Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***The Hobbit read-through -General discussion, summing up
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 30 2018, 2:27pm

Post #1 of 70 (6372 views)
Shortcut
***The Hobbit read-through -General discussion, summing up Can't Post


Quote
This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.


And this has been the read-through of that story, now completed. I thought it would be worthwhile to have a final week in which there’s a chance to look back over the whole book and its themes should people want to; to raise any points that didn’t get aired, or to complete (or start over) any conversations that seem to merit it.

So do ask any unanswered questions, make any further comments, say whether you’ve ‘gained anything in the end’, or perhaps say something altogether unexpected!

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 30 2018, 3:32pm

Post #2 of 70 (6208 views)
Shortcut
GRafr,lqouqiowernc!!$#!#%$^^$#! [In reply to] Can't Post

 I hope that counts as altogether unexpected. Evil


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 30 2018, 3:44pm

Post #3 of 70 (6212 views)
Shortcut
Why do you suppose The Hobbit was so successful? [In reply to] Can't Post

Most of us were not part of the active reading public when it came out, but if Wiz is part Time Lord and can play with timelines and time machines, let's go back to 1937. I think my fundamental question is: was it successful because of one of these options?
  1. It was a fairy tale for kids that stuck to the norms and executed them superbly.
  2. It was revolutionary/radical, upending all the norms.
  3. It was almost subversive in sticking to the norms of fantasy and children's lit, using the regular conventions but inserting new elements (such as a hints at a deeper history and a larger world of geopolitics offstage) that grabbed people's imagination.
As much as I liked Harry Potter and appreciated the depth of its world-building, I just can't see myself on a forum still discussing it years later, and I wonder if 50 or 100 years from now how prominent it will be. Maybe it will be put on the shelf as "another great classic of children's lit," like Charlotte's Web or something. But I can't see myself on a Charlotte's Web forum either.

So while I suspect it was the hints of a greater world created by a vast imagination that made The Hobbit successful in its time and last into ours, I really don't know, and I wonder what others think.


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 30 2018, 5:30pm

Post #4 of 70 (6201 views)
Shortcut
Time play? Excellent! Party on, dudes! [air guitar solo] [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
if Wiz is part Time Lord and can play with timelines and time machines, let's go back to 1937...


OK, you'll be relieved to know that I'm not up to doing the whole of this reply in the style of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. But my time-travelling phone box did collect a few items:

CS Lewis - review in 1937:


Quote
For it must be understood that this is a children’s book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. Alice is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown ups; The Hobbit, on the other hand, will be funnier to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or a twentieth reading, will they begin to realise what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic.

Review published in the Times Literary Supplement (2 October 1937), 714. Reproduced here https://www.theparisreview.org/...ews-the-hobbit-1937/


Then again, Prof. Tom Shippey, writing on The Hobbit's 75th anniversary:


Quote
He brought back old images of heroism and epic action, old mythic patterns, and fixed them in the modern mind. The Hobbit was his Odyssey, Tolkien an unexpected and unlikely Homer.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/...nduring-success.html


Meanwhile, a writer in Time Magazine makes the best fist she can of Time not having paid much attention to Tolkien until the 1960's. (http://time.com/...ersary-1937-reviews/ ) While it might be just a tad solipsistic to suggest this reflects what the rest of the world thought, I think it might be right that the '60s were an important time for the enduring (if not initial) success of TH (at least in the USA):


Quote
TIME documented the phenomenon in 1966, declaring that hobbits were the new literary heroes on American college campuses. “[The] Rings trilogy was first published in the U.S. twelve years ago, had a small but dedicated coterie of admirers, including Poet W. H. Auden and Critic C. S. Lewis, but languished largely unread until it was reprinted last year in two paperback editions,” the story explained. “Since then, campus booksellers have been hard put to keep up with the demand. At the Princeton bookstore, says one salesman, it is the ‘biggest seller since Lord of the Flies.'”

Why was it such a hit, besides the more accessible paperback format? Though Tolkien said he hadn’t intended any sort of message for modern readers, the students to whom TIME spoke said that they appreciated the chance to escape from the complicated world of the 1960s to one where you could “cheer the hero and boo the villain.” It was a perfect match between a generation and the precise breed of escapism it demanded.

