Sunday, October 31, 2004

Middle Earth Proverbs and Traditional Sayings

first posted by Lothiriel Adaneth on

Greenwood Hobbit brought the subject up with the saying - "he can see through a brick wall in time" - a reference to Barliman by Gandalf (FOTR - Many Meetings).

Another person mentioned "glory and trumpets" from Sam. (same chapter)

Some of my favorites:

"Faithful heart may have forward tongue" - Theoden (TTT, King of Golden Hall)

"Oft evil will shall evil mar" Theoden (TTT, The Palantir)

"Our Enemy's devices oft serve us in his despite" Eomer (ROTK, Ride of Rohirrim)

"Twice blessed is help unlooked for" Eomer (ROTK, Battle of P. Fields)

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us" Gandalf (FOTR, Shadow of the Past)

Well - there's a million more. What are your favorites?

Greenwood Hobbit: On parsimony, from 'A Long-Expected Party' - 'There's some not far away that wouldn't offer a pint of beer to a friend, if they lived in a hole with golden walls.' Gaffer

Kimi adds: "out of the frying pan, into the fire" (The Hobbit)

There are several in LOTR - it's obviously the source of many ancient proverbs :-) E.g. "It's an ill wind as blows nobody no good". And "Better late than never". Some are slightly unfamiliar versions, such as "All's well as ends Better".

Dernwyn: a personal favorite: Celeborn, from "Farewell to Lórien":

"But do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know."

whereismycoffee: "May the hair on your toes never fall off."
"Never laugh at live dragons."

Elvendala: 'Dont let your heads get too big for your hats!'

Laureanna: "Where will wants not, a way opens." said by Dernhelm, p 787 ROTK

"Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never." said by Eomer, p 817 ROTK

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The History of 'The Hobbit'

(further additions to follow)

1. The Genesis of the Hobbit

"The first real story of this imaginary world almost fully formed as it is now appears was written during sick-leave at the end of 1916: "The Fall of Gondolin", which I had the cheek to read to the Exeter College Essay Club in 1918 (a memory loss, actually it was Wednesday, March 10th at 8:15pm). The Hobbit was originally quite unconnected, though it inevitably got drawn into the circumference of the greater construction; and in the event modified it.

All I remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual task forced on impecunious academics with children. On a blank leaf I scrawled, "In a hole in the ground there live a hobbit." I did not and do not know why. I did nothing about it for a long time, and for some years I got no further than the production of Thror's Map. It became The Hobbit in the early 1930s , and was eventually published on 21st September, 1937."
~ J.R.R Tolkien

2. Following the Lord of the Rings

What were the changes made to "The Hobbit" after "The Lord of the Rings" was written, and what motivated them?

[This question refers to the major revisions made to the Gollum chapter, "Riddles in the Dark", not to the multitude of minor changes made elsewhere.]

In the original 1937 edition of "The Hobbit" Gollum was genuinely willing to bet his ring on the riddle game, the deal being that Bilbo would receive a "present" if he won. Gollum in fact was dismayed when he couldn't keep his promise because the ring was missing. He showed Bilbo the way out as an alternative, and they parted courteously.

As the writing of LotR progressed the nature of the Ring changed. No longer a 'convenient magical device', it had become an irresistable power object, and Gollum's behavior now seemed inexplicable, indeed, impossible. In the rough drafts of the "Shadow of the Past" chapter Gandalf was made to perform much squirming in an attempt to make it appear credible, not wholly successfully.

Tolkien resolved the difficulty by re-writing the chapter into its present form, in which Gollum had no intention whatsoever of giving up the Ring but rather would show Bilbo the way out if he lost. Also, Gollum was made far more wretched, as befitted one enslaved and tormented by the Ruling Ring. At the same time, however, Bilbo's claim to the Ring was seriously undercut.

[Care must be taken when noting this last point. There are two issues involved, well summarized in the Prologue: "The Authorities, it is true, differ whether this last question was a mere 'question' and not a 'riddle' ... but all agree that, after accepting it and trying to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise" (FotR, 21). Thus, it was Bilbo's winning of the game that was questionable. Given that he had in fact won, albeit on a technicality, he was fully entitled to the prize, which, in the old version, was the ring. In the new version, however, he had no claim to the Ring at all, whether he had won or not, because the Ring was not the stake of the game.]

