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The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
This topic is about The Fellowship of the Ring
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Buddy Reads Discussions > Fellowship of the Ring -- Book One w/ Spoilers

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 27, 2012 03:55PM) (new)

Please discuss content from Book One, comprising Chapters I thru XII. We have a few first-timers in the discussion, so please limit your discussion comments to these chapters.


message 2: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) To the tune, with apologies, of "Secret Agent Man"

Secret Agent Sam

In the Shire when secrets are a-brewing
It’s best to keep an eye on just what the gardener’s doing
You’ll think he’s raking leaves
In fact, he’s dropping eaves –
Master conspirator: Samwise Gamgee

Secret agent Sam – secret agent Sam
They know he knows his taters –
They don’t know he knows the truth

Outside you’ll find the verge could stand some clipping
Inside the mask of secrecy is slipping
Ah, be careful what you say
When you hear the shears in play –
Master conspirator: Samwise Gamgee

Secret agent Sam – secret agent Sam
They know he knows his taters –
They don’t know he knows the truth

(Merry and Pippin, of course, dance on table during guitar solo)
(repeat chorus)

Doubtless the tasks he’s working on since dawn
Are tending the hedges, gardens, and lawns –
Oh, he seems beyond suspicion
But he’s embraced his mission –
Master conspirator: Samwise Gamgee

Secret agent Sam – secret agent Sam
They know he knows his taters –
They don’t know he knows the truth...

:0)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL!!


message 4: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 27, 2012 03:56PM) (new)

Manybooks I am going to have that song in my ears forever, lol (and Samwise knows his mushrooms as well).


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I've got to start reading. I'd like to discuss the books rather than the movies, but it's hard to keep them separate! ;)


message 6: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Jeannette wrote: "I've got to start reading. I'd like to discuss the books rather than the movies, but it's hard to keep them separate! ;)"

I've noticed that, sigh.


message 7: by Tim (last edited Feb 27, 2012 11:19PM) (new)

Tim | 127 comments I've read the books so often I wouldn't have problems differentiating the two. There's things from Fellowship of the Ring that I wish where there in the film, but I understand why they weren't. Plus, I hate the film version of Return of the King because they change a lot of the character's behaviours when they didn't need to. The Two Towers is the one I have the least problem with the changes.

I might do the BBC audio dramatization of LoTR this time around. It's been a while since I've listened to that version.


message 8: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Gundula wrote: "Jeannette wrote: "I've got to start reading. I'd like to discuss the books rather than the movies, but it's hard to keep them separate! ;)"

I've noticed that, sigh."


I agree, it is one thing to change some of the plot elements, quite another to change the behaviour, the very being of the characters.


message 9: by Tim (new)

Tim | 127 comments I've ripped the CDs that cover Fellowship and The Two Towers so I'm ready for the buddy read (sort of). I'm working on Return of the King so I'll have all digitized. I guess they're kind of abridged versions. I quite like this version. I find it funny that Ian Holm does the voice of Frodo (when he's Bilbo in the films). I should get a proper audiobook version of LoTR at some point.

I'm going to try to do the The Silmarillion read in the Tolkien group and I'll go with my audio version for this buddy read. I've read it so often I know the parts that are glossed over. I don't think I could try to read both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Silmarillion at the same time in paper form.


message 10: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 28, 2012 09:42AM) (new)

Manybooks Tim wrote: "I've ripped the CDs that cover Fellowship and The Two Towers so I'm ready for the buddy read (sort of). I'm working on Return of the King so I'll have all digitized. I guess they're kind of abridg..."

I think I tried that version years ago and I did not like it precisely because of the fact that Ian Holm was the voice of Frodo (I kept getting mixed up, thinking I was listening to Bilbo when I was actually listening to Frodo). Maybe I should give it another try sometimes. And thanks for reminding me to start reading The Silmarillion.


message 11: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Can anyone point me to a good audiobook of LotR? The only ones I've seen on Audible - or elsewhere, for that matter - have been dramatizations, and ... I just want one voice, reading the book.

An audio of The Silmarillion would also be neat, but I think that's even less likely...


message 12: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 28, 2012 10:07AM) (new)

Manybooks Tracey wrote: "Can anyone point me to a good audiobook of LotR? The only ones I've seen on Audible - or elsewhere, for that matter - have been dramatizations, and ... I just want one voice, reading the book.

