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Contradictions between the hobbit and LOTR?
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Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 2, 1:07am

Post #1 of 31 (1293 views)
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Contradictions between the hobbit and LOTR? Can't Post

I am engaged in a discussion on supposed contradictions between the hobbit and the rest of Tolkien writings and I was looking for other posters opinions. I hold Tolkien's views like he said In letters 214 of supposed contradictions “Facts that may appear in my record, I believe, in no case due to errors, but omissions, and incompleteness of information.”


He went to great lengths to resolve supposed contradictions. So given that, how would you respond to the following.



1-The uuse of the Ring by Bilbo is clearly inconsistent with the way it is described in LOTR


2- Gandalf is very much a different character than the angelic being that he would become.


3- the story of how the Elves and Dwarves became estranged. In the Silmarillion tradition, it goes back to the conflict between Thingol and the Dwarves over the Nauglamír. In The Hobbit, a similar story is told, but the Elf in question is the Woodland King. As Rateliff notes, when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the Woodland King was either meant to be Thingol himself or a character closely based on him. But when he wrote the sequel, he clarified that the Woodland King was Thranduil, a completely different character. Thus, two completely different and incompatible stories are told about the conflict between the two races.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 2, 4:13pm

Post #2 of 31 (1187 views)
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Personally, I just live with the contradictions [In reply to] Can't Post

To me the alternative is jumping through seemingly endless and intricate hoops trying to reconcile things that can't be, with your Thingol/Thranduil example as one of many. He wrote the books at different times and went through many drafts. I *wish* they were all consistent, but they aren't.


Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 2, 5:13pm

Post #3 of 31 (1175 views)
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Tolkien's View [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
To me the alternative is jumping through seemingly endless and intricate hoops trying to reconcile things that can't be, with your Thingol/Thranduil example as one of many. He wrote the books at different times and went through many drafts. I *wish* they were all consistent, but they aren't.


I take Tolkiens view they are, they just need more info to reconcile them. His letters are full of these, he was great at it. I dont see any real contradiction that cant be solved in my op, I just wanted to see if others had good answers.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


squire
Half-elven


Feb 2, 8:46pm

Post #4 of 31 (1167 views)
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Yes, I agree with CuriousG [In reply to] Can't Post

I read The Hobbit in a separate mood and space from how I read The Lord of the Rings. The second book does, of course, look back to the first, through a rather smoky and distorted lens as needed. But the first book does not at all look ahead to the second book, and to expect it to do so is unreasonable. Once one separates them thus, the 'contradictions' become charming artifacts of an author's development, rather than inconsistencies and errors in a four-volume fantasy series.

So how do I respond to Tolkien's supposed efforts to resolve contradictions in his other writing? I pretty much forget or ignore them when I'm reading the earlier book, because it reads very well as a book on its own.

1. Yes, the ring in The Hobbit is not Sauron's One Ring, it's just one of the minor magical rings that imbues its wearer with a very useful near-invisibility. Cool!

2. Gandalf is a quaint and faintly comical wizard in The Hobbit, whose job it is to disappear so as to give Bilbo a chance to grow and shine. Fun!

3. The story of the Dwarves and Elves in The Hobbit illustrates the innate suspicion between the races, brought out when Thorin confronts the Elven King. That the details of who did what to whom are reminiscent of what we later learn when reading The Silmarillion is mildly interesting, again regarding authorial process, etc. But when reading The Hobbit it's just a fun, fairy-tale world backstory that gives depth in that classic Tolkien way. Neat!



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.

(This post was edited by squire on Feb 2, 8:50pm)


Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 2, 9:16pm

Post #5 of 31 (1156 views)
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No Fortune telling [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree the hobbit was not written looking forward, in that way neither was the sillmarillion. Very few book ever written do such a thing. However i do believe this view of your [while perfectly ok] is not Tolkien's view and i hold his view because he did.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


squire
Half-elven


Feb 3, 12:59am

Post #6 of 31 (1138 views)
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I'm not sure what view Tolkien held on this one. [In reply to] Can't Post

Clearly he wanted the connection between the Ring and Gollum's personality, as seen in Lord of the Rings, to be the same in The Hobbit. That's why he rewrote the 'Riddles in the Dark' chapter fairly substantially, for the second edition of the earlier book.