The textual situation thus reached was that there now existed two versions of the episode. Tolkien deftly made this circumstance part of the story by suggesting that the first time around **Bilbo was lying** (under the influence of the Ring) to strengthen his claim. (Bilbo had written this version in his diary, which was "translated" by Tolkien and published as "The Hobbit"; hence the error in the early editions, later "corrected".) This new sequence of events inside the story is laid out clearly in "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue) and is taken for granted thereafter for the rest of the story (e.g. in "The Shadow of the Past" and at the Council of Elrond).

"The Hobbit" as now presented fits the new scenario remarkably well, even though Tolkien, for quite sound literary reasons, left this entire matter of Bilbo's dishonesty out (it was an entirely irrelevant complication which would have thrown everything out of balance). The present attempt to step back and view the entire picture is made more involved by the fact that there were two separate pieces of dishonesty perpetrated by Bilbo.

The first, made explicit, was that when he initially told his story to Gandalf and the Dwarves he left the ring out entirely -- this no doubt was what inspired Gandalf to give Bilbo the "queer look from under his bushy eyebrows" (H, 99). Later, (after the spider episode) he revealed that he had the Ring, and it must have been at this point that he invented the rigamarole about "winning a present" (an incredible action, given the circumstances). There is, however, no hint in the text of this second piece of dishonesty (as noted above, it would have been a grave literary mistake). Readers are therefore given no indication that when "Balin ... insisted on having the Gollum story... told all over again, with the ring in its proper place" (H, 163) that Bilbo didn't respond with the "true" story, exactly as described in Ch V. In this regard, "Of the Finding of the Ring" in the Prologue is a necessary prelude to LotR.


.Hobbit, 99 (Ch VI), 163 (Ch VIII), "Riddles in the Dark" (Ch V);

.Annotated Hobbit, 104 (Ch VI, note 2), 176 (Ch VIII, note 11), 325-327 (Appendix A: the original version is given here);

.FR, "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue);

.Biography, 203 (V, 2);

.RtMe, 59-60 (3, "The Ring as 'Equalizer'");

.The Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 75, 79-81, 84-87 (First Phase, III), 261-265 (Second Phase, XV).

Compiled by Roger Rowe.

Was Gollum a hobbit?

Yes, beyond all doubt. Gandalf's opinion alone: "I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors" (The Fellowship of the Ring, 62) should be sufficient to settle this, but it is confirmed in several other places. The Tale of Years (The Return of the King, Appendix B) has the following entry for the year TA 2463: "About this time Deagol the Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol." (The Return of the King, p. 368),

Since it was explained in the Prologue that Stoors were one of the three branches of hobbits (The Fellowship of the Ring, 12), it is clear that the compiler of this entry, evidently either Merry and/or Pippin's heirs (The Fellowship of the Ring, 24-25), accepted this conclusion.

In "The Hunt for the Ring" (Unfinished Tales, Three, IV) it is told that Sauron concluded from his interrogation of Gollum that Bilbo must have been the same sort of creature (Unfinished Tales, 342) (indeed, Gandalf concluded the same thing from his talks with Bilbo (The Fellowship of the Ring, 63)). The following passing reference shows that the author of "The Hunt for the Ring" accepts Gollum's hobbit origin: "Ultimately indomitable [Gollum] was, except by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend ..." (Unfinished Tales, 337).

Perhaps Gandalf's archaic diction contributed to the uncertainty. When a reader suggested that perhaps 'Smeagol's people were not "of hobbit-kind" as suggested by Gandalf', Tolkien dismissed the suggestion. He added:

With regard to Gandalf certainly says at first 'I guess' (The Fellowship of the Ring, 62); but that is in accordance with his character and wisdom. In more modern language he would have said 'I deduce', referring to matters that had not come under his direct observation, but on which he had formed a conclusion based on study. ...But he did not in fact doubt his conclusion: 'It is true all the same, etc.' (The Fellowship of the Ring, 63).

[The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 289-290 (#214)]

First given as a lecture at Wycliffe Hall Oxford by Roger Rowe in 1996

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hobbit Holes

Feeling Hobbity? It's Tolkien Trivia Time!

For those who are not familiar with my weekly post. Tolkien Trivia Time is a delve into the deeper world of Tolkien's Middle Earth, what inspired it, and how it is formed and made.

