-life elements have an 'explanation' - one that is given in scientific-sounding terms and is not immediately ridiculous. So the sort of stories that kind of reader would like would necessarily have a lot of mechanism.

Obviously, even the 'hardest' trad science fiction (the logic puzzles of Asimov's Robot stories, say) does contain plenty of elements that are hand-waved away because they would hold up the tale. The Robots are constrained by a system of logical rules, but they use technology ('positronic' if I remember) that might as well be magical. You culd turn them into golems and have stories that were an exact fantasy equivalent.

I suppose we have to go to something like Margaret Attwood's The Handmaid's Tale for something that could plausibly happen in a different set of political circumstances, without any new inventions needed. And Attwood initially had a big row about whether her story was SF or not, but I believe Ursula Le Guin persuaded her.

~~~~~~
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


Jul 17, 3:38pm

Post #27 of 48 (1751 views)
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Conventions of Science Fiction [In reply to] Can't Post

And thanks for not using the abbreviation 'sci-fi'.

I wonder if we see the first major schism in science fiction in the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, with Verne heavily invested in the 'nuts-and-bolts' while Wells was more interested in exploring the ideas being presented. Wells seems to be more in the tradition of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein--the actual science be damned. Then there are the 'scientific romances' of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard and other early pulp writers that have more in common with traditional fantasy fiction than with any of the above (especially appropriate for REH as a founder of the 'sword-and-sorcery' style of modern fantasy).

I think it's fair to say that there are several different 'flavors' of science fiction just as there are different sub-genres of fantasy fiction. S.f. itself can be viewed as a sub-type of fantasy (though some hard s.f. readers would slit their own wrists before admitted that to be true).

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 17, 3:41pm)


sador
Half-elven


Jul 18, 5:06pm

Post #28 of 48 (1686 views)
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Interesting idea. [In reply to] Can't Post

It helps, of course, that Thorin is captured separately, and the company is bereft of his leadership. One also wonders why was Bilbo left for last by the spiders.
But your idea that it had to be in a forest - this is very interesting; if you see the dark wood as a sort of underworld, it might work.

And it is fascinating that when Bilbo tries to climb, and lead that way, he fails; he has first to overcome the monsters lurking in the wood, and then outwit its guardians.


sador
Half-elven


Jul 18, 5:18pm

Post #29 of 48 (1691 views)
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Some speculations [In reply to] Can't Post

I do not have the time now to answer your main thread; perhaps tomorrow I will.


What if Gandalf has come with them?
The Necromancer would still be around. There would be a Battle of Six Armies, with a rather different outcome.



Would the rations have run out?



Quote

At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jug - he had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of mead -


- Queer Lodgings.

So I think, probably yes.


Would they have left the path?
I suppose not. And then:


Quote

The elf-road through the wood which the dwarves had followed on the advice of Beorn now came to a doubtful and little used end... So you see Bilbo had come in the end by the only road that was any good.


- A Warm Welcome.


Would some deal have been possible with the elf king?
I think I have already used my quota of political jokes for the coming year today.



CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 18, 6:23pm

Post #30 of 48 (1681 views)
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Tangents & mallorns [In reply to] Can't Post

There's always a new string to pull to see where it leads. I recall a past reading we did, I think it was in the notes on Numenor in Unfinished Tales, or maybe on Amroth & Nimrodel, that the mallorn trees started in Numenor, were brought to Gil-Galad as a gift by the Men, but they didn't grow that well in Lindon, so he passed them on to Galadriel, who planted them with legendary success in Lorien. That was a fun fact to learn: not just the origin, but the gifting between friends and relations across continents.


sador
Half-elven


Jul 19, 6:45am

Post #31 of 48 (1668 views)
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Over a Barrel and Under Bond [In reply to] Can't Post

 

