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Contradictions between the hobbit and LOTR?
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Grey Havens

Feb 5, 11:36pm

Post #26 of 31 (432 views)
the 1960 Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

Technically (pedantic alert) this unknown person who read the start of the 1960 Hobbit replied that it was "wonderful" but not The Hobbit. Just being nice? Possibly. But my principle reason to raise this work is that I think it's more speculation than fact as to why Tolkien abandoned it.

Even Rateliff gives the opinion that part of the reason Tolkien abandoned the new Hobbit was that the problems of timeline and moon phase were becoming "intractable", and that JRRT would arguably have to start over, yet again.

We have to also remember -- or at least I'm not aware of anything so far that knocks this off the shelf -- that Tolkien had no great reason to think another edition of The Hobbit was going to be called for -- and especially if the editors at A&U agreed with this person's review, then no matter what Tolkien himself thought of the revision, he could be looking at a lot of work with no reward, as far as an outlet for publication.

Personally, I think the new work could have been marketed as an addition to the Legendarium, without replacing the second edition Hobbit, just as The Quest of Erebor was not a replacement of an actual Hobbit sequence, but a complement version.

In the end, add the 1960 Hobbit to plenty of texts Tolkien never finished.

With respect to the First Age tales begun again after The Lord of the Rings was "finished" but not yet published, CJRT gives the opinion that despair of being rejected for publication was arguably a notable reason why a number of these texts were abandoned at the time -- but the Silmarillion, now with new hope in the later 1950s, still awaited, with (again, unless I missed something) no one calling for a wholly revised Hobbit in 1960, or any Hobbit revised a second time in any measure, until the Ace copyright concerns arose later.

One could also take the stance that Tolkien agreed with this person's opinion of the Hobbit, and ultimately left it (for the most part) alone, as, given its frame, its inconsistencies were not an impediment to Bilbo's memoirs hailing from the same Secondary World.

When Tolkien recieved his letter about Hobbit Birthday presents I seems to me that the reader naturally assumes the same Secondary World, and to my mind, Tolkien gave an answer in exactly that vein, expanding upon Middle-earth even, rather than going external and simply admitting an error.


Feb 6, 4:58pm

Post #27 of 31 (376 views)
My opinon, for what it is worth [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with you that it is merely speculation that Tolkien abandoned the rewrite because one person expressed the opinion that it was "wonderful, but not The Hobbit." My completely unsupported opinion is that the real reason he abandoned it is that his heart really wasn't in rewriting The Hobbit. I think he was much more interested in working on the material related to the Elder Days, particularly the philological and philosophical aspects. Of course, as you note, the 1960 Hobbit was just one of many unfinished works so maybe it was a just a question of him being chronically unable to focus one task through completion (with LOTR being the main exception).

'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

Grey Havens

Feb 6, 5:49pm

Post #28 of 31 (368 views)
sounds reasonable to me [In reply to] Can't Post

I certainly agree that The Silmarillion very likely had a greater pull on Tolkien's mind at this point.

Interestingly, in February 1960 Tolkien wrote to Rayner Unwin asking if he would have any objections . . .

" . . . to me publishing any separate or minor items belonging to the Ring cycle? I am frequently asked for small minor contributions and offered good terms for them. The things I have in mind are not integral parts of the Silmarillion, and for some of them it is very likely that no place will be found in that work, but I suppose I could publish them without in any way affecting the question of inclusion in that work if necessary."

H&S, Chronology

Plus, Tolkien produced at least 102 doodles dated to 1960 Wink

(This post was edited by Elthir on Feb 6, 5:53pm)


Feb 6, 6:52pm

Post #29 of 31 (357 views)
"jumping through seemingly endless and intricate hoops trying to reconcile things that can't be..." [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a behaviour that has an amusing name (https://tvtropes.org/...iki.php/Main/FanWank ). It's a useful concept for Tolkien citicism I think.

I agree with you CuriousG - I think it's necessary to recognise that Tolkien wrote fiction rather than reporting on some reality that could be examined otherwise than him imagining it. Inconsistency somewhere was almost inevitable, perhaps especially given one author writing in his spare time over many years. Our tools to resolve any inconsistencies are likewise limited now that Tolkien is no longer with us to reply to fan mail. At best one Tolkien fan or scholar can propose a solution that another might like or not like, but nothing can be proved. Compare with studies of reality, which can usually be interrogated further until the contradiction or inconsistency is resolved.

For me, the question is whether any contradictions or inconsistencies are genuinely bad writing or editing and seriously spoil the story; or whether someone's overthinking a particular unimportant issue to the point where they're going blind to the wider picture. That of course is absolutely a matter of taste, and I hope I'm not rubbing anyone up the wrong way.

"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 Ataahua on Feb 6, 7:33pm)


Feb 6, 7:22pm

Post #30 of 31 (350 views)
Egad, there are official TV Tropes for everything; and, Aragorn's contradictions on Rohan's loyalty [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyway, thanks for the link. I do see this occur in other fandoms too. I personally think it's too much work to reconcile things that are errors, and I guess being older, I accept the world and the art-creators in it as flawed at times, so they get to make mistakes, and I accept them, and I still think their art is beautiful.

What I came across recently in LOTR while browsing actually does bug me as a strange contradiction. It's Aragorn vacillating on the loyalty of Rohan, and it's especially strange given that he spent time there under an alias. From the same chapter ("The Riders of Rohan"), mind you, we get these 2 things that I have trouble reconciling:

‘But Gandalf spoke of a rumour that they pay tribute to Mordor,’ said Gimli.
‘I believe it no more than did Boromir,’ answered Aragorn.


‘First tell me whom you serve,’ said Aragorn. ‘Are you friend or foe of Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor?’

This challenge to Eomer makes no more sense to me than asking Theoden himself. At worst, Theoden was under Wormtongue's influence and seeking appeasement with Saruman even as his own son was killed fighting Saruman. At no time does it ever appear that Rohan had come under Sauron's influence and become his follower and thereby, automatically, an enemy of Gondor. It just makes as little sense as Aragorn marching into Rivendell and Lorien and demanding of Elrond and Galadriel: "It is long since I have been here. Do you now serve Sauron?" = just doesn't compute.

I can forgive it in the sense of an author's purpose in creating tension, because there is a whole lot of tension at this meeting, and you wonder who's going to wind up dead. And it also is part of the long build-up toward Aragorn asserting his kingship over Gondor as he challenges one of its historic allies. But it seems the accusation of Rohan becoming a toady of Sauron ought to be left with someone more ignorant of them, like Gimli or Legolas.

No One in Particular

Feb 7, 2:09am

Post #31 of 31 (310 views)
Rohan's loyalties... [In reply to] Can't Post

Had been called into question. The rumor was that they paid a tribute of horses to Mordor; neither Boromir nor Aragorn believed it,but it had also seemingly been some time since Aragorn had been in Rohan, so the question had to be voiced.

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

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