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***Favourite Chapters - Three is Company (LOTR)
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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 19, 6:30pm

Post #1 of 91 (909 views)
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***Favourite Chapters - Three is Company (LOTR) Can't Post

I should start with an apology - it's Sunday evening and I'm not scheduled to post until Monday. But I have a very busy day on Monday, and it would help me enormously to get this discussion posted. I hope that's OK, and please don't stop discussing 'Inside Information' early because of me.


This chapter hasn’t always been a favourite of mine. At one time I would have had a lot of sympathy with Tolkien doing more like what Peter Jackson’s film did - bundle Frodo and Sam out of Bag End immediately after the end of Chapter 2, pick up Merry and Pippin in some “Quick! No time to explain” way and get the whole quartet out of the Shire pretty quickly. I’ve heard various ideas about why Gandalf doesn't insist on making an immediate run for it, and why Tolkien might have wanted an Autumn departure. We can discuss that this week if you like. But in any case, I’ve become a fan of the mini-epic journey across the Shire.


I’ve come to find a lot of things in the chapter I like. There’s an autumnal feeling, and especially a feeling of walking in the countryside in the autumn. But when I read the chapter closely, I find an odd thing - all the description that I think I must have read isn’t really there. In general I notice that Tolkien gives us quick, impressionistic details rather than long paragraphs of description or explanation. But somehow, it’s enough for me to construct a vivid picture. Come to think of it, I feel this is an important part of Tolkien’s writing in LOTR - sketch enough that you recruit the reader’s imagination to fill in the details more vividly than the author could do themselves. But of course it is that method that also gives us our indeterminable arguments about such things as whether balrogs have wings: it’s precisely because people have come to different (vivid) conclusions that they are sometimes confused by discovering the existence of another point of view.

I like the banter and relationship between the three hobbits. I find it easy to imagine walking along with them. There are some nice underplayed little details. For example, Sam is a working man [hobbit] - I think that’s why, unlike his leisurely, aristocratic companions, his geography is limited to expeditions he has been able to make during short holidays..

Does the writing work this way for you too? What sort of countryside do you imagine?

In many ways, this little epic of the journey across the Shire is a preview of the larger quest to come, in style as well as some plot elements. I like the way that Tolkien’s realistic travel and nature writing balances the fantastical elements of the story. (I see that, by the way, as another characteristic Tolkien ingredient.) There’s the way in which the danger of the Black Riders is slowly revealed -- I expect that a lot of readers sense Frodo is in real danger before he’s fully willing to believe it himself. The chapter ends with meeting Gildor and his elves, in which I think we see elvish strangeness in a way I don’t get in Rivendell or Lorien.

A lot of plot stuff is woven into this chapter
For example:
  • Gandalf’s absence - the first occurance of our heroes being split up, unable to communicate, and having to guess what best to do.;

  • Frodo’s temptation to put on the Ring - how we begin to see it’s not the handy magical gadget of The Hobbit, and begin to understand, rather than just take Gandalf’s word for, the danger Frodo is in

  • the messages that Gildor sends out (for the rest of Book 1 we’ll keep on meeting helpers who received them);

  • Sam’s new found determination to see the Quest through.

We can discuss all that if you wish, and all the other things I haven’t listed.

And some themes begin to stir...

I’d like also to point out how Frodo is already having to learn to rely on himself and his friends. Perhaps he hoped to be advised and chaperoned all the way by Gandalf, but Gandalf was reluctant to push him out of the door or tell him where to go - and now has not returned in time for the start. Perhaps Frodo hoped that the Gildor and the elves would take charge of everything and lead him singing and glowing to Rivendell. No luck there either. The elves have of course helped in their limited way, and friends of Gandalf will appear too, even before we meet the gruff old codger himself once more. But what is happening in this chapter sets the pattern for the whole adventure. It will be aided by Frodo’s hobbit friends and unplanned encounters with temporary allies (Farmer Maggot, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, Faramir later, Smeagol/Gollum as an edge case).

So all in all, now that I have the patience for it, I think there’s a lot to recommend this chapter. But I don’t understand the fox. I’m not sure I even like the fox. The fox seems just plain weird to me, though I know some people like it. Happy to talk about the fox, this week, but I hope we don’t only talk about the fox!

