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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Main:
Tolkien Notes: Intro, Language, and flaws in The Hobbit
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Laerasėa
Tol Eressea


Feb 13 2013, 4:46am

Post #26 of 41 (156 views)
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Thank you, M [In reply to] Can't Post

I couldn't have said it better. What I am posting are not my beliefs, but instead, a very small fraction of the notes I take in class that I thought would prompt some fun discussion on the boards. If someone has a better idea for a tone/direction I should take when I post, please let me know-- either by responding here, or by PM. I have never done anything like this before, so I would genuinely appreciate any feedback. But please don't see what I post as an assault on Tolkien so much as discussion questions based on new ideas and points of view I'm discovering in this class. I am not someone who takes things at face value, but I do enjoy coming across new perspectives and thinking about them, and I was looking forward to sharing them here.

‎"When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power—upon one plane; and the desire to wield that power in the world
external to our minds awakes."
--J. R. R. Tolkien


Mozart and Chocolate


Laerasėa
Tol Eressea


Feb 13 2013, 4:49am

Post #27 of 41 (172 views)
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Good to see you here :) [In reply to] Can't Post

And thank you for your response! Absolutely-- our professor is an academic whose favorite author is Tolkien. She has copies of everything that are literally falling apart, but refuses to get new ones because these hold too much "sentimental" value to her, and she says that the reason she decided to first major in English is because she read LOTR in high school. So, there is no question that she values his writings, and holds them in high esteem.

The Oscar Wilde reference made me laugh-- she was asking our class where we'd seen those kinds of characters before, and she kind of snapped, "Oh come on! You're all English majors-- you should get this! Hello, this is your classic Oscar Wilde, right here!"

‎"When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power—upon one plane; and the desire to wield that power in the world
external to our minds awakes."
--J. R. R. Tolkien


Mozart and Chocolate


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 13 2013, 7:58am

Post #28 of 41 (174 views)
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Ah, language.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think probably the phrase "deeply flawed" elicits a gut reaction because it's taken as implying that something ought to have been other than it was. I don't think I would choose to use it if what I really meant is that it was a first attempt at something which later grew or evolved into greater maturity. It would seem very odd, though technically correct, to say that a toddler's first steps were a "deeply flawed" attempt at walking. Normally, one chooses a more optimistic phrase in such a case. Likewise, it seems an odd choice to describe The Hobbit that way simply because it doesn't embody ideals that Tolkien developed over a period of many years and expounded on at a later date. Ought TH to have been LOTR right off? I think not. Imperfect, yes. Flawed because it wasn't something else? I think that's where the reactions are coming from.

It's probably just a case of academic/critical language habits coming through, though the consensus here appears to be that the choice of phrase in this context was deeply flawed. TongueEvil

Please don't let the reactions here put you off reporting. Despite the outcry, I think we're all still quite interested to hear about the class. Smile

Silverlode






macfalk
Valinor


Feb 13 2013, 10:28am

Post #29 of 41 (163 views)
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I find more flaws in LOTR than in TH. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.

(This post was edited by macfalk on Feb 13 2013, 10:28am)


Magpie
Immortal


Feb 13 2013, 2:35pm

Post #30 of 41 (153 views)
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I know you do. :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

and I often use that to remind me that, in the end, it's alot about personal tastes and preferences. I can understand why you don't like LOTR as much and those traits are likely why I like LOTR better.

It's also a good reminder that one (in this case... an author) can't please everyone all the time. I think I actually used to believe that if I just figured out a perfect me, then everyone would like me. What I found was... some traits are what made people like me, and those same traits were what made people annoyed at me.

The same is true with novels and movies and food and beer and chocolate! :-)

What one person will love about something is likely the very thing that makes someone else dislike it.


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Magpie
Immortal


Feb 13 2013, 2:41pm

Post #31 of 41 (171 views)
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okay, here's a question... since we're talking about anachronisms in language [In reply to] Can't Post

What is up with the phrase, "nine days wonder" (used at the end of the TH).