And, though The Lord of the Rings was the story that captivated those college-age readers, it was The Hobbit that became America’s best-selling mass-market paperback of 1966.

http://time.com/...ersary-1937-reviews/


I suppose this complicates the question - we should ask why TH was a success in 1937, and then again (and maybe more-so in terms of sales) in the 1960s (especially in the USA). LOTR was around by then, of course, and it's a little frustrating that Time quotes an interpretation of that work's success, then jumps to the even greater success of TH without any analysis. Were those 1960's campus students taking TH to be Part 0 of LOTR, to be read first (lower sales figures for FOTR, TT, ROTK being a symptom of who is dropping out from the programme)? Or did students prefer TH to LOTR?

I'm pretty sure the Tolkien swing got two further pushes from first PJ's LOTR movies, then TH movies - for example, this site welcomed 'movie firsters' to discussions of the book each time, I think.


And of course I'm so far evading your question. I'm going to go for it starting out looking like (1- a fairy tale for kids that stuck to the norms and executed them superbly), but subversively or otherwise brings in older forms (as per Shippey) including 'difficulty' - as Shippey points out elsewhere in his article, Tolkien judges that his readers can face emotional depth, scary stuff and at least nod along to professorial jokes. So that probably ends up somewhere between 2 and 3.

Hope I didn't flunk that too heinously...

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 30 2018, 5:36pm

Post #5 of 70 (6197 views)
Shortcut
Wow, is that really a reply in Middle Trollish? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's also a very good suggestion, though I do wonder where we'd get enough peanut butter to coat such a large axe handle?


But certainly, most unexpected.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 30 2018, 7:52pm

Post #6 of 70 (6183 views)
Shortcut
I realize my question was actually two in one [In reply to] Can't Post

so it's really: why was TH initially successful, and why is it still successful? So bonus points to you for answering both. And more bonus points for not going all Bill & Ted on us. That would be so, like, bogus, dude.

I suppose for context, there were other authors writing fantasy at the same time. CS Lewis had both the Narnia series and a sci-fi series, plus other works. (I think his Screwtape Letters is a great masterpiece.) I read a book by Charles Williams, a contemporary, and one book was enough of him for me.

I've read Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, published in 1924, and I just thought it was ho-hum. If he had an epic trilogy in him, it's not on a lot of shelves.

Those are just random samples for comparison. There were plenty of other fantasy authors in the era, but none endured like Tolkien. I even think that most of the Narnia stories should make great movies, but that franchise sputtered and died for some reason, so even making movies out of old books doesn't ensure their popularity.

And I probably like The Hobbit more because I like LOTR and The Silmarillion so much. That's where the real depth comes in, and the latter two are books where I wish I had a magic tour guide to take me to visit Gondolin, Lorien, and Minas Tirith, etc. I'm not sure there's any place in The Hobbit that I really want to visit, except maybe Laketown. Even the urge to visit Erebor comes more from Gloin's description of it to Frodo in Rivendell in LOTR.

So I might make the observation that LOTR's popularity boosted The Hobbit, which led child-readers like me to read LOTR, so there's a nice symbiosis going on, and maybe my original question can't be answered in isolation.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 30 2018, 7:55pm

Post #7 of 70 (6183 views)
Shortcut
It was really a Gondorian recipe for barbecued eagle. [In reply to] Can't Post

See what happens when you leave out a few commas?

Anyway, it's also the real reason the eagles wouldn't fly the Ring to Mt Doom--they resented the popularity of barbecued eagle recipes in the "good" countries.


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Sep 30 2018, 9:27pm

Post #8 of 70 (6178 views)
Shortcut
Longevity [In reply to] Can't Post

Why does it endure..... because someone keeps passing it down.

If Charlotte's Web was not constantly read in schools... who would still know the book?

That it spoke to the college age students of the 60's is the wonder of it all... from there it snowballed.....

Parts of The Hobbit were in school text books (sometime between when I was in elementary and when I began teaching elementary as I never got the book in a textbook.... I came in through LOTR in 1971 -- junior high.)...then it became movies and those movies became VHS tapes and DVDs that people could view again and again.... and then came Jackson... and the internet.....

Why did Star Trek survive .... repetition.... every day right when the kids came home from school it was on... over and over again so that when they grew up and had money they looked around and said... hey make a movie of that.....

