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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
LOTR 365 Project

skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jan 11, 8:00pm

Post #1 of 18 (470 views)
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LOTR 365 Project Can't Post

After taking a full load of courses and working two jobs, I completely crashed over the holiday break, got back into LOTRO, watched the films, listened to BOTH the BBC and NPR audio dramas (what exactly was going on behind the scenes with that NPR adaptation?), watched the Bakshi film (sorry but I love it), and decided that come first of January, I wanted to wake up to two or three pages of Tolkien's book for all of 2021.

What this meant was that I opened my ePub of LOTR into Sigil, an ebook publishing client, and divided each chapter into 2-14 segments delineated by Roman numerals that, in the end, correlate to three hundred and sixty five chapters across the 62 chapters. To spruce it up even a little more, I've added artwork from Ted Nasmith, John Howe, Alan Lee, even some fan art, to accompany this read-through. With some final support, I'm also bringing in Rob Inglis to read to me as a supplementary level of immersion, and on some days even Drigesh.

Whenever I normally do a read-through, I'm usually blazing through the book, so it's been very nice to wake up and soak in some of the Shire every morning– though we'll see how well it's working out when Frodo and Sam are trudging through Mordor.

Currently Gandalf and Frodo are hashing some things out in the Bag End study, and I expect we'll be hanging out here for a week or so.

If you don't mind, I'd love to leave this thread for observations that come up while reading. For instance, I've read this passage many times now and still don't quite understand it.

From Book I, Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

Quote
He refused to go into mourning; and the next year he gave a party in honour of Bilbo’s hundred-and-twelfth birthday, which he called a Hundredweight Feast. But that was short of the mark, for twenty guests were invited and there were several meals at which it snowed food and rained drink, as hobbits say.


I can't make sense of the math. How is twenty guests short of the mark of a Hundredweight Feast? Is the food and drink expected to weigh a hundredweight? It's a very interesting sentence that I just can't make heads or tails of, even after googling the phrase and seeing a conversation from thirteen years ago on this very forum.


Roverandom
Bree


Jan 11, 8:46pm

Post #2 of 18 (427 views)
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My Thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

One hundredweight is the equivalent of 112 pounds, which jibes with it being Bilbo's 112th birthday. I believe the author is implying that 20 well-fed hobbits would pass that total by quite a bit.Smile

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 12, 3:43am

Post #3 of 18 (405 views)
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Have fun with this [In reply to] Can't Post

What an amazing concept - and amount of work to make it happen. Do keep us up to date with reactions, insights, or questions.

As to the hundred-weight question, I agree that the language is referring to the gross weight of the 20 hobbit guests far surpassing 112 pounds!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
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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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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 12, 4:54pm

Post #4 of 18 (369 views)
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Yes, please do continue! [In reply to] Can't Post

Notes from personal read-throughs have often been a lot of fun and have stimulated interesting conversations here in the past.

I think Roverandom and squire are right about the hundredweight feast.

~~~~~~
"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/


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jan 12, 6:10pm

Post #5 of 18 (372 views)
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No real observations today [In reply to] Can't Post

Except to introduce a debate about the merits of exposition. I could see the argument that this entire chapter is an exposition dump, unsuitable for dramatization. And yet it's one of my favorite chapters in the entire book, and a pleasure to sit and listen to for a week at a time. One could view Gandalf's stories here to Frodo as exposition, or take them for what they are: stories in and of themselves, pleasurable and frightening to take in for the sake of those little stories. And this doesn't even take into account how they help the larger narrative.

I guess there's a nugget here: Sauron didn't have a name until this morning, referred to as the Dark Power (if he was ever referenced in Chapter 1) for Chapter 2 so far. It's also interesting to note that when he is first named, Gandalf references a conversation that occurred completely offscreen. The introduction of the titular villain to the protagonist happened outside the scope of the story. I don't know what to make of that, either in terms of what it means for the story itself, what the author's intentions were, or the implications of the book's own frame narrative: when Frodo (or Bilbo?) was writing this chapter, was he simply too frightened to return to that first conversation when Gandalf first told Frodo of the Dark Lord?

And yes, Sauron is named in the Prologue, but I literally have never read the prologue when actually conducting a read-through, for better or for worse. An unsightly tradition, maybe, but the Lord of the Rings for me since I was very young started with the opening of Chapter 1. Knowing some elements of the History of Middle-earth, I would assume the prologue was written later, mostly for the contemporary audiences who had read the Hobbit, as a way for Tolkien to help prepare them for the enormous, completely different book they were about to enter. I've never really found it relevant to my own reading (but I'm totally open to defenses of the prologue– I really don't know it very well).

Below are some desktop screenshots of the ePub I made, but I'm reading them on a tablet, so they aren't necessarily reflective of the medium on which I'm reading.







noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 12, 6:26pm

Post #6 of 18 (367 views)
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Oh - Admin opinion needed here, perhaps? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's lovely to see the ePub you made, skyofcoffeebeans - it's really beautiful. But you've assembled it from the copyrighted works of others. I'm not supposing that in practice anyone is going to object to this as something you do for your private enjoyment, but it's just possible that it's unwise to publish large excerpts on this forum?

Or perhaps I'm being unduly cautious. So 'admin opinion needed', re any potential copyright trouble you might inadvertently cause this forum (don't worry, they're a really nice and sensible bunch, our admins)! Whatever their ruling, please don't be deterred from letting us know how you get on with your read through.

Sorry to be boring; I hope you don't feel told off and you see the need to check what's OK. I'l try to respond about the joys of Ch2 and about 'exposition' later.