..."


I would love an audiobook of the Silmarillion, it might help me get through it.

Ha, I just checked my library, and they have an audiobook version of The Silmarillion (so I requested it and will let people interested know how I like it).


message 13: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments Tracey, I'm listening to LotR read by Rob Inglis, who also read The Hobbit. I got it from Audible. The three volumes are sold separately.


message 14: by Tim (new)

Tim | 127 comments Hmm, I can't find that version at all. If I search for "Fellowship of the Ring" on Audible, I only get the dramatizations. I do like the BBC dramatization (which is broken into 3 parts on Audible), my version is on 13 CDs.

I've never listened to an audiobook version of The Silmarillion, but I'm curious as to what it's like.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Tim wrote: "Hmm, I can't find that version at all. If I search for "Fellowship of the Ring" on Audible, I only get the dramatizations. I do like the BBC dramatization (which is broken into 3 parts on Audible),..."

I will let you know once I get it from the library.


message 16: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments There may be issues about availability for copyright reasons. I know that some audiobooks available from Audible in the US are not available here, so I guess that will also be true the other way around.


message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments So .... I finished Book 1 this morning and I started listening to Book 2 on the way to work. I've been waiting for a female character to appear who is more than an elf who looks very decorative and is beloved by her people.

Is that going to happen, or should I just give up waiting and go with the flow?


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Go with the flow, at least for a while yet. You might like Galadriel.


message 19: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments Okay, I'll work on going with the flow. It's just that the (apparent) lack of female hobbits, dwarves and big people and the beauty and belovedness of every female elf referred to in the text so far is starting to intrigue me.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

intrigue or irritate? Have you watched the films?


message 21: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments It's not irritating me yet, although it could if I let it. I find the lack of female characters intriguing at the moment, because it's something that I'm noticing and thinking about. It's not that there are no female characters at all. It's just that so far they all seem to have walk-on parts, or else they only really exist in another character's story. They don't seem to actually DO anything, live-action-wise.

I haven't seen the films. I had no interest in seeing them when they came out as I hadn't read and wasn't interested in the books. Once I've finished reading them I'll watch the films as soon as I can. I'm pretty sure someone in my household (naming no names but let's just say the baby!) has them on dvd.


message 22: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 05, 2012 05:03PM) (new)

Manybooks Kim wrote: "It's not irritating me yet, although it could if I let it. I find the lack of female characters intriguing at the moment, because it's something that I'm noticing and thinking about. It's not that ..."

It is interesting and frustrating to some (but also, very much like a typical heroic epic, which often did not and does not feature any or only token female characters, even goddesses were/are rather rather non-entities). In the movies (at least in the first movie), Arwen is depicted as this active and heroic warrior elf, but in the books, she basically only appears in the epilogue, I think (and only briefly).


message 23: by Kim (last edited Mar 05, 2012 05:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments Gundula, I've not had a background in reading epic literature, so I've nothing to compare LotR to in that regard. I'm sure that dissertations have been written on the role of female characters in Tolkien's work.

Generally speaking, I don't criticise writers from an earlier period for writing what they chose to write about and not what modern readers think they should have written about. (For example, the assertion that Austen should have written about the Napoleonic Wars or about the plight of the agricultural labouring class drives me insane!)

However, strong and interesting female characters are not lacking in 20th century literature generally, including in books written by men. Do you know if Tolkien himself ever wrote or spoke about his treatment of female characters in his writing? In the prologue to the audiobook I'm listening to, he rejected the view that some critics apparently took that the book is a Nazism / WWII allegory, so I wonder whether the issue of gender was ever raised with him.


message 24: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments I found a reference to this book, Women Among the Inklings: Gender, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. Sounds interesting, but not exactly enthusiastically endorsed in its sole GR review!


message 25: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 05, 2012 06:10PM) (new)

Manybooks Kim wrote: "Gundula, I've not had a background in reading epic literature, so I've nothing to compare LotR to in that regard. I'm sure that dissertations have been written on the role of female characters in T..."

I am definitely not a Tolkien expert, but I do know that he very much rejected the idea that LOTR is an allegory (in fact, he actually seems to have been of the opinion that "too many critics spoil the joy of reading" which, of course, is rather my own assertion). I do think, at least from the Mediaeval epics that I have read, mostly for my comprehensive exams, that while female characters so occur, it is often a literature based on knightly exploits and the female characters seem to appear more as token or as superficial characters (also, I actually don't think that there is all that much character development in LOTR, it is mostly plot/action driven, which is also a feature of epic literature).