The depth of the world helps.... but Gone with the Wind survives (yeah I know it's not politically correct but it tells the story of a time in history) so does our version of To Kill a Mockingbird based on the movie not the book....because it is repeated.....

Think of It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story.(every Christmas over and over and over again)...... The Wizard of Oz ... every spring that movie was shown.... it was a tradition.

Tarzan endures.... (film Tarzan is 100) .... and ERB's legacy is carefully nurtured and protected by his descendents. ...


Why The Hobbit and LOTR struck a chord with those in the 60's I don't know but I do believe Harry Potter has struck a similar chord with some and will endure (if for no other reason than TNT is showing it constantly and that it's in the Theme Parks and makes for great cosplay)

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 1 2018, 9:00am

Post #9 of 70 (6120 views)
Shortcut
Snowballing [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's an important point. People can't discover they like something unless they have access to it. So the social behaviours around a work are important. For example it must surely matter what is recommended by critics, librarians, teachers and other professional 'gatekeepers' (this might be especially important for children's books, where children are often read to or given books rather than choosing their own). Then there are the circumstances of any personal introduction - a number of us have contributed memories of having TH read to us as children for example as bedtime stories, or by an enthusiastic teacher. Those circumstances must surely matter - TH or LOTR becomes part of an enjoyable time, just as some music becomes the soundtrack to particular events in our lives and important for that reason. And there of course the thing becomes circular, because these older figures are often choosing works they liked themselves, and can share with an infectious enthusiasm.

Then of course there is the simple human urge of wanting to know what is going on - what's with people on a 1960s US campus wearing 'Frodo Lives' T-shirts, or voting to call the Hall of Residence Rivendell (If you're one of that year's students)? I'd better read this book to find out.

Once the snowball gets going of course, further effects cut in. Tolkien was unusual in that Unwins got hold of his TH manuscript without him particularly intending them to and they offered to publish it. Much more usually authors, especially of works that are going to be though groundbreaking, have a fine collection of rejection letters - Sir Terry Pratchett and JK Rowling are obvious examples. And don't we love those stories - the guy who turned down signing The Beatles, or told some inventor that of course you couldn't sell a doll (Action Man) to boys. Once someone has broken in, of course, there can be a rush of similar publishing:


Quote
Whenever a book makes a big success, publishers scour the nation waving chequebooks – “Anyone here ever felt depressed and cheered up when they met a flower/Scottish lake/water vole?” – and the fruits of their search hit WH Smith[*] 18 months later.

'Why yet more books about Nazis and the future make my heart sink' by Sam Leith (who is literary editor of the Spectator) https://www.theguardian.com/...-publishing-literary

[*WH Smith is a widespread chain of shops in the UK selling books, stationery and other things. In the days before Amazon, WH Smith's book buyers were respected and feared figures among publishers, a sale to WH Smith being crucial to getting your book out.]


Of these books, some will be quickly forgotten, and others will endure. For example, Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was picked out by Collins with at least one eye on Unwin's sales of Tolkien. But I don't regard it as a cheap knock-off, and it's one of several fine works by Garner. Then the snowball grows further - a child who has discovered that sadly there is no more Garner, or Narnia, or The Dark Is Rising might be recommended Tolkien, or vice versa. (That's probably a view of the situation in my childhood, but those works are mostly still in print and are joined at the bookshop by many more recent authors who are just as good.)

I don't mean to detract from the quality of a successful work - it must surely have strong qualities for social behaviours to build around it. Bookshops aren't going to give shelf space to something that isn't selling; TV stations won't put series on repeat unless they think they'll get viewers. People won't recommend something they didn't like. So the work has to have something, and often have a lot. (I'm supposing that nobody reading this is going to assume that I think Tolkien is rubbish really, and was just lucky in his circumstances!) But it seems to be hard to answer the question of why one work does spectacularly better than another that might also seem to have lots to offer: why Star Trek not Firefly? Why K Rowling, not Dianne Wynne Jones? Why Tolkien with TH and LOTR, not Eric Rücker Eddison with The Worm Ouroboros (1922) or Mervyn Peake with his Gormenghast series (1946-1959) [or another author and work you might prefer]?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 1 2018, 1:40pm

