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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 24, 4:14pm

Post #51 of 91 (387 views)
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Thanks but Don't encourage me "You do not know your peril" :) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm worse that Merry when asked about pipe-weed, and could carry on discussing my home county and posting photos until I caused mass wisteria


[caption - a street of Oxfordshire cottages on which a lot of wisteria is flowering]

One piece of trivia that might interest folks though is that the John Tolkien was parish priest of an Oxfordshire Catholic Church, which consequently now has a rather familiar design to its weathervane:


[Caption - a weathervane at St Peter's RC Church Eynsham, Oxfordshre, in the form of the JRRT monogram]

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


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 24, 4:14pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 24, 4:58pm

Post #52 of 91 (381 views)
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I get lost in all the plant names too [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I always feel bad for knowing too little about plants to really absorb all the information he offers.


When Tolkien goes on about something like "the elders were beginning to fade, while hickory was about to bloom, and the mahogany competed with the lotuses...", my eyes just glaze over, as if someone were saying "the cadmium nickel alloy interacted with the dihydrogen phosphate dilution to produce a helium argon composite." And I do like plants! But he talks about them in a way that suggests that the reader not only knows them, but also knows a lot about them and can keep up with him, which I just can't. But, the overall effect is always good.





Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 24, 4:59pm

Post #53 of 91 (379 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Anyway, it seems plausible to me that most of Tolkien's landscapes are composites of real-life experience and imagination, rather than usually being a direct lift of something from real life.


Certainly. For example, it has been pointed out that his striking image of the brown Withywindle, covered and surrounded by willows and yellow willow-leaves, could almost be a portrait of the Cherwell above its confluence with Isis in late September-- except that the Withywindle isn't in the middle of a busy city! T would certainly have been familiar with it, as Addison's Walk was one of his favorite strolls.

WRT vocabulary: an awful lot of his "archaic" words in this part are actually dialectical or colloquial: words still (at least in the 30s-40s) used by country-folk long after we clevers abandoned them for sleek urban modspeak.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jan 24, 5:01pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 24, 6:42pm

Post #54 of 91 (368 views)
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NZ locations were magnificent. [In reply to] Can't Post

...and quite likely they help a lot of modern readers imagine the book. I certainly would not want someone to join the discussion at this point and think I was claiming that only British locations would be 'authentic' in some way (I'm not worried about those of us who've read the whole thing forgetting that I made that point earlier, but I think sometimes people jump in where the post title looks promising and get the wrong idea).

Anyone trying to shoot a film or imagine the book in the UK (for whatever reason) would have a number of problems finding locations, I expect. I can't think of a suitably dramatic river gorge, and we don't have any active volcanoes. A major problem would surely be the lack of high dramatic mountains. You can't have Middle-earth without mountains. I think the idea is that Tolkien drew upon things he'd seen in a trip to the Alps (though my guess is that it all got stewed up with other things he'd read or thought about - I think that's what creative people often do) . So we'd end up outside the UK even with an attempt to shoot at/ imagine the places that Tolkien is known to have visited personally and which are believed to have influenced him.

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


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 24, 9:14pm

Post #55 of 91 (361 views)
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Of Gildor [In reply to] Can't Post

I have assumed that Gildor and his company where making their way to the Grey Havens, but now I suppose that there is no proof of that. I wonder what journey his company where going to.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 24, 9:17pm

Post #56 of 91 (362 views)
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OOOh [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd have quite liked the dancing pink elephants. Or maybe brown ones. Or maybe oliphants. But not in the Shire. Unless they are pink.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 24, 9:20pm

Post #57 of 91 (359 views)
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A question about the Shire [In reply to] Can't Post

Is there actually anywhere an official map of it? I have wondered where it's precise borders are. it sounds like it could be a bit bigger than I imagined if one takes the ultimate possibilities of its border.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 24, 11:12pm

Post #58 of 91 (358 views)
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I thought I remembered [In reply to] Can't Post

That they were on their way to the towers on the far downs, if not the Havens.