That assertion about Austen needing to write about the Napoleonic Wars or the plight of the peasantry, I agree, that really is ludicrous. How much would a country Lady know about either the Napoleonic Wars or the peasantry, and if Austen had tried to write about those topics, she would likely (and with just cause) have been criticised for writing about topics with which she was not familiar (damned if you do, damned if you don't).


message 26: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) IIRC, Arwen has exactly one line, at the end of RotK. Tolkien wasn't a feminist, and I think he was pretty much following the patterns of the myths he knew and loved by making the cast almost exclusively male. It probably simply never occurred to him to work in a feminine angle.

Tolkien's wonderful quote on allegory: "It is neither allegorical nor topical.... I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence."


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree about the allegory angle -- I think Tolkien wanted to write mythology, not allegory. There are two important female characters, later in the book. Galadriel, portrayed as a powerful seer, and later, Eowyn, daughter of kings. I think these two women fit into "Norse/English"mythology quite well. Arwen was just the girl waiting at home for the hero to complete his quest.


message 28: by Tim (new)

Tim | 127 comments Galadriel (and various other women) get their due in some of his other works (I think The Silmarillion, but it may be Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth) . Arwen comes across as the girl waiting at home for the hero, but (view spoiler)

Tolkien was trying to write a myth for the British Isles and given his time and the kind of story, it's not surprising there's a lack of strong female characters.


message 29: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 06, 2012 04:46AM) (new)

Manybooks Tim wrote: "Galadriel (and various other women) get their due in some of his other works (I think The Silmarillion, but it may be Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth) . Arwen c..."

Arwen had to give up immortality to be with Aragon, and I agree, that does take strength. But on the other hand, the noble ladies of Mediaeval epics patiently waiting at home for their knight, for their hero took strength and courage as well. There was always a chance the knight, the lord of the manor etc. would not come back (or come back crippled, maybe diseased from the plague or leprosy). And often (even though that is not necessarily mentioned in the epics), the women waiting at home had to run their manor houses, had to run the farms etc. while their knights were on quests or on crusade. And look at The Odyssey, I mean most of the story is about Odysseus, and his exploits, his voyage back to Ithaca, but Penelope had to deal with unwelcome suitors (which is at least described), but even during the Trojan War (the Iliad), although that is not part of the epic, one can imagine that Penelope and many other Greek women were not simply waiting at home for their husbands to return from war, they were organising their husband's houses, and perhaps even their kindgoms to a point during their absence. Which also tells me that in LOTR, although Arwen might not have had an active role in the actual epic, she might have had a very active role behind the scenes, just like many of the womenfolk of the Rohirrim probably had major roles behind the scenes when Theoden and the men went to war (sorry, jumping ahead a bit and the women of the Rohirrim, at least some of them, are more active, in the book itself, like Eowyn, but still I think one should not underestimate the role and perceived roles of women in the epics, even when these roles might not actually always be mentioned in the text itself).


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Unfortunately, the only active tasks Arwen is given in LotR is to wait for Aragorn, give him moral support, and (view spoiler). For now, we've jumped beyond the scope of Book One, so maybe we should revisit this later in the discussion of The Two Towers.


message 31: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments Gundula wrote: "But on the other hand, the noble ladies of Mediaeval epics patiently waiting at home for their knight, for their hero took strength and courage as well. There was always a chance the knight, the lord of the manor etc. would not come back (or come back crippled, maybe diseased from the plague or leprosy). And often (even though that is not necessarily mentioned in the epics), the women waiting at home had to run their manor houses, had to run the farms etc. while their knights were on quests or on crusade. ..."

That's absolutely true, Gundula, not just of epics, but of what has been recorded as history. It's all about men going off to wars, or on quests or voyages of discovery. There's no doubt that the women who stayed home while all this was happening played an important role. However, those who told the stories, wrote the epics and recorded the history don't usually rate the contribution made by the women.