The name's Bond...
That’s neat, and new to me. Thank you!


A plague on the stiff necks of who?
Thorin:


Quote

Wet straw was in his draggled beard; he was so sore and stiff, so bruised and buffeted he could hardly stand or stumble through the shallow water to lie groaning on the shore.







This is the third time they have been required to give an explanation of wat they are up to: is it a little odd that they did not come up with an agreed cover story?
Well, for a group which set out unarmed into the wild... but yes, they really seem like The Innocents Abroad.


they seem to assume that travellers in desperate need deserve automatic hospitality.



Quote

The tall man laughed grimly. 'I am Faramir, Captain of Gondor,' he said. 'But there are no travellers in this land... Then make haste to declare yourselves
and your errand'





So much so that Balin is openly sarcastic to the elf king (compare Thorin’s answers to the goblin king earlier.)
The Great Goblin knew who Thorin was, as did Beorn. The Lake-men did not for a moment have any doubt he might be a fraud or an impostor. Roac knew him immediately.
And the Elvenking - a neighbour who does not really age - is utterly clueless? Are you kidding me?
Balin, apparently, was not fooled.

But this reluctance to give their real names is interesting, when you compare to Bilbo - the Great Goblin is like Gollum in that respect, but the Elvenking like Smaug. Of course, Bilbo's giving away his name in Riddles in the Dark might mean nothing more than he was simply green, and out of his wits - but this is still interesting, and did have some far-reaching conseuences.


This reluctance to share will come up again, of course, once the treasure has been obtained.
These dwarves are a honourable folk. Standard procedure would be to promise the world before obtaining the treasure, and then struggling to find loopholes in order to get out of doing so.
Thorin would never get elected Mayor of Lake-town.


What’s with the king though – straightforward xenophobia?
Tolkien hints at an ancient feud, which is suspiciously similar to the death of King Thingol.

As somebody very wise said:



Quote


Only trust an eld or dwarf
As far as you can throw them





Would have been nice until Balin insulted him?
I'm sure the anti-Balin part of the media said so.


An immediate though that these are prisoners to ransom, rather than guests?
And who exactly would pay for them?
No, I think he knew pretty who they were and what their errand was - but he really wanted to sueeze a good bargain out of them.
And as a matter of fact, his help would have probably done more than the Lake-town folk - if you could trust him.


How do you see the wrongs and rights of this misunderstanding, confrontation, or whatever it is?
Just a bit of bargaining. No hard feelings once it's over and done with.


I notice also that the goals of the dwarves mission still seem to be about getting treasure – there’s none of the geopolitical stuff about reclaiming their kingdom, yet. That may be significant – perhaps an attempt to recover or even resettle in the dwarves' homeland would have been an understandable motive to offer the elf king?

Perhaps, but I doubt it.
More mouths to feed, and nothing to get from them in return aexcept for a few new toys.

On a second thought - perhaps I shouldn't underestimate this. A massive discount and free shipping for the new Dwarphone XIX - that might be something worth considering.



I notice that he seems to have no thought of abandoning or betraying his comrades, though it does take him a while to work out how best to help them.
Not yet, at least.


I liked Bilbo’s idea “I am like a burglar that can’t get away, but must go on miserably burgling the same house day after day.”
He seems to have explored the whole places very quickly, doesn't he?


I notice that Bilbo’s adventures here are echoed by Sam’s later at Cirith Ungol – brave spider-slaying is followed by needing to get your comrades out of a hostile fortress. I’m not sure whether this is just co-incidence, or whether there’s something of interest about it.
Sam is the true Bilbo-figure in The Lord of the Rings.



What do you make of the narrator’s comment “…they all trusted Bilbo. Just what Gandalf said would happen, you see. Perhaps that was part of his reason for going off and leaving them.”?
Is Gandalf Providence?


Or, is the real function of this narrator’s comment to remind the assumed child reader/listener that it will all work out OK, and not to worry too much?
It foreshadows the comment in the next chapter:


Quote

It might have been some comfort to Mr. Baggins shivering on the barrels, if he had known that news of this had reached Gandalf far away and given him great anxiety, and that he was in fact finishing his other business… and getting ready to come in search of Thorin's company. But Bilbo did not know it.




