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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Breaking of the Fellowship part 2
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Curious
Half-elven


Apr 8 2008, 7:45pm

Post #51 of 73 (160 views)
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Do first time [In reply to] Can't Post

readers even know who Frodo is when they read that note in the Prologue? I don't think so. Would they remember the note after they are properly introduced to Frodo? I doubt it.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 8 2008, 8:45pm

Post #52 of 73 (161 views)
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From the text [In reply to] Can't Post

In the next day or two Frodo went through his papers and his writings with Sam, and he handed over his keys. There was a big book with plain red leather covers; its tall pages were now almost filled. At the beginning there were many leaves covered with Bilbo's thin wandering hand; but most of it was written in Frodo's firm flowing script. It was divided into chapters but chapter 80 was unfinished, and after that were some blank leaves.

The title page had many titles on it, crossed out one after another, so:

My Diary. My Unexpected Journey. There and Back Again. And What Happened After.
Adventures of Five Hobbits. The Tale of the Great Ring, compiled by Bilbo Baggins from his own observations and the accounts of his friends. What we did in the War of the Ring.

Here Bilbo's hand ended and Frodo had written:

THE DOWNFALL

OF THE

LORD OF THE RINGS

AND THE

RETURN OF THE KING

(as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise.)

Together with extracts from Books of Lore translated by Bilbo in Rivendell.


"Why, you have nearly finished it, Mr. Frodo!" Sam exclaimed. "Well, you have kept at it, I must say."

"I have quite finished, Sam," said Frodo. "The last pages are for you."

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 8 2008, 9:03pm

Post #53 of 73 (149 views)
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That brings to mind [In reply to] Can't Post

this, from "Quest of Erebor", Gandalf finally explaining why Bilbo was selected to go with the Dwarves:

‘How would you select any one Hobbit for such a purpose?’ said Gandalf. ‘I had not time to sort them all out; but I knew the Shire very well by that time, although when I met Thorin I had been away for more than twenty years on less pleasant business. So naturally thinking over the Hobbits that I knew, I said to myself: “I want a dash of the Took” (but not too much, Master Peregrin) “and I want a good foundation of the stolider sort, a Baggins perhaps.”

‘That pointed at once to Bilbo. And I had known him once very well, almost up to his coming of age, better than he knew me. I liked him then. And now I found that he was “unattached” - to jump on again, for of course I did not know all this until I went back to the Shire. I learned that he had never married. I thought that odd, though I guessed why it was; and the reason that I guessed was not the one that most of the Hobbits gave me: that he had early been left very well off and his own master. No, I guessed that he wanted to remain “unattached” for some reason deep down which he did not understand himself - or would not acknowledge, for it alarmed him. He wanted, all the same, to be free to go when the chance came, or he had made up his courage. '

What was it that Bilbo did not understand, or that would "alarm" him? That solitude was an effect of the Ring? Or was it something else? Mystery abounds! Laugh


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


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 8 2008, 9:03pm

Post #54 of 73 (159 views)
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Isn't that the final chapter? [In reply to] Can't Post

I said there is nothing in the text until the final chapter, or perhaps it is the penultimate chapter.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 8 2008, 9:09pm

Post #55 of 73 (155 views)
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Didn't notice you'd said... [In reply to] Can't Post

"until the final chapter."

So let me add these:

"How long do you think I shall have here?" said Frodo to Bilbo when Gandalf had gone.

"Oh, I don't know. I can't count days in Rivendell," said Bilbo. "But quite long, I should think. We can have many a good talk. What about helping me with my book, and making a start on the next? Have you thought of an ending?"

"Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant," said Frodo.

"Oh, that won't do!" said Bilbo. "Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?"

"It will do well, if it ever comes to that," said Frodo.

"Ah!" said Sam. "And where will they live? That's what I often wonder."
(The Ring Goes South)

and

"Ent-draughts?" said Sam. "There you go about Ents again; but what they are beats me. Why, it will take weeks before we get all these things sized up!"

"Weeks indeed," said Pippin. "And then Frodo will have to be locked up in a tower in Minas Tirith and write it all down. Otherwise he will forget half of it, and poor old Bilbo will be dreadfully disappointed."
(The Field of Cormallen)

Although why it's a problem that the real giveaway is in the final chapter I'm not sure. It's not as if we're supposed to be thinking who wrote what as we read - just that, with hindsight, certain things might look different (just as certain scenes, like Sam's eavesdropping for example, look different when you learn things that were not apparent at the time). The fact that it's in the text at all at least shows that Tolkien had this scenario in mind while writing, and that it's not some kind of afterthought dreamt up for the Appendices.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Apr 8 2008, 9:21pm

Post #56 of 73 (146 views)
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It is. [In reply to] Can't Post

The penultimate chapter ends with Saruman's death.

Even as a twelve-year-old, first-time reader, I got, after reading "The Grey Havens", that we were meant to take Bilbo, Frodo and Sam as the original authors of LotR. I had by then quite forgotten any hints of this from the Prologue, and only after many readings did I begin to grasp the idea that the appendices had multiple imagined authors.