~~~~~~
"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 Jan 12, 6:37pm)


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jan 12, 7:06pm

Post #7 of 18 (354 views)
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I think the admin opinion is warranted [In reply to] Can't Post

It's my understanding that a certain level of quotation falls into fair use– but the limits aren't clear to me. I would certainly not be upset if those images were removed, as happy as I am with how it's turned out. Ultimately, this thread will only be relevant to the degree to which it generates discussion about the text itself, not what I've done with it.

In retrospect, 1 screenshot might have been enough. Wink


(This post was edited by skyofcoffeebeans on Jan 12, 7:09pm)


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 12, 7:40pm

Post #8 of 18 (344 views)
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Such a relatively small amount of pictures and text shouldn't be a problem [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course, I'm not an attorney, but as you said, it's just a small example of what you put together for your morning readings, which I think is a lovely idea and nicely put together too, by the way. I just wouldn't make a habit of posting them every day. However, a bit of text, or an example or two of artwork (crediting the artist) is entirely appropriate. Smile


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





InTheChair
Lorien

Jan 12, 11:18pm

Post #9 of 18 (324 views)
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Maybe if one did it with the Silmarillion... [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm.. Configure ones morning alarm clock, to play a 1/365 part of Rob Inglis readthrough of Lord of the Rings... and then wake up to that every morning... get through the book in a year...

Should be possible with a cellphone and the right software I guess...

I wonder if one would wake up with a start and silently bemoan the morning as is custom anyway... Or if maybe one would not wake up at all if it is too soft spoken...

And how much of the book one would miss...


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jan 13, 12:26am

Post #10 of 18 (314 views)
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That does sounds terrifying! [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely make sure to have my bearings before turning on the audiobook- I guess I didn’t mean literally wake up to Rob Inglis’s voice so much as wake up, take a sip of water, and eagerly reach for the headphones and ebook.

And so far my enthusiasm has been ‘eager,’ but I’m curious if the habit will hold when the narrative is not as cozy.

As to the point about how much of the book one would miss when half-asleep, so far, I’ve found that my reading has been more acute and painstaking than it ever has, mainly because I’m normally tempted to move at great speed for a high duration. Whereas listening to an audiobook for 10-20 minutes makes me move much slower and analyze the text at a much more granular level.

As far as the software, what I literally did is take the total word count of the entire book (chapters 1-62, but frankly just based on what I googled) and divided it by 365, creating an ideal daily word count of roughly 1300 words or so. Then I measured each chapter’s word count to find ideal daily word counts that corresponded with breaks in the narrative. The most technical element of this project involved ensuring that the audiobook played exactly where I last stopped, which I think is an iTunes setting.

The main thing I would say is that I was perhaps looking for a way to avoid silently bemoaning the morning, as it were, and this was the ritual I devised that so far seems to work pretty well for that purpose- my days will soon be incredibly busy, and in this small way, I can carve out a time to slow down.

And thanks for the feedback, Altaira, I think I’ll just post particularly inspiring pieces of art that may have made it into each day’s reading. For instance, there’s a collection of first-edition Russian illustrations from Ukrainian artist Sergei Iukhimov that I had never seen before putting this ebook together. This different view of Middle-earth was nothing short of extraordinary to discover.



https://www.theverge.com/...-rings-illustrations


noWizardme
Half-elven


Wed, 5:48pm

Post #11 of 18 (269 views)
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Phew. Glad that's OK// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
"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/


noWizardme
Half-elven


Wed, 6:00pm

Post #12 of 18 (274 views)
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Exposition [In reply to] Can't Post

Is often a headache for writers, I believe. How to avoid the contrived "As you know, your father the King..." scene in which two characters discuss something they both should know already. And how to avoid boring readers who want action already.

