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Aug 19 2012, 4:13pm
A. Doesn’t the phrase “old Gollum” convey a kind of folksiness to the character?
Yes. But later we learn that he is really old.
B. Is slimy metaphorical or literal here?
Didn't Aragorn describe him as "covered in green slime" when he caught him? You have a better case in ignoring this than in denying balrog's wings, IMO.
C. Does this mean he has what we would call black skin (or deep brown, whatever)?
That's what I assume. As did Bakshi and Jackson. But in LotR he is described as pale.
D. Again, is Tolkien being metaphorical or literal here?
There doesn't seem to be any extranous source of light.
E. What other meat does Gollum like?
F. What do you think?
Well, of course he does. As you've pointed out.
G. Why doesn’t the Great Goblin, who seems like a rather responsible monarch, show more curiosity, or guts, in solving this mystery?
I also wonder - had Gandalf not rescued the Dwarves and Bilbo so flamboyantly, would the Great Goblin have made bilbo a slave, and sent him off to fish? Maybe he was destined to find the Ring no matter what.
H. How does he do that? This place has no light whatsoever.
That's he's no goblin? Smell. "see" is metaphorical.
I. Or not … what do you think?
I like your UUT that this recalls baptism - although I doubt that Tolkien would have meant that.
And yes, Gollum is cute - which to me makes him more terrifying.
J. Who exactly gave him that name?
His grandmother, or his funny friends with whom he played riddles over the long years.
And does Bilbo really jump to the conclusion that this thing is “named” Gollum, even though the thing never calls himself that?
Okay. Maybe this is just the name Bilbo gave him, and the 'good folk' used after him?
K. Did Tolkien consider having this guy self-refer as “my dear”, “my sweet”, or “my goodness”, which are near-equivalents?
I don't think "my goodness" is slf-refering. And "precious" sounds more like a spoiled brat - which might be just what he originally was.
The latter is even more ironical, and also has the same ‘-ss’ ending allowing for the lisping gag.
But the "dn"in the middle makes it harsh, while "precious" glides softly.
L. Would a more modern Gollum call himself “babe”?
I hope not.
M. Is this particularly plausible to you? Because, given the particularly shaky calorie pyramid that Gollum sits at the top of, it isn’t to me.
Unlike the trolls, he had no means of preserving meat.
And after all, fish are plentiful.
And anyway, a long conversation is a good way to build up an appetite.
N. Isn’t it classic Bilbo to give his full name as a dignified introduction, even in the absurd and panicked situation he is in?
Yes. Very comic. And formalities do gain time - as Thorin tried to do just in the previous chapter.
But one wonders, in such a case - how did he learn not to give his true name to Smaug? Or was the "Thief! Baggins! We hates it!" at the end of this chapter a rude awakening?
Is Gandalf being fair?
Is he ever?
O. Is this over-the-top coy writing?
Once again, buying time. Also, he wasn't sure Bilbo quite knew what the sword was, and how to use it; knowing your sword's lineage indicates that you know something about it. (Quite wrongly in bilbo's case, but how would Gollum know that?)
P. Was it the information that, yes, it is a sword – or the information that it came from Gondolin – that changes Gollum’s approach?
The fact that Bilbo knows it.
Q. Are you enjoying Tolkien’s mix of quiet comedy and comfy adventure?
I'm not sure the third is quite a gag - as I've written before, this is a way to whet an appetite.
But yes, i enjoy Tolkien's writing very much.
How does he achieve the balance – what are his methods?
Had I known, I might have tried my own hand at this!
R. Does this description remind you more of a kind of slimy Wind in the Willows setting, with Gollum, Moley, Frog and Badger, rather than some riverine Shire as was later retrofitted onto this story?
Now that you say so, it does.
And it also fits well with the world of Watership Down.
S. Is “pity staying his hand”, so that Bilbo doesn’t just stab Gollum now – after hearing the creature’s opening words be a guess whether he’d be a “feast” or a “morsel”?
Fear is. After all, Bilbo never has used the sword.
T. Is it a common game among English children in Tolkien’s time? I certainly never had heard of anyone playing it when I was a kid in the U.S. in the 1960s and was hearing this story for the first time.
I suppose it belong more to the mediaeaval tradition.
"This chapter seems to be full of movement—slowly and deliberately (then less so) down hills; scrambling up trees-- then up, up, and away into the Eagles’ eyrie; and down, down back to the ground.
Flora, fauna, food, fear, and flight are featured..."
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