As a last point to ponder: what do you make of the chapter title?
In earlier weeks we’ve discussed that Tolkien’s chapter titles can have multiple meanings (e.g. Faramir himself provides a ‘Window on the West’; or there may be more than one ‘Knife in the Dark’). The title of our current chapter must surely be a word-play on “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”, a saying which means:

“Used to say that a third person is not welcome when two people (such as two lovers) want to be alone with each other”
Merriam Webster ;

“Said when two people are relaxed and enjoying each other's company but another person would make them feel less comfortable”
Cambridge

What do you make of it?. It’s possible that Tolkien is refuting the old saying - maybe three chaps can have a fine time together in the country (aside from being chased by creepy Black Riders). Maybe it should be read "Three is Company" and that's why it's not the contraction "Three's Company". But my own take is that Frodo thinks he and Sam are starting their hush-hush disappearance from the Shire. Pippin is outside this conspiracy (or so Frodo thinks, and so the reader should think too at this point). So that makes Pippin something of an inconvenient third wheel, even if we don't subscribe to the fan theory that Frodo and Sam are lovers. With Pippin around, Frodo and Sam can’t plot their adventures, or do anything to make Pippin suspicious. If Frodo had originally planned to ‘vanish’ en route to Crickhollow, he can't now. By the way, another nice thing about this chapter is that you can look back on it once you know that Pippin has something in the conspiracy line going on with Sam, and some of the dialogue makes a new sense. But (hobbit) conspiracy theories aside, what do you make of the title? And would the chapter feel different if Tolkien had titled it as, say ‘The Black Riders’?

~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 19, 6:41pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 19, 6:35pm

Post #2 of 91 (786 views)
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**Favourite quotations from this chapter - please add ones you like! [In reply to] Can't Post

As the writing is one of the things that I like in this chapter, it seems right to include some quotations. Please add any that you particularly like!

Autumn feels to me like a time for new beginnings and also a time for bitter-sweet endings. Both of those have resonances in the chapter:

Quote
“When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying, as it always did at that season.”

And....

“And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East”


But...

“The sun went down. Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners.”

And yet...

“The sky was clear and the stars were growing bright. ‘It’s going to be a fine night,’ he said aloud. ‘That’s good for a beginning. I feel like walking. I can’t bear any more hanging about.”



Another autumnal pleasure in this chapter is Tolkien’s nature writing:


Quote

“The night was clear, cool, and starry, but smoke-like wisps of mist were creeping up the hill-sides from the streams and deep meadows. Thin-clad birches, swaying in a light wind above their heads, made a black net against the pale sky.”

Or...

“Away eastward the sun was rising red out of the mists that lay thick on the world. Touched with gold and red the autumn trees seemed to be sailing rootless in a shadowy sea.”
(The PJ film includes a shot which I feel must be inspired by this line - and then the film-makers put it to an ingenious new use by having a Black Rider loom into the shot.

Or...
“The shadows of the trees were long and thin on the grass, as they started off again.”


There are many other examples (what are your favourites?)

I also like the way Tolkien describes sensations of walking the land:


Quote
“They went down the slope, and across the stream where it dived under the road, and up the next slope, and up and down another shoulder of the hills; and by that time their cloaks, blankets, water, food, and other gear already seemed a heavy burden.”


~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 19, 9:38pm

Post #3 of 91 (771 views)
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You overlooked [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"Coming, sir!" came the answer from far within, followed soon by Sam himself, wiping his mouth. He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar.



sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jan 20, 5:31am

Post #4 of 91 (727 views)
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"Of course you mustn't vanish," [In reply to] Can't Post

" That wouldn't do at all! I said, soon, not instantly!"

The Gandalf here vs the one who hurried Bilbo out the gate without even a pocket handkerchief.

Though another comparison is possible with Gildor's conversation "For it seems to me that you have set out only just in time. If indeed you are in time." (Those Elves always saying both yes and no.)

And all the little touches "They left the washing up for Lobelia." and the complaints about being too flabby and leaving the comforts of home behind.

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)




CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 20, 3:21pm

Post #5 of 91 (696 views)
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Three's Company, Nine's a Crowd [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for leading this chapter, Wiz!

