J.R.R. Tolkien Epic Reads discussion

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The Fellowship of the Ring > Prologue, chapters 1-3

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message 1: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments Hello everyone, this is the thread we'll be using to start our journey into The Lord of the Rings. This coming month (July) we'll be starting things off with the Prologue and chapter 1. Then moving on to chapters 2 and 3 in August. So here we go. :-)


message 2: by George (last edited Jun 30, 2018 07:26PM) (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments Prologue:
Hobbit characteristics based on Irish Celtic Revival of in late 19th Century?

It’s my understanding Tolkien initially was thinking of an English/Anglo-Saxon mythology to compete with Roman and Norse mythologies when he created Middle Earth. This is partly what attracted me to his stories. I also believe he eventually stated he was not a fan of allegory and even mentions the LOTR story is “neither allegorical nor topical” in the Foreword. However, it is clear he is specifically distancing his story from the events of WWII and not necessarily the mythology theme.

I mention the above because as I read the description of Hobbits in the Prologue, two ideas came to mind (the second will be addressed in another post). First, I wondered if his description of the Hobbits and their characteristics were influenced by the Irish Celtic Revivalism of the late 19th Century. Essentially, I wonder if his Hobbits are based on the English concept of Irish identity at the time. This is probably coming to mind because I happened to be reading/listening to a lecture on the Irish Identity in my commute back and forth to work each day.

After the Great Famine in the 1840s, the Irish developed a fascination with the idea of Celticism that was romantic, nostalgic and anti-historical. An English essayist Matthew Arnold was the most vocal proponent of this fascination and defined the concept of Celtic temperament as follows:

1) An intimacy with the world of nature and world of spirits
2) A melancholy, but also energetic attitude
3) A loving and generous if rather simple character
4) A refusal to “bow to the despotism of fact”.

Arnold’s portrait of the Celt/Irish was admirable, but also condescending. In essence, he is saying the English or Saxon character was less attractive but more capable of dealing with the world of fact, i.e. equipped to rule an empire – a typical superior English attitude at the time. On the other hand, the Celt/Irish was equipped to live happily within it. To me, the Hobbits are very Celt-like. While very likeable and admired, they are mistakenly dismissed at the beginning of both the Hobbit and the LOTR as main players in the bigger Middle Earth current events.

Tolkien describes the Hobbits as

1) “Unobtrusive, but very ancient people”;
2) “They love peace and quiet and good tilled earth”,
3) They do not like machines though skilled with tools.
4) As a rule, shy of the “Big Folk”, (leprechaun reference?)
5) “Close friendship with the earth”

Okay, I may be reaching, but I see similarities between the two identities and wonder if Hobbits were essentially the Irish in his mythology.


message 3: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments First off, quiet a long post. But you also bring up a valid point, many people of certain skills or higher power often look down upon or count out the "common folk" as having very little to do with how the world runs. When in fact they have a great deal to do with it. The mighty would be laid low were it not for those who work beneath them. We/they are a force to be reckoned with, though seemly simple folks they may be.
Though it is possible that Tolkien based hobbits or halflings on an old 13th century Celtic lore, though maybe changing some things to fit his stories. Someone might have to look around on the Internet and in whatever books they can find to possibly know. Of course he could've also based some of his hobbits, like Sam and Pippin for example, on other guys he knew during the Great War (WW I) maybe somewhere along the line their personality appears and we glanced right over it as we plowed on through the first time (if you read it before).
Im not sure, maybe even I'm reaching in trying to understand the full complex world that is Middle-earth.


message 4: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Garrett (heidi_g) | 218 comments George wrote: "Tolkien describes the Hobbits as

1) “Unobtrusive, but very ancient people”;
2) “They love peace and quiet and good tilled earth”,
3) They do not like machines though skilled with tools.
4) As a rule, shy of the “Big Folk”, (leprechaun reference?)
5) “Close friendship with the earth”..."


Really interesting and thoughtful post, George. Certainly, I'd never considered the Irish-Celtic connection. I'm going to be thinking about it though, now. The one thing I can think of that might make this a limited connection is: aren't the Irish rebellious? I've never really thought of Hobbits as "rebels" or "rebellious." But it would also be (likely?) Tolkien lifted traits from more than one "group" to create Hobbits, etc.

I don't know. But very interesting.


message 5: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments An interesting post, and something to look into and consider. I know Tolkien based the Shire on images from his childhood around Birmingham, and believe I’ve read that Hobbits are modeled on the rustic families and children he remembered from there.