But he didn't change the Ring elsewhere in the book, because to do so would have altered the entire thing, requiring substantial thought and effort. Ditto for Gandalf; and ditto to some degree for the Elven King and Dwarves question.

A decade later, he did begin a general re-write of The Hobbit at the end of the 1950s, as you may know, in an effort to make it more compatible in tone, background, and theme with The Lord of the Rings. But he abandoned the attempt (documented in Rateliff's book) after the first couple of chapters, because a friendly reader reviewed the new work and told him it was good, but "it wasn't 'The Hobbit' ".

And Tolkien stopped. That's the key, here, as we discuss what Tolkien wanted The Hobbit to be, in relation to The Lord of the Rings. He could have rewritten the entire book, as he already had rewritten one chapter, to make it a consistent and believable 'prequel' to his epic. He wanted to, clearly, because he had begun to do so.

And then he stopped. That can only be because he was actually conflicted. He must have realized that The Hobbit has 'a charm of its own', to use a phrase from his allegory about a writer of fantasy, "Leaf by Niggle". To destroy or erase an existing, popular, successful, and well-written book, in service of another book, was ultimately repulsive to him.

So although I certainly understand those who wish to read The Hobbit as a meaningful prequel to LotR, and who look to Tolkien for support in seeing the two as a seamless, or almost seamless pair of books about the same world and the same timeline, I continue to encourage a freer, less-rigid, or less-constrained approach. Tolkien ultimately, and quite deliberately, left The Hobbit to be its own book, with its own world and its own characters, themes, and backstory, rather than insist that it self-destruct in order to cohere with his later sequences of invention and story.



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.


Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 3, 2:50pm

Post #7 of 31 (1029 views)
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I appreciate Your View [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Clearly he wanted the connection between the Ring and Gollum's personality, as seen in Lord of the Rings, to be the same in The Hobbit. That's why he rewrote the 'Riddles in the Dark' chapter fairly substantially, for the second edition of the earlier book.

But he didn't change the Ring elsewhere in the book, because to do so would have altered the entire thing, requiring substantial thought and effort. Ditto for Gandalf; and ditto to some degree for the Elven King and Dwarves question.

A decade later, he did begin a general re-write of The Hobbit at the end of the 1950s, as you may know, in an effort to make it more compatible in tone, background, and theme with The Lord of the Rings. But he abandoned the attempt (documented in Rateliff's book) after the first couple of chapters, because a friendly reader reviewed the new work and told him it was good, but "it wasn't 'The Hobbit' ".

And Tolkien stopped. That's the key, here, as we discuss what Tolkien wanted The Hobbit to be, in relation to The Lord of the Rings. He could have rewritten the entire book, as he already had rewritten one chapter, to make it a consistent and believable 'prequel' to his epic. He wanted to, clearly, because he had begun to do so.

And then he stopped. That can only be because he was actually conflicted. He must have realized that The Hobbit has 'a charm of its own', to use a phrase from his allegory about a writer of fantasy, "Leaf by Niggle". To destroy or erase an existing, popular, successful, and well-written book, in service of another book, was ultimately repulsive to him.

So although I certainly understand those who wish to read The Hobbit as a meaningful prequel to LotR, and who look to Tolkien for support in seeing the two as a seamless, or almost seamless pair of books about the same world and the same timeline, I continue to encourage a freer, less-rigid, or less-constrained approach. Tolkien ultimately, and quite deliberately, left The Hobbit to be its own book, with its own world and its own characters, themes, and backstory, rather than insist that it self-destruct in order to cohere with his later sequences of invention and story.



I appreciate it and do not disagree with much of it and a standard view of literature it sounds very reasonable. I think Tolkien was different.