Today we are looking at Hobbits. (Thanks for Goldilocks Took for inspiring the idea!)

Concerning Hobbits

At the very beginning of the adventure, Tolkien introduces us to Hobbits thus:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."~An Unexpected Party*~ The Hobbit.

His description of the hole itself sets the tone for the whole book and gives the reader the understanding that a hobbit is in fact much like the kind of person you would have met in the British countryside any time in the last 150 years. That is, save for their height and their rather hairy feet!

"It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats... The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill.. and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side then on another...: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage." (as above)

What can be said about that? First of all, A few notes on language. Where did Tolkien get the word Hobbit from?

Well with Tolkien you can guarentee that there is a detailed explanation. It starts with holbytla the name used in Rohan in LOTR for Hobbits. Holbytla is based on the Old English for "Hole-builder." (Originally the word was Kûd-dûkan "Hole-Dweller")

For ease of understanding Tolkien changed all the ancient Rohirric words to Old English and all the Hobbit words to Modern English or something that sounded similar, to make it easier for readers to connect with the story. To show the relationship between the two peoples and the languages they spoke, Tolkien pointed out that Rohirric was to Hobbit as Old English is to Modern English (which has about a third of the same words as Modern English and has the same method of ordering words in a sentence). Thus holbytla became hobbit as Kûd-dûkan became Kuduk.

Other examples can be found in mathom meaning something of little or no use that no one wishes to throw away. Which is based on the Old English (OE) máthm and is supposed to represent the hobbit word kast and its relationship with the Rohirric Kastu. Smial/smile which means 'burrow' is based on the OE word of the same meaning; smygel. The original Hobbit word for smail was trán and the original Rohirric word was Trahan Its interesting to note that this is what the name Sméagol is based upon. And his original name would have been Trahald which means 'burrowing, worming in' very fitting don't you think?!

Smial is used a number of times in Hobbit place-names and surnames. The best known example being Great Smials. But I don't want to bore you with language. Today I want to look at something different. A little known fact, it has even been missed by many Tolkien scholars and biographers... Tolkien lived not 10 miles away from....

Real hobbit holes!

Not far from Sarehole where Tolkien grew up - then on the boarders of the English counties; Worcestershire and Staffordshire - are a collection of little villages. One called Kingsbury, one called Kinver, and one called Holy Austin. Of these three, only Kinver continued into modern day as a substantial village, and sadly, not many of its original buildings remain. Kingsbury was abandoned in the mid 1950s and Holy Austin is kept as a museum.

So what is so special about these three villages? Well, Tolkien and his brother frequently visited them, which makes them significant in their own right, and many people in the local area still do. But to the outside world, they are almost completely unknown. Even if you were to ask someone living in the nearby City of Birmingham if they had heard of these places, you would be very lucky indeed to find a "Yes" amongst the answers given. Until recently when part of Kinver was taken over and rebuilt by the National Trust (a major heritage charity in the UK) they were rarely ever visited by tourists. And even now the Tolkien connection is played down. This is a fairly typical reaction recorded in their guest-book:

I have only lived in kinver four years and only found out it was on my doorstep three days ago when i helped take a display cabinet there thought it was great and will definately go back very soon
~Dean from Kinver.

So where's the proof that there are Hobbit holes in these villages then? I hear you ask.

I suppose the proof is in the pictures! Seeing as many of you will never get the chance to visit them. I don't suppose it will be of any use for me to swear that I have stood inside them and even climbed on their roofs! So I will give you what you are waiting for.. Photographs!

First of all, these are pictures of The Compa which is the Warden's Lodge at Holy Austin.
also here

Gorgeous isn't it!?

an interesting difference though, is the lack of round windows. Obviously this was an addition of Tolkien's imagination. Though I must point out that, it has a green door! just in case you didn't notice. *winks*

Now I must point out that if you went to Kinver you will find only a normal English village, with brick houses and streets. The Rock Houses as they are known locally are found only on the very edge of the modern village on Kinver Edge; a rather prominant hill that overlooks the village. This has brought many to believe that Kinver is the original setting for Hobbiton, as it has one row of rather more substantial Rockhouses on top of another layer of smaller two-room dwellings like those inhabited by the Gamgees in bagshot row. But I don't suppose we will ever know if that is true or not.