I've had precious little time to weigh in here, but here's at least the germ of the thought I keep wanting to stick in: particularly with respect to the discussion of how the early chapters welcome readers hot off the Hobbit, the arrival of Gildor and his people marks the first appearance of the dignified, high and holy sort of elves we feel reverence for. That's not really present in the Hobbit, where the elves are a good bit more waggish and fey and susceptible to their own oafish behaviors. Here, though, we begin to see them as wee angels, still steaming a bit with the memory of Heaven.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 25, 1:41am

Post #59 of 91 (349 views)
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Maps of the Shire [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is there actually anywhere an official map of it? I have wondered where it's precise borders are. it sounds like it could be a bit bigger than I imagined if one takes the ultimate possibilities of its border.


(Christopher?) Tolkien's map of the Shire, generally found at the end of the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring only shows the central region and only extends to the eastern border and the Old Forest. For a more complete map that shows the borders of the Shire, you have to look at other sources. Here is a map by the late Karen Wynn Fonstad from The Atlas of Middle-earth:



Click on the pic for a larger image. At the time of the War of the Ring, the Shire measured perhaps 150 miles from east to west, and about 140 miles from north to south.

#FidelityToTolkien


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 25, 2:08am

Post #60 of 91 (348 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
That they were on their way to the towers on the far downs, if not the Havens. .


According to The Road Goes Ever On, they had just been on a pilgrimage to Emyn Beraid (to look in the Palantir), and were on their way back to Rivendell.

Why on earth they didn't take Frodo with them is unanswered.....


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 25, 3:52am

Post #61 of 91 (347 views)
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Guess I had that backward [In reply to] Can't Post

And yes indeed, if so it seems mad not to travel together. Gildor knew the hobbits were making for Rivendell, didn't he? Alao, why do we not see them there once we arrive?


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Jan 25, 9:11am

Post #62 of 91 (322 views)
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perhaps Gildor [In reply to] Can't Post

was the one who left the beryl-stone on the Last Bridge. Or did Glorfindal do it? He says he left a token on the Bridge of Mitheithel.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 25, 3:15pm

Post #63 of 91 (293 views)
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Shire Map [In reply to] Can't Post

Apparently there exists - not in print - CT's original map of the Shire ca. 1943, of which the published one was a cropped copy. It was here that CT added many of those very hobbity place-names, most borrowed from real places in England, since apparently his father had given him a "feel free" for the blank areas


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 25, 3:32pm

Post #64 of 91 (293 views)
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Why don't the elves fly with Frodo to Rivendell? [In reply to] Can't Post

I read Gildor as very reluctant to take charge of a situation that is clearly delicate, but which he doesn't understand (see long quote below for the bit I'm reading that makes me think this). Perhaps this shows he's wise - I expect most of us have seen someone take charge of a situation they haven't mastered, and, then make it far worse or thwart someone else's perfectly fine plan?

There's a bit of 'being foiled by our own security'. Frodo has been guarded in what he's said to Gildor ("You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?"). What plight does Gildor imagine Frodo is in? Clealry some very hush-hush wizard business requires Frodo to go to Rivendell (Frodo tells Gildor that, prompting Gildor to say his bit about not meddling in the affairs of wizards). But I'm not sure Gildor's guessed the whole truth, and therefore the full significance of Frodo's journey. Perhaps it would all be different if Frodo told Gildor all that we readers know.

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't be different. I notice that people who do know all about Frodo's situation are eager to show him options, but very reluctant to make choices for him. Examples include:
  • Gandalf - has been reluctant earlier in this chapter to tell Frodo when or in which direction to set out. Perhaps this is just as well. A more hasty Gandalf might have bustled Frodo off to Orthanc to consult Saruman immediately. That probably would not have gone well.
  • Council of Elrond - waits for Frodo to volunteer rather than orders him to go
  • Galadriel and Celeborn - don't insist on Frodo looking in the Mirror; equips the Fellowship with boats so as to postpone the Mordor or Gondor choice.
  • Aragorn at Parth Galen - leaves Frodo to make the Mordor or Gondor choice
I think the wise in Middle-earth try to sense what is 'meant to happen', and then help to make that so. My sense of this is to do with Gildor's comment "In this meeting there may be more than chance; but the purpose is not clear to me, and I fear to say too much." I read that as Gildor saying it's possible that this meeting with Frodo has been 'arranged' (by Fate, the Valar, Eru, or other options as you wish). But to what purpose, if indeed the meeting wasn't just a random encounter after all? Gildor is waiting for some further sign before intervening more fully than being Frodo's host, and then doing low risk stuff like sending out messages to alert Rivendell, Bombadil and Aragorn. Perhaps it would have been different had Frodo asked to be escorted to Rivendell (maybe that would be a sign that Gildor &Co. are to be Frodo's bodyguard). But Gildor doesn't feel it's appropriate to offer things Frodo hasn't asked for.