That is actually consistent with Celtic folklore in that the disappearing elements of rustic England were often vestiges of Celtic and Briton influence.

I’m curious to look into this more. I know Tolkien was fascinated by Welsh, which influenced his later Elven dialects.


message 6: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses. I don’t know a lot about Tolkien’s politics. Did he support the rule of the minority Anglo-Irish Protestants, the struggle of the oppressed Catholic majority, or none of the above? In fact, all this has made me want to read a Tolkien biography. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

He did, however, grow up during a time W.B. Yeats was a major force in English/Irish literary world. Yeats was drawn to elements of magic and naturalism as described by Arnold in my original post. I believe it’s likely as you all suggest, he took elements of multiple groups to create the Hobbits, and Irish Celticism was one of those groups.


message 7: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments Prologue:

Hobbit description and Eagle Theory

The second thought that came to mind as I read Tolkien’s Hobbit description was in reference to the “Eagle Theory”. The Eagle Theory should and probably will be more thoroughly discussed when we get to the Council of Elrond chapter, but I want to make this point as it relates to the Hobbit characteristics. Hobbits are described by Tolkien as follows:

1) Avoid “the Big Folk” and are hard to find.
2) Quick of hearing and sharp-eyed
3) Nimble and deft in their movements
4) The art of disappearing swiftly and silently (to Men seems magical) due to professional skill that heredity and practice and close friendship with the earth developed.

One of the main reasons, I argue, the Council did not consider the Eagles to take the ring to Mordor is they all understood the only way to get past the thralls and evil servants of Sauron was to covertly take the ring. The Eagle option would have been an overt attempt that Sauron would have detected and thrown all his powers to stop, to include bowmen, the Nazgul, and possibly dragons. They all believed the overt choice would have failed without question.

As I re-read the Hobbit description, it just solidified my belief the covert option was the only choice with any chance of success, and the Hobbits were the only choice to carry out this clandestine task. Tolkien established precedence of their secret nature in “The Hobbit”. Bilbo was the best choice as burglar because his kind was not well known and Smaug would not recognize his smell.


message 8: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Garrett (heidi_g) | 218 comments George wrote: "One of the main reasons, I argue, the Council did not consider the Eagles to take the ring to Mordor is they all understood the only way to get past the thralls and evil servants of Sauron was to covertly take the ring. The Eagle option would have been an overt attempt that Sauron would have detected and thrown all his powers to stop, to include bowmen, the Nazgul, and possibly dragons. They all believed the overt choice would have failed without question.

As I re-read the Hobbit description, it just solidified my belief the covert option was the only choice with any chance of success, and the Hobbits were the only choice to carry out this clandestine task. Tolkien established precedence of their secret nature in “The Hobbit”. Bilbo was the best choice as burglar because his kind was not well known and Smaug would not recognize his smell. "


George, I haven't read the Prologue yet, still working through Notes on the Text! But the part I bolded in what you wrote is really interesting. That links back, also, to the 4 qualities you listed of the hobbits in the same post? That really gives me pause for some consideration. Especially, because Gandalf was so intent on choosing and supporting and insisting on Bilbo as the right choice for burglar. I'll be thinking about that quite a bit.

On Tolkien bio: I'm reading J.R.R. Tolkien: Codemaster, Spy-master, Hero, basically how Tolkien worked espionage for the Brits. (In both world Wars?) I got interested in this book after reading The Silmarillion because of all the "whisper campaigns" i.e. propaganda wars (and their effectiveness!) in that book. I guess that's why I'm reading the Notes to the Text. Lots of Tolkien's references to his languages and methodology of naming things was "conveniently" lost (?). It had been promised to be published with The Return of the King but never was ... l'm only into the 6th chapter of the bio, but it's interesting reading. The 6th chapter is about a walking tour he took in Switzerland and how the geography there most likely influences some of the spectacular scenery in his works.


message 9: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments Heidi, thanks. Ironically, you couldn’t have made a better reading suggestion. It’s right in my wheel house.

As far as Hobbits, I liked in “Unfinished Tales” it was mentioned that one of Gandalf’s main strengths was his relationships and knowledge of the people of Middle Earth. He took the time to get to know all the Children of Eru Iluvatar (unlike Saruman). That’s why he knew about the inner strength of Hobbits and picked Bilbo for the journey.


message 10: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 27 comments George wrote: "Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses. I don’t know a lot about Tolkien’s politics. Did he support the rule of the minority Anglo-Irish Protestants, the struggle of the oppressed Catholic majo..."