But it was a long time before I started to wonder about how the history of the main text was recorded. Probably when I first started to wonder how LotR could be adapted for film (fifteen years ago?), wondering how a movie could stay with the book's limited points of view: the hobbits plus Aragorn and Gimli, so I thought. And it was only in the past couple years, because of comments on TORN, that I realized how even some moments when Frodo and Sam are present show things they couldn't know -- like that famous moment of Gollum's near repentance.

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Curious
Half-elven


Apr 8 2008, 9:49pm

Post #57 of 73 (148 views)
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Maybe. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The fact that it's in the text at all at least shows that Tolkien had this scenario in mind while writing, and that it's not some kind of afterthought dreamt up for the Appendices.


Those passages don't really tell us that Frodo did write it all down. We don't learn that until the last chapter. So we still don't know for sure what Tolkien had in mind prior to the last chapter.

Furthermore, because Frodo is identified as the writer only in the last chapter of the text, only people who have already read the book at least once would wonder about the fictional narrators for each chapter, and even then it takes some effort, I judge, to do so, just as it would take effort to remember that the hobbits aren't "really" named Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, and that Common or Westron is not "really" the same as English, and that hobbits don't "really" resemble 19th century Englishmen, and that the Shire doesn't "really" resemble the English countryside.

I hope you don't mind continuing to discuss this. I know you wondered if the conversation had gone on too long, but I think we are exploring some interesting points.



sador
Half-elven

Apr 8 2008, 10:08pm

Post #58 of 73 (137 views)
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Just to mention in passing [In reply to] Can't Post

The conceit that 'The Hobbit' is based upon Bilbo's diary is kept throughout the books quite consistently, but in the book itself there are 'modern' comments on everyother page.
Compared to that, the conceit about the authoring of LOTR is easy to sustain.

"I am sorry. I have paid" - Boromir


Canto
Bree


Apr 8 2008, 10:52pm

Post #59 of 73 (134 views)
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While we can never be sure [In reply to] Can't Post

what Tolkien precisely had in mind, all these elements as presented do begin to paint a picture that lends credence to the notion that Tolkien wished to communicate as thoroughly as possible (and as early as possible) the idea that Frodo is responsible for the primary narration. The later addendum of the Note in the Prologue taken in conjunction with brief allusions to a chronicle being written or that may be written indicate (to me) this very possibility. The question (for me) then is not, 'Does Tolkien tell us that Frodo is the narrator,' when the answer appears to be clearly "yes," but rather, 'Why doesn't Tolkien spell out Frodo's narrative role more directly in an earlier section?' I think the answers lies somewhere within the realm of when you said that most first time readers, unfamiliar not only with the characters but also the terrain and various other nuances, would easily lose focus of what extra role Frodo played outside the story.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 9 2008, 1:06am

Post #60 of 73 (152 views)
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Fictional histories or memoirs are quite common. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien could have written the story in the first person, for example. Or he could have written a preface in the first person.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 9 2008, 1:09am)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 9 2008, 2:39am

Post #61 of 73 (129 views)
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Avoiding a Spoiler [In reply to] Can't Post

If Tolkien had made it too evident that Frodo had written the major portion of the narrative, it would have clued the first-time reader in on the fact that Frodo had survived to do so. He could do no more than he did.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 9 2008, 9:31am

Post #62 of 73 (123 views)
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Okay, then. [In reply to] Can't Post

That goes back to my original point; Tolkien did not mean for the reader to think of Frodo as the narrator.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 9 2008, 3:54pm

Post #63 of 73 (104 views)
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spoilers versus afterthoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

He did, however, intend the reader to look back on the rest of the book and say, "Oh, so Frodo wrote it!" To call the notion of Frodo's authorship an afterthought makes as much sense as Gollum's destruction of the Ring being an afterthought. Just because the reader is not supposed to figure it out until the end does not mean that it went without foreshadowing or intention.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 9 2008, 5:19pm

Post #64 of 73 (154 views)
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Hidden depths [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Furthermore, because Frodo is identified as the writer only in the last chapter of the text, only people who have already read the book at least once would wonder about the fictional narrators for each chapter, and even then it takes some effort, I judge, to do so, just as it would take effort to remember that the hobbits aren't "really" named Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, and that Common or Westron is not "really" the same as English, and that hobbits don't "really" resemble 19th century Englishmen, and that the Shire doesn't "really" resemble the English countryside.



There are a lot of hidden things in LotR, things that you are very unlikely to spot on first reading, but that are there for a purpose. Some things, like the relevance of the Conspiracy Unmasked chapter to the eavesdropping scene, for example, might lead us to reassess what we read earlier in the book. The Long-Expected Party, and Bilbo's departure, take on a different, darker shade when we look back at these events with greater understanding after learning more about the Ring.