Here's what Gildor says:

Quote
“‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you? But if you demand advice, I will for friendship’s sake give it. I think you should now go at once, without delay; and if Gandalf does not come before you set out, then I also advise this: do not go alone. Take such friends as are trusty and willing. Now you should be grateful, for I do not give this counsel gladly. The Elves have their own labours and their own sorrows, and they are little concerned with the ways of hobbits, or of any other creatures upon earth. Our paths caross theirs seldom, by chance or purpose. In this meeting there may be more than chance; but the purpose is not clear to me, and I fear to say too much.’”


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


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 25, 6:08pm

Post #65 of 91 (281 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I suspect generally you're right. OTOH, what Gildor does know is that Frodo is being pursued by freakin' Nazgul! Shouldn't that have been enough to knock him off his neutrality high horse? The Riders alone would have told him that whatever Frodo had gotten himself into it was a very, VERY big deal, and that whatever it was was of an importance to Sauron unprecedented for long centuries.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 25, 8:21pm

Post #66 of 91 (267 views)
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I'm 50-50 on Gildor and what he should have done, but maybe this goes back to [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The Lord of the Rings is, of course, a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”

I'm not Catholic, but someone in the Rdg Room quoted a Catholic once as saying that this means everything works according to God's plan, or alternatively, nothing can be accomplished without God, so do whatever you're going to do and expect help from God in making it succeed. So in that sense, Gildor was being a good Catholic and trusting to saints, angels, wizards, and Iluvatar to help Frodo out with the big stuff. Meanwhile, Gildor would send messages ahead for people to help him, a sort of mashup of traditional fairy tales (the quest's path is lined with helpers who just materialize along the way) and Catholicism.

I still don't find that personally very satisfying, and I'm not trying to be dismissive of the idea that Gildor made an unbelievably bad judgment call, but it's how I try to make sense of Tolkien's thinking.

And then I think in real life about people not doing the obvious rational, logical thing that is throbbing right in front of them, and that happens pretty often. Real life is just as illogical and frustrating as fiction.

And I still think Gildor blew it. But so did Gandalf with the ridiculous decision to not ride directly to Rivendell to summon help for Frodo and instead dismiss Shadowfax and make that preposterous journey on foot.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 25, 11:18pm

Post #67 of 91 (253 views)
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I think our best shield against this reading [In reply to] Can't Post

other than fatalism, anyway--is to drum hard on the idea that the powerful allies are slow to realize the magnitude of what Frodo's mixed up in. Which means it's perpetually out of the question for anyone to just guess that the One is involved, save Gandalf alone. But also maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul. Cos if he did--dude. You can't just drop that on a hobbit.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 25, 11:28pm

Post #68 of 91 (252 views)
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Good point [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially because it took our Wise Wizard years to figure out it was Sauron's One Ring. Gildor couldn't figure that out in an evening with Frodo withholding information.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 26, 11:25am

Post #69 of 91 (194 views)
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I agree - "maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul." [In reply to] Can't Post

   

In Reply To
it's perpetually out of the question for anyone to just guess that the One is involved, save Gandalf alone. But also maybe we shouldn't assume that Gildor specifically understands "black riders" as Nazgul. Cos if he did--dude. You can't just drop that on a hobbit.
Uncle I ( a bit upthread, but the point with which Curious G and I are agreeing)