Perhaps the most well known biography is the one that Humphrey Carpenter wrote, so that's a good place to start J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography J.R.R. Tolkien A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter . Also, Tolkien's letters are a must, and provide a wealth of information: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by J.R.R. Tolkien . I recently finished John Garth's Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth Tolkien and the Great War The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth , which was very evocative and provides some interesting insights to Tolkien's early writing career and the influences on his mythological world. Tons of great options to choose from!


message 11: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments Thank you, Tara.


message 12: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 61 comments The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One is also interesting.

Though you want to read Fellowship first. It's interesting to watch the hobbits and all take form while he's looking to do another Hobbit.


message 13: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments Humphrey Carpenter’s is the classic bio. Tolkien and the Great War is also very good, adrressing Tolkien’s comment in the Prologue that “by 1918 all but one of my close friends was dead” (loosely quoted). It has interesting details about his early poetry.

Tom Shippey also has a couple of books, though all I remember offhand is The Author of the Century. Paul Kocher’s Master of Middle Earth is good as well, and since it predates publication of The Silmarillion or any of the other literary histories, offers unique insight into the works based solely on the Hobbit and LOTR.


message 14: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments Mary

Another excellent suggestion that will give you a true insight into how Tolkien wrote - endlessly revising, and niggling over words and names and other little details.

I’m planning to read it alongside this read. I hope it’s not too much to undertake...


message 15: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments It might be James, depending on how fast you read. Im going to try to start the prologue this week, but I want to finish reading Deadmen Walking first.


message 16: by Jowita (last edited Jul 03, 2018 04:05PM) (new)

Jowita Horbaczewska | 11 comments James wrote: "Mary

Another excellent suggestion that will give you a true insight into how Tolkien wrote - endlessly revising, and niggling over words and names and other little details.

I’m planning to read ..."


I am finishing all the "how it was written" ;) history of middle earth (I am on tom 9 of 12) and it is amazing. You see what ideas emerged first and how it all evolved. And yes the most important were words. He changed / adapted / evolved names and words much because they had to have the right feeling.

One example is the word "doom" we look at it now as somthing negative however for Tolkien it is just a synonyme for fate, and he wanted in his works to revive the old meaning of some words.

Think how you would looked at the LOTR if instead of Frodo you would have Bingo, I am quite happy with this change.


message 17: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments Now I'm wondering what kind of a hobbit(s) Bilbo and Frodo were. Did not know there were three different kinds.


message 18: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments Jowita - I read a lot of the History series when they came out, but its been so long that I decided to go through them again. I started going through them in order again before I found this group, and have gotten stuck in volume 4, so I'm a little behind. I love the series, and I'm looking forward to comparing some of the early drafts with the final printing.

Eileen - I was wondering the same thing! My guess is that they're mostly Harfoot, with Fallohide from their Tookish side. Frodo's mother probably has some Stoor ancestors, since she was from Buckland and fond of boating (to her demise). You would naturally assume they have a lot of Fallohide given their gift with poetry and writing, not to mention their easy friendship with the Elves.

I tend to overreach at times, starting too many books at once and never quite getting through them all, lol.

I'm about half-way through the prologue now, and I'm struck by how much detail Tolkien has given about the history of Hobbits. I'd forgotten about a lot of it, though it all feels like common knowledge at the same time.

As far as I remember, Hobbits are unique in his work as an idea that sprang up one day, and took over so much of his time. "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." Suddenly, he had to carve a space in his mythology for them. The history included in the Prologue was basically created for the prologue, yet it seems as detailed and informed as the histories he'd been revising since 1916.

I find it all fascinating.


message 19: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments James, I was thinking the same thing too. I always noticed the easily made friendships between Bilbo, Frodo and the Elves. I noticed it in the films and again as I was reading Lord of the Rings for the first time. Though I must admit, I skipped the prologue the last time I read it. Just wanted to read the actual story. But I'll get through it all before August.


message 20: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments I think I’ve skipped it, or at least skimmed it, most of the times I’ve read the book. It’s why it stands out as so novel to me now.

I love the discussion of Merry and Pippen’s travels and writing after their return. I find myself starting to wish for more...


message 21: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 61 comments James wrote: "Suddenly, he had to carve a space in his mythology for them. "

O, yes.