I just about fell over when I read TH again as an adult (after 30 years) and came across that phrase because I knew it in connection with William Kempe (died 1603), the Shakespearean actor and Morris dancer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kempe

"In February and March 1600, he undertook what he would later call his "Nine Days Wonder", in which he morris danced from London to Norwich (a distance of over a hundred miles) in a journey which took him nine days spread over several weeks, often amid cheering crowds."

A friend of mine had just traveled to England to dance with a bunch of people recreating the event. There's also a children's book (which I own) recounting Kempe's adventure with the name, "Nine Days Wonder".

A few years back, I tried to track down the origin of the phrase on the internet and wasn't very successful. Perhaps if I tried again today, more info would be out there.

But does anyone know - has this been discussed - where the phrase originates and if it presents the same sort of anachronism as football and post office?


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

(This post was edited by Magpie on Feb 13 2013, 2:44pm)


Laerasėa
Tol Eressea


Feb 13 2013, 3:11pm

Post #32 of 41 (151 views)
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I understand [In reply to] Can't Post

And I will try and be more careful about the notes I choose to share in the future-- because that was a direct quote, not my words, and it did come from a professor that I greatly respect here. But, as a student in the class, no matter how open the professor is to new ideas, I can't respond to her comments with a "gut reaction" without first thinking it over, and backing it up with sources so that I can prove why it is *not* flawed. In short, writing an essay.

I hope people here who are interested in reading this thread-- if it is to become weekly-- understand that I don't have time to do that kind of research with each post here, and while perhaps I may not agree with everything she says, I don't want my instinctive opinion to filter what's going on in the class. That being said, it does make me more hesitant to post again when I *do* get an outcry as to why what I am learning is "wrong." I feel like I've been on the defensive for a bit in this thread, which is not really my intention. I don't mind discussions or debates about why someone disagrees with an idea, or even just word choice. I *invite* those-- that's why I wanted to have a weekly discussion on this! Smile But, please remember that I am doing this on the side of a twenty-three hour semester during which I am also applying for grad school, jobs, and trying to find a place to live after the semester is over. I absolutely don't mind posting my notes-- on the contrary, I am excited to see everybody's thoughts and opinions!-- but I *would* really like to get the point across that these notes 1. Aren't entirely my opinion, 2. Represent a fraction of my time in class, 3. Comes from a professor whose PhD is in 20th century British lit and calls LOTR her "Bible" (in other words, not at all an academic who is out to prove why Tolkien is not a legitimate author) and 4. Are subjects to- well- flaws, as I am not going to put the same kind of thought into them as I would into a paper that I expect to be slammed by the professor unless I properly back it up (not that those don't have flaws too, of course). Crazy This is meant to be a discussion post rather than a "thesis post," if you will. I will try and be more careful with future posts, as I said, but please keep in mind that my goal is to stimulate discussion and share what I'm learning, and not to rile up the Tolkien fans.

On *that* note, I actually have to run to class. Tongue I hope I was able to make sense. I am really excited that I have gotten so much participation on here-- I absolutely wasn't expecting so many responses! SmileSmileSmile

‎"When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power—upon one plane; and the desire to wield that power in the world
external to our minds awakes."
--J. R. R. Tolkien


Mozart and Chocolate

(This post was edited by Laerasėa on Feb 13 2013, 3:16pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 13 2013, 3:44pm

Post #33 of 41 (143 views)
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Well, even Tolkien, himself, had issues with 'The Hobbit'. [In reply to] Can't Post

Upon reflection, the professor admitted that the language could become too paternalistic and condescending. Once it had been published, though, he found that extensive rewrites would alter the book too much.

The unconventional structure never bothered me; that's just the way the book is. The seeming anachronism of Bilbo's mantle clock simply leads me to believe that the clock is a dwarvish instrument--perhaps a wedding gift from Mr. Bungo Baggins to his wife Belladonna. Most of the others are simply intrusions from the story's narrator.

Most of the remaining flaws are factual errors that crept in that were either never caught by Tolkien or that he never got around to correcting.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


sador
Half-elven


Feb 13 2013, 5:18pm

Post #34 of 41 (135 views)
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Good for you! [In reply to] Can't Post

My comments were not directed at you or your teacher, but simply upon the issues you've raised. You do not owe me any explanation or response - but of course, I'm immensely glad of them!

