Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Hobbit chapter 3: "A Short Rest" discussion pt.2

Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jul 28 2012, 3:00am

Post #1 of 19 (744 views)
Shortcut
The Hobbit chapter 3: "A Short Rest" discussion pt.2 Can't Post

  "Hmmmm! it smells like elves!" thought Bilbo, and he looked up at the stars.

1. Is there any reason to take this literally? The only comparable idiom I can think of is "something smells fishy here", which would be a negative remark, to say the least. Any comments?

O! What are you doing/And where are you going?/Your ponies need shoeing!/The river is flowing!/O! tra-la-la-lally/here down in the valley!....So they laughed and sang in the trees; and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think it.

2. Most people on TORn seem to hate the elves' singing in The Hobbit, or at least thing it pretty fair nonsense. The tra-la-la-lally's remind me of madrigal singing, and even nonsense comes out quite beautiful in multi-layered counterpoint. See the group Chanticleer singing "My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth".
Discuss.

"Well,well!" said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"...(Bilbo) would have liked to have a few private words with these people that seemed to know his names and all about him, although he had never seen them before.

3. How do the elves know everyone's names and business already?

And so at last they all came to the Last Homely House, and found its doors flung wide.

4. I have to jump up into LotR again, where Elrond's house is no longer called the Last Homely House. Why do you think that name was dropped?


Where's Frodo?


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 28 2012, 1:12pm

Post #2 of 19 (392 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, and how would Bilbo recognize the smell of elves? I'm sure it's a good smell, but this seems a bit fanciful. Still, it would be a nice thing to say when coming into a forest clearing on a starry night.

Shakespeare wrote some very silly lyrics. We just aren't used to these kinds of songs. What I don't like is Tolkien's reliance on four-beat lines, which can get monotonous. Also, these elves sound much more silly than the elves in LotR, but then everyone is more silly in The Hobbit than in LotR.

The elves know about the dwarves and Mr. Baggins because Gandalf has already talked with some elves.

The name "Last Homely House" does appear in LotR:


Quote
Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all." Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.


The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings."

However, we also learn the name Imladris, and we learn more about Elrond and the High Elves, and we spend more time in Rivendell. Eventually, the name "Last Homely House" seems, maybe, not adequate to describe such a magical place.


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jul 29 2012, 4:12am

Post #3 of 19 (373 views)
Shortcut
Good catch on the LHH reference [In reply to] Can't Post

I was going by memory and didn't think the phrase appeared in LotR. I'm glad it does, so thanks for pointing it out, Curious. Now, does "Imladris" refer to Elrond's house specifically, or is it an elvish word for Rivendell?

Where's Frodo?


DesiringDragons
Lorien


Jul 29 2012, 11:51am

Post #4 of 19 (347 views)
Shortcut
My ideas [In reply to] Can't Post

1. I always took this to mean that it smelled like a place where one might expect to meet elves - sort of a green, woodsy smell, like the woods after a light rain. Something like that.

2. As others have said, I think things like this are indicative of the story's origins as a tale for children...when I was little, I found this and other bits of Hobbit silliness/lightheartedness delightful. Now that I'm older, they are less so...but they still make me smile, because I remember enjoying them as a child. These elves are much more playful than the elves in LotR! (But then, they're not in imminent danger here, so maybe that is part of the difference. The Mirkwood Elves have a decidedly different attitude.)

3. Maybe a sort of Elf Grapevine? Elves do seem to wander near the Shire, and Gandalf has dealings with both Hobbits and Elves and so can bring news...maybe they like to keep abreast of what is going in in Middle-Earth in general.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jul 29 2012, 12:34pm

Post #5 of 19 (391 views)
Shortcut
'A nose for an elf' [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's friend C.S. Lewis wrote not one, but two reviews of The Hobbit for national newspapers. In his second review (published in The Times on 8th October 1937, under the title 'Professor Tolkien's "Hobbit"), he writes -

"All who love that kind of children's book which can be read and re-read by adults should take note that a new star has appeared in this constellation."