The interior of the main Kinver house looks much like this: the house was recently "restored" by the National Trust which IMHO means "spoiled." But you can judge that for yourselves. If you wan't to see what they've done to it, you can see it here. The houses were cut into the local sandstone rock, which is easy to carve and manipulate. Most of the local houses are also built out of it. They joke that if you need a new shelf all you need to do is apply a chisel.

As with Humans Tolkien described how Hobbits originally all lived in holes in the ground - or caves in real archaeological terms and that slowly they developed buildings:

"All Hobbits had originally lived in holes in the ground, or so they believed, and in such dwellings they still felt most at home; but in course of time they had been obliged to adopt other forms of abode. Actually in the Shire in Bilbo's day it was, as a rule, only the richest and the poorest Hobbits that maintained the old custom. The poorest went on living in burrows of the most primitive kind, mere holes indeed, with only one window or none; while the well-to-do still constructed more luxurious versions of the simple diggings of old.

"The craft of building may have come from Elves or Men, but the Hobbits used it in their own fashion. THey did not go in for towers. Their houses were usually long, low and comfortable. The oldest kind were, indeed, no more than built imitations of
smials, thatched with dry grass or straw, or roofed with turves, and having walls somewhat bulged."

This is much like the countryside around Sarehole and Kinver which is well known for its thatched roofs. It does seem that Tolkien's art is imitating life.

Still not convinced? Well, here is a picture of what the main house at Holy Austin would have looked like when Tolkien visited it as a child: If you wan't to see further pictures.. Including what the approach to the house looks like -which reminds me very much of Bilbo's gate with the "No admittance except on Party Business" not on it. click here It even has steps up to the door remeniscent of the images used in the movie. And a number of interior shots to give you an idea of what it would have been like to live there.

Not all of the houses have been restored or in a liveable condition: as this picture here shows For sadly many of those who lived there did not find their Hole-dwelling habits in keeping with the increasingly fast-paced 20th century mode of life. Just as Tolkien says in his explanation for Hobbits, the Holy Austin rock-dwellers are far less numerous now than they used to be:

"Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt. They do not and did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge- bellows, a water-mill, or a hand-loom, though they were skilful with tools." ~Prologue FOTR.

When I read this, I cannot help but think that Tolkien was writing an epitaph for those who had given up on the Rock-houses. Many were moved into stark modern council houses, while others simply remained until they died and then the dwellings fell into disrepair. Think of the poor hobbits moved out of their holes and into big brick houses by Sharkey and his goons. Imagine how they must have felt, and you will get the idea.

But some of the Rock-houses are still used.

and retain something of the charm that would have appealed to J.R.R and his brother on their visits as children to the area.

*just a little note. I love the fact that Tolkien ties in the stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by including continuity in the titles of the opening chapters. In The Hobbit the first chapter is "An Unexpected Party" and in The Fellowship of the Ring it is "A Long-Expected Party". *smiles*

Sorry this was so long, I promised myself I would keep it short this week. LOL ah well, hope it was an enjoyable read regardless!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Frodo's memories of Weathertop

First posted by TORnado White Gull on Wednesday 6th October 2004.

October 6th: One of the most agonizing days in Middle Earth history. Thanks, gramma, for summarizing its pain in the TIME (Today in Middle Earth) thread below.

First Return

This morning, chill, an east wind blew
And though bright leaves which fell were few,
Iced, my heart stood still to feel
The frigid pain I thought was healed.

As Fall's first frost foretells the death
Of promise borne on Summer's breath
The hopes I'd grown in light of day
In darkness wither swift away.

How strange a simple thing like wind
Could to my heart stark message send
And instantly leave stripped and bare
Soul's secrets buried deep, with care.

This first return of pain I bless -
Without it I might not soon guess
Of all the evils left behind
My own would be the ones I find

Too strong to kill, too vast to hide,
Too poisonous to keep inside,
But ever, surely, outward spread
Till all with in their grasp lies dead.

That's why before too many Falls
Bring pain I can't endure at all
I'll seek the only place I know
Where leaves fall not when east wind blows.

(White Gull)

Ten Tolkien Factoids

-Ballantine, US publishers of The Hobbit, never managed to explain to the outraged author why their cover picture included two emus.