To us, of course 'Black Riders' is a synonym for Nazgul, because that's the sense of the story. It's clear that we're toe regard the Black Riders of Book 1 as the same creatures as the Nazgul when they turn up later (though they do seem to have had a upgrade while we've not been watching them, and whether and how that works is a possible further thing to talk about).
But it does seem to me that Gildor could be different. It's frightened talk of 'black riders' (he probably can't hear the capitalization) that persuades Gildor to take the hobbits in for the night, and in his talk with Frodo it's clear that he's assumed these black riders are agents of the Enemy. So the question is whether it should be totally obvious that these black riders are the reappearance of the Nazgul. For some bizarre reason I've spent a while thinking about this. I suppose that concluding that black riders = nazgul requires some reasoning, whichbreaks down into further questions (I've numbered them so you know I mean business Wink):
  1. If you knew about them from the Second Age but didn't realise they'd been unleashed in the Third Age present of this story, would you expect the Nazgul to appear as riders in black?
  2. Are there many other riders in black, who are servants of Sauron, but not Nazgul?
My own reasoning is that it's
  1. No
  2. Yes
...and I reach that conclusion as follows:

1) Gandalf reports to the Council of Elrond that Radagast told him about the Nazgul as follows:

Quote
"I have an urgent errand,” he said. “My news is evil.” Then he looked about him, as if the hedges might have ears. “Nazgűl,” he whispered. “The Nine are abroad again. They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black.”"
(My italics)

My thought is that "They have taken the guise of riders in black" is redundant if the nazgul are always dressed like that.

I'm also reminded that Strider tells the hobbits that the nazgul use the robes to clothe their nothingness (or something like that, if that's not the correct direct quote). Presumably any kind of concealing clothing would also work for that? So not conclusive, I agree, but I persuade myself.


2) I can think of at least one person who can be described as a black rider (someone wearing black and on a horse) but who isn't a Black Rider (synonym for Nazgul):

Quote
“The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dűr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’”


Indeed, as I read it, Sauron has a host of black riders:

Quote
"All that host was clad in sable, dark as the night. Against the wan walls and the luminous pavement of the road Frodo could see them, small black figures in rank upon rank, marching swiftly and silently, passing outwards in an endless stream. Before them went a great cavalry of horsemen moving like ordered shadows...”

(OK, I can also read that so the at infantry is clad in black - first sentence - and we haven't been told in the second sentence what colour the cavalry uniforms are. But I'm going to infer black. I think Sauron has a thing about black.

Sadly I don't think we get a description of how Sauron's messenger to Dain is dressed - just "A horseman in the night" if I recall. But in any case, I'm personally happy to conclude it's not unreasonable for Gildor to conclude that 'black riders' means Sauron's troops or agents, rather than it being unavoidable to conclude that its the Nazgul. That for me makes sense of Gildr saying (to Frodo in our chapter)

I also agree that Gildor might not get to the truth because the truth is pretty improbable. Radagast clearly considers that his news for Gandalf is pretty rad and they're both aghast. But he doesn't seem to have worked out why the Nazgul are abroad. Only Gandalf and Saruman have nearly all the pieces of the puzzle.
As a final thought (just occurred to me so may be wrong): in some ways Gildor is one of the last people to be able to work it out. The travels of the Nazgul are supposed to have given all the mortals who see them the screaming heebie-geebies. Maybe only the otherwordly elves haven't heard about this?

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


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 26, 11:32am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 26, 11:46am

Post #70 of 91 (188 views)
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Is there also a point here about the story's genesis? [In reply to] Can't Post