I've asked you regarding Shippey because it was his books who've introduced me to the concept of "asterisk-words". And assuming your professor is more of a Tolkien-fan than a philologist - perhaps her, as well! Smile


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Feb 14 2013, 3:49am

Post #35 of 41 (149 views)
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To lapse or not to lapse? That's a question? ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course there are lapses in The Hobbit... which are pure escapism, imho :D Those are the moments that take me into another place and create such great imagery that it makes this diversion more real.

I'm always nervous when something I have absorbed at a personal level is dissected in a certain frame of mind for study. It's always good to investigate Tolkien's world to appreciate his creation all the more; but (for me) there's always a danger of creating distractions from the story... which is the whole idea of getting lost in his stories.

One world of Tolkien's created by language that pops straight into my head is Gollum's world. His speech pattern, delivery, and usage of words is so affected by his experiences because of the Ring. He is completely corrupted by the Ring in a way that no one else has been... including the Nazgul... because his relationship with the Ring is unique. The world was safest from that evil as long as the Ring lived with Gollum under the mountain. Gollum is a result of his hobbity resilience and the Ring's devastating influence... and his language derived from that really shows that conflict.

This is great, Laerasea! Thank you so much for sharing this :D Fantastic!



Second draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - updated list coming soon



sample

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!



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TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)


macfalk
Valinor


Feb 14 2013, 12:43pm

Post #36 of 41 (126 views)
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I am aware of this [In reply to] Can't Post

It's just my person opinion. I don't find The Hobbit perfect by any means, but I love it none the less. LOTR on the other hand.... I have so many problems with that book that it often takes me several years trying to re-read it. I just lose interest after a few chapters.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


imin
Valinor


Feb 14 2013, 12:53pm

Post #37 of 41 (122 views)
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But those first few chapters are so good! [In reply to] Can't Post

The Shadow of the Past - brilliant chapter!

But i know you prefer The Hobbit and i won't change your mind and it's good you like one of them at least! Smile


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 14 2013, 12:53pm

Post #38 of 41 (124 views)
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Which problems with LotR really bother you? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It's just my person opinion. I don't find The Hobbit perfect by any means, but I love it none the less. LOTR on the other hand.... I have so many problems with that book that it often takes me several years trying to re-read it. I just lose interest after a few chapters.



I know that the biggest flaw that I have heard cited is probably that Tolkien spends more time describing the environment than he does developing his characters in any great detail. That has never kept me from being able to read the book, but it bothers some others to a much greater extent.

Then there are the descrepencies between TH and LotR, several of which Tolkien smoothed over in later editions and others that he was never able to reconcile. However, I get the impression that those are not what you are talking about.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


macfalk
Valinor


Feb 14 2013, 12:58pm

Post #39 of 41 (123 views)
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It's hard to put it to words [In reply to] Can't Post

When I was around 11-12 I loved the trilogy. Now,. however, it just doesn't "grab" ahold of me as it used to. And I can't connect with Frodo at all, not in the way I did with Bilbo. Bilbo is just... so much more interesting to me.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 14 2013, 1:07pm

Post #40 of 41 (121 views)
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Well, I can see where an inablility to relate to the main character could be a problem. [In reply to] Can't Post

It isn't an issue that I've had with the book, but we all approach literature in our own way.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


IdrilofGondolin
Rohan

Feb 14 2013, 4:51pm

Post #41 of 41 (207 views)
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On the Other Hand [In reply to] Can't Post

I read LOTR every summer and have been do so for the last 20 years. It has become something of a ritual. Once I hand in my grades and my teaching responsibilities end (usually the middle of May) I begin reading LOTR. It usually takes me all summer because I only read it at night before bed. For me the experience is magical. I especially love Sam (who imo is the hero of the book) and Aragorn the ideal knight and king.
Of course my favorite book in The Silmarillion, but I am partial to the Old Testament.

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