As one of those family jokes that get going somehow and remain amusing for all that they're lame, the WizKids and I traditionally react to clumsy exposition (e.g. in a TV show) by throwing our arms and legs wide into an X-position). Not necessary here, I think.


In Reply To
One could view Gandalf's stories here to Frodo as exposition, or take them for what they are: stories in and of themselves, pleasurable and frightening to take in for the sake of those little stories. And this doesn't even take into account how they help the larger narrative.


I like that idea, and the stories keep me engrossed too.

One day I might try a real close reading of this chapter, taking it apart to try and see how it's done. Perhaps the next time the Reading Room does an LOTR readthrough. Or perhaps I'll see it all done masterfully if the famous before-my-time 2005 read-through by 'a.s'. ever rises again from beneath the waves that consumed older posts here at the end of the TORN '1st age'.

I notice that Tolkien smuggles in a few mentions of things that will matter later, such as the Nazgul and the Dunadain. But I think you'd have to be a much more attentive reader than me to relate the Nazgul to the Black Riders when those first turn up.

One subtle thing do notice is that there's an exact point where 'the ring' becomes 'the Ring'. Nice.

And a cleverer reader than me would also realize the significance of Frodo being able to risk harming his Ring - if he can't even chuck it in the Bag End fireplace, how can he hope to succeed in his quest?

~~~~~~
"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 Wed, 6:03pm)


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Thu, 4:49pm

Post #13 of 18 (238 views)
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One thing that's intrigued me [In reply to] Can't Post

... in regards to how Tolkien constructs this chapter is just how similar the structure of Gandalf's stories are to how various film adaptations handle the "Prologue," meaning it's always the history of the Ring, except Gandalf goes further, sticks with Gollum, and follows him to Mordor.

One other thing that's sticking out to me is Gandalf's description of how mortals become possessed by the Ring. Except he's not just describing the Ring. He's presumably describing *any* Ring of Power, meaning if Gandalf decided to hand Frodo his Ring, it would hold similar consequences for Frodo.


Quote
'A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Rings. Yes, sooner or later – later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last – sooner or later the Dark Power will devour him.’



noWizardme
Half-elven


Fri, 6:49pm

Post #14 of 18 (170 views)
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which makes me wonder how Gandalf himself is faring [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
One other thing that's sticking out to me is Gandalf's description of how mortals become possessed by the Ring. Except he's not just describing the Ring. He's presumably describing *any* Ring of Power...


Quote
"A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness."



That's what I think too. Which makes me wonder how Gandalf himself is faring:

Gandalf is mortal (I think)

He keeps one of the Great Rings

Therefore...?

Though it is possible to over-apply logic to the story, I think Smile

~~~~~~
"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/


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Sat, 4:41pm

Post #15 of 18 (118 views)
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What is the evidence to suggest Gandalf is mortal? [In reply to] Can't Post

There is that quote at the beginning of Chapter 2 suggesting he had aged since Bilbo's party, to be sure, but I've always taken that as Frodo sensing the great weight on Gandalf that he's endured recently, and it's showing on his face. There's an artist named Donato Giancola who seems to really nail this in his depictions of Gandalf.

This quote is also an interesting addition to our pieces of evidence about Rings of Power and how they operate.


Quote
He knows that it is not one of the Three, for they have never been lost, and they endure no evil.


So the Three endure no evil, but what would happen if a mortal were to bear it? Presumably they would merely continue as Gandalf suggested, until at last every minute is a weariness, but perhaps the One would operate differently on a bearer than the Three, since they "endure no evil."

What I can take away from these passages is that Smeagol might look somewhat different if he had bitten off Galadriel's finger and successfully taken her Ring.


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Sat, 9:14pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Sat, 9:17pm

Post #16 of 18 (99 views)
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A stunning portrait, but the image is oversized. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry SOCB, I hated to remove the image because it's truly a gorgeous artwork but it's far too big for our discussion boards.

If you like, you can either resize it to the dimensions I'll post below or get a direct link to the image on the artist's website, and post a new message within this thread.

From TORN's FAQ: the maximum size of any picture posted should be 525 wide x 400 pixels high (or a better measure is: 210,000 pixels squared - width x height), but no wider than 670 pixels.

Cheers.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Sat, 9:22pm

Post #17 of 18 (98 views)
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No worries [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's that link: https://0201.nccdn.net/...jpg#RDAMDAID19463181


noWizardme
Half-elven


Sun, 12:58pm

Post #18 of 18 (62 views)
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oops - that was me misremembering things [In reply to] Can't Post

I checked back on the Istari essay in Unfinished Tales. Nope: wizards arrived looking old and looked older as time went by, but they were not known to die of natural causes. So I don't think they're mortal.

So that line of speculation should be abandoned. Sorry about that.

~~~~~~
"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/

 
 

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