I like this chapter much more than than a similar one, "The Ring Goes South," because the group is happy and the countryside appealing. As you pointed out, it's easy to envision the landscape with the details Tolkien gives us, and it's a place I'd like to go hiking and camping with friends--just without any Black Riders dogging my steps.

I also like how it shows us more about how hobbits act toward each other, both good and bad (since Lobelia and Lotho appear briefly). In particular, I like the teasing banter among friends:

Quote
‘I am sure you have given me all the heaviest stuff,’ said Frodo. ‘I pity snails, and all that carry their homes on their backs.’
‘I could take a lot more yet, sir. My packet is quite light,’ said Sam stoutly and untruthfully.
‘No you don’t, Sam!’ said Pippin. ‘It is good for him. He’s got nothing except what he ordered us to pack. He’s been slack lately, and he’ll feel the weight less when he’s walked off some of his own.’
‘Be kind to a poor old hobbit!’ laughed Frodo.

As for the title, I think Tolkien is being subversive and saying that in the right setting, three is company, as valid as two's company. Pippin is a bit of a lightweight here: Frodo is under a cloud because of the Ring and also because Gandalf has mysteriously disappeared, and Sam shares many of Frodo's concerns. But Pippin is a reminder of how hobbits are supposed to be: happy and carefree.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 20, 3:39pm

Post #6 of 91 (694 views)
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Themes begin to stir [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
They looked back, but the turn of the road prevented them from seeing far. ‘I wonder if that is Gandalf coming after us,’ said Frodo; but even as he said it, he had a feeling that it was not so, and a sudden desire to hide from the view of the rider came over him.


So what's this--an unexplained urge that is *not* inspired by the Ring? Its influence is felt only a few paragraphs later:

Quote
A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring. He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand. He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe.

This is Frodo's personal, internal struggle spread across LOTR: his own instincts and premonitions warning him to avoid various perils, and the Ring urging him to betray himself and lying to him about its agenda.

What other themes do you see brewing in this chapter?


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jan 20, 3:42pm

Post #7 of 91 (691 views)
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Pippin a lightweight spy.... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
. But Pippin is a reminder of how hobbits are supposed to be: happy and carefree.


Yes but something that Jackson ignored due to compressing time and having Sam and Frodo exit stage left rapidly....... Pippin, Merry, Fatty and Sam had been running a conspiracy to spy on Frodo for quite some time. Pippin may have been a "tweeny" but he did do that.... which is why in some ways his inability to continue the secrecy at the Prancing Pony is a regression -- Tolkien didn't have a firm handle on who these characters were yet and the consistency isn't always there.

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)




Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jan 20, 3:56pm

Post #8 of 91 (690 views)
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Through Sam's eyes [In reply to] Can't Post

How exciting to drop in to the RR and find this fun discussion going on!
I enjoy the comical exchanges among the hobbits that others have mentioned. There's also the bit about Sam's hat that I remember discussing once before, long ago. I won't attempt to look for it (WNEBCFTPFY anyone?), but it was apparently a reference to C.S. Lewis' hat, which had seen better days.

The other thing I like in this chapter is Sam's awe at Gildor & Co. Sam walked along at Frodo's side, as if in a dream, with an expression on his face half of fear and half of astonished joy.
At that moment, I'm walking along with the same expression on my face. It's hard to comprehend the other-worldliness of the High-Elves, but Sam helps capture the wonder of the moment.

Where's Frodo?


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jan 20, 4:10pm

Post #9 of 91 (688 views)
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Found it [In reply to] Can't Post

Why am I obsessed with the hat?
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=53150;search_string=hat;#53150

Where's Frodo?


Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 21, 4:13am

Post #10 of 91 (643 views)
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What's [In reply to] Can't Post

remarkable about this passage was that originally it WAS Gandalf who rode around the bend. Then Tolkien started crossing out words and replacing them, and the first Black Rider made its creepy appearance.

(At that time Tolkien had no more idea than Frodo what it was or what it wanted... the chapter "Ancient History" (later "The Shadow of the Past") hadn't been written yet, and it was only at the end of the chapter, with Gildor, that Tolkien himself started to guess at the answer).