There was also the matter of the dwarves. If you read his works before and after , the character of dwarves takes a disctinct turn for the better, to fit The Hobbit.


message 22: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments Excellent point, Mary! I’d forgotten about the dwarves. The Hobbit, in some ways, is more of a traditional fairy tale. At least with character types. I think Tolkien mentions it somewhere himself, that they’re Grimm creatures with Eddaic names, or similar. It’s more like George MacDonald’s Curdie stories.

Yet the dwarves from Tolkien’s early stories are vengeful and duplicitous, if not outright evil. I’m not aware that he ever revised them much in either case, he just let the discrepancies stand. He might have called them out himself at some point, but I can’t remember that. I wonder why he let it stand?


message 23: by Jowita (new)

Jowita Horbaczewska | 11 comments Yes, the dwarfs are quite changed in, first the hobbit then LOTR.. in all the other works they were quite wicked and black of heart, which is quite strange looking at the entity which has made them.

During his writting of LOTR he still planed the "mythology" of middle earth, so this is quite a strange slip.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 61 comments They could be evil in the Silmarllion, but they could do good stuff, too.


message 25: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments You have a point Mary, the Dwarves, like all of Tolkien's Races are a mixed bag of good, ill and both.


message 26: by J (new)

J | 27 comments Jowita wrote: "Yes, the dwarfs are quite changed in, first the hobbit then LOTR.. in all the other works they were quite wicked and black of heart, which is quite strange looking at the entity which has made them..."

The Dwarves were not created by Eru, they were made by the Vala Aule, as a result of his impatience over the Elves.

Eru allowed the Dwarves to live, but he said there would be strife between Aule's creations and his own, and especially between dwarves and elves. This strife is prevalent throughout all of Tolkien's works. [take Nim in the children of Hurin for instance]

This could certainly be a reason why the dwarves are more inclined to negative actions.
In the Hobbit, we are constantly reminded that dwarves can be cruel, and fierce, although, some are decent folk. And Thorin's company is very decent, although you see hints of darkness in them, mostly from Thorin.

In Lotr, we don't see many dwarves besides Gimil, but he is loyal, courageous, and certainly not evil or cruel, which is a far cry from many of his predecessors.
This change of attitude could be due to inconsistencies on Tolkien's part, or a subtle character development for the dwarves.

I favor the latter, since Gimil befriended Legolas, which did much towards developing a [very] grudging peace between the races, and even [maybe] healing huge rifts of the past.


message 27: by Jowita (new)

Jowita Horbaczewska | 11 comments The dwarfes were put to sleep in waiting for all the children of Yluvatar to com to middle earth. And on the other hand the ENTS are the counter part of Dwarfes as Yavanna (if my memory is correct) had the permission to create them.
So we can see the ent-dwarf relation slow/fast.. and so on, maybe this is why they were like this? In the first age they are refered as very dark of heart, jealous but they can create the most beautiful items that can be immagined.

I do believe that Gimli is so kind of heart because Tolkien wanted to show another side of dwarfes,


message 28: by J (new)

J | 27 comments J wrote: "Jowita wrote: "Yes, the dwarfs are quite changed in, first the hobbit then LOTR.. in all the other works they were quite wicked and black of heart, which is quite strange looking at the entity whic..."

Yavanna asked Manwe's and Eru's permission to create the Ents, since she was afraid that the children of Iluvatar would destroy trees and growing things, by using them, so she made the Ents to be guardians of the plants and trees she loved.

I don't exactly see them as the counter parts of each other, since Ents and Dwarves are alike in many ways.
Ents have a darkness in them, and are incredibly stubborn, are mysterious, keep to themselves, and breed slowly [at least since the Entwives left] I think they are more like long parted siblings, since their parents were respectively Aule and Yavanna, who were spouses.

The Dwarves acted evil, mainly due to their circumstances and the prejudices that they faced at first, and because they didn't like to share, which caused deep and unforgivable grudges. [remember what happened to Thingol]
In Lotr they've mellowed out, since the causes of their main problems are far behind them.


message 29: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments Excellent points from everyone. You’re reminding of so many things I’d forgotten from the Silmarillion.

I do think you’re right about Gimli. I think Tolkien is making a special point to show an evolution in attitude between Elves and Dwarves with the relationship between Legolas and Gimli. My guess is that it’s all tied to the ending of the third age and the rise of the fourth age as the age of Men. The Elves are fading, the Dwarves are dwindling in numbers, and Men are ascending.

The world is changing, and the old adversaries find they need each other to adapt to the change. I like believing that anyway....


message 30: by J (new)

J | 27 comments James wrote: "Excellent points from everyone. You’re reminding of so many things I’d forgotten from the Silmarillion.