Post #10 of 70 (6090 views)
Shortcut
Did anyone else find their view of TH changed? [In reply to] Can't Post

Before this read-through I hadn't read TH for many years. I could remember the plot, but I also remembered finding the narrator and the mockney trolls irritating, and thought I remembered Beorn's dogs and ponies as being annoyingly twee. But those things didn't seem to be much of a problem this time. I'm pleased with that result - I feel that I'm better able to see TH as the children's story it was intended to be in its time, and see it less as a somewhat patchy first go at LOTR.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Oct 1 2018, 8:23pm

Post #11 of 70 (6058 views)
Shortcut
I’m not sure my own view changed much [In reply to] Can't Post

Though I think through our discussions that there’s more character development than I remembered.

And I have a whole new appreciation for the negotiation section of the book after you put it under the microscope.

My opinions of characters didn’t change much except for Bard—on my first read, he was so clearly a hero. He shot the dragon, what more proof do you need?! But on this read he seems more surly and crabby, and I’m not so sure I would want to live under his rule in Dale.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Oct 3 2018, 7:58am

Post #12 of 70 (5894 views)
Shortcut
The Dwarves [In reply to] Can't Post

Whilst much has been written about the adventure from Bilbo's point of view, Gandalf's or even the heroic Elves and Men, somehow the Dwarves themselves do not get much of a discussion. Apart from Thorin when he goes wrong, perhaps.
But does anyone have any opinion on the Dwarves as a unit? What where their purpose in the tale? We hear about what Bilbo does, but do the Dwarves do anything? How would the tale have been different if it was just Bilbo and Gandalf on the journey? One of the Dwarves does save Bilbo from been dropped or abandoned a few times, is it Dori? But there is probably more to it than that!
And why Dwarves? Why did the Professor decide upon using Dwarves as his species for this tale? After all most of his other works feature Elves, Men or even Hobbits, Dwarves are almost an after thought.
I must say, personally. I quite like them. At least the ones as they are in the Hobbit, strangely I am not over fond of the Gimli type of Dwarves in Lotr or even the character of some in roleplaying games. Their hatred of Goblins almost seems to border on the psychotic for my tastes! But the ones in the Hobbit seem almost more, well, human, than many Men in the tale. Yes, they can be calculating, cowardly, greedy and even go a bit insane like Thorin at times, but that is just normal behaviour, really. As the narrator says they are good-hearted generally.
Oh, and another thought, do we ever get inside any of the Dwarves' head or hear the think? We do here them express opinions of course, and grumble or play music, but I struggle to think of examples of the Dwarves thinking. Anyway, those are my thoughts on Dwarves!


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 3 2018, 11:42am

Post #13 of 70 (5885 views)
Shortcut
Dwarves [In reply to] Can't Post

Dwarves, eh? I think one starting point for exploring what dwarves are for in Tolkien's stories would be to look at the trope of dwarves that has gone on to influence so very much modern fantasy:


Quote
'Dwarves': you know what they are. Gruff, practical, industrious, stout, gold-loving, blunt-speaking, Scottish-accented, Viking-helmed, booze-swilling, Elf-hating, ax-swinging, long-bearded, stolid and unimaginative, boastful of their battle prowess and their vast echoing underground halls and mainly just the fact that they are dwarves.

Ever since J. R. R. Tolkien raided the Norse myths for good stuff, almost every fantasy world has included them... and most of them have stuck closely to the original.

... An entire race of miners and blacksmiths, with names like Dwarfaxe Dwarfbeard and Grimli Stonesack, who are overly sensitive about any perceived slight, always spoiling for a fight, unable to speak two sentences in a row without calling someone "lad" or "lass," and possessed of a love of gold and jewels that drives them to live in Underground Cities where they dig deep and greedily (often with catastrophic results).

"Our Dwarves Are All the Same" from TVTropes https://tvtropes.org/...DwarvesAreAllTheSame


Whilst amusing, that seems about right to me, though it misses the idea (from the Norse/Germanic, I think) of Tolkien dwarves as artisans whose work is magical, or so good that it appears magical. And Tolkien himself seems to shift about: I didn't find it easy to reconcile Thorin's end or Gimli's actions with this assessment '"dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much." (TH, Inside Information).