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 10:01am

Post #11 of 91 (608 views)
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Unpredictable Pippin (and a tangent about the hobbits as a rock quartet) [In reply to] Can't Post

Pippin is certainly an unpredictable character. I certainly agree that he's capable of maturity and insight at some times, and yet behaves impulsively or foolishly at others. So I'm not quite sure whether he's a well-written unpredictable character, or whether he could have used a bit more editing. I do note that he's often a useful character to Tolkien: Pippin is often the one to pose the stupid idea or ask the basic question that's handy for exposition, or his actions make something happen.

I was amusing myself thinking - if the 4 hobbits were a rock band, then who would be who? As is probably obvious, this isn't a particularly serious game, just something that merges cliches about musicians with our quartet of hobbits. But I've got:
  • Frodo has to be the front man, I suppose - but the troubled artist rather than hyper-extrovert kind of singer
  • Sam on drums - has to work constantly through the performance. Does the 'real work' undramatically at the back there. Can if he wants drive things (if the drummer insists it goes at exactly this tempo, then it probably does)
  • Merry on Bass - classic bassist, as I see it. Wants harmony, logic and order, but without drawing much attention to himself
  • That leaves Pippin also on the front line, perhaps as lead guitarist. It does seem to make some sense. Prone to his own ideas and improvisations, not always willing to be #2 behind the front man. The resulting tension and shinanegans might be the making of the group, or it might all collapse acrimoniously after an album or two.


~~~~~~
The Reading Room 'favourite chapters' project. http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=967482#967482 Each week, someone presents a favourite chapter from The Hobbit, LOTR or the Silmarillion. Just sign yourself up onto the schedule if you can lead a chapter.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 11:15am

Post #12 of 91 (602 views)
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Sam's hat, "Jack's hat" [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice to 'see' you drop in, Finding Frodo!
The article on 'Jack's Hat' to which you link has got more buried in the blog since 2007, but I found and enjoyed it here

And like you I wonder, in a very minor way, what happens to Sam's hat. I'm going to suppose that it was lost in the Barrow with the other gear he had when he was captured. But of course other people may have different or better ideas.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 11:50am

Post #13 of 91 (596 views)
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As another theme (or something like it) [In reply to] Can't Post

We get an appearance of 'The Road Goes Ever On and On". Probably other people are better qualified to discuss the significance of this recurring song, but as a TULIP*, when I read:


Quote
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

...I noted how it seems to set out what is to come in FOTR. Frodo starts from his door, eagerly at least in some ways (while he's reluctant to set out, he also wants to follow Bilbo, were told). He then joins some 'larger way' at the Council of Elrond 'Where many paths and errands meet' in order to go from fleeing with the Ring to launching a strategy to defeat Sauron.

I'm sure that other interpretations are available and might be better in some way. But that's my idea.
While I'm on the subject, I've always supposed that Bilbo's "I sit beside the fire and think" is a sort of continuation of this song. I think you could sing it to the same tune, which I suppose means it has some rhythmical resemblance, or something like that. If anyone knowledgeable about poetry could have a look and let me know I'd be grateful.



--* Totally Unimportant Little Idea to Ponderor is it: Totally Unimportant {Link/loophole/logic/lesson - delete as applicable} I'm Pondering

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 21, 2:56pm

Post #14 of 91 (585 views)
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Pippin's reaction to the Elves vs. Sam's [In reply to] Can't Post

With Sam as the stand-in for the Common Person, having him so enraptured just to be in the Elves' presence (like getting a backstage pass to his favorite rock band) is contagious, at least for me. I love Elves too!

Frodo has some sort of ongoing contact with the Elves, so he's a little more "been there, done that," but I can't figure out why Pippin isn't as star-struck as Sam. Is it because, as Wiz says in another post, Pippin is a character Tolkien tends to use when he needs him and sort of forgets about in other contexts like this one? Or because Pippin is a Took, and maybe being adventurous, they are familiar with Elves? Or because he's an aristocrat, and good aristocrats don't show their emotions like those unwashed plebeians do?

I just think from a writing perspective, it would have been easy to add "and Pippin" repeatedly, as in Sam and Pippin walked along at Frodo's side, as if in a dream, with an expression on their faces half of fear and half of astonished joy.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 21, 3:00pm

Post #15 of 91 (581 views)
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That is accurately prescient [In reply to] Can't Post