So I wonder what the elves trade for their goods – do we ever find that out?
Not really. But obviously, good timber is a very important resource.


I notice that the wine has come from far-off Dorwinion (near the sea of Rhun) suggesting a more sophisticated trade network than I would have expected from Middle-earth’s empty roads.
In The Hobbit, we have no idea what or where Dorwinion is. As a matter of fact, we don't quite know now - was the climate in Rhun hospitable to vinyards? Like Legolas said: "I would sooner learn how they came by the wine".

But this kind of trade need not imply any network of roads - it follows the classical route of river-trade.


I like the dwarves fussing about this “mad plan”, and Bilbo tartly reminding them that they can go back to their cells if they have no better idea,
Well, Fili ended up smelling like an apple-tart, so that's all right.


and that he might not bother to rescue them again, if they are so ungrateful.
And then do what?
However, I really do like his gaining in stature here.


it remedies a flaw in Bilbo’s plan: that the weight of the dwarf-filled barrels would be suspicious, and might prevent them from being discarded as empties.
Well yes, somebody has to remedy this flaws.

At least, none of the elves thought of the idea of opening a barrel slightly and sticking a fork in!


Honest now – who foresaw this on their first reading? I didn’t and ended up wondering how obvious it was….
I did not. And your next point kind of negates the flaw.
And really, does the remarkable Mr. Invisible Baggins need a barrel to get out of the Elvenking's Halls?

Following the dwarves, though, is a problem indeed.


Generally, what do you think of Bilbo’s escape plan? I’m now wondering how on earth Tolkien thought it up!
It is very ingenious indeed. But it needed a lot of Luck, or Divine Steering, to work.


Perhaps this is the main trading-post with the Men of Lake-town?
Seems likely. There is a limit to how far upstream you can carry the loaded goods. I suppose the were carried or carted to the Main Gate from here.


I notice that Bilbo does not release the dwarves yet, and nor do we read that he does much to check up upon how they are doing – an interesting omission?
I would give him a pass, based on his condition. And it is night, and there are raftsmen about. He really has no good opportunity, I think.


It looks as if something is going to happen – Bilbo is going to be caught or something – but in the end nothing much seems to occur. Am I missing some significance?
It seems just realistic. There is no way the barrels would get that far in just one day - and we also get to see how Bilbo fends for himself when he is alone and hungry on the borders of Mirkwood.

Now, compare that to Gollum... Ugh! Don't.


Is that a co-incidence, or is it worth looking for hidden meanings?


Quote

"No time now!" cried the raftsman. "Shove off!"




Isn’t Tolkien good at chapter-closing sentences: “They had escaped the dungeons of the king and were through the wood, but whether alive or dead remains to be seen.”
I like it. But the best is the closing paragraph of the next chapter.


On the whole, what do you think of this chapter?
I like it. You sum it up nicely, but I do not share your feeling of letdown in the last page.


Thank you, nowiz, for a fun discussion!





noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 19, 10:02am

Post #32 of 48 (1655 views)
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Some more speculations [In reply to] Can't Post

From the point of view of looking at Middle-earth as a 'great game':
If Gandalf tagged along for the Mirkwood experience, he might well discover that Bilbo had an invisibility ring. This discovery, just at the point that the White Council is evicting the Necromancer from Mirkwood, might have rung some bells. Also, if I recall, the White Council was not, at that point, being hampered by mutual suspicion. So perhaps there would have been nothing to prevent Gandalf seeking advice about this interesting thing Bilbo had found, and that could have had all kinds of interesting consequences.

From the point of view of examining The Hobbit as a piece of writing:
I think that Tolkien is desperate to get Gandalf away, and perhaps he invented the Necromancer partly as a plausible reason for Gandalf to leave. I've already suggested that one reason to remove Gandalf is to allow for Bilbo's character growth. My guess is that if Gandalf had come along, we'd end up with an adventure that felt too much like Out of the Frying Pan and Queer Lodgings: one in which Gandalf's background of travelling around forming alliances enables him to pull a favour.