I get that Tolkien saw himself as writing an epic, but given that he was an educated man writing after the first wave of feminism, I find it a bit disappointing that he didn't make women just a little more visible and active in his work. From the little I've read about Tolkien over the past few days, I gather than he was a politically conservative Christian, so I guess those factors would have influenced his attitudes towards this particular issue as it presumably did towards other issues raised in his writing.

Anyway, I'm finding the world-building aspect of the book really interesting, even though I have real difficulty remembering who is who. (Partly a problem with listening rather than reading, I think. It's hard to backtrack!).


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I think you also have to consider Tolkien's age at the time he was writing these books. He was middle-aged, and he may not have embraced feminism whole-heartedly. An old-fashioned attitude combined with romantic ideals doesn't lead to writing active female characters.

Watching the films before reading the books really helped me keep the characters straight. There are a lot of names, and some of the characters appear, play their part, and then are never seen again. I'm glad you are enjoying the book.


Carolynne | 6 comments Jeannette wrote: "Unfortunately, the only active tasks Arwen is given in LotR is to wait for Aragorn, give him moral support, and [spoilers removed]. For now, we've jumped beyond the scope of Book One, so maybe w..."

When my husband and I read this fantasy when we were quite young, I was not bothered by the lack of female characters, but when I tried to re-read the series a few years ago before the films came out, I couldn't do it. I don't know of any evidence that Tolkien had any feminist leanings at all. The few female characters play traditional supportive roles. Compare to the Chronicles of Narnia, when one leading female character (spoiler ahead if you haven't read them)is booted out of Narnia when she grows up, and the other female character maintains the role she played in childhood, not really allowed to grow up. Now that I think about it, it makes Arthur Ransome's books more amazing for the active roles some of the girls play (Susan is almost always relegated to the mother role, alas, but then I guess someone had to keep things organized.)


message 34: by Tracey (last edited Mar 07, 2012 09:30AM) (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) To completely lower the tone of this discussion, I don't want Gimli to lose a Suvudu cage match against some twerp I've never heard of - vote for the dwarf! Upstart cretin.

I have to admit I'm a little baffled by the trend of this discussion; I need to work it through a little before I put my oar in...


message 35: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Okay, a skipped lunch to try to put this into words is worth it. Not sure how clear this is, but:

I guess I'm unusual in this thread in that I truly don't care that there are so few major female characters (in LotR or any other book), and never have. It may be shallow of me, but I take it at face value. I don't understand why it's important to Middle-earth whether or not Tolkien cared about women's rights. It's a story, and an amazing one, and even as an adult I've never read any kind of antagonism or lack of respect toward women into it.

(Similarly, as a Catholic, I've never seen LotR as a Catholic vision. It's Middle-earth. I've never seen Galadriel as a Marian figure (rather far from it).)

Like I said, the dismay at the dearth of female characters puzzles me. To me it's a little like frowning at Macbeth because the primary female characters are not positive examples; it is what it is. Tolkien wrote the story according to the way it played out in his mind and his heart, in the way that was the most logical to him. If that didn't include more strong female roles, I sincerely doubt it was a conscious decision; the parts as they cast themselves were largely male, and as someone trying in my own small way to write a book I don't see how that can be argued with. It's never affected how I've felt about the book one way or the other, and I've never understood why 20-21st century earth viewpoints and sensibilities are expected in a book about Middle-earth in 1419-20 (iirc)(hobbit-reckoning)...

I'll slink back off into my oblivious corner now.


message 36: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Tracey wrote: "Okay, a skipped lunch to try to put this into words is worth it. Not sure how clear this is, but:

I guess I'm unusual in this thread in that I truly don't care that there are so few major female..."


Actually, it does not really bother me all that much either and mostly because I have always read LOTR and I have always approached LOTR as a type of Mediaeval epic, and in those epics, it was mostly knights on crusades (and yes, the women were at home, but like I have previously stated, there is, at least for me, an understanding of women being active behind the scenes). And if Tolkien had simply added some female characters because he felt that he ought to, those characters would very likely not have been very natural-seeming at all, they would have not fit with the general epic (actual Mediaeval epic) feel of the work (it would have been like reading Beowulf and having some female characters added in, distracting and disrupting the flow of the narrative).


message 37: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) That's exactly what I was trying to find a good way to say: he couldn't shoehorn female characters in just to make someone else happy.


message 38: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) | 931 comments I'm sorry that the issue I raised has proved controversial. That wasn't my intention. I certainly don't think any writer should simply add characters to please other people or because they should. Writers have to write what they need to write, or as Dorothy L Sayers put it they have to write "the book that's there to be written" (or words to that effect, anyway!).