the way the poem reflects Frodo's journey and the Council of Elrond in particular. I wonder how much was deliberate on Tolkien's part and how much was just an observation about once you get the travel bug (in real life), it takes you to unexpected places and experiences?


Quote
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.



noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 3:04pm

Post #16 of 91 (580 views)
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That's a fine quotation! [In reply to] Can't Post

I like the way that Sam's drinking from the beer barrel echoes the other hobbits' consuming the wine. Perhaps to much of Tolkien's first audiences, a generation who had seen several wars involving mass conscription, that would have been like the actions of retreating troops, consuming luxuries to deny them to the enemy. (I have a feeling that the British Army had an interesting or amusing name for this, but I can't remember what it is. "Liberating" things would work if the troops were advancing or capturing things from the enemy, but that's not what I'm struggling to recall. Maybe someone knows?)

Did you post title ("You overlooked") mean anything more than "here's a nice quotation for the collection"? Perhaps I am being over-literal, but I provided a few quotations to get the ball rolling and invited people to add more. So of course there was no intention to present some definitive or comprehensive collection, to be scrutinized or criticized for omissions (literally, things I've overlooked).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 21, 3:09pm

Post #17 of 91 (582 views)
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Pippin [In reply to] Can't Post

Funny you should say this, because that was exactly my internal reaction on re-reading this chapter--Pippin is needed for exposition:

In Reply To

I do note that he's often a useful character to Tolkien: Pippin is often the one to pose the stupid idea or ask the basic question that's handy for exposition, or his actions make something happen.



Quote

‘But what has one of the Big People got to do with us?’ said Pippin. ‘And what is he doing in this part of the world?’


And I like the band comparison. Another reason Sam should be the drummer is that the latter usually have to be seated and thus more out of sight, as good servants should be. And Pippin as front man--for sure, he loved being the center of attention. Frodo was the band's creator and leader, but his later, solo career was obscure as he delved into deep, dark, psychological lyrics while the others stuck to commercially reliable boy band music.


Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 21, 3:43pm

Post #18 of 91 (575 views)
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Oh, no! [In reply to] Can't Post

All I meant was "Here's another one,", not any sort of intimation that your list was somehow deficient!


Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 21, 3:50pm

Post #19 of 91 (576 views)
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Pippin [In reply to] Can't Post

As I read him was very bright, but very immature (he is the youngest of the hobbits). "Bumptious" is the word one of my old teachers might have used. Not much self-control, and a tendency to go off half-cocked, running with an idea that did however spring from a pretty active brain.
Some of the confusion of personality in this chapter may derive from the fact that it was originally written for a completely different cast of characters. No Sam; instead Bingo (later Frodo, unchanged except in name), Frodo Took and Odo Took. These last two don't map directly onto the later Merry and Pippin, as Tolkien re-assigned lines of dialogue. Pippin does seem to have inherited Odo's "spoiled rich kid" tendencies though, laziness and petty greediness.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 4:26pm

Post #20 of 91 (569 views)
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"originally written for a completely different cast of characters" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Some of the confusion of personality in this chapter may derive from the fact that it was originally written for a completely different cast of characters. No Sam; instead Bingo (later Frodo, unchanged except in name), Frodo Took and Odo Took. These last two don't map directly onto the later Merry and Pippin, as Tolkien re-assigned lines of dialogue. Pippin does seem to have inherited Odo's "spoiled rich kid" tendencies though, laziness and petty greediness.



Interesting that Pippin preserves some of Odo (the first draft Ringbearer's companion). I remember reading the bit of HoME that covers FOTR and thinking I might try and keep track of who became whom, if you see what I mean. I never could keep straight in my head what the first-draft characters were like, in order to see whether (say) the Ringbearer hobbit starts out much more like Bilbo and then turns into the character of Frodo-as-he-is-published, and whether it would be possible to map certain characteristics that remained constant through the changes. I suppose it's also generally true that Tolkien does not give us very much inside-the-character's head view of anybody's feelings and motivations. We're more likely to have to infer and deduce from dialogue and description. (Or at least I think that's true - but I do see it's the sort of statement that just mean's I've forgotten some very obvious counter-examples!)