“His inability to spare me more than a few minutes...he says he has to clear up an apparent contradiction in a passage of lord of the rings that has been pointed out in a letter by a reader, the matter requires his urgent consideration...talking about his book not as a work of fiction but as a chronicle of actual events; he seems to see himself not as an author who has made a slight error that must know be corrected or exspalined away, but as a historian who must cast light on an obscurity in a historical document.”
-J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

“I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the comer at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf's failure to appear on September 22”
-Letters 163

I had very little particular, conscious, intellectual, intention in mind at any point. Take the Ents, for instance. I did not consciously invent them at all...) almost like reading some one else's work. And I like Ents now because they do not seem to have anything to do with me.
-Letters 163


I try my best to come from Tolkien perspective on his writings rather than a scholar looking at a typical authors writings. So I think right off we might be missing each other. So I see his writings not as evolving inventions, but recordings of an actual history [mythological of course]. Tolkien said “I had the sense of recording what was already there somewhere, not inventing” and “I ceased to invent, I wait till I seem to know what really happened, or till it writes itself.” When talking to the inklings he said, “A new character has come on the screen, I did not invent him, I did not want him, though I like him.” Tolkien wrote to a publisher on August 31, 1939 saying, “Following along and getting quit out of hand.... progress towards quite unforeseen goals.” When asked a question about LOTR, he would answer something like, “I don't know, I will try to find out.” He was not an inventor but a discoverer. If we take that view as I do, this discover did not write the hobbit but discovered it as part of the historic past of ME weather he was aware at the time or not. To him it belonged in its history. The letters of Tolkien are full of him resolving seeming contradictions between his writings or even within the same writing and I think he was brilliant at it. In letters 214 he said of supposed contradictions “Facts that may appear in my record, I believe, in no case due to errors, but omissions, and incompleteness of information.” letters 214 shows the depth and level he would go to to resolve small contradictions It is to bad we no longer have him to ask such questions. The fact that he rewrote the Hobbit to "fit" LOTR/Sillmarillion shows to me he counted as part of his history. However his letters as well show this to be true as does the HOME IMO.


The Sillmarillion was in many ways separate stories loosely connected into one mythology that one could find various "patterns" "inconsistencies" and such as well as the LOTR. I am not saying that the hobbit was not in some ways an offshoot that was eventually brought into that history but that he reorganized it [as the discoverer] as part of ME history regardless if what was his original intention [Tom Bombadil?].

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit, eventually I thought I’d better find out what hobbits were like. But that’s only the beginning”
- J.R.R Tolkien

That he wrote LOTR more of a squeal to the Sil rather than the hobbit, yet it clearly relied on and assumed the hobbit for history, once again shows IMO he reorganized it as part of ME history.


“It [LOTR] is not really a sequel to the hobbit, but to the sillmarillion”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 124


And as you said, he even used [not to the extent of LOTR] some of the Sillmarillion as it stood as a background for the hobbit. And he used the Hobbit and Sillmarillion as background for the LOTR.


“”In all that time [from the start of the sillmarillion in 1917 to Tolkien s death] the silmarillion....underwent relatively little radical change it became long ago a fixed tradition, and background to later writings.”
-Christopher Tolkien Forward to the Sillmarillion


"The Hobbit was originally quite unconnected, though it inevitably got drawn in to the circumference of the greater construction; and in the event modified it.....Since The Hobbit was a success, a sequel was called for; and the remote Elvish Legends were turned down. A publisher's reader said they were too full of the kind of Celtic beauty that maddened Anglo-Saxons in a large dose. Very likely quite right. Anyway I myself saw the value of Hobbits...A lot of labour was naturally involved, since I had to make a linkage with The Hobbit; but still more with the background mythology. That had to be re-written as well.....That was arrived at in one of the earliest chapters still surviving (Book I, 2). It is really given, and present in germ, from the beginning, though I had no conscious notion of what the Necromancer stood for (except ever-recurrent evil) in The Hobbit, nor of his connexion with the Ring. But if you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once"
-Letters 163