~~~~~~
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


Jul 19, 12:39pm

Post #33 of 48 (1646 views)
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It’s almost as if Tolkien kidnapped Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

Should we bring charges against the Tolkien estate for this crime? At the very least, they owe an apology to the victim.

But seriously, I agree he’s just as determined to get rid of the fix-it-all wizard for plot reasons and character growth in The Hobbit as in LOTR. It’s interesting that you suggest he invented the Necromancer expressly for that reason. He sketches the Necromancer as some Big Bad hazily over the horizon, and someone far beyond the means of the dwarves to cope with. That gives him a logical out (oh, look, logic!) because Gandalf needs a good excuse for *not* going along to help kill (as we learn in LOTR) the only living dragon left in the civilized world. So, saying he had to be absent for his niece’s dance recital just wasn’t going to cut it—he need a big excuse, and he got one.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 19, 12:56pm

Post #34 of 48 (1644 views)
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Also, the Balrog was an inside job [In reply to] Can't Post

Whether it's rushing off to deal with the Necromancer, being lured and imprisoned by Saruman, MIA after a balrog encounter, or withdrawn from the battlefield to deal with a crazy old man, Tolkien keeps on calling Gandalf away at key moments.

~~~~~~
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


Jul 19, 1:01pm

Post #35 of 48 (1644 views)
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"Thorin the dwarf at your service!" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The Great Goblin knew who Thorin was, as did Beorn. The Lake-men did not for a moment have any doubt he might be a fraud or an impostor. Roac knew him immediately.
And the Elvenking - a neighbour who does not really age - is utterly clueless? Are you kidding me?
Balin, apparently, was not fooled.


It might well be that the Great Goblin would not have guessed at Thorin's full identity if he had not introduced himself by name. The Master of Lake-town, for one, suspected that Thorin might have been an impostor. And Thranduil might not have had many dealings with the Dwarves of Erebor; and even if he had, Thorin was still very young, aged no more than twenty-four, when Smaug drove the Longbeards from Erebor.


In Reply To

Perhaps this is the main trading-post with the Men of Lake-town?

Seems likely. There is a limit to how far upstream you can carry the loaded goods. I suppose the were carried or carted to the Main Gate from here.


You raise a point I had not considered. However, because of the Elves who were present in the hall of the Master of Lake-town, it seems probable to me that barter was conducted in Esgaroth with raft-elves then taking cargo back to the river-village.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 19, 9:14pm

Post #36 of 48 (1613 views)
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But wait: weren’t we under Hill but over A. Barrel? [In reply to] Can't Post

I’ll never get over A. Barrel, poor guy...

~~~~~~
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


Roverandom
The Shire


Jul 20, 4:18pm

Post #37 of 48 (1521 views)
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Into the Woods...and Out Again? [In reply to] Can't Post

I see Mirkwood as a variation on a theme, one which we discussed a few chapters back. Much like the caverns of the goblins -- and like the Fellowship's trials in Moria yet to come -- the passage of Thorin & Co. through Mirkwood is a kind of descent into darkness on the path to enlightenment. No one can enter such a place and emerge unchanged. The first hint of Lothlorien, perhaps? Aragorn will say as much. There are many other literary examples. My thinking here was especially inspired by Dante in the first line of Inferno:

"Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost."

Dante uses the dark wood as a metaphor for his loss of way in life. He really takes his quest for enlightenment to the next (lower) level by proceeding from the darkness of the forest to the ultimate Place of Darkness under the ground, spending the first third of the Divine Comedy working his way out of that darkness and back into the light.

King Arthur's Forest Sauvage, as described in Mallory and T.H. White, also comes to mind. Like Mirkwood, it is a little bit of Faerie in the midst of the mundane world. How many of Arthur's knights have to pass through the forest in order to achieve their quest?

I believe that Bilbo's transformation from what he would call "baggage" to the mover and shaker he becomes during the Mirkwood chapters fits the pattern. He is transformed by his passage through the forest dark. The quest of the hobbit (and The Hobbit) is less about finding treasure than finding one's self, and the setting of the forest facilitates this end.

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


Roverandom
The Shire


Jul 20, 6:10pm

Post #38 of 48 (1507 views)
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Hollow Man [In reply to] Can't Post

There was a movie by this title from 2000 with Kevin Bacon in the role of mad scientist, a reworking of the invisible man theme. The use of the term "hollow" created an interesting subtext, implying that the scientist became not just physically invisible but morally hollow.

The notion of temptation has been mentioned many times in discussions of the One Ring, as it will later come to be called, but I'd like us to view what is now just "Bilbo's magic ring" in a different light. More than temptation, the ring itself and the power of invisibility that it grants are "enhancers". By that I mean to say that they enhance the personality of the wearer/user. LotR Gandalf will later state that the Ring grants power based on the stature of the wearer. But isn't it also enhancing the power, or the personality, of that wearer? Boromir "the Bold" becomes more emboldened and commanding. Gollum becomes even more nasty and wicked through exposure to, and the influence of, the Ring. One can only imagine the fun of someone as paranoid as Denethor getting hold of it! Peter Jackson seemed to give movie-Isildur a small hint of what that would be like.