Lewis was a master at writing short, punchy reviews, and here he makes some delicious remarks, which stand out -

"Mr Bilbo Baggins is as prosaic as Mole, but but fate sets him wandering among dwarfs, and elves, over goblin mountains, in search of dragon-guarded gold. Everyone he meets can be enjoyed in the nursery; but to the trained eye some characters can appear almost mythopoeic - notably lugubrious gollum the fish-man, and the ferociously benevolent Beorn, half-man, half-bear, in his garden buzzing with bees."

and -

"On the edge of a valley one of Professor Tolkien's characters can pause and say; 'It smells like elves.' It may be years before we produce another author with such a nose for an elf."

Note that 'Gollum' here is un-capitalized - doubtless an oversight on the part of either Lewis or the Times's type-setter. But a bit ironic, given the fact that unkown to anyone at the time (including Tolkien) Gollum was destined to become at least as famous as Grahame's 'Mole' in the constellation of children's stories.

But - what are we make of Lewis's description of Gollum - 'fish-man' indeed!

Tongue


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2012, 7:53pm

Post #6 of 19 (336 views)
Shortcut
Gollum is often compared to animals in LotR, [In reply to] Can't Post

from frogs to spiders to squirrels. I believe he is compared to underground fish in The Hobbit, fish who adapt to lack of light in caves, although Gollum's adaptation is more Lamarckian than Darwinian. Also, although we know him as Gollum, I'm not sure it was clear in The Hobbit that anyone considered that his name.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 29 2012, 7:58pm)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 29 2012, 9:01pm

Post #7 of 19 (353 views)
Shortcut
Yes, gollum might have been thought an alternate [In reply to] Can't Post

spelling of golem, an inorganic creature brought to "life" but lacking a soul -- in which case capitalization would follow the same rule as in dwarf and elf.

On the other hand Tolkien capitalized Gollum when referring to him, as it was his name. However, when Gollum said (or coughed?) the word himself, it wasn't capitalized:

"It mustn't ask us," shrieked Gollum. "Not its business, no, gollum! It's losst, gollum, gollum, gollum."

-- Riddles in the Dark


squire
Valinor


Jul 30 2012, 12:39am

Post #8 of 19 (344 views)
Shortcut
I am Gollum, and Gollum means me [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum is introduced to us by that name, and the name, capitalized, is used throughout the chapter.
Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don’t know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum - as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face. (Hobbit, 5)
Lewis might be pardoned for calling him a fish-type creature, given all the watery language that is used to characterize him. But in fact it is clear from the beginning that he is humanoid. Lewis was, as Tolkien might have put it, inattentive.
He paddled it with large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make. Not he. He was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking. (Hobbit, 5; bold by squire)




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'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


sador
Half-elven


Jul 30 2012, 11:26am

Post #9 of 19 (331 views)
Shortcut
Late answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Is there any reason to take this literally?
Why not? When Smaug says he knows the smell (and taste) of Dwarves like no others - is there any cal not to take it literally?

The only comparable idiom I can think of is "something smells fishy here", which would be a negative remark, to say the least. Any comments?
Considering Lewis' review, which geordie cited below (thank you, geordie!), it seems prophetical.


2. Most people on TORn seem to hate the elves' singing in The Hobbit, or at least thing it pretty fair nonsense. The tra-la-la-lally's remind me of madrigal singing, and even nonsense comes out quite beautiful in multi-layered counterpoint. See the group Chanticleer singing
"My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth".
Discuss.
I note that you've quoted the rude parody, rather than the original ("...Smileth"). So much for liking the Elves' song.


As for myself, well, I've read it first in a second-rate translation. Not the way to make one partial to it.

3. How do the elves know everyone's names and business already?
The don't know his business - just his taste!

Curious' explanation is prosaic, and it seems shunned by Tolkien, who claims that Elves seem to get news of everything which happens in the world.
This does not seem to apply to Lorien, though, except for the Lord and Lady.

(Has nobody raised the theory of Vilya and Nenya? Must I be the fool to do so?
Of course, if there is anything in it, it is reversed - seeing that Elrond has this uncanny knowledge, Tolkien decided to invest him with a ring. But I don't like even this theory.)