-According to family legend, the Tolkiens are descended from the 16th-century George von Hohenzollern who was so reckless in battle that he got the nickname Tollkühn -- German for foolhardy.

-Tolkien's ear for language sometimes needed fine-tuning. In an early Lord of the Rings draft Frodo was called Bingo, and one Silmarillion elf was originally Tinfang Warble.

-C.S. Lewis mentioned Tolkien's magical drowned land of Númenor in his own novel The Hideous Strength, but spelt it wrong ("Numinor"). Tolkien's verdict on that book: "Tripish, I fear." He wasn't keen on Narnia either.

-When one of his readings was first taped, Tolkien was intensely suspicious of the diabolical machine and insisted on reciting the Lord's Prayer in Gothic into the mike to purge any evil influences.

-Best contortionist feat in Middle-Earth: "'Yrch!' said Legolas, falling into his own tongue."

-Our author battled furiously with Allen and Unwin's printers over corrections to his nonstandard spellings, like "dwarves" and "elven" rather the dictionary's "dwarfs" and "elfin". He had the last laugh: thank to his influence, "dwarves" has pretty well replaced "dwarfs" in modern fantasy....

-Friends and biographers said loyally that Tolkien's erudition and enthusiasm made his Oxford lectures hugely successful despite speech problems (he injured his tongue in early life). Others were less respectful: one-time student Sir Kingsley Amis remembered those Old English lectures as "incoherent and often inaudible."

-Drafts of Lord of the Rings were read aloud to Oxford's "Inklings" literary group, including Lewis and Charles Williams. Once, as Tolkien began a chapter, a mutter was heard from the back of the room: "Oh God, not another freaking elf." *

-The Tolkien family dreads further publicity from the coming movies. After decades of harassment from overenthusiastic fans and money-hunters, Tolkien's son and literary executor Christopher now lives in France and uses an alias when visiting England. Keeping wild boar in his garden also helps.

Feature by David Langford for the SFX promotional supplement about The Lord of the Rings, Spring 2001.

Posted on TORn by Ringer Squire on Thursday 7th October 2004

*The actual very bad word appears in the web version of this text, but was magically edited to what you see here when I cut and pasted it into TORn, before I could even fix it myself. There be powerful hoodoo in TORn's message editor!
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TORnsibs discuss:

Annael Asks, "did Tolkien fall into his own tongue?" ;-)

Kimi replies: A rugby injury (which in this part of the world is often a euphemistic reference to a different part of the body entirely).

From the Biography: "Rugby sometimes led to injuries... on another occasion he cut his tongue, and though the wound healed satisfactorily he later ascribed to it much of his indistinctness of speech (though in truth he was known as an indistinct speaker before he cut his tongue...)"

I'm always amused by references to Christopher's residence as if it were a hardship to live in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Gosh, fancy "having" to live in south-west France, there among the walnut forests and vineyards, surrounded by ancient castles and spectacular scenery. He probably feels he has to act the part by drinking the finest Bordeaux, perhaps a drop of Sauternes from time to time, and truffles simply all the time.

I imagine they eat a bit of wilk pork, too :-)
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I had heard some, but not all, of these. Can't resist adding a couple, which I'm sure you know but not everyone:

* In addition to Frodo being "Bingo" in early drafts, Aragorn was originally named Trotter, a curious hobbit wearing wooden shoes due to a bad experience in Mordor in the past.

* An alternative version of Celeborn's bio had him born in Valinor; his name in Quenya was Teleporno.

Aunt Dora Baggins: IIRC, Trotter's bad experience was in Moria, where his feet were tortured by orcs. Curiously enough, a shadow of this survives in LotR, where Aragorn says he went through Moria once, and that the memory was very evil.

Foe Hammer of Gondolin:Teleporno was still used...

(from the Encyclopedia of Arda)

Teleporno - The Telerin version of Celeborn

Galadriel's consort Celeborn took his name from the Sindarin language, but we have a few rare cases of the same name translated into High-elven (or, strictly, Telerin) form, as Teleporno. This variation of his name seems to belong to a tradition that wasn't ultimately incorporated into The Silmarillion (in which Celeborn originated as one of the Teleri, rather than among the Sindar), and so it is doubtful the name was ever applied directly to the Elf himself.

