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**Queer Lodgings**: The Approach.

Pryderi
Rivendell

Aug 22 2012, 9:02am

Post #1 of 8 (604 views)
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**Queer Lodgings**: The Approach. Can't Post

Welcome back to all. In this post I want to look at the chapter up to the point where Gandalf and Bilbo leave the Dwaves to find Beorn in his hall.


First I'd like to discuss the Carrock. The name itself rather than the geograhical feature. Most names in the Hobbit are pretty bald descriptions rather than names. Bilbo lives on “The Hill” by “The Water”. There is a “Long Lake”, a “Lonely Mountain”, a “Running River” and the list could be extended. I think it was something by Tom Shippey that first alerted me to the suggestion that the Carrock does not fit this pattern. We get an excellent description of it but its name does not sum this description up at least in our language. Why does Tolkien depart from his usual practice in the Hobbit here? It seems he knows what he's doing because Bilbo, who has not asked what the “Last Homely House” or the “Great River” are, questions Gandalf about the Carrock and is left little wiser for his pains. Are you content with Gandalf's explanation? Gandalf seems to imply that “Carrock” is meaningless at least to us. Is it meaningless to Beorn who named it? Was it meaningless to Tolkien? If, in either case, not then what is the meaning?


Moving on to the King of the Eagles we are told that “in after days” he wore a golden crown and his “chieftains” wore golden collars. I must confess that this does not seem like Gwaihir in LotR to me, or of Landroval his brother come to that. If it has not been raised before, what relationship, if any, is there between Gwaihir the Windlord and this King of the Eagles? The crown and the collars are made from “the gold that the dwarves had given them”. Doesn't this imply that the dwarves did not fashion the gold into crown and collars themselves? If so, who fashioned the gold? Was it the Eagles themselves? I find that highly unlikely I must say. Perhaps it was other dwarves just not our dwarves. What is going on here?


When the party descended the Carrock “...they took off their clothes and bathed in the river...” and afterwards they “...dried in the sun...”. That seems very sensible. They must be pretty grimy as they have not washed, presumably since Rivendell. I think I'd have taken the opportunity to wash my clothes while I was at it and dried them in the sun as well. How about you? Perhaps they did do this and the narrator omitted to tell us. What do you think? In any event there seem to have been fifteen naked bodies drying out on the bank at one stage. Communal bathing was the norm in boy's schools in Tolkien's time and place, and indeed in mine, so he wouldn't have thought twice about writing this scene unless, of course, some of the dwarves were dwarf women! If communal bathing was the norm, communal mixed bathing was certainly not. Where does this leave the theory that some of the dwarves were women? I understand the argument goes that two or three of the dwarves are never referred to by masculine pronouns, he him etc. and that therefore they may be female. Further, if somebody is possibly not male then they are probably not. I have never been convinced by this line of argument. Do you like the theory that some of the dwarves were women or not?


Beorn gets quite a big build up in this section which ends before we meet him face to face. Initially we are told that there is “somebody” (Tolkien's italics) living nearby. Next he is “That Somebody...” (Tolkien's capital S) and before Gandalf names him he refers to him as “The Somebody...” again. What purpose does this initial mystery serve? Well in due course Gandalf gives Beorn his name and explains that he is very large and strong and prone to anger. He is also sometimes a man and sometimes a bear, a sort of werebear as it were. And the party must head off to visit him. Was this sort of graphic description of Somebody who might inhabit a horror movie common to children's books in Tolkien's time? Is it today? Can Beorn possibly live up to his billing?


In the next post which will be soon I hope we, and our friends, do meet Beorn face to face. More then.


Pryderi.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Aug 22 2012, 10:47pm

Post #2 of 8 (252 views)
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A quick google search led me to this: [In reply to] Can't Post

Carrock Fell Carrock is a Cumbric word meaning "rock". I suspect that's related.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Istari68
The Shire


Aug 23 2012, 12:13am

Post #3 of 8 (323 views)
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Beowulf and Beorn... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've absorbed the argument from somewhere that Beorn is an incarnation of Beowulf in a bear's garb. It seems reasonable to me, the hall and traditions recall Beowulf competely.


sador
Half-elven


Aug 27 2012, 1:39pm

Post #4 of 8 (211 views)
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Late answers [In reply to] Can't Post

Why does Tolkien depart from his usual practice in the Hobbit here?
To enhance the sense that after crossing the Mountains, we are on the Other Side.
He will return to his old habit later - but at this point it is slightly alarming.

Are you content with Gandalf's explanation?
It's basically telling Bilbo it's none of his business. I am content with this kind of explanation only when I'm the one giving it.

Is it meaningless to Beorn who named it?
Clearly not.