The power of invisibility might be viewed in that same light. As others have suggested, it tempts. Some characters, like Bilbo, pass the test. Some, like Griffin and long-ago Smeagol and Kevin Bacon's Hollow Man, do not. But is it only temptation? I submit that perhaps invisibility is an enhancer something like alcohol -- it makes you a more pronounced version of your true self. Just look around at any bar stool. Sad people become even more depressed, the happy become giddy, and you don't want to be anywhere near anyone who's been drinking that was angry to begin with.

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jul 20, 8:13pm

Post #39 of 48 (1490 views)
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Things might have been nastier [In reply to] Can't Post

And gotten a little out of hand. Now whilst there where pros and cons on both sides of the argument. imagine this. Suppose that after a while other Dwarves such as those in the Iron hills found out that one of their kings and many others where been kept in jail by the Elves of Mirkwood. I do not think that they would have been very happy. This might well have made relations unpleasant. And maybe even another round of Elf/Dwarf bloodletting. And poor Bilbo would have been caught in the middle!


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jul 20, 8:17pm

Post #40 of 48 (1491 views)
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My cunning plan [In reply to] Can't Post

To get out of the Elven jail. Bilbo should stand near one of the fire alarms. Light up some tobacco. Then in all of the chaos in a fire drill, he could nip into the cells and release his companions whilst no-one noticed!


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 21, 9:09am

Post #41 of 48 (1464 views)
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I like that idea - a psychic inhibitor? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I submit that perhaps invisibility is an enhancer something like alcohol -- it makes you a more pronounced version of your true self. Just look around at any bar stool. Sad people become even more depressed, the happy become giddy, and you don't want to be anywhere near anyone who's been drinking that was angry to begin with.


Interesting idea! Shippey's idea is that the Ring (come LOTR) might be a 'psychic amplifier' but it would also work if it suppressed parts of a person's normal character (which is what I think alcohol does). A drunk is dis-inhibited - sober, they realise that it wouldn't be a good idea to argue with or proposition the boss, or climb that lamp-post or send that text, but when drunk the cautious bits of their personality are dialled down. Maybe that's the way it is with the LOTR Ring - it's not so much that the bearer's will to dominion is more, it's that the counterbalancing parts of their personality are reduced' 'why shouldn't I...' instead of 'I should...' It also fits with the idea that what the Ring puts out of balance might not be a conventionally bad thing - Gandalf is afraid to take the Ring because he realises he's vulnerable to it through pity, for example. Pity is, of course, a key virtue in LOTR, and the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of many. But it feels like Gandalf's quite right.

I think the idea works for the Hobbit too, when the ring is not yet the evil One Ring. After Bilbo finds the ring, one might say that the Took part of his personality emerges or that the Baggins side is suppressed. I don't suppose there's any hope of working out cause and effect there, but the idea of the ring giving Bilbo's Took side a boost seems a perfectly plausible reading to 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


Jul 21, 9:15am

Post #42 of 48 (1464 views)
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finding yourself [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The quest of the hobbit (and The Hobbit) is less about finding treasure than finding one's self, and the setting of the forest facilitates this end.