We've discussed earlier that the Black Riders sort of popped up into the story without Tolkien consciously having expected it. When he wrote the Gildor episode I don't know whether Tolkien had realized that the Black Riders were the awful Nazgul. I have a hazy memory that for a while there were many rings and many black riders, before Tolkien heightened it to The Ring and The Nazgul?

~~~~~~
"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 26, 11:47am

Post #71 of 91 (189 views)
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Is there anything else in this chapter you'd like to discuss? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's our last day as chapter of the week, after which we plunge back underground to face the long dark of Moria. This thread won't be locked off once it's no longer chapter of the week, and so further thoughts can always be posted. But of course it's right to support whoever is hosting the current week's chapter!
So what have we not discussed yet that you'd like to raise? Ask, theorize or otherwise share away!

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


sador
Half-elven


Jan 26, 1:06pm

Post #72 of 91 (186 views)
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You not on time? What about me, a week late? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I have a sort of an excuse - I did plan to respond last week, and for some reason the server had problems. I hope this comes through - and that I will be able to post the discussion I am supposed to lead in two weeks' time!



In Reply To

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


I never felt that way. Possibly because I was a Bakshi-firster, and had two extras who are only differentiated (ever so slightly) when captured by the orcs - I was overjoyed to find they have their distinct personalities.







In Reply To

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.


All ideas for not making an immediate run read like excuses - except for the one Gandalf himself states: It was a blunder. At first, Gandalf had no real sense of urgency, and preferred to indulge Frodo (and also enable a less provocative disappearing for him); and after hearing Radagast's news, he both panicked and decided to trust Butterbur.
The wish for an Autumn departure if all fine and dandy - but Tolkien didn't really have to place The Shadow of the Past that early in the year.




In Reply To
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.

Is this a specifically English thing?





In Reply To
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.

That's a very nice observation. I like it very much.
Apart of the effects you've mentioned - it also personalizes our experience of Middle-earth. We care about the place itself, and that is because we were so (unknowingly) active in constructing it.





In Reply To
I like the banter and relationship between the three hobbits.

So did Tolkien himself, and Christopher (as a boy). As a matter of fact, Tolkien confessed that the early chapters took him so long to write, because he enjoyed writing and re-writing this part so much.



Does the writing work this way for you too? What sort of countryside do you imagine?
Oh boy, I have so little in way of visual imagination - I have no idea.
I guess that is a part of why I enjoyed the films so much - without having much of an opinion on how well they represented Middle-earth.




In Reply To
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.

Seeing how Gandalf allowed him to dawdle on the way - why should he?
And unlike the reader - Frodo did have three calm months, to lull him into a flase sense of security.




In Reply To

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.


That's not a bad way of putting it.


plot stuff:

In Reply To
Gandalf’s absence - the first occurance of our heroes being split up, unable to communicate, and having to guess what best to do.

Is Gandalf a hero? I would say he is a mentor and a guide, rather than a companion. As a matter of fact, that is the same as in The Hobbit.





In Reply To
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.


We don't quite understand yet - but now we have Tolkien's word for it, as well.




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


Yes. I have written several times on these boards, that Gildor's messages - and his blessing Frodo in the name of Elbereth - amount to a lot of help, hardly less than actually taking the hobbits with him. And it did give Frodo a lot of schooling.
But I do sympathize with the feeling that he should have taken Frodo with him. Would it actually have been better? Who knows?





In Reply To
Sam’s new found determination to see the Quest through.

Somebody pointed out his farewell to the beer-barrel.
As far as I remember, we only learn of his determination in the next chapter, do we not?





In Reply To
I’d like also to point out how Frodo is already having to learn to rely on himself and his friends.

I've mentioned that above, regarding Gildor. And yes, it will be some time before he is any good at it - but without this schooling, he would never have been able to make it into Mordor.
But here's a point to ponder - if Gildor had just looked in the Palantir, and since he has some mystic connection to Varda - might he have been guided more clearly than others, and intuited that it would be better to just let Frodo go on his merry way alone?
This is a massive stretch, of course. Call it a UUT (an Utterly Unsupported Theory).



In Reply To

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!