It's just that the manner in which issues of gender and race are dealt with in literature is something I notice. I'm used to and don't judge the casual racism and gender stereotyping in literature written in an era before increased sensitivity to those particular issues. They don't cause me to devalue or reject a work. However, I do pay attention to them.

What I may end up appreciating most about this work is the detail of the world-building, rather than character or even plot. The way in which Tolkien does this is truly phenomenal.

Once again, I feel like I've been controversial when I didn't intend to be. Sorry, friends.


message 39: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Kim wrote: "Once again, I feel like I've been controversial when I didn't intend to be. Sorry, friends ..."

No apology necessary! I may have come off stronger than I intended; it's a book I'm passionate about (obviously), and - honestly, it's Peter Jackson's fault. If he wasn't so busy adding female parts to his Hobbit movies (I should rephrase that, but won't) I might not be so strongly opinionated on the subject.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

I was thinking about this earlier today, and what we have here in LotR, imho, closely resembles Arthurian legends. There just weren't all that many female parts, except for Morgan LeFay and Guenivere, so I wasn't "surprised" that there weren't any leading female protagonists in LotR.

I think we can discuss female roles later in the trilogy, particularly in The Return of the King. But, I don't want to discuss future plot and spoil the read.

Kim - no need to apologize; you certainly gave us all something to talk about. And, Tracey -- hang in there! You'll love The Hobbit anyway! Jackson just put his spin on things adding female roles because he's the screenwriter and not the author. Liv Tyler sure did add some fan service for the guys, didn't she? ;->


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Tracey wrote: "To completely lower the tone of this discussion, I don't want Gimli to lose a Suvudu cage match against some twerp I've never heard of - vote for the dwarf! Upstart cretin.

I have to admit I'm a ..."


Funny! Gimli, Lockbearer...


message 42: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Jeannette wrote: "I was thinking about this earlier today, and what we have here in LotR, imho, closely resembles Arthurian legends. There just weren't all that many female parts, except for Morgan LeFay and Gueniv..."

LOTR does resemble Arthurian Legends, and not just the English ones either (the French and German versions also have hardly any female roles and certainly not as main protagonists). But I agree, let's wait till later in the trilogy to discuss female roles.


message 43: by Tim (new)

Tim | 127 comments He's adding female parts to The Hobbit? Huh? He'd have to add new material (or change characters). I kind of understood doing the change in Fellowship from Glorifindel to Arwen since it meant he didn't need to add a new character just for a couple scenes.

I've finished the BBC dramatisation of The Fellowship of the Ring. I quite like that version, even with the various changes (including leaving out some of my favourite parts).


message 44: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Tim wrote: "He's adding female parts to The Hobbit? Huh? i..."

Exactly. Galadriel at least makes sense, but this Tauriel she-elf annoys me.

I'll stop now. I'm much too cranky about ol' PJ. And yes, Jeannette, you're right, I probably will love it - but I have a feeling I'll resent it.


message 45: by Tim (new)

Tim | 127 comments Huh. I'm wondering if I'm going to be annoyed with this version of The Hobbit as much as I was by Return of the King (which was a lot). Considering that's a new character, she's going to have a bunch of new scenes written just for the film.


message 46: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Tim wrote: "Considering that's a new character, she's going to have a bunch of new scenes written just for the film..."

Yes. (And about RotK too - driving home at 3 AM on opening night I had to pull over and cry, is how awful I thought it was. Yeah. Blast.)

And Legolas.

*sigh*


message 47: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) I wish I still had it ... I wasted months of my life annotating transcripts of the movies, trying to source every line wherever possible. I will hand it to PJ & Co, a surprising amount of the scripts were actually Tolkien, from the prologues to The Silmarillion - just sometimes very badly out of place. I lost it all when my PC died. I wonder if I'd still be able to get anything out of that old dinosaur...


message 48: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) It was. I'm a geek.


message 49: by Tracey (new) - added it

Tracey (stewartry) Which is another way of saying that was my idea of fun.

Which is another way of saying I'm nuts. ;)


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL! Damn, it's horrible to lose all that work. I hope you can still access the hard drive and get the data off, even if the PC is dead.


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