As for your contradictions These would have been great questions for Tolkien to solve. As a christian apologist I have enjoyed debating and resolving dozens to hundreds of supposed contradictions [that on the surface really seem it- usually I must rely on scholars] in the Bible. But as Tolkien did with those in his writings, he resolved them by bringing in new information ,clarifying etc I dont pretend to be him or myself to have the knowledge of ME to do so, but I just wanted to make the point contradictions are usually solvable with more knowledge. You said Gandalf the grey was a different character, but in what way? Gandalf the white was vastly different than the grey, yet I dont think that is a contradiction. Gandalf in the hobbit is in different circumstances. I am sure if we read Olórin vs Gandalf we might be able to force some contradictions, Olórin scarred, Gandalf brave vs balrog, witch king, mouth of sauron etc But maybe you could give a specific example for me. Could you also be more specific with Bilbo and the ring as well? as Tolkien said Bilbo and frodo, and most hobbits were the best at resisting the power of the ring like Tom B because they did not wish power and control for themselves.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


(This post was edited by Tolkien R.J.J on Feb 3, 2:52pm)


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Feb 3, 4:17pm

Post #8 of 31 (1019 views)
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re: The Ring [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
...the 'contradictions' become charming artifacts of an author's development, rather than inconsistencies and errors in a four-volume fantasy series.



*slips on rose-coloured glasses* "Charming artifacts" is a great description of the "inconsistencies". Until I read TORn discussions about this over the years, I seriously was never bothered by any inconsistencies, including the part of the Ring. I hardly noticed them.

I read The Lord of the Rings for a long time before I read The Hobbit since my lifestyle limitations at the time delayed that. When I finally did read The Hobbit (after multiple LotR reads), I was charmed by Bilbo's innocence and the story of the Ring in his life. It was also weird in The Hobbit to read all references to the Ring in lower case ;)




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Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Feb 3, 4:22pm

Post #9 of 31 (1028 views)
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My Thingol/Thranduil example, actually [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
To me the alternative is jumping through seemingly endless and intricate hoops trying to reconcile things that can't be, with your Thingol/Thranduil example as one of many. He wrote the books at different times and went through many drafts. I *wish* they were all consistent, but they aren't.



Tolkien RJJ was quoting something that I wrote at the Hall of Fire.


I don't wish that they were all consistent, however. Tolkien's creation is so vast that there is no way that it could be consistent, or even should be. Most mythologies were created by many different artists over a very long period of time, and of course there are going to be inconsistencies between them. Tolkien managed to create a similar body of mythology all by himself. It follows that it would contain the same kind of inconsistencies.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 3, 6:38pm

Post #10 of 31 (998 views)
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Tolkien's original Foreword [In reply to] Can't Post

One section reads:


Quote
I have supplemented the account of the Red Book, in places, with information derived from the surviving records of Gondor, notably the Book of the Kings; but in general, though I have omitted much, I have in this tale adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative of my original than in the previous selection from the Red Book, The Hobbit. That was drawn from the early chapters, composed originally by Bilbo himself. If 'composed' is a just word. Bilbo was not assidious, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little.

The tale has been put into its present form in response to the many requests that I have received for further information about the history of the Third Age, and about Hobbits in particular. But since my children and others of their age, who first heard of the finding of the Ring, have grown older with the years, this book speaks more plainly of those darker things which lurked only on the borders of the earlier tale, but which have troubled Middle-earth in all its history. It is, in fact, not a book written for children at all; though many children will, of course, be interested in it, or parts of it, as they still are in the histories and legends of other times (especially in those not specially written for them)."


JRRT, Foreword, The Fellowship of the Ring



Of course Tolkien published a new Foreword for the revised second edition of The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, but despite the author's own seeming view of the original (which I disagree with), I see the original as not so much rejected, but as no longer appearing in the revised edition.

Smile


It wasn't revised in any case, but replaced by an external response to readers, which in my opinion was a mistake by Tolkien. Anyway, if a Hobbit writes a tale about a troll that bakes bread for a certain Perry-the-Winkle, then so be it. . .


. . . is this an unusual troll? A fanciful troll? In any case, the poem is just as much a part of the legendarium as an Elvish fairy tale mixed with counting lore could be, or a tale about Aragorn and Arwen.

Tolkien's letter in response to the Hobbit's custom of giving birthday presents seems a good example of what you're talking about, and I see nothing wrong with following Tolkien's lead here, keeping in mind that there are variant voices in the legendarium (and arguably variant voices of the translator in effort to illustrate this).