I do think you’re right about Gimli. I think Tolkien is making a special point to show an ev..."


J wrote: "J wrote: "Jowita wrote: "Yes, the dwarfs are quite changed in, first the hobbit then LOTR.. in all the other works they were quite wicked and black of heart, which is quite strange looking at the e..."

It is tied into the Fourth age, and adaption in a huge way, but it goes so much deeper than that, as the bonding of adversaries was significant only in the last of the Third Age. Everyone had to band together to defeat Sauron. Hence the Fellowship, and how it included one person of every race.

After Sauron was defeated, men rose to power, and everyone else faded back, since their part was completed.

Sauron was a Maia, a god, once formely known as Marion. With him, finally died the old world that the Elves and Dwarves once knew. It's not so much about the evolution in attitude, although peace between dwarves and elves is a huge thing, it is about the old races clinging to each other as the last thing they have from the past.
When Aragorn died, since he was the true last link, Legolas and Gimli finally left, taking the peace they had made between them and their peoples across the sea, since it didn't matter to Middle Earth anymore. Middle Earth belonged to men, and Aragorn's children. It's so bittersweet, and the finality of it is pretty awful.

The old races attained peace, but only in exile from the world that had been built for them by Iluvatar.


message 31: by Jowita (new)

Jowita Horbaczewska | 11 comments J wrote: The old races attained peace, but only in exile from the world that had been built for them by Iluvatar. "

Indeed bittersweet, I do agree with you, Which for me shows how "big" was the vision abnout midle-earth from the first era to the last.

and yes it's good to re-read the Silmarillion ;) so many small details to see and re-discover.


message 32: by J (new)

J | 27 comments Everything in Tolkien's works is interconnected and twined together by fate. Every action has it's place, in the future or past, and it is very, very big.

Think about Arwen and Aragorn, they were the descendants of the only unions between elves and men, and they married, uniting those bloodlines. So much planning and thought in just that.


message 33: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments You also need to remember that in a way, though this is small, Aragorn was part of the same bloodline as Arwen. He is the last true descendant in the line of Elros and therefore a cousin of sorts to Arwen. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's just how much older Arwen is-despite her youthful appearance-to Aragorn that creeps me out.


message 34: by J (new)

J | 27 comments Eileen wrote: "You also need to remember that in a way, though this is small, Aragorn was part of the same bloodline as Arwen. He is the last true descendant in the line of Elros and therefore a cousin of sorts t..."

That's exactly what I meant. Beren and Luthien had Dior, who had Elwing. Elwing married Earendil, who was the son of Tuor and Idril, and their sons were Elrond and Elros. Then, many years later, Aragorn and Arwen married, and their respective progenitors were Elrond and Elros.

The half Elven, half Human bloodline was contained in a loop, and it never spread farther than the three marriages.

Which ties into what you said. In contrast with Aragorn, Arwen is a unearthly, immortal, impossibly beautiful being, a vampire of sorts. Given her age, experience, cousinly relation by blood, and presence of probably other suitors, she could of refused him, but she didn't, and I've always pondered why.

I figured the descendants of the half elven, half human bloodline are drawn to each other, bound to always unite. Luthien's mother, Melian, was a Maia, so, both Arwen and Aragorn also have a very faint touch of the divine in them as well, and which maybe contributes in drawing them together.


message 35: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments Oh, right I forgot about that. Not all of the stories are fresh in my mind, but I do remember that now since you brought it up. So what began in Beleriand ends in Gondor and therefore never happens again as the only remaining from those lines are siblings.


message 36: by J (new)

J | 27 comments Eileen wrote: "Oh, right I forgot about that. Not all of the stories are fresh in my mind, but I do remember that now since you brought it up. So what began in Beleriand ends in Gondor and therefore never happens..."

Yes, Aragorn's children would be the only ones with that bloodline, but they were human, and so the bloodline was diluted, and then dispersed over time.
And no human or elf ever married again.


message 37: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments Right because Arwen gave up being an Immortal Elf to be with him.


message 38: by J (new)

J | 27 comments Eileen wrote: "Right because Arwen gave up being an Immortal Elf to be with him."

Exactly.


message 39: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments There's one thing I wonder about the party scene between both film and book. Was Tolkien ever planning on Bilbo revealing the ring to everyone and then decided against it? Also was PJ planning that as well? For a moment in both film and book it did, but they both decided no at the last minute. Or was it Bilbo's voice at the time it was written that said no, not yet. I'm curious about that. What do you guys and gals think?


message 40: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments That's a good question, Eileen. I don't think Bilbo ever intended on anything other than using it to disappear (for good) in the book, but in the movie?? I remember seeing his hesitation in the movie, and feeling that he was uncertain, but I never thought of him revealing it.