4. I have to jump up into LotR again, where Elrond's house is no longer called the Last Homely House. Why do you think that name was dropped?
As Curious pointed out, it wasn't (although that paragraph is a copy from The Hobbit, identifying Bilbo with the narrator).
But in the context of The Lord of the Rings it is not quite relevant. Rivendell is not seen as the last place of safety before adventure - except for Pippin and Merry's talk about beds. In The Palantir.


"As they approach the house of Elrond, Gandalf more or less tells the elves to be quiet, saying that “valleys have ears.”
What does he mean by this? Does he actually suspect spies here or something? Or does he just want those silly elves to shut up?"
- Menelwyn.



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Short Rest!


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 30 2012, 2:59pm

Post #10 of 19 (268 views)
Shortcut
Fair enough.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 30 2012, 3:01pm

Post #11 of 19 (287 views)
Shortcut
I'm sure Smaug can smell elves, but Bilbo?// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 30 2012, 5:22pm

Post #12 of 19 (279 views)
Shortcut
Smelly elves [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Is there any reason to take this literally? The only comparable idiom I can think of is "something smells fishy here", which would be a negative remark, to say the least. Any comments?

What strikes me is the mixed language: he smells elves, and then looks up at the stars--stars don't smell! Elves are "the people of the stars," but would Bilbo know that, or is he having an unconscious reaction that elves connect to stars? Anyway, I take the "smell" to be figurative, more like "this feels like an elvish place." I'm glad you brought this up, because it flew past me, and it does seem a little insulting to use that word despite the author's intentions.

2. Most people on TORn seem to hate the elves' singing in The Hobbit, or at least thing it pretty fair nonsense.
I think it's nonsense, but it fits the lighthearted nature of the book. I'm not always in love with the more serious elvish singing in LOTR.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 30 2012, 8:02pm

Post #13 of 19 (254 views)
Shortcut
Agree on both points.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 30 2012, 10:57pm

Post #14 of 19 (258 views)
Shortcut
Bilbo did seem to forget [In reply to] Can't Post

that Gandalf had already mentioned his meeting up with "a couple of friends" from Rivendell. I would assume that the wizard had filled them in on the number in the company, plus extra details such as types of creatures, names, and brief descriptions.

It does help a host to know his company ahead of time!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 30 2012, 11:06pm

Post #15 of 19 (283 views)
Shortcut
There has been speculation [In reply to] Can't Post

that these may be "immature" Elves who are greeting Thorin & company - the Elvish equivalent of young teens, perhaps, who are having a little party away from their more serious adult parents, and who are going to "catch it" when the grown-ups find out they were teasing Elrond's guests.

("Don't give me that "but he was just a Dwarf" stuff! You've got a night-curfew for the next six months!" And so, of course, by the time Bilbo returned, he and his friends were back out all night again, and one can only imagine the punishment for "serenading" a sleeping guest...)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




Curious
Half-elven


Jul 30 2012, 11:11pm

Post #16 of 19 (279 views)
Shortcut
There are certain similarities between Rivendell and Oxford. [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps these were the student elves, up to their usual hi-jinks.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 30 2012, 11:27pm

Post #17 of 19 (280 views)
Shortcut
And Tolkien, as we know, [In reply to] Can't Post

was one of the most hi-jinking students of them all in his younger days!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jul 31 2012, 3:26am

Post #18 of 19 (320 views)
Shortcut
My Bonnie Lass [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope I did not offend with my choice of madrigals! I was having trouble finding an example on youtube that matched what I had in mind, and when I stumbled across "smelleth" (which I knew about but had forgotten), it hit my funny bone, especially since we were already on the topic of smelling people.

And I do like your theory of Elrond getting information "magically" through the power of the ring he holds.

Where's Frodo?


sador
Half-elven


Jul 31 2012, 6:03am

Post #19 of 19 (354 views)
Shortcut
In the second thousand years of their lives? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"As they approach the house of Elrond, Gandalf more or less tells the elves to be quiet, saying that “valleys have ears.”
What does he mean by this? Does he actually suspect spies here or something? Or does he just want those silly elves to shut up?"
- Menelwyn.



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Short Rest!

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.