I also agree Pippin's age might be a factor. We could think of Pippin as roughly a human teenager, I think. In the NoWiz family there's a joke that people act their calendar age plus or minus 50% (I think this still works for me - some days I feel in my 20s, other days in my 70s!). But for teenagers, that's anything between very childish to very adult. Nonetheless, I find Pippin the least satisfying character of the quartet. I've met people who remind me of the other three, not so much of Pippin.

I suppose we do expect that Tolkien - a notably careful worker - read though his later drafts for consistency and took the opportunity to make changes. It's hardly as if Tolkien was stuck with his earlier ideas (as say, Dickens and other Nineteenth Century authors could be, when their novels were initially published in installments, and written as the publication proceeded). But it also seems entirely feasible that one can find residual bits of the progenitor characters (just as Strider seems to remember Trotter's capture in Moria and torture at the hands of the Black Riders).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 21, 4:32pm

Post #21 of 91 (584 views)
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The Pippin here is certainly different than the one [In reply to] Can't Post

who's a captive of the Orcs crossing Rohan, or who's with Gandalf in Minas Tirith, and it's not just because he was more grown-up in those later chapters. From your knowledge of HOME (I'm glad you've read it and are generous enough to contribute here--I, sadly, just can't get very far into HOME before it seems like "work" that obscures my pleasure), it seems like this is a chapter of relics, including the fox, which I find very out of place. And don't get me wrong--I like this chapter. It's a fun adventure of friends in the Shire and works on many levels: comedy, comradery, foreshadowing the greater existential threat of Sauron, and just plain entertainment as a normal walk in the woods becomes a scary pursuit.

I might say it's the chapter where the light-hearted The Hobbit collides with the more somber LOTR, especially the "collision" at the end where the discussion with Gildor gets serious, and he seems a stand-in for Gandalf, clearly knowing more dark things than he's saying and scaring Frodo (and me). Maybe it was an accidental transition chapter rather than a deliberate one, but as we've said, Tolkien's accidents can be eucatastrophes.


Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 21, 4:57pm

Post #22 of 91 (578 views)
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I think you're absolutely right. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien wrote the Party chapter and began this one as a straight-up Hobbit sequel for children. But then there was that eucatastrophic moment, when a childish prank on the tardy Gandalf transformed - right there on the page - into hiding from a sinister horseman cloaked in black. This indeed is the moment where the "New Hobbit" turned a corner.

Gildor/Gandalf: The first germ of the chapter "The Shadow of the Past" was a conversation between Bingo and Gildor, which was later transferred to Gandalf at Bag End.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jan 21, 5:02pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 21, 6:54pm

Post #23 of 91 (568 views)
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But why not complete the transition, I wonder? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm stubbornly working away at an idea which I see I keep revisiting as we discuss some LOTR Book I 'favourite chapters' I hope I'm not becoming boring about this (please do say if I am!) We keep noting that early Book I doesn't really fit the rest of the work in tone or style (or, since I'm not sure I mean either of those words exactly, some other term that distinguishes 'Hobbit II' from 'LOTR proper'.)
It's also not just us - I remember A Published Tolkien Scholar (very likely Tom Shippey, but I'm not sure) commenting that you can see LOTR stop being Hobbit II, steady down and find itself in Book I. That being so, I'm wondering: why not yet another revision, to make everything consistent? Publishing technology in Tolkien's day meant that everything could remain fluid until it went to the typesetter (after which there were fees for changes). And as we know Tolkien was sometimes willing to insist on changes even to published work (Hobbit 1e changed to make Gollum's behaviour over the Ring 2e consistent with LOTR)

So, picking up on our latest discussion, I'd read too that what was to be 'Hobbit II' took an unexpected turn, and Tolkien followed his instincts going from a ring that the Dark Lord wanted back to The Ring, and the main plot of Frodo having to try save the world by destroying an evil treasure that nobody can give up. The secondary plot (that of Aragorn and the restoration of the Kings of Gondor) turns up a bit later, if I recall.

Various bits of what we still have in the first half of Book I were written by then. The whole of Book I was revised and re-written several times, if I recall, simultaneously with efforts to draft, sketch and outline later bits. So the development process of Book I, all devotedly documented by Christopher Tolkien in HoME, was very complex.