A possibly interesting detail here: given what Tolkien himself said (in one letter at least) about the troll-names in The Hobbit, in the 1960 "major" revision, the names are yet retained. . .


. . . although apparently (the 1960 Hobbit again) Bilbo neglected to properly describe why Gandalf could not read the names Orcrist or Glamdring on the blades.


Drat that dried Orc-blood Smile


(This post was edited by Elthir on Feb 3, 6:43pm)


Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Feb 4, 12:20am

Post #11 of 31 (963 views)
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Nor did he get far enough in ‘60 to explain Beorn’s serving animals... [In reply to] Can't Post

However, I’m on the side of the OP.

Tolkien was the pioneer of the art of the Secondary World, and nearly everything he ever wrote was within a framed narrative, with an implied author.

RJJ, you were given the key you’re seeking, by Alatar in your Hall of Fire thread. That is, read The Hobbit as Bilbo’s parochial attempt at chronicling his tale. Inconsistencies will abound. (His major inconsistency in the 1st edition was of course explained by the other hobbits in the LotR Prologue).

Don’t let others, with limited or self-superior views of the Professor’s writings, deflate the Joy you experience when choosing to suspend disbelief and enter that Secondary World. I’m sure Tolkien is on your side.

Smile


(This post was edited by Dunadan of North Arnor on Feb 4, 12:21am)


Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 4, 2:18am

Post #12 of 31 (937 views)
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Real History [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
However, I’m on the side of the OP.

Tolkien was the pioneer of the art of the Secondary World, and nearly everything he ever wrote was within a framed narrative, with an implied author.

RJJ, you were given the key you’re seeking, by Alatar in your Hall of Fire thread. That is, read The Hobbit as Bilbo’s parochial attempt at chronicling his tale. Inconsistencies will abound. (His major inconsistency in the 1st edition was of course explained by the other hobbits in the LotR Prologue).

Don’t let others, with limited or self-superior views of the Professor’s writings, deflate the Joy you experience when choosing to suspend disbelief and enter that Secondary World. I’m sure Tolkien is on your side.

Smile



“I wanted people simply to get inside this story and take it as actual history.”
-J R R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000


“A secondary world which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true” it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken, the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the primary world from outside.”
-J.R.R Tolkien quoted in J.R.R Tolkien a Biography by Humphrey carpenter p 194-195

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 4, 2:39am

Post #13 of 31 (930 views)
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Why "however"? [In reply to] Can't Post

What side am I on?

Smile


Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Feb 4, 3:10am

Post #14 of 31 (923 views)
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On OUR side of course [In reply to] Can't Post

You made the point about Tolkien not rectifying Gandalf and the swords, so I stated “NOR” did he rectify the animals bearing torches in their mouths while walking as serving waiters. Both of which would appear to be examples serving the OTHER side.

The “however” (OUR however, as I took it) was to our equal problems with the above “inconsistencies” in our similar view of Tolkien’s writings.

How’s that?

Smile


(This post was edited by Dunadan of North Arnor on Feb 4, 3:12am)


Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 4, 3:43am

Post #15 of 31 (911 views)
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Ahh [In reply to] Can't Post

I was a little confused as I had posted that Tolkien did (in the 1960 Hobbit at least) invent something to explain why Gandalf could not read the runes (dried orc blood).

I confused myself! Anyway yes, more generally speaking, I was providing support for RJJ's approach Smile

Thanks for clarifying!


(This post was edited by Elthir on Feb 4, 3:52am)


squire
Half-elven


Feb 4, 4:13am

Post #16 of 31 (904 views)
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There are Secondary Worlds, and then there are other Secondary Worlds [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems to me there is no reason why a reader cannot completely be immersed in The Hobbit's Secondary World, and then also be completely immersed in The Lord of the Rings' Secondary World, with its own references to The Hobbit that are not, actually, in accord with The Hobbit itself. The two Worlds are slightly different, in other words, even though the second one, for its own perfectly valid reasons, asserts they are not.

There's plenty of Joy to go around. It's just not the exact same Joy for both books -- nor need it be.