The added information about the hobbits' real names, etc., that you mention above, are less instrinsic than the examples I mention, because they are only in the Appendices, but they are indeed yet another level of the almost obsessive detail that adds depth to LotR.

I would suggest that Frodo's narration could be thought of in the first category, since it's (eventually) made quite clear in the text, leaving us to reassess what we've read, if we care to. It's not entirely impossible for the "alert reader" to know about Frodo's authorship from the start, since it's in the Prologue, but for most first-time readers, the story itself is quite enough to be going on with. But there's so much more waiting for the second-time reader, or even the first-time reader who is willing to reassess things in the light of new information as it becomes available.

Actually I've been wondering if it might be better to think of Frodo, Sam and Bilbo as "chroniclers" rather than narrators, because they seem to think of themselves as historians, not as individuals telling their own stories exclusively. In this kind of writing, there's no reason why one chronicler might not feel it perfectly appropriate to add or correct things written by one of the others, if they had better information. And none of them would feel it was appropriate to use the first person for this collaborative effort.

Overall, I think it can be interesting to wonder if Tolkien was imagining one or other of the hobbits as the source for a particular part of the story, but I'm certainly not suggesting that there's a solvable puzzle here, or that there's any way of telling who wrote what. However I find that the changing points of view throughout the story do fit in quite well with this general idea. And it works to explain, too, why almost all the other characters are observed from the outside, so that we are left to interpret their actions for ourselves. There are also the many instances of things "seeming" to happen, and this also makes me think that witnesses or chroniclers who are not omniscient are telling the story. These are things that don't need to be considered in order for the story to be enjoyed. They are just things that keep you coming back, and seeing new texture in a story you thought you knew.

(No objections from me about continuing the discussion, as you can see!)

Evil

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 8:56am

Post #65 of 73 (92 views)
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Tolkien was not wounded in the Great War. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I will acknowledge right off that I have heard so many contradictory accounts of Tolkien's medical discharge (including in different published biographies) that I might have reconstructed it erroneously. But as near as I can figure out, he sustained a wound that should not have been serious, which became complicated by a mysterious high fever with a psychosomatic element … By all accounts Sam was based on the valiant bat-boy who got Tolkien out alive after his wounding.


Tolkien was not wounded: he contracted trench fever, a disease spread by lice. Sam was based on batmen that Tolkien knew (see Mark Hooker’s article here) but there was no such rescue.


Quote
I remember my utter shock when I first read Tolkien's bizarre praise of the poppy, left out of The Silmarillion.


Do you remember where you read this?

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 8:57am

Post #66 of 73 (88 views)
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Yes, Boromir’s arguments [In reply to] Can't Post

…might be more convincing if Tolkien presented rather than paraphrased them.

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 8:58am

Post #67 of 73 (83 views)
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Nice analysis! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 8:58am

Post #68 of 73 (84 views)
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Sam returns after Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

…on October 6, and Tolkien wrote elsewhere that Frodo set out in order to reach Elvenhome before the anniversary of his wounding on Weathertop on that date.

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 9:00am

Post #69 of 73 (89 views)
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Frodo’s perspective? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Frodo agrees that this is “just one of [Mordor’s] works...”, but I think his perspective is better than Sam’s.


How do you know that statement isn’t Frodo as Sam later chose to think of him, as he finished up the Red Book? Or the work of some later editor? As Dreamdeer writes, “one can only guess” who wrote which parts of real manuscripts – and the same is true here. We should be very careful in using these guesses as the basis for speculation on the meaning of the text. And also that Tolkien’s mistakes aren’t explained away as being merely reflections of the bias of some imagined author.

In another response to this thread, you wrote:

Quote
Tolkien does tell us quite specifically who the authors of LotR are, as well as its later transmission via scribes of Gondor and so on.


Tolkien only tells us who some of the authors and editors are, not all of them.

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Curious
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 9:54am

Post #70 of 73 (82 views)
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Tolkien doesn't want Boromir [In reply to] Can't Post

to be convincing.


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 10:00am

Post #71 of 73 (80 views)
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How can that be? [In reply to] Can't Post

When we last see Frodo, the sun is rising after at least one night of sailing. But Sam seems to return home the same night that he saw Frodo off. Or does he? I guess I always read it that way, but perhaps the hobbits camped along the way. It would be a long ride back to the Shire, now that I think about it. I suppose they must have camped along the way. I'll have to read the ending again.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 22 2009, 10:06pm

Post #72 of 73 (91 views)
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One reference, but not the main one. [In reply to] Can't Post

I found one reference that I was looking for, in "Lost Tales I: Chapter 3" about Lorien growing poppies and using them much in his enchantments. But I distinctly recall another reference out there that I can't track down, about Manwe blessing the poppies in Irmo Lorien's garden, that struck me as really strange. Now that troubles me--maybe someone else forged it?

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 23 2009, 5:26pm

Post #73 of 73 (98 views)
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Thanks for the citation! Very interesting. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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