My sense was that he wasn't sure whether he was going to use it or not, or that he was debating whether to use it immediately and skip the speech.

It is interesting that the first draft of the chapter has much of the party scene intact. In that, Bilbo still uses the ring to disappear, but claims he is getting married and going away.

I had to go back and reread the scene, but I see the hesitation now. I think he's debating about whether to disappear or not. I'm curious what everyone thinks...


message 41: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments I had no idea that the idea of Bilbo getting married was an idea he tossed around with. But I'm finished with chapter 1 and will probably read ahead as I'm reading it to my 13 year old nephew for the first time.


message 42: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments I don’t believe Bilbo ever had the intention to reveal the ring. The disappearing act was just his party joke. If he had any hesitation it was about whether he was going to commit to playing the joke and then leaving forever. To reveal the ring would put the ring at risk, and its hold on Bilbo would probably not allow it.

Also, would the Ring itself allow Bilbo to expose it? It revealed itself to Deagol because it wanted to get back to its master. Was the Ring driving Bilbo’s actions? Did Gandalf spoil the Ring’s manipulations when he forced Bilbo to give the ring up?


message 43: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments That's true George, if Bilbo had taken the ring with him it could have easily manipulated him into taking a quest to Mordor alone or until a Nazgul found him and Sauron would have gotten the ring far sooner, destroying Middle-earth all the more sooner and forcing Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf to either give up their rings to him or force them to serve him as the One controlled the other 20 rings scattered throughout Middle-earth.


message 44: by James (new)

James Mullen | 103 comments The first draft has Bilbo using the ring to disappear, saying he will be leaving to get married. Tolkien then writes, "That's that. It merely serves to explain that Bilbo Baggins got married and had many children, because I am going to tell you a story about one of his descendants,..." So he always intended the first chapter as a wrap-up of Bilbo's life, and a new story with a new lead character.

What I wonder is, how much of the ring's history did he envision at the time? My gut feeling is that he saw it as the linking feature between the two initially, then began to see it as something more than a ring of invisibility as the germ of a storyline began to emerge.

It's curious that he tried shifting the story in a few drafts to Bingo (Bilbo's son) being the one throwing the party, but I'm glad he changed it back to Bilbo. It gives a nice tie-in to the Hobbit, and once the power of the ring becomes a major feature, allows that wonderful conversation/confrontation between Gandalf and Bilbo as he's preparing to leave.

There are also some wonderful insights into Bilbo in that exchange. He doesn't feel right ("thin and stretched"), there's an element of possession in the hold the ring is taking on him. I love the subtlety of the conversation the two have - they're both probing the other, saying and suggesting meaning simultaneously. It's a really nice scene (and one they nailed in the movies, too).


message 45: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments The first movies of both The Hobbit and the LOTR are both very good. I still enjoy the other movies, but they get a little “thin and stretched” at times for me, especially the second and third Hobbit movies. It’s a small complaint because I do love the way all the movies allow me to live and escape into Tolkien’s Middle-earth. I’m really excited to see where Tolkien’s estate and Amazon productions are going to take us in their upcoming five year series.


message 46: by George (new)

George Noland II | 43 comments James, I’ve wondered as well when Tolkien came up with the idea of Gollum’s/Bilbo’s Ring being the centerpiece of the LOTR story. When did he come up and write the back story about Celebrimbor and the Rings in the Second Age?


message 47: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments George, at my best guess possibly during or after he wrote Lord of the Rings. Maybe even beforehand.


message 48: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 61 comments I think it was during the thrashing process. Otherwise the first drafts would have been rather different. He was still aiming for a sequel to The Hobbit of the same type and genre. The Ring upsets all that.


message 49: by Eileen (new)

Eileen | 89 comments True. But we'll never really know, we can only guess.


message 50: by natalie (last edited Jul 15, 2018 10:45AM) (new)

natalie (gildie-everblaze) J wrote: Which ties into what you said. In contrast with Aragorn, Arwen is a unearthly, immortal, impossibly beautiful being, a vampire of sorts. Given her age, experience, cousinly relation by blood, and presence of probably other suitors, she could of refused him, but she didn't, and I've always pondered why.

Sorry for the off-topic, late reply, but why is Arwen considered a vampire...?


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