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*** Favorite Chapters – The Shadow of the Past (LOTR)
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Mar 2, 1:20am

Post #26 of 31 (414 views)
No contradiction here, mate! [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
The comment about the rumours of wars in the far south and east seems to be placed around the same time that Gandalf makes his last visit to Frodo.

Frodo was 33 at Bilbos birthday party. There is a comment in the chapter that Frodo was nearing his 50th year, but according to the Tale of Years Gandalfs last visit was in 3008, when Frodo would be 41 I think, so I don't know how that matches up?

The entry you cite in the "Tale of Years" is deceptive. The year 3008 was Gandalf's last visit to the Shire before the Great Years. Then he returned in April of 3018 when Frodo was 49 years old. It was around this time that the rumors of wars in the East and South were reaching hobbit lands. And, yes, I agree that tit must have been these events that were driving dwarves and Mannish refugees out of distant lands.


No One in Particular

Mar 2, 2:25am

Post #27 of 31 (407 views)
The end of all things... [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
And, while this is interestingly drifting toward being a de facto discussion of Mount Doom, I have to ask whether anybody else has ever had the grim thought that runs through my head every time through... that a less satisfying, but more reasonable, ending might well have been: Frodo cannot beat the Ring at the Sammath Naur, puts it on and proclaims himself, and Sam, realizing that his master can't overcome it and neither could anybody else, barrels into Frodo and runs them both over the edge, together. Saving the world the only way he can, knowing Frodo would agree it's a better choice if he were in his right mind, and expressing his love and loyalty by going down with him (I don't think it would ever cross his mind to do otherwise, at that extremity).

JRRT being Catholic and all, I would think having his primary protagonists commit (heroic) suicide might very well be sacrilegious to him.

This based on my understanding that Catholics have a very dim view of suicide. I will freely admit I may be in error about the severity of their dislike, as I am not myself Catholic.

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


Mar 2, 7:51am

Post #28 of 31 (379 views)
Following up [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, everyone who commented on this chapter. I may (or may not) respond to some individual posts, but first I'd like to give a few of my thoughts (those that I haven't already posted), as well as some clarifications.

Regarding the building of the Dark Tower, although it doesn't answer my question completely, Sauron was hanging out with the Elves in Eregion for about half the time the Dark Tower was being built, and it's possible no work was being done in his absence. Also, he had to forge the One Ring, and that may have taken some time, given that it took him and the Elven Smiths of Eregion 300 years to get to the point where they were able to forge the Great Rings. So possibly it only took him a little over 200 years to complete the whole tower complex. Also, apparently the tower was destroyed at the end of the Second Age, but the foundations remained. Also, it's possible he had a lot more workers the second time round, and that they were better organized.

I do tend to think the wars in the far east and south were from Sauron consolidating his power in Harad and Rhûn, although I think other interpretations are possible, and for a Hobbit, "far east and south" may not necessarily mean such lands.

I've always interpreted what Halfast said he saw as an Ent, or something Ent-like, but I couldn't say whether that's what Tolkien intended.

Regarding aging, perhaps I should have included this passage which occurred earlier in the chapter:

‘Ah well eh?’ said Gandalf. ‘You look the same as ever, Frodo!’

‘So do you,’ Frodo replied; but secretly he thought that Gandalf looked older and more careworn.

I had interpreted that as meaning that Gandalf had aged since Frodo saw him last, but I suppose his "older" appearance could be due entirely to his being careworn.

I won't say much about the Ring(s), as I didn't really have any answers myself, except that I thought the Three Rings must somehow be different, and indeed they are said to be different in that Sauron was not involved in their creation. I suppose Gandalf ignores them because they are already well known and accounted for, and Frodo's ring is clearly not one of them.

It does seem to me that we need to interpret Gandalf's insight into Sauron's thought process as perhaps his best guess at the time, even if he tends to state it in absolute terms, but it seems to me that it leaves Gandalf seeming a bit like Obi-wan Kenobi. Why not just tell the truth, and say, "I don't know for sure. Perhaps Sauron..."?