So why not a final revision, to bring Early Pippin into line with Later Pippin, to get rid of the Fox, or to make whatever other changes seem necessary to make the early bit match the later? (We might differ about the desirable cuts or changes and I don't want to get bogged down in editing the work now in committee! To recap, my question is more - if we are saying that the first part of Book I doesn't really fit the rest in some way that we maybe don't need to unpack in detail right now, how did it come to be left like that, when further revision must have been an option)?

Do we think Tolkien couldn't bring himself to do it - he lacked the energy to revise it yet again; was too fond of what he'd already written, lost sight of the wood for the trees, or didn't see that the change from 'Hobbit-like' to 'LOTR-like' (if you see what I mean) was a bit bumpy? Are we saying - whisper it softly - that Tolkien could have done with a more assertive editor to put a red pen through some of the early survivals that were no longer working with the whole? Shocked That is, I think, the position Elizabeth was taking when we discussed House of Tom Bombadil and she said:

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This whole section was originally written long before Tolkien really had any idea where the story was heading, according to HoME, and although he did retroactively edit it some (e.g. the Black Rider hooves), there's still a lot of extraneous material. Bombadill had previously starred in some other stories he wrote for his kids, and I persist in believing its inclusion here is an indulgence,. This is not one of my favorite chapters.
Elizabeth in "They've all been sleeping outdoors."



Or is there a master plan? Is the transition from 'Hobbit-like' to 'LOTR-like' a deliberate effect - it's like that because we're supposed to notice it and feel .....what? (That's the position I've been experimenting with, because I thought it would be fun to look for a master plan. But I haven't discovered it yet. So maybe Elizabeth is right - as usual, Elizabeth! )
I don't know whether it's relevant, but I notice that The Hobbit also gets more serious as it goes on. The Thorin who lands on Bilbo's doormat don't seem altogether like his later self (last week we were looking at one possible transition point: Thorin's speechifying in 'Inside Information' might be for comedy, but then shortly afterwards he's a brisk and efficient officer trying to get everyone under cover from the incoming Smaug attack. Tolkien doesn't seem to want us to find Thorin funny after that,as far as I remember).

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that 'I have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 21, 7:23pm

Post #24 of 91 (571 views)
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I would go with "it's deliberate, and for effect" [In reply to] Can't Post

As you say, Tolkien published exactly the "Fellowship of the Ring" that he wanted to publish, completely revised with full knowledge of how the plot and characters would play out to the end.

Perhaps the idea of readers complaining that they couldn't get into The Lord of the Rings, or didn't like it until they got to Book II, or found the whole beginning too juvenile for words, is a more recent one, postdating Tolkien's thoughts and designs by about two or three generations now. I daresay - follow me closely here - that the vast majority of adults these days who try to read The Lord of the Rings for the first time have not just put down The Hobbit and are now looking about for another book about Bilbo and the hobbits.

But that's how I read it - or rather, that's how the books were read to me by my mother, when I was about 7 or 8. We listened to The Hobbit, loved it, and soon enough were promised we could hear another book from the same world. I still remember my angry tears when my big brother snidely informed me that the new book would not have Bilbo as its hero, but some new hobbit I didn't know, called Frodo.

In short, in the early 1950s, for all that Tolkien knew he'd written a vastly more important and adult book than The Hobbit, he nevertheless also knew that he had readers out there, some who had grown from children to young adults in the meantime, who did expect "Hobbit II". I believe the Prof realized they would need to be (or would be grateful for being) gently eased, not booted, out of Bilbo's quasi-comic mode and into Frodo and Aragorn's not-at-all-comic mode, just as he had done for himself in the act of writing the book.

For further context, re-read the original Foreword to the new book. It's much 'cuter' than the second edition Foreword that we now read, and definitely assumes that all the readers of the new book have more or less just put The Hobbit down.



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


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Solicitr
Gondor


Jan 21, 8:10pm

Post #25 of 91 (554 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post


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And as we know Tolkien was sometimes willing to insist on changes even to published work (Hobbit 1e changed to make Gollum's behaviour over the Ring 2e consistent with LOTR)


"insist on changes" is not entirely accurate. Tolkien had written a revised 'Riddles in the Dark' around 1947 more or less as a jeu d'esprit, but which he sent to A&U as a 'specimen of re-writing.' He was completely astonished when, three years later, A&U sent him galleys for the Hobbit reprinting and the new chapter was in it! He decided to go with it, although its presence required yet more re-writing in LR. Cf. Letters nos. 128, 129, 130

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