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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**The Return Journey** Part Three - "snow after fire"

One Ringer
Tol Eressea


Nov 9 2012, 5:21pm

Post #1 of 5 (1294 views)
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**The Return Journey** Part Three - "snow after fire" Can't Post

Bilbo begins the long journey home with Gandalf, Beorn and the elf host.


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So they went on until they drew near to the borders of Mirkwood (…) the wizard and Bilbo would not enter the wood even though the king bade them stay a while in his halls. They intended to along the edge of the forest, and round its northern end in the waste (…) It was a long and cheerless road, but now that the goblins were crushed, it seemed safer (…) Moreover Beorn was going that way too.



Why not travel through Mirkwood? Although their determined path is “safer” and Beorn will be with them, wouldn’t it save time to perhaps pass through the forest with the help of the elves?

They depart:


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He had many hardships and adventures before he got back. The Wild was still the Wild, and there were many other things in it in those days beside goblins; but he was well guided and well guard…



Does Tolkien leave the reader open to imagination here? What sort of creatures might we concoct? What sort of hardships? Or is it all meant to be ignored for the sake of time?

Coming to the Misty Mountains, Bilbo and Gandalf arrive at a “high point”:


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…looking backward they saw a white sun shining over the outstretched lans. There behind lay Mirkwood, blue in the distance, and darkly green at the nearer edge even in spring. There far away was the Lonely Mountain on the edge of eyesight. On its highest peak snow yet unmelted was gleaming pale.



How does this visual interact with the story? How big is Middle-Earth? How high has Bilbo climbed?

The chapter closes:


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“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!” said Bilbo, and he turned his back on his adventure. The Tookish part was getting very tired, and the Baggins was daily getting stronger. “I wish now only to be in own armchair!” he said.



I mentioned during the Over Hill and Under Hill discussion how fairy tales recurrently use repetition. What frame of mind does reprising “Tookish” or “I wish {insert homely reference}” put the reader in? Is The Hobbit as true a fairy tale as they come by, or just plain fantasy and adventure?

Any other thoughts on the chapter?

And that’ll do it for this week. Sorry if I didn’t cover the entire chapter, but I’ve been on a busy schedule these past days, and just wanted to cover some of the key parts.

FOTR 10th Anniversary Music Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33xJU3AIwsg

"You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain."


elevorn
Lorien


Nov 9 2012, 5:44pm

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blown away [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Tolkien leaves us to imagine how the grown up Bilbo handled the dangers that he faced with his guards with him. It always blows me away the distance that Tolkien uses so well in his stories. I have never read a book that actually made me tired of walking and traveling the way Tolkien does..



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
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Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Nov 10 2012, 9:52am

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The Necromancer [In reply to] Can't Post

In this journey, we hear of what Gandalf has been doing. Out to Dol Guldor and defeating the Necromancer. Wow! I suppose we should have guessed he might have been doing something like that in his other business. And kept him nicely out of the dragons way a cynic might say, but I couldnt posibly comment! Still interesting stuff. Make for a great movie!


CuriousG
Valinor


Nov 15 2012, 5:44pm

Post #4 of 5 (485 views)
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The "Back Again" direction of "There and Back Again" [In reply to] Can't Post

Why not travel through Mirkwood? Although their determined path is “safer” and Beorn will be with them, wouldn’t it save time to perhaps pass through the forest with the help of the elves?
I've never understood this myself. It seems safer to me, and of course shorter. When Tolkien goes on to say that the northern route wasn't trouble-free, I can't figure out why they didn't take this route. And which route did Gandalf use to get to Erebor? I suppose one could say that Bilbo warned them that the boat for getting over the enchanted river was lost, but since presumably the Elves put it there, you'd think they could go put another one for these and future travelers.

Does Tolkien leave the reader open to imagination here? What sort of creatures might we concoct? What sort of hardships? Or is it all meant to be ignored for the sake of time?
This works well for me--he certainly fires up my imagination with what happened. Tolkien the tease! As for what the creatures are, I'm not sure Tolkien always knew himself. I get that feeling when Gandalf talks about falling into the uttermost depths of Moria and saying there are old, nameless monsters there that he won't talk more about. You read that and conjure up your own scary image of monsters, and the hazier you are about them, the scarier they are. But I also think he's trying to save time here. The big events are over, and he needs to make the trip home short for readers.

How does this visual interact with the story? How big is Middle-Earth? How high has Bilbo climbed?
The one thing I'd fault Tolkien for in a big way is descriptions like this. Stand on high mountains like the Rockies and look out on the plains, and you just can't see that far. The dwarves' passage through Mirkwood is supposed to take a long time, but when I read that you can see from the Misty Mountains to the Lonely Mountain, it seems like you should be able to walk across Mirkwood in a week or less. So descriptions like this make Middle-earth seem to small to me, and the vast, epic distances that people cross appear to be trivial.

Is The Hobbit as true a fairy tale as they come by, or just plain fantasy and adventure?
To me it's fantasy/adventure with some fairy tale elements thrown in like the repetition you mention.

Thanks for leading the discussion!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Nov 22 2012, 1:12am

Post #5 of 5 (1247 views)
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Good point about the "others"! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd never picked up on that before, but you're right: Tolkien's writing that Bilbo had other adventures, but not detailing them, is akin to Gandalf's "nameless" creatures at the depths of the Moria chasm. We're left to imagine what is lurking in the shadows behind the curtains!

(It also leaves the door wide open for fan-fiction...)


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"





 
 

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