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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
"With the addition of..."


Nov 13 2013, 2:41pm

Views: 78
"With the addition of..." [In reply to] Can't Post

"The invitations were limited to twelve dozen ... and the guests were selected from all the families to which Bilbo and Frodo were related, with the addition of a few special unrelated friends (such as Gandalf)."
That sounds to me like Gandalf and the other "friends" were added onto the 144, and not counted in the "one gross" of formal invitees. I think that's basically what Tolkien/the narrator/Bilbo is getting at with his little linguistic joke about "one gross", anyway. Things you get "by the gross" are by implication common and ordinary, with every item the same as all the others. When Bilbo spells out the "one gross" joke in his speech, the hobbits are understandably insulted at being treated in this interchangeable way, "feeling sure they had only been asked to fill up the required number, like goods in a package."

The way I see it, whenever the narrator mentions the one hundred and forty-four hobbits dreading the speech, or being flabbergasted or whatever, I don't think it's really about the specific number (who's counting by that point anyway?Tongue) - it's about the metaphor behind the number, i.e. "one gross" - of boring, ordinary, dime-a-dozen hobbits. Gandalf, the dwarves, Frodo and anyone else who's there but isn't dull and boring doesn't count!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

Subject User Time
Were there 144? or more? Israfellius Send a private message to Israfellius Nov 12 2013, 9:51am
    this keeps you awake? FaramirFan Send a private message to FaramirFan Nov 12 2013, 10:25am
        Can't sleep Israfellius Send a private message to Israfellius Nov 12 2013, 10:39am
            Chocolate pies...maybe! Or maybe those lost Blue wizards found music... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Nov 12 2013, 5:40pm
                Shouldn't that read "On a Mission from Eru"?// elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Nov 12 2013, 5:45pm
                    Quite right! Fixed it! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Nov 12 2013, 5:56pm
    Early proof of the hand of Providence influencing the story. Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Nov 12 2013, 4:08pm
    I always assumed someone snuck in. RosieBaggins Send a private message to RosieBaggins Nov 12 2013, 5:28pm
    "With the addition of..." FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 13 2013, 2:41pm


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