This of course raises as many questions as answers, I think - why is the dwarves trope so stable (for example compared with the various kinds of elves https://tvtropes.org/...in/OurElvesAreBetter )?
Why Scottish accents (not in TH, I agree, but in so many stories and games that have splashed in Tolkien's mainstream since, including the PJ LOTR films)? .

Elsewhere, TV Tropes suggests that dwarves are a useful fantasy way of representing a particular kind of personality or culture:


Quote
Many stories will have animosity between a beautiful, highly advanced race or civilization, and a much more gritty, industrial, technological force. This theme of Harmony Versus Discipline and Romanticism Versus Enlightenment is very common, regardless of the genre.

In many fantasy fictions these roles are filled by Elves and Dwarves.... but the core of this trope isn't about them. It's about how that plays out in lots of stories that have no elves or dwarves in them at all. In historical fictions/fantasies, you'll find aristocrats versus barbarians, for example, which could be exchanged for elves and dwarves quite easily. Science Fiction will have some variation on Eloi and Morlocks, or a Crystal Spires and Togas race versus a Proud Warrior Race, or a primitive but nature-oriented race versus humans. In a contemporary business setting, it'll be marketeers versus engineers. A lot of the modern retelling of the classic Cowboys and Indians western sagas has been presented as this sort of "spiritual barbarian vs. industrialized civilization" theme. Force and Finesse tends to describe their contrasting combat styles.

Elves vs. Dwarves, TVTropes https://tvtropes.org/...n/ElvesVersusDwarves


Individual dwarves can be handy if one is building a sub-Tolkien party of characters with different talents for a story or game (See 'Five Races https://tvtropes.org/...i.php/Main/FiveRaces )

I'm not intending to argue that this is what Tolkien was intentionally doing, but it seems helpful to think about the way that dwarves have come to be used usually as fantasy 'races', following closely from what Tolkien did do.

Can I get the plot of TH working without dwarves? Sure - Imagine that Smaug ate every last dwarf. Gandalf turns up at Bag End with a Man, who is the lost heir to the Kingdom of Dale, and for the rest of the story pretty much has the motives and actions of Thorin and his party. The three of them head to Erebor to burgle the fabulous Maguffin of Girion, or to get whatever they can snatch. We need some other character, perhaps from Lake Town, to kill the dragon and take the part of Bard as he is in Tolkien's story, so as to create the dispute over how to distribute Smaug's hoard if we're keeping that. Or of course numerous other dwarf-free adaptations could be made, according to the tastes of their inventor. Looking at that thought experiment it seems to me that the most glaring difference is that introducing Men right away might make Middle-earth seem much less magical and (initially) comical.But what does everyone else think?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Oct 3 2018, 11:46am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Oct 3 2018, 11:49am

Post #14 of 70 (5878 views)
Shortcut
Great point [In reply to] Can't Post

When you ask why Tolkien chose Dwarves and not some other race, it’s easy to re-imagine The Hobbit with Bilbo joining a band of Men. You’d need to drop the references to being short and adjust a few racial characterizations, but it’s not too hard. They don’t seem very alien as a race. They don’t feel nearly as different as Elves do.

And what do they *do*? They’re followers, they obey (most of the time). They seem to act almost as a hive mind mostly, with Thorin as the brain.


squire
Half-elven


Oct 3 2018, 12:11pm

Post #15 of 70 (5880 views)
Shortcut
Did John Rhys-Davies invent the Scotch accent for Dwarves? [In reply to] Can't Post

A very interesting subject! I just have a few quick thoughts before I rush off to work this morning.

1. Your sources don't seem very rigorous, but they do seem to imply that the mock-Scotch accent for generic fantasy Dwarves predates the Jackson LotR films. Frankly I'm no longer much of a fantasy fan beyond Tolkien, so I'm not in a position to confirm or deny this idea. I certainly thought the actor made it up for the New Line films, because I remember thinking how phony a bit it was.

2. The TV Tropes on Dwarves is amusing because it omits "short" from the long list of descriptives. Short used to be the starting point for the invented race, I thought.

3. Finally, I do like the 'Dwarves and Elves' trope listing for its insight into the idea of the refined and coarse races. I too immediately thought of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and his Morlocks and Eloi just from the opening sentence, and there they were a line or two later.