I like that idea. Trying to drive a wedge between Bilbo and the dwarves, Smaug raises the problem of how Bilbo was ever going to get one-fourteenth of the treasure home Eventually Bilbo solves this problem: he's offered 1/14th by Dain but just takes the amount he feels he can carry. He doesn't need the money, nor his 'lost' Shire reputation.

~~~~~~
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


Jul 21, 9:17am

Post #43 of 48 (1460 views)
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nice// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
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


Jul 21, 12:54pm

Post #44 of 48 (1451 views)
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Not quite. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...Smaug raises the problem of how Bilbo was ever going to get one-fourteenth of the treasure home Eventually Bilbo solves this problem: he's offered 1/14th by Dain but just takes the amount he feels he can carry.


I think you are confusing Bilbo with Bard. King Dain never offers to give Bilbo his promised one-fourteenth share.


Quote
There was, of course, no longer any question of dividing the hoard in such shares as had been planned, to Balin and Dwalin, and Dori and Nori and Ori, and Oin and Gloin, and Bifur and Bofur and Bombur -- or to Bilbo. Yet a fourteenth share of all the silver and gold, wrought and unwrought, was given up to Bard; for Dain said: "We will honour the agreement of the dead, and he has now the Arkenstone in his keeping."

Even a fourteenth share was wealth exceedingly great, greater than that of many mortal kings. From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and he rewarded his followers and friends freely. To the Elvenking he gave the emeralds of Girion, such jewels as he most loved, which Dain had restored to him.

To Bilbo he said: "This treasure is as much yours as it is mine; though old agreements cannot stand, since so many have a claim in its winning and defence. Yet even though you were willing to lay aside all your claim, I should wish that the words of Thorin, of which he repented, should not prove true: that we should give you little. I would reward you most richly of all."


As you state, though, Bilbo rejects Dain's offer in favor of only two small chests, one filled with gold and the other with silver. There is, however, the later addition of the chest from the Troll-hoard.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 21, 12:56pm)


elostirion74
Rohan

Jul 22, 1:52pm

Post #45 of 48 (1379 views)
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trade ties, realism and conflicts of interest [In reply to] Can't Post

"Bilbo now discovers the mechanics of elvish trade with the Men of Lake-town. Goods are brought upstream to the elvish hall in barrels and butts, and then the empties are allowed to float downstream again."

While I don´t think we ever learn what the Elves offer as a part of this trade - the economy of Middle Earth is not Tolkien´s main interest - this chapter and the river trade marks the introduction of the most interesting aspects of the story as far as I´m concerned. The bonds and common interests between the Woodland Realm and Lake Town is a vital set up for the conflicts of interest both preceding and following the death of Smaug.

In my opinion Tolkien handles these conflicts and different agendas brilliantly and is able to explain credibly the motivation behind each party´s actions. For my part the main realistic aspects of the Hobbit lies in describing what parties and individuals are likely to do and think when offered the possibility of getting a share in large amounts of wealth as opposed to the noble or heroic course of action.


"I notice that Bilbo does not release the dwarves yet, and nor do we read that he does much to check up upon how they are doing – an interesting omission? I’m not quite sure what this final overnight among the elves is for in the storytelling. It looks as if something is going to happen – Bilbo is going to be caught or something – but in the end nothing much seems to occur. Am I missing some significance?"

Releasing or checking up on the dwarves takes time and isn´t particularly safe with so many people around. Nor have they arrived at their destination quite yet, which is only realistic.

I enjoy how Tolkien includes practicalities like this final overnight among the elves, noting how Bilbo now has become quite used to stealing to get something to eat and drink, how he catches a cold and how miserable and dreary some parts of an adventure can be. While it is slightly more dramatic it ties in with his experience of lonely burgling inside the halls of the Elvenking.

"On the whole, what do you think of this chapter? To me it seems a pretty memorable one, because of the dramatic and eccentric escape"

It´s a very memorable chapter, not only because of the dramatic escape, but also because of its mix of providing useful information and showing how Bilbo handles a rather dreary and lonely existence. It introduces a new and important theme in the trade ties between the Wood Elves and the men of Lake Town and serves as a foreshadowing of the politics and conflicts of interest we will see in later chapters.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jul 23, 7:37pm

Post #46 of 48 (1367 views)
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I think I've found a swear word [In reply to] Can't Post

In the Hobbit, in the Reading Room and said by an Elf of all people. Not a Spider or even a ruffian human. Mind, possibly of all the Elves we meet one of the more mortal like ones. But, when those carrying the barrels with Dwarves inside them complain about the weight. Galion the butler says that there is 'nothing like the feeling of weight under a Toss-pots arms!' Ooer, missus sounds a bit rude to me! I wonder what he meant?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 23, 8:19pm

Post #47 of 48 (1367 views)
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It's more of an insult really. [In reply to] Can't Post

Toss-pot (or 'tosspot') is simply a Middle-English insult referring to a drunkard or heavy drinker. When beer or ale was customarily served in ceramic pots, a tosspot was a person who 'tossed back' many such pots in a sitting. Perhaps that's also where the term 'tosser' comes from?

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 24, 6:08pm

Post #48 of 48 (1352 views)
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I wouldn't recommend experimenting with that term on visits to England, though! [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps it is surprisingly rude for a childrens' book. And perhaps people drinking themselves unconscious might raise an editorial eyebrow these days, in a story aimed at primary-school aged children.

~~~~~~
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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