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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Queer Lodgings": Intro.

Pryderi
Rivendell

Aug 21 2012, 10:23am

Post #1 of 7 (695 views)
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**Queer Lodgings": Intro. Can't Post

Hi folks and welcome to our discussion of The Hobbit Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings. I hope to put up four main posts, one each day until Friday. I will have to finish by then as I am tied up after that.


The posts will cover:
A. The Approach.
B. Beorn.
C. The Sojourn.
D. To Mirkwood.


I will adopt a thematic approach, looking at particular features of each section rather than conducting a paragraph by paragraph analysis. If anyone wishes to raise issues that I have missed as we go along that would be welcome. I will though be inviting “open discussion” of the chapter as a whole, probably in a short final post solely meant for that purpose. I hope it all works out.


To hopefully whet your appetite before embarking on the chapter proper I wonder if people have any thoughts on the title of the chapter, in particular the use of the word “Queer”. I remember reading Coleridges magnificent poem Kubla Khan for the first time and being blown away by the sound of the words. I was young, and too young to appreciate any “meanings” that I might now ascribe to the poem. However I did find the line “As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing” to be jarring and to break the spell so to speak. Was the earth wearing tight corduroy trousers either underneath or on top of some other garment or what? As I now understand it the word “pants” had not acquired this modern meaning in Coleridges day and for his early readers the word would only conjure up thoughts of heavy breathing. In similar fashion Tolkien used words like “Queer” (and “Gay”) in days before they acquired their modern subsidiary meanings. But are they the subsidiary meanings any more?


Do you find Tolkien's use of these words unfortunate? Distracting? Affirming? Or maybe you never noticed it! Will the time come, when the books are out of copyright, that helpful editors will retitle this chapter “Strange Lodgings”? Would that be a welcome development?All thoughts on any of this are welcome.


That's all for now folks. I hope my first main post will go up later today.


Pryderi.


squire
Valinor


Aug 21 2012, 6:05pm

Post #2 of 7 (330 views)
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"He was in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighbourhood to be ‘queer’" - "Bag End’s a queer place, and its folk are queerer." [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien uses 'queer' for 'odd', 'strange', 'peculiar', 'unusual', etc. quite frequently throughout The Hobbit, and in the "hobbity" sections of The Lord of the Rings. I can't imagine anyone of any age not figuring out early on that the word has no connotation of homosexuality to it in these books.

If in fact that is the only meaning they could ascribe to the word up to the point of reading Tolkien, then they will have been treated to yet another of the Prof's many valuable lessons in the range and history of the English language - a reason to read Tolkien even if you have no other, in my opinion. Of course the same applies to Coleridge, as you found out; of course, the same applies to the whole vast host of elegant writers from earlier eras.

The proposal to rewrite The Hobbit with a modernized vocabulary thrills me with horror!



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.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Aug 22 2012, 10:41pm

Post #3 of 7 (241 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

when I first read The Hobbit, it was 1969 and I was 12. So "queer" didn't have any other meaning for me than the one Tolkien meant, though I suppose in some circles it did already. And though I'm very active in gay rights stuff now, it still doesn't jar me, maybe because I read the book so often before I knew of any other meaning.

And it shows up in so many other places from my childhood, like the Robert Frost poem about stopping by the woods on a snowy evening. It's a word that still has the old meaning for me, as well as the newer one.

I recently read the Anne of Green Gables series, and there are a lot of "gay" people in there that are completely straight. It jumps out at me, but I find it just adds to the feeling that the stories are from another time.


(I do have to admit that the old Camp Fire Wood-gatherer's Pledge that I learned as a kid does jar me, though: "As fagots are brought from the forest, firmly held by the sinews that bind them, I will cleave to my Camp Fire sisters, where ever, whenever I find them.")


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Aug 22 2012, 10:44pm)


sador
Half-elven


Aug 27 2012, 1:03pm

Post #4 of 7 (203 views)
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Late answers [In reply to] Can't Post

But are they the subsidiary meanings any more?
Probably not.


I was googling the other day for some of my favourite songs as a boy, and tried to find OMD's Enola Gay. The stupid family filter didn't let me listen to it!

Do you find Tolkien's use of these words unfortunate? Distracting? Affirming?

Well, I find

Quote
The fire burned low, and the last faggot was thrown on


(The Rings Goes South) far worse!

Or maybe you never noticed it!
I did.

Will the time come, when the books are out of copyright, that helpful editors will retitle this chapter “Strange Lodgings”?
Who knows what connotations will be attached to the word "strange" by then!

However, it's still safe. The stupid filter does allows the Doors' People Are Strange.

Would that be a welcome development?
No.
I second squire's artistic horror.

"In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?"
- Elven



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for a somewhat less clever discussion of Queer Lodgings!


telain
Rohan

Aug 30 2012, 4:24pm

Post #5 of 7 (184 views)
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"by the sound of the words" [In reply to] Can't Post

I really liked how you said that, Pryderi...

I can't imagine "Strange Lodgings" for one, because it doesn't sound right. Like sador and squire, I cannot imagine rewriting The Hobbit, especially since they tried it with Peter Rabbit. One of my favourite lines "...he went lippity-lippity, not very fast..." was taken out. The sound those words made in my head went so well with the motion of a rabbit that I couldn't imagine them not being there.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Aug 31 2012, 3:13am

Post #6 of 7 (193 views)
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We need to have a revolution. [In reply to] Can't Post

And "take back" the English language!

The average person - American, or is this a problem with other English-speakers as well? - does not have the extensive vocabulary of the common person of a century ago. How many are shocked at the word "niggard"!

Let's all make an effort to use words like "queer" and "gay" extensively in their older meanings.

And try to ignore the queer looks we get...Angelic


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

"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




squire
Valinor


Aug 31 2012, 12:31pm

Post #7 of 7 (345 views)
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That's all well and good [In reply to] Can't Post

While we should cherish old words and use them, let's not go about with the impression that the English speaking world is going to an illiterate hell just yet. An "extensive vocabulary" is a function of the culture it comes from. Remember that the "average person" of today gaily uses many thousands of words that "a common person of a century ago" did not know, because they did not exist yet. That's what's queer and even revolutionary about our present day, I think. So you don't want a revolution, I'm thinking - you want a counter-revolution (not too serious a one, to be sure!).



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.

 
 

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