Was it meaningless to Tolkien? If, in either case, not then what is the meaning?
See Aunt Dora's answer.

what relationship, if any, is there between Gwaihir the Windlord and this King of the Eagles?

It has been raised, as well as the Foster-Anderson dispute.

I must just note that the Eagles' parting words and Gandalf's "correct" answer do imply the Eagles are some part of the mythical Arda.

If so, who fashioned the gold? Was it the Eagles themselves? What is going on here?
I never read this as anyone else than Dain.

What purpose does this initial mystery serve?

A sense of mystery. Which will linger after meeting him.

Was this sort of graphic description of Somebody who might inhabit a horror movie common to children's books in Tolkien's time?
I don't know. Even Flash Gordon didn't have a bear-folk!

Is it today? Can Beorn possibly live up to his billing?
He does well, thank you.

"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!


elevorn
Lorien


Aug 27 2012, 6:57pm

Post #5 of 8 (238 views)
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Wrestling [In reply to] Can't Post

In The Hobbit I have always had the sensation that Tolkien wrestled with presenting Middle Earth from a childlike or Hobbit perspective. He wants to present this wide world in a small hairy footed perspective yet at the same time you can almost sense his desire to branch out and release and onslaught of his mythology. It whats pulls me back to The Hobbit as an adult. It reminds me that Tolkien cared so deeply about his own creation that he wanted everyone to be able to share in its majesty. thus, as has been said before we are introduced to older and more dangerous creatures and people the further away from Hobbiton we travel. Carrock feels old, Beorn feels old, they feel more like the ancient Middle Earth that has been inhabitted far longer than we realize.

As far as the discussion of dwarf gender I choose to go with what the author says. It is after all a children's book and such mysteries have no place there. If Tolkien did not call them female, they weren't. Maybe that is a simple answer, but it works for my mind. I once fancied myself as a Tolkien scholar but the older I get the more I am content to be a fanboy.

Beorn is an interesting device in The Hobbit. One, he serves as a frightening introduction for Bilbo that Goblins are not the only thing to be feared, that indeed there is a much broader conflict than dwarven real estate at stake. Two he is also such a deep character that we just never really get the chance to know that well. He is that deep brooding man beast that has issues with the world around him. I can see the Beowulf character somewhat, at the same time, not so much. Where is his tragedy? There is a fable that I am reminded of that I cannot remember the name of right now, where a prince is given a coat that turns him into a bear when he wears it. He can only remove it at night, and one night a woman steals it and he is stuck being a bear somehow (again my memory is very fuzzy on this one so I apologize for any innacuracies). To me Beorn is closer to that character and perhaps therein lies the deeper sense of his character.

I cannot comment on the Eagle's jewelry as I am just now reminded of that occurence.

"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Aug 31 2012, 3:43am

Post #6 of 8 (174 views)
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When is a Carrock not a carrock? [In reply to] Can't Post

When the idea is first popping out of Tolkien's head! Laugh

Allow me to reference Rateliff's History of The Hobbit here. Tolkien orginally wrote the sentence as "He made these steps on the hill", then made a note in the top margin to insert at this point: "which he calls "Sorneldin > Sinrock > Lamrock > the Carrock." Rateliff makes an attempt to figure out the origins of these first three names, and can only assume they are in some way based on Tolkien's invented languages.

But he has an interesting discussion regarding "Carrock", which he says "derives from a dialectical Old English (Old Northumbrian) borrowing from the Celtic. That borrowed word, carr, came to be especially applied to isolated rocks standing in the sea just off the Scottish and Northumbrian coasts...Curiously enough, the root Celtic word (from which our modern word craig also descends) is itself an anomaly that has caused scholars of the Celtic languages much puzzlement. The various forms of it in Welsh, Irish, Scots, and Manx, while obviously sharing a common ancestor, do not follow the normal laws of sound-changes that would enable philologists to estabish exactly how that lost ancestor would have been spelled or pronounced. It is thus one of those 'asterisk words' which, as T.A. Shippey points out, is exactly the kind of thing that attracted Tolkien's attention." (p. 262)

So Tolkien may have thrown a variation of carr in there, simply out of philological delight with the word!


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

"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




sador
Half-elven


Aug 31 2012, 6:14am

Post #7 of 8 (175 views)
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Oh! [In reply to] Can't Post

So perhaps Carc's name, apart of its obvious onomatopoeic quality, is also etymologically connected to the Lonely Mountain?

"When light finally begins to come into our lives after a long darkness, only to reveal that one has still farther to go, what various ways might one react?"
- Dreamdeer



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


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 3 2012, 1:16am

Post #8 of 8 (300 views)
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I checked [In reply to] Can't Post

in Rateliff, and there's no suggestion of that, but it is curious how the sound is similar!


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

"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



 
 

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