It is a leftover from The Hobbit. Fun in itself, and a way for Tolkien to point out how unusual this situation is - but not even mentioned later as being in cahoots with Bombadil (which I might have expected, seeing how familiar he is with badgers).


As a last point to ponder: what do you make of the chapter title?
Well, it makes sense to me, as it reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:12: "...and a threefold cord is not quickly broken".


However, the author of Bored of the Rings have sort of adopted your suggestion at the beginning of the post - and made this chapter into "Three's company, Four's a bore".



Thinking about things I don't understand


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 26, 2:54pm

Post #73 of 91 (171 views)
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Look, black is a slimming color that never goes out of style [In reply to] Can't Post

so there's Sauron's fashion-sense to consider, as well as him being self-conscious about his Third Age belly.

But more seriously, the Mouth of Sauron came to my mind too when I thought of alternatives to the Nazgul that Gildor might know about. And you make a good point that he wouldn't have heard the capitalization of Black Riders in the hobbits' voices.

Gildor's final words on the topic seem mixed:

Quote
Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me! But my heart forbodes that, ere all is ended, you, Frodo son of Drogo, will know more of these fell things than Gildor Inglorion. May Elbereth protect you!’

Any Wise person would counsel the hobbits to avoid the Mouth of Sauron at all costs--it's enough to know he's a servant of the Enemy, and he seems pretty deadly. But "fell things" is a different category. And if the riders were just Black Numenoreans, there wouldn't be that much to know about them, but Gildor's foreboding that Frodo will know more about them than Gildor does seems like there's something special, and awful, to to know about these particular black riders. Possibly Gildor himself isn't sure of what they are, and he certainly hasn't seen them: maybe they're Nazgul, and maybe they're just Sauron's servants wearing black. I think the reader knows more than Gildor, overall.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 26, 4:32pm

Post #74 of 91 (164 views)
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Come on Inn - and other trivia [In reply to] Can't Post

A few thoughts after re-reading, at your invitation.

1) I suddenly noticed that Frodo's decision to sell Bag End as the chapter opens is said to reach both the Ivy Bush and the Green Dragon. Truth to tell, in all my readings of the book, I'd never noticed that there are two, not one, Shire inns filled with gossips at the beginning of the book.

So, as I found, the Ivy Bush is "on the Bywater Road", and it's the place in Chapter One where the Gaffer and the Miller and others discuss Bilbo's and Frodo's history and affairs in the run-up to the farewell party. The Green Dragon, on the other hand, is in Bywater itself, and it is the place in Chapter Two where Sam and Ted and others discuss what's happened in the Shire in the years since Bilbo's party.

I couldn't help but notice that the first place features the older generation, while the second involves their sons. Presumably this conveys some passage of time, as well as the handing of the story's torch from Bilbo (older "Hobbit" generation) to Frodo (younger "Lord of the Rings" generation).

But why not hammer it home by having both conversations take place in the same Inn, assuming readers are even attentive enough to remember one inn from another (as I was not)? Since this chapter refers to both Inns as recipients of the news of the next part of the plot, are we supposed to think that the Gaffer and Sandyman are still monopolizing the Ivy Bush, while their sons, seeking a way out of their fathers' shadows, have colonized a new hang-out for themselves?

2) Another aspect of the story that I notice today is that Frodo manages to find a way East from his hole to Crickhollow that allows him to travel unnoticed, as Gandalf had originally advised him to do. That is, he crosses the main river valley and Great Road under cover of darkness, and ascends into higher country to the South, said to be on the edge of the Tooklands. From there he heads East on an old, little-used "road" that leads to the Woody End in the Eastfarthing.

So far, so good. But they walk mile after mile through what seems to be wooded country, yet open enough to provide vistas of the more distant lands they are headed towards. The road is too narrow for carts, and there is "little traffic to the Woody End", in explanation for why "they had not met a soul on the road" (except for the fox, of course). There are no farmhouses; there are no woodsmen's huts; there are no fields or meadows; there are no travellers coming in the other direction. In short, in the heart of the Shire, the only place in all of Eriador that is intensively populated and cultivated, there is a perfectly mysterious and hidden semi-wooded and hilly corridor from Hobbiton to the Brandywine River.

I have to assume that, as you've been asking this week, this landscape is inspired by some corners of rural England that Tolkien had tramped in, some part that is actually unfarmed, ungrazed, and unsettled and yet is not considered a "forest" as The Old Forest is.

It's certainly very convenient, and quite reminiscent of most of the rest of the journey: wherever the Company walks on the Road that goes ever on, they never meet anyone who is not directly connected with the plot. Not on the Great Road from the Downs to Rivendell, not in the wild country from Rivendell to Moria, not on the next Great Road from the Morannon to the Crossroads, and not on the dire Road from Udun to Barad-dur.

I accept that this is how Tolkien has built his questing story, but it sometimes gets to me. In this chapter and the next particularly, when they are still in the Shire, I miss the lack of happenstance, of hail-fellow-well-met and how's the weather, of The Hobbit's more realistic transition from "a wide respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business" to "lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before" to "the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, no inns, and the roads grew steadily worse". After all, at this point Frodo is not trying to hide from the Shire-folk in order to conceal where or in which direction he is headed, as he and Gandalf had discussed at the beginning of the summer and despite his dislike of "too many eyes prying". His relocation to Buckland is public knowledge and had our three-hobbit company walked along the Great Road, it would or could have been of little consequence. One involuntarily concludes that Frodo is quite simply looking for an adventure right out of the gate.

3) Finally, is it an anachronism that Frodo says "All aboard, Sam?" when Sam emerges from the beer cellar? I associate that phrase with the departure of railroad trains: it's the traditional cry of the conductor warning travelers to get 'aboard' the train before it leaves them far behind. But perhaps it derives from an earlier usage regarding sailing ships in similar circumstances: get "aboard" before the boat leaves the dock? If the latter case is true, that might excuse Frodo from using an English colloquialism of the industrial era, at the expense of assuming there's a hobbit idiom that relates to overseas travel on pre-industrial sailing ships. (Unfortunate desire to check ... and yes, Cirdan says "All is now ready" rather than "All aboard", but then then sure enough, "the Elves were going aboard" the ship at the Havens.)



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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 26, 5:16pm

Post #75 of 91 (158 views)
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Gildor's final words - maybe that's where Tolkien wobbles? [In reply to] Can't Post

The meeting with Gildor combines two things about this chapter I really like, and perhaps Tolkien has just stacked up too many unstable ingredients.

To recap my initial post, I like the way that Tolkien has been able to nudge and wink me as a reader into more alarm about these Black Riders than Frodo is yet feeling. I imagine that's a delicate balance to write - characters have to convey things they have not fully interpreted themselves (or have interpreted differently to us). But yet they have to act naturally, rather than something like "Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me! You're not supposed to find out any more until you meet a chap called Strider! Oh bother - I wasn't supposed to tell you that!"

Gildor's advice - don't accept sweeties from strangers, basically - is a wise generic rule for actual or potential servants of the Enemy whether they are evil Big People or the dread Nazgul. I was thinking until just now that Gildor isn't giving any more specific advice because he doesn't know what kind of pursuers Frodo has, and therefore doesn't know what they will do. But in fact he says something a little different - it's because he doesn't know why Frodo is traveling that Gildor can't guess what the pursuers will do. I'm beginning to think Tolkien is overdoing the creating suspense here. Yes, arguably any servant of the Enemy is a 'deadly...fell creature'. But Gildor's logic (seemingly that the less Frodo knows the more likely he is to press on to safety) is a bit odd.

The other thing I really like, but which seems a bit unstable is the way the elves are presented here. I do like it - they wander into and out of the Shire on their own inscrutable business, and do so mostly unseen. Even Sam, who'd dearly like to see one hasn't managed it for sure before this. Respectable hobbit folk don't believe in, let alone have any truck with, such uncanny folk as elves. Yet here they are, crossing the Shire at will and setting up hidden greenwood dining halls, without a moment's bother about whose coppice they're camping out in. For a mortal to encounter them is a dreamlike experience (and then we'll find next chapter that they're gone in the morning). And it's something of the elves' choosing -- Gildor says he's seen Frodo more than Frodo has seen him.
So the elves in this chapter don't seem much like the elves of The Hobbit at all, but I see some similarity to the mysterious disappear-when-you-approach-their-campfire elves we first try to meet in Mirkwood. Gildor &Co. certainly seem stranger than than the pointy-eared Prince and his regional political power we get to know during the dwarves' imprisonment and the diplomacy and battle at Erebor. Nor do Gildor &Co. seem to me totally like the Rivendell or Lorien elves later in LOTR (or to Legolas). So maybe Gildor is caught between being too fey to help and too good and wise not to understand why he should help (as well as being unable to spill the beans because Tolkien isn't quite ready to have them spilled yet). Or maybe it all makes sense to Tolkien (or to the rest of you). But I'm now going to hum Joni Mitchell - "I really don't know elves at all."




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

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