And that makes me think that this trope doesn't just descend from the Noble Savages and the Civilized Europeans. In Wells' book, the division stems from the industrial working classes vs. the educated upper classes. Going back further, we might find the literate aristocracy's traditional contempt for the money-making, practical merchant: the Lords vs. the Commons.

Since literature has always been the province of the tiny minority of educated folk in premodern societies, I wonder if fantasy as a written genre hasn't overlaid the prejudices of millennia of degree-holders' social contempt for practical workers onto the oral traditions of European folk from which we think Tolkien's fantasy tropes come?

I mean, as far as I know the common folks' tales of Northern, Germanic, and Celtic Europe don't privilege "Elves" over "Dwarves". Both are otherworldly, both are perilous for Mankind to interact with, both have their proper place in an essentially pagan world. Mightn't it be Tolkien, following others from the Romantic and industrializing 19th century, perhaps like Morris or Dunsany or Scott (?), who decided that "Elves" would become the stand-ins for their university-educated audience's fantasies about highly refined and superheroic peoples, while "Dwarves" (shorter? grubbier? more associated with mining and 'industrial' activities") would become the anti-Elves: unrefined, grasping, and mercantile, obsessed only with money and trade. In other words, their Dwarves are not country spirits of the German hills but the lower-born and undereducated middle and working classes of England whom a literate Victorian and even Edwardian audience would find slightly off-putting, comic, or even contemptible. (And yes, goblins and trolls would be the 'bad' and criminal side of the same classes... a whole 'nother layer of discussion!)

Now Tolkien was far more subtle and humane than to simply copy that cartoon, of course. He can't help but try to flesh out his creations in the service of art. But I don't think the Dwarves of The Hobbit (descended from the Naugrim of the earlier Silmarillion) are entirely lifted just from the old Eddas and sagas.



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


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 3 2018, 12:14pm

Post #16 of 70 (5872 views)
Shortcut
'They don’t seem very alien' [In reply to] Can't Post

No they don't - I find Thorin &Co. are easy to imagine as Men as are just about all of Tolkien's human but non-Mannish characters. On paper elves, dwarves, hobbits, wizards and orcs have characteristics that no real-life person has, but these rarely seem to be important to the story. Ents are the main exception that occurs to me off the cuff. Perhaps this is to do with Middle-earth involving very little overt magic - Gandalf doesn't solve problems by teleporting; dwarves mine and build using tools not (say) with their teeth and hands; and so on.

Now probably lost forever because I didn't bookmark it is an article about the difficulties of keeping fantasy races other than Men distinct and alien, once any of them become significant characters. My memory of it is that the author discussed the problem of how the audience would assess a character's motivation and...er... character, if their needs and goals were utterly bizarre and couldn't be mapped onto human ideas and emotions.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 3 2018, 12:40pm

Post #17 of 70 (5880 views)
Shortcut
Ryhs-Davis made dwarves Scottish? - Seemingly not [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote

As radio and film adaptations of Tolkien’s works were released in later decades, you can see the slow evolution of the dwarven accent from the low British of 1977’s cartoon version of The Hobbit, to the more stylized accents of the pair of dwarves in 1985’s Legend, to the Welsh-by-way-of-Scotland grumblings of John Rhys Davies’ Gimli from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, right into the aggressive rolled R’s of Hearthstone’s dwarven Innkeeper.

“What you get is a sense of Celticness,” says Dominic Watt, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Speech Science at the University of York. Watt explains that many of the virtues associated with the stereotypical fantasy dwarf are also associated with the Scottish accent. “Scottish accents tend to be evaluated pretty positively,” he says. “Shrewdness, honesty, straight-forward speaking. Those are the sorts of ideas that the accent tends to evoke.” Watt also says that there are similar cultural stereotypes surrounding the drinking habits of dwarves and Scots.

'Why Do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty?' By Eric Grundhauser, Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/...s-sound-like-royalty


I suppose though, even if Rhys-Davis did start it, the question becomes 'why?' Why Scottish, when Rhys-Davis and the New Line team could have chosen some other accent? So maybe it is about the positive and negative stereotypes around Scottishness, as this article suggests?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 3 2018, 12:50pm

Post #18 of 70 (5871 views)
Shortcut
Dwarves versus elves [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

3. Finally, I do like the 'Dwarves and Elves' trope listing for its insight into the idea of the refined and coarse races. I too immediately thought of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and his Morlocks and Eloi just from the opening sentence, and there they were a line or two later.