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Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Feb 4, 5:57am

Post #17 of 31 (885 views)
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and just how many other Secondary Worlds does Tolkien conjure up in your mind? [In reply to] Can't Post

With HoMe, UT, and the ‘Sil’, not to mention AoTB? Does such a view not defeat the very purpose of THE Secondary World that RJJ is asking about, and that Tolkien attempted to construct over 60 years?

I’m well aware of how you read Tolkien. I only ask that you allow others to read him differently without condescension.

Smile


squire
Half-elven


Feb 4, 6:39am

Post #18 of 31 (889 views)
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Not that many [In reply to] Can't Post

I think The Hobbit really is an outlier, as Tolkien acknowledges in the letters that RJJ has cited.

The Hobbit was not conceived as being within the Silmarillion's Secondary World in any meaningful way, except that the Silm's world is taken as deep background (nature of the Elves; Elf/Dwarf conflicts; uses of dragons, goblins, and eagles). The geography and character set are quite separate and original, not to mention the introduction of hobbits, trolls, and wizards.

The Lord of the Rings, although started as a Hobbit sequel, was very thoroughly revised to cohere with the author's existing ideas of the First Age (the Silmarillion), and more or less cross-checked with the Second Age, which came to a mature status in conjunction with LotR. Unfinished Tales, with texts that postdate LotR, reflects that grand conjunction, as well as containing additional ingenious but strained efforts by Tolkien to retrofit The Hobbit into the main legendarium. History of Middle-earth stands by itself, even more than UT, as commentary and explications of the Secondary World, since it is explicitly about the author's drafts and creative notes, not his finished works. (I'll ignore the debate about the status of the published Silmarillion, and take it as a best effort to publish the Silm within the context of its and LotR's combined Secondary World.) Adventures of Tom Bombadil's late 'insertion' into the LotR/Silm Secondary World works well enough, thanks to the extended editorial apparatus and just a few key revisions to the poems.

That leaves just The Hobbit in more or less its own Secondary World, a world that was certainly the starting point of the world of The Lord of the Rings and the revised world of the later Silmarillion, but which Tolkien could never bring himself to merge completely, on the grounds that then it would be "not The Hobbit."

I apologize if I seem condescending to anyone. As I read the original post, RJJ was asking for other people's opinions and approaches to reading The Hobbit and LotR with regard to the discrepancies in the two books' Secondary World conceptions. My comments in this thread have been about my own heartfelt opinions and approaches in response to RJJ's questions, and are not intended to preclude others from thinking, reading, or feeling differently about the two books.



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Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 4, 4:45pm

Post #19 of 31 (819 views)
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Adopting a Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think you've been condescending Squire.


Anyway, for me, The Hobbit is set in the same Secondary World, but its author or translator wrote this tale for children, just as the author of The Awakening of the Quendi wrote for Elf-children.

I wouldn't expect such versions to be as accurate as others -- and in his original Foreword, in my opinion, JRRT keeps things internal in deference to the art of Secondary World creation.


squire
Half-elven


Feb 4, 7:59pm

Post #20 of 31 (788 views)
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That could work, in a way [In reply to] Can't Post

One objection to the "children's tale within the world of Middle-earth" gag might be that Bilbo is not said to have written it for children. Rather, from his ironic title "There and Back Again, a Hobbit's Holiday" and the reference to the book as his "memoirs", we are asked to place the book in the large body of self-published private memoirs turned out by veterans of Britain's imperial jaunts in the later 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. The audience was not children, but family, old friends and fellow-adventurers, the local library, and of course, posterity.

Of course, in the second book, Bilbo's memoir is cleverly turned into part of the vast archival apparatus that is supposed to have been discovered and 'translated' by Tolkien, within his imaginary literary frame. But even in The Hobbit we are asked to understand that "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" was actually the final title, and refers to the book we are reading, with no explanation given for who the narrator, patently an Englishman from the real world, is supposed to be. How different from the Silmarillion, being written at the same time, with its frame-device of far greater and more antiquarian scope - another indication that The Hobbit, for all its stylistic and background links to the Silm, was not meant to be part of that story.



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Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 4, 9:39pm

Post #21 of 31 (777 views)
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Translator/Author [In reply to] Can't Post

As I read the runes, Tolkien is clearly author and translator of The Hobbit (more author in his first selection than in his second), adapting Bilbo's account/memoirs for a younger audience.