A more likely use for the name, though unattested by Tolkien, would be for the White Tree of Tol Eressëa. In Middle-earth, it was referred to in Sindarin as Celeborn ('silver tree'), but the Telerin form Teleporno would seem quite appropriate for use by the Elves of the Lonely Isle.
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Drogo Drogo: Emus and a lion..

What's even funnier about the Barbara Remington cover art on the Ballantine Hobbit (and LOTR authorized paperback editions) was that he balked over the inclusion of a lion to the point that he made the publisher remove it from subsequent printings. The emus, however, remained, leaving us to ponder why some zoo animals are better suited to Middle-earth than others!

The lion Hobbit is a collector's item now, and I was thrilled to find it for $1 at a used bookstore about 2 years ago--Alibris had it listed for the absurd price of $180 at that time.

The lion is on this page towards the middle, 1st Ballantine pb ed

Squire: what a cool bibliography, or publishing history or whatever they call it. I had no idea the little bowing hobbit doesn't appear on later editions of the US 1938 hardback.

I love the infamous lion, and also the first UK paperback from 1960. Thanks for finding that!

drogo drogo: The bowing hobbit is the sacred cow of book collectors

"Houghton-Mifflin also decided to place a small figure of a bowing hobbit on the title page and the cover. Unfortunately, this hobbit wore boots! To be fair to the publisher, this hobbit was modeled on the hobbit figure in Tolkien's illustration, Conversation with Smaug. The hobbit in the illustration also wears boots. This figure was removed at some point in production, probably as part of the second impression. However, the American edition with the bowing hobbit is also referred to as the first state of the first impression. The number of copies of the first state is currently unknown."

Those editions go for up to $15,000 with dealers (highest price now on Alibris). Those little mistakes make all the difference in the world for the value of the book.

By the way, anyone who wants to start collecting Tolkien books should watch out for the absolutely outrageous prices some sellers charge for rather ordinary editions of his books (dealers and Ebay sellers, some just because they don't know any better). It's not the edition, it's the printing # that matters. First and maybe second printings/impressions are very valuable, but prices go down from there aside from oddities like the lion Ballantine Hobbit. Right now, the highest currently listed price on Albris for a 36th printing of the US Houghton Mifflin Hobbit is a brain melting $9,030,838.00 !!!! Uh, folks, I have a 36th printing of my own and it came out in 1978 since that's when I bought it new, so that's 50 years from a first printing of an American edition. Ay carramba!

Curious: But did you know squire's family edition is also signed by Tolkien and dedicated to squire's grandfather! Signed first editions are in a whole different category. By all means have that looked at by a professional, squire!
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Castle Hohenzollern?!?
ok... now I'm *totally* interested...!
this is my neighborhood castle!!!
there's somewhere else to bring flat-frodo ;-)
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Celandine Brandybuck: Dwarrows... perhaps it's a good thing he didn't go for the true plural, eh? "Dwarves" having caused him enough editorial grief.

I'd comment on Legolas falling into his own tongue, but this is a family board...
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Penthe: "incoherent and often inaudible."
Diana Wynne Jones's extremely charitable (?) comment on this is that Tolkien was attempting to get rid of his undergraduates so he could keep writing his books.

Squire: Where does Wynne Jones say that?
Is that in a biography?

It seems unlikely that Tolkien would try to "get rid of his undergraduates" to spend more time with his books, when the undergraduates were paying his salary, and the books were practically unpublishable. I believe professors were paid by the lecture, over and above their nominal staff salary for supervising studies on a one-on-one basis with their assigned students. Tolkien supplemented his income by lecturing and by grading term exams, which he also hated, according to biographies I've read.

I suspect his lecture style was a function of shyness in public speaking, a not uncommon trait in many people whether they are scholars or not. I don't think much of the "injured tongue" theory, unless he used it as an crutch to avoid doing what he didn't like doing.

A while ago, someone posted some sound files of Tolkien reading from his books, and his voice was clear, strong, and lively.
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Lelin:Okay, how about this theory?
Tollkuhn = foolish = Took

Nina Glyndwr: toll = mad, kühn = bold (taken seperately)

Chip of Dale: Sounds Tookish enough for me.
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*chuckles* Gotta love that man!