Although I hadn't previously thought much about it, I suppose the force that meant for Bilbo to find the Ring would be Eru Iluvatar.

I do like the idea that you don't have to be "somebody" to be the "chosen one", but I can see, from Gandalf's point of view, why it would make sense to choose the best Hobbit for the job, and at the same time try to avoid encouraging him to get a big head about it.

A thought that occurred to me recently is that Bilbo also returned from his adventure to find his home in disarray, although an auction and legal troubles are not quite the same as the Battle of Bywater against "Sharkey" and his ruffians. It seems to me that the Shire is the "Home Front" in the War of the Ring, and for someone who lived in England during both world wars, the idea that the Home Front would remain untouched would seem to go against experience.

I'm not sure how clear my last question was, or even if I should have phrased it as a question. At the very least, the beginning of The Lord of the Rings marks a change from The Hobbit, where Bilbo leaves his very comfortable Hobbit hole and goes on a very uncomfortable adventure because some part of him wants to see new sights and have a bit of excitement. In contrast, Frodo leaves the Shire because he needs to escape the servants of Sauron, but also because he wants to draw them away from the Shire. It struck me that I've read or seen similar openings often before, for example in The Sword of Shannara, and Star Wars. However, the one pre-Tolkien example that I am able to think of at the moment is The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, whose writing Tolkien is known to have liked. But The Thirty-Nine Steps was a contemporary thriller/spy novel. I suppose that my unstated idea is that perhaps Tolkien was innovative in combining elements from medieval romances and fairy stories, which at that time tended to be seen as stories for children, with elements from novels written for contemporary adult tastes. I can't say that I'm familiar with everything Tolkien is known to have read and liked, nor am I all that familiar with Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, so that idea might lack support.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Mar 2, 3:05pm

Post #29 of 31 (348 views)
Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
All victories are temporary, yet Tolkien ultimately decided to abandon The New Shadow because he felt it was too depressing.

Or he may simply not have been up to completing it. In his latter years, he nearly abandoned more projects than he began.

What Tolkien himself said was that it would have been a "mere thriller-- not worth doing." In other words, it would have been a story with no cosmic dimension, no demon-god to be defeated, no metaphysical implications, just a detective story set in Gondor and so, really, nothing more than author-generated fan-fic.

(This post was edited by Solicitr on Mar 2, 3:07pm)

The Dude

Mar 2, 6:44pm

Post #30 of 31 (324 views)
Remark [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
In other words, it would have been a story with (...) no metaphysical implications, just a (...).

So you mean like "A Song of Ice and Fire" or most post-Tolkien "fantasy"? (still, of better quality perhaps)^^

uncle Iorlas

Mar 3, 2:00am

Post #31 of 31 (307 views)
help us, Olórin-wan [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
It does seem to me that we need to interpret Gandalf's insight into Sauron's thought process as perhaps his best guess at the time, even if he tends to state it in absolute terms, but it seems to me that it leaves Gandalf seeming a bit like Obi-wan Kenobi. Why not just tell the truth, and say, "I don't know for sure. Perhaps Sauron..."?

I think that's nothing more than his particular personality at work. Old Ben and Gandalf could be brothers, on one level, but very different ones; Kenobi is well-bred and reserved and exquisitely mannerly under fire, and our Gandalf is a bit of a crotchety old coot, never missing a chance to remind anyone who's listening that he was right all along and he guessed everything in advance and they're all a bit foolish by comparison. Even when it isn't quite true: I've always taken a certain satisfaction, in Rivendell, noting that even as he tell the hobbits that they were the only eye-openers and he was the only one not surprised—that according to the narration he was caught quite flatfooted that Frodo saw his escape in a dream.

All of which is to say, I'm sure if you pressed him on the point he'd admit that his study of the enemy's mind is a web of educated guesswork, but speaking more casually he's confident enough to volunteer his guesses as more or less established principles. He does not, after all, counsel prudence...

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