And that makes me think that this trope doesn't just descend from the Noble Savages and the Civilized Europeans. In Wells' book, the division stems from the industrial working classes vs. the educated upper classes. Going back further, we might find the literate aristocracy's traditional contempt for the money-making, practical merchant: the Lords vs. the Commons.

Since literature has always been the province of the tiny minority of educated folk in premodern societies, I wonder if fantasy as a written genre hasn't overlaid the prejudices of millennia of degree-holders' social contempt for practical workers onto the oral traditions of European folk from which we think Tolkien's fantasy tropes come?


That seems perfectly feasible to me.

Now I have long lost anything to cite here, but I also remember once reading someone's suggestion that mythological creatures such as elves and dwarves and so on were to do with anthropomorphisms of place - for example, he kind of creature you might imagine inhabiting and personifying a mine or forge, as opposed to the kind of creature you might imagine inhabiting and personifying a wood. So that might be another idea that has got blended in to these fantasy races over the years.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 3 2018, 3:58pm

Post #19 of 70 (5857 views)
Shortcut
Stereotypes? - Beam me up Scotty! [In reply to] Can't Post

...Or Grimbeard Shortstack, as he is in the fantasy version of Star Trek, in which the USS Vingilótë is a magic flying mithril longship that boldly splits infinitives that no Man dwarf or elf has split before....

I see Mr Scott as a dwarf in those circumstances, don't you? ("I cannae break the laws of magic Captin' - the silmaril crystal's ....").

In terms of theatrical representations, maybe James Doonan's 'Scottie' had already made a link in peoples' minds between Scottishness and Science Fiction/Fantasy Engineering. According to Wikipedia at least "Doohan tried a variety of accents for the part and decided to use a Scottish accent on the basis that he thought Scottish people make the best engineers"(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotty_(Star_Trek). Now why would Doonan, a Canadian of Northern Irish descent, think that? Did a lot of Scots go to Canada to try to make their fortune in engineering work, for example?

Then again, maybe a Scots accent (however mangled) is one of the few that would be internationally recognised as British, but distinct from approximations of received pronunciation, cockney (or 'mockney' like the trolls), or the west-country accents (like the rustic hobbits in LOTR)?

It's a tricky area - give fantasy races real-world accents or other attributes, and you risk the audience thinking you mean it as an analogy about that real-world group. It's what makes me feel uncomfortable about Tolkien's mockney trolls ('mockney' is an exaggerated version of a working class London accent, and the go-to for someone in Tolkien's time wanting to establish 'criminal but stupid'). And if I had decided that dwarves were 'meant to be' Scots, perhaps I wouldn't be too pleased by Tolkien's '"dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much." (TH, Inside Information). "Yeah, right," (I might think) "that old racial slur that the Scots are misers."

PS - I was rather fascinated to find out what a 'low British' accent sounds like (as per the quote in my last post) but at a listen to a quick clip of Rankin 1977, none of it sounds all that British - or any height - to me!

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Oct 3 2018, 4:04pm)


squire
Half-elven


Oct 3 2018, 5:52pm

Post #20 of 70 (5845 views)
Shortcut
Paging Paul Kocher [In reply to] Can't Post

Whenever I need him, I look behind me, and there he is: "I've been here literally the entire time you have."

In his essay 'The Free Peoples', chapter 5 of his excellent Master of Middle-earth (1972), Kocher reviews how much hobbits are actually humans.
...Particularly, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, who together represent most of the qualities of their race, grow increasingly human as the epic progresses. Tolkien's literary method requires them to. His decision to describe from their point of view every scene in which they are present (very few scenes are without at least one hobbit) makes it imperative that their point of view become quite like ours. ... Frodo and Sam especially are in effect human during the long physical and moral struggle toward Mount Doom.
Kocher's overall point in the essay is that, by presenting Man with other speaking, "Free" races to interact with in Middle-earth, Tolkien recreates the situation in Paradise before the Fall, when Man could converse with the animals - a situation for which we have longed to return ever since, as we have with all the other aspects of our former grace. Taken crudely, that seems to suggest that LotR is a clever twist on the traditional beast-fable, but that's not really what Kocher means. He is arguing that the beast-fable tradition comes from the same unfulfilled need in mankind as does Tolkien's tale with its Free Peoples: to speak to Others.