I remember being horrified the first time I read about "Bingo" - can you imagine: "You'll keep an eye on Bingo, won't you?" sounds like Bilbo wants Gandalf to help at the local Saturday night gaming.

I think it was Lewis who made the comment regarding "another...elf". Although he had disdain for Tolkien's fantasy, and Tolkien was appalled at Lewis' outright allegories, it's wonderful that the two were such friends who could complement and support each other's endeavors.

Arevanye: I have read that it was Hugo Dyson who made the remark about the elves, while quite inebriated at a meeting of the Inklings. In fact, Colin Duriez, in his book "Tolkien and Lewis: The Gift of Friendship" went on to say that if Dyson was at a meeting of the Inklings, he would veto any reading from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings manuscripts.

I think that Lewis was one of Tolkien's greatest supporters, and immensely enjoyed hearing Tolkien read his chapters aloud as he wrote them. Tolkien has acknowledged in his Letters that without Lewis's encouragement, the stories might never have been published. You could say that Lewis was one of the first "fans" of LOTR.

Dernywn: I'm still trying to get a handle on Tolkien's early adult years, and the relationships among the Inklings, and how he and Lewis seemed to lose touch with each other as LOTR neared completion.

Arevanye:Yes, the Inklings fascinate me as well.

I think that Lewis and Tolkien remained friends all their lives, but their friendship became strained because Tolkien disapproved of Lewis's radio talks on Christian theology. Even though Tolkien played a key role in Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity, he felt those subjects were better handled by expert theologians. Also, Lewis knew that Tolkien would disapprove of his relationship with, and subsequent marriage to an American divorcee (Joy Davidman), and so their communication with each other waned. But Tolkien was quite shaken by Lewis's death in 1963. Four days after Lewis's death, he wrote a letter to his daughter, Priscilla and said "So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man of my age--like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this [Lewis's death] feels like an axe-blow near the roots. Very sad that we should have been so separated in the last years; but our time of close communion endured in memory for both of us." (Letter #251)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Names - Belladonna Took

The Naming of Hobbits.. the Shire, often followed the alliterative style of the Anglo-Saxons. That basically means that they chose names that would roll off the tongue well together when you recited them in order.

A good example of this is seen in the Kings of the Mark (Rohan).

* Fréa,
* Fréawine,
* Goldwine,
* Déor...
* Fréalaf Hildeson,
* Brytta,
* Walda,
* Folca,
* Folkwine
* Fengel,
* Thengel,
* Théoden.

Hobbits, Tolkien says shared a common language with the Rohirrim at one point in time. Merry and Pippin find this out when talking to Théoden.

......[Théoden speaks] "'So these are the lost ones of your company, Gandalf? The days are fated to be filled with marvels. Already I have seen many since i left my house; and now here before my eyes stand yet another of the folk of legend. Are not these the Halflings, that some among us call the Holbytlan?'
......'Hobbits, if you please, lord,' said Pippin.
......'Hobbits?' said Théoden. 'Your tonge is strangely changed; but the name sounds not unfitting so. Hobbits! No report that I have heard does just ice to the truth.'
......Merry bowed; and Pippin got up and bowed low. 'You are gracious, lord; or I hope that I may so take your words.' he said. 'And here is another marvel! I have wandered in many lands, since I left my home, and never till now have I found people that knew any story concerning hobbits.'
......'My people came out of the North long ago,' said Théoden...."
~ TTT The Road to Isengard

Holbytla is the Anglo-Saxon for 'hole-dweller' and the language of hobbits compared with the Rohyrrim would be the same as Modern English to Anglo-Saxon - also known as Old English.

It seems that (especially amongst the Tooks who were Thains - see ___) Hobbits shared the same love for rhyming names as the men of Eorl.

A great example of this is in the children of the Old Took (Gerontius) who until Bilbo was famed for having lived to be the oldest ever hobbit.

Gerontius' sons:

* Isengrim III (1232-1330)
* Hildigard (died young)
* Isumbras IV (1238-1339)
* Hildigrim (1240 -1341)
* Isembold (1242-1346)
* Hildifons (1244-?)
* Isembard (1247 - 1346)
* Hildibrand (1249-1334)
* Isengar (1262-1360)

They have a sing-songish quality don't they?

Of his three daughters, their rhyming style is even more interesting. Because put together they form a continuous repeