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Fantastic Four

Feb 11, 5:38pm

Post #26 of 32 (764 views)
Mind is only a little blown [In reply to] Can't Post

“That night they heard no noises. But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise."

I want to touch on this decision by Tolkien to open this chapter with this particular dream. We have seen a chapter end with a dream in chapter 5. We have seen dreams occur in the middle of a chapter in chapter 7. And now we see a dream open a chapter, obviously not just any dream, but The Dream.

This may sound absurd to someone deeply familiar with the book, but my mental picture of This Dream was that it occurred at the end of a chapter, or perhaps in the middle of Frodo's time with Bombadil. It is blowing my mind that it is the first paragraph of the Barrow-Downs chapter. It seems like such a natural note to end on, rather than begin. I'll need to pull out HOME to see what's going on here, but I'm curious: why begin the chapter with this dream? What, if any, significance is there to Frodo's first sensory experience as he wakes up from This Dream being the sound of Tom Bombadil whistling?


Feb 12, 6:34pm

Post #27 of 32 (745 views)
I'd say... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd say that the musical sound of Frodo's dream segues into Tom's whistling. I think that's an effect Tolkien has used before - Frodo's dream at Crickhollow (and the chapter) ends with a sound like thunder. The first waking impression (and the start of the next chapter) is Merry banging on the door. So I think that is what the thunder has turned into (or, if you like, the banging of Merry trying to wake Frodo up was interpreted in Frodo's dream as thunder).

A popular theory about Frodo's 'swift sunrise' dream is that it is a vision of what he will one day see when he leaves Middle-earth. I don't know, come to think of it, whether that interpretation is 'official' -borne out by anything else Tolkien wrote - or if not who it was that invented it. (Other contributors to this forum are better at that kind of thing than I am). It's a fine interpretation in any case.

But it strikes me that an alternative interpretation is possible. Frodo might be dreaming of Goldberry's 'washing day' which is now done -- so time to do what Frodo did not dare the previous day: leave this sanctuary and move on. That interpretation might make sense of the position of the dream in the chapter: an encouraging dream leads onto a cheerful Tom and the energy to pack up and proceed.

"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Feb 12, 6:43pm)

Fantastic Four

Feb 23, 3:30pm

Post #28 of 32 (501 views)
Confusion in Bree [In reply to] Can't Post

Goldberry's washing day struck out to me in this reading as evidence that she and Tom are some kind of higher powers. The consensus of course is that their origins and purpose are unknowable, but based on the text alone and not Tolkien's letters, that's a conclusion I find I can easily reach.

The hobbits have made it to Bree and have just met someone they're not sure they can trust. Barliman has provided a letter and left the room, and Frodo has just read it. There is a post-script that I'm wondering if you guys can help me with.

PS. Do NOT use It again, not for any reason whatever! Do not travel by night!

Now, I might be daft, but when, to Gandalf's knowledge in June of 3018, has Frodo slipped the Ring on even once?


Feb 23, 5:44pm

Post #29 of 32 (497 views)
not "again"? [In reply to] Can't Post

"PS. Do NOT use It again, not for any reason whatever! Do not travel by night!"

No, like you I can't think of how Gandalf would have known (in June when writing this letter) that Frodo had used "It" even once*.

If 'again' is deleted ("PS. Do NOT use It, not for any reason whatever! Do not travel by night!") the comment makes perfect sense - Gandalf has (in June) just learned that the Nazgul are out to get Frodo, and so this is sensible advice to help avoid them. Though of course, in June, Gandalf's hope is that he and Saruman will deal with those pesky Nazgul...

So my guess is that this is a mistake, caused by:
1) Tolkien, like his readers, reaching this passage fresh from Frodo's antics in the bar, and not quite putting himself into Gandalf's head to draft this letter.

2) This being a 'fossil' - that is something that made sense in draft, but should have been amended for consistency with some revision elsewhere. I can't think of a draft in which Gandalf has seen or heard of Frodo using the Ring. But others keep better track of all the drafting twists and turns revealed in HoME, and might think of one.
*As far as we readers know, from the published version of the text, has Frodo *ever* used the Ring before he tries it at Bombadil's house? I can't think of an occasion.

"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


Feb 23, 6:40pm

Post #30 of 32 (497 views)
Leave the petunias out of this, I think. [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting question of the use of 'again' in Gandalf's instructions to Frodo about not using the Ring, for fear of alerting the Black Riders.

As you suspect, I think the answer lies in the earlier drafts to be found in HoME. The original Frodo-character protagonist was Bingo Baggins, variously Bilbo's son or nephew. In his version of the story, Bilbo had just plain gone away at some point, on another adventure presumably just as he had for 'The Hobbit'. Bingo inherits Bag End, and it is at his farewell party many years later that he puts on the Ring and disappears, to the shock and surprise of the assembled hobbits.

When Bingo first gets to Bree, Butterbur hands him the letter from Gandalf, and there it says, 'do not use it again, even as a joke'.

Now that last part about jokes was removed by the time Frodo got the letter (so to speak). A careless author could well have taken the phrase to refer to Bingo's notorious use of the Ring to spook Farmer Maggot, remembered that that scene had been cut, and so taken out 'even as a joke' without thinking it through that Gandalf would not have known of that prankish use of the ring.

But 'again' was left in, because Bingo had used it to disappear from the Shire - and the author may have forgotten that that scene was no longer Frodo's action, but old Bilbo's as of rewrite version, which? - four or five, it's hard to keep track.

The use of 'again' survives several further versions of the note, even in alternates where Gandalf rode through Bree just two days earlier, with the Fatty character in tow, and left the note with Butterbur - or Trotter/Strider - for Frodo to get as soon as he showed up.

So yes, 'again' is a mistake and doesn't belong there. But it belonged there earlier in the process. As far as I can tell, neither Christopher Tolkien in the HoLR volumes nor Hammond & Scull in their detailed Reader's Companion to LotR notice the discrepancy.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
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Fantastic Four

Feb 23, 7:08pm

Post #31 of 32 (495 views)
Let's talk about it in terms of the frame narrative [In reply to] Can't Post

Which "author" do you think made the mistake?

Some hypothesize that Bilbo wrote up until the hobbits are at Rivendell. I could see him getting a little bit sleepy in the back half of Book 1.

Alternatively, it would make a little sense for Frodo to write it down incorrectly, given that he was emotionally invested in the mistake he had made in the previous scene. But that makes me wonder just how far the letter survived. Did it make it to Rivendell? Did the author have an accurate copy of the letter when writing the Red Book?

I suppose it's possible that Sam just "made up" this particular post-script for dramatic effect as well.

It's funny how pretty much any copyediting mistake can be boiled down to various transcribing and translations over thousands of years.

Fantastic Four

Mar 20, 3:14pm

Post #32 of 32 (130 views)
Something small that struck me [In reply to] Can't Post

[quote]“Glóin began then to talk of the works of his people, telling Frodo about their great labours in Dale and under the Mountain. ‘We have done well,’ he said. ‘But in metal-work we cannot rival our fathers, many of whose secrets are lost. We make good armour and keen swords, but we cannot again make mail or blade to match those that were made before the dragon came. Only in mining and building have we surpassed the old days. You should see the waterways of Dale, Frodo, and the fountains, and the pools! You should see the stone-paved roads of many colours! And the halls and cavernous streets under the earth with arches carved like trees; and the terraces and towers upon the Mountain’s sides! Then you would see that we have not been idle.’
‘I will come and see them, if ever I can,’ said Frodo. ‘How surprised Bilbo would have been to see all the changes in the Desolation of Smaug!”[/quote]

How quietly melancholic that Frodo never does- as far as I remember in the Tale of Years- ever see anything that Glóin describes. It’s stuck with me for a few days now. It was nice to spend 7 days observing quiet conversations in Rivendell. Now for 12 days of debate, pontification, and some catching up in the Council of Elrond,

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