This is, I think Kocher is saying, a less-understood aspect of why people are so drawn to Middle-earth as an imaginary second home.



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


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Chen G.
Rohan

Oct 3 2018, 8:47pm

Post #21 of 70 (5828 views)
Shortcut
Yep [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
how much hobbits are actually humans.


They really are.

In the Lord of the Rings, most of Tolkien's actual Men aren't really parallel to us humans: they're more mythological heroes, nigh superhuman. Its his Hobbits that are the real parallels to us humans.

To speak to the cinematic trend of portraying Dwarves with Scottish (and viking!) shorthand - that comes down to two elements, one more general; the other, specific.

First, while Tolkien himself actually had a more Jewish shorthand in mind for the Dwarves, their Norse names, and their role in Norse myth I think bled through into their portrayal in The Lord of the Rings. Also, the traits with which Tolkien characterized the Dwarves fall in line with our percieved notions of what Scots are and what Vikings were: hardy, bad-tempered, beligerent. It makes sense that films which attempted to capture the Norse and Celtic feel of Tolkien's work would look for an appropriate equivalent within that cultural sphere, rather than Tolkien's Jewish concept.

Second, in the case of Peter Jackson's work, you have Braveheart to thank for that. Gimli is basically Stephen from that movie.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Oct 3 2018, 8:56pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Oct 3 2018, 8:48pm

Post #22 of 70 (5820 views)
Shortcut
Dwarves, even cockney trolls, do make the world more magical [In reply to] Can't Post

In answer to your last point. Men seem rather foreign by the time we meet them in the story, and they’re a little unusual in that they live on a town supported by by wooden piles, which most humans don’t.

So Bilbo + Dwarves and a come & go Wizard make the story magical from the outset. When I think of modern fantasy stories I’ve read that started with humans, I’ve usually impatiently thought, “When does the magic start?” Dwarves give you an easy head start.

A tangent on Dwarves: they are so rooted in my mind as the smiths & miners of fantasy, just as vampires are the bloodsuckers, that I remember thinking one fantasy story was really off-base when it had a non-Dwarf smith-miner race. It’s like having short giants, pretty trolls, or ugly fairy princesses—some things just seem to undermine the genre and don’t seem like valid artistic license.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Oct 3 2018, 8:50pm

Post #23 of 70 (5824 views)
Shortcut
Nice to see you over here in the Rdg Room, Chen! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Chen G.
Rohan

Oct 3 2018, 8:54pm

Post #24 of 70 (5818 views)
Shortcut
Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been talking a lot about the films, but I am also a fan of Tolkien's written works, and delved into them quite deeply.

I also share Tolkien's passion for history, being a student of it myself, which makes his stories all the more interesting to me.


Darkstone
Immortal


Oct 3 2018, 11:16pm

Post #25 of 70 (5806 views)
Shortcut
Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Sadly LOTR's "ACCENT RATIONALE" production document doesn't discuss why Scottish was chosen for Gimli's Dwarvish accent. Oddly enough it was quite comprehensive otherwise. (Dialect coach Andrew Jack posted the document on his website in November 2004. It has since been taken down.)

Jonathan Jibson in his article "Perpetuating Accent Biases in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings" bemoans the omission of an explanation. A illuminating portion of the production document is quoted there.

http://schwa.byu.edu/.../11/W2014-Jibson.pdf


As an aside, note the sentence "For the Orcs and the Uruk-hai it is the vocal quality rather than relying on a particular accent that reflects their evil characteristics, brutality and physical ugliness." However Jack notes in the uncited introduction to the document that "We had intended that the Orcs and Uruk-hai would sound evil, with a guttural vocal quality without any accent. However, the decision was made for the Orcs to be 'Cockney,' thus bringing a modern urban sound to what was otherwise a rural and altogether separate world of accents. The Uruk-hai retained our original intention."

******************************************
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in
thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond
all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled
mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!"
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Oct 3 2018, 11:18pm)

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.