Quote
". . . but in general, though I have omitted much, I have in this tale adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative of my original than in the previous selection from the Red Book, The Hobbit. (edit for brevity)

The tale has been put into its present form in response to the many requests that I have received for further information about the history of the Third Age, and about Hobbits in particular. But since my children and others of their age, who first heard of the finding of the Ring, have grown older with the years, this book speaks more plainly of those darker things which lurked only on the borders of the earlier tale, but which have troubled Middle-earth in all its history. It is, in fact, not a book written for children at all; though many children will, of course, be interested in it, or parts of it, . . ."



That seems to me to be saying: this book, The Lord of the Rings is not written for children . . .


. . . compared to . . . Smile


Granted, the author of the Awakening of the Quendi might seem more internal than Tolkien, but to my mind, in his role as author/translator, JRRT is still in an internal mode, a "modern" Englishman, now part of a long line of story-tellers and scholars who wrote about Middle-earth.

With the Awakening, I imagine that Tolkien-as-translator desired to preserve the style and simplicity of the original.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Feb 4, 9:44pm)


squire
Half-elven


Feb 4, 10:37pm

Post #22 of 31 (774 views)
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No doubt [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien made every effort in The Lord of the Rings, short of actually rewriting the earlier book, to draw The Hobbit closer to the legendarium formed by LotR and the unpublished but in-existence Silmarillion. Thus, as in your quote, he speaks as translator/ editor/ adapter/ rewriter/ ghostwriter in his foreword, explaining the different tones and apparent audiences. Likewise, within LotR, there are a host of authorial/editorial (take your pick) inventions to fit "Bilbo's Book" into the latter story. He even covers his own rewrite of Chapter 5, with the fantastic notion that the "lie" about winning the Ring from a graciously compliant Gollum, told by Bilbo to the dwarves, and then written in his memoir before Gandalf discovered the truth, somehow escaped his study and made it to Allen & Unwin's presses in the 1930s, with Gandalf only exerting his powers of honesty and inquiry in the 1950s!

It's a wonderful work of stagecraft, but it's all from The Lord of the Rings perspective, which (we agree) devoutly wishes The Hobbit to, in fact, co-occupy the larger legendary world. But you may have noticed I have been restricting myself to what little The Hobbit says about itself, so to speak. From that perspective, it remains separated from its great-uncle and foster-child (Silm and LotR) in any number of distinct ways. The differences of taste and enjoyment amongst us various readers as to how to respond to the separation remains the point of our friendly debate, not the unquestionably clever details of Tolkien's retrospective textual gymnastics.



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Tolkien R.J.J
Bree


Feb 5, 2:20am

Post #23 of 31 (747 views)
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Humphrey carpenter Biography [In reply to] Can't Post

I was just re-reading his biography on Tolkien and in the chapter "enter mr baggins" he says of Tolkiens views on the hobbit. He started it as an independent work [as many he wrote were at this time poems etc] for his own amusement. But as he wrote it various elements from the sillmarillion kept creeping into the hobbit a few examples were the dwarves, the necromancer, references to beren and luthien and Tolkien found that the hobbit was in a area of the same earth as the sillmarillion events. Tolkien said it was "the world into witch Mr Baggins strayed." and in a time period clearly after the events of the sillmarillion, the third age.



So I think truth lies in both views. The hobbit as an independent source and as part of ME history.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


Elthir
Grey Havens


Feb 5, 4:21am

Post #24 of 31 (740 views)
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Not exactly sure what you mean here . . . [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
But you may have noticed I have been restricting myself to what little The Hobbit says about itself, so to speak. From that perspective, it remains separated from its great-uncle and foster-child (Silm and LotR) in any number of distinct ways.



. . . not enough to respond at this point, beyond noting that Tolkien did add notes as translator for both the second and third editions of The Hobbit.

Is that what you mean?

Yet even if JRRT had not added these notes, I don't see why this matters.


squire
Half-elven


Feb 5, 6:31am

Post #25 of 31 (725 views)
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Never mind... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've probably flogged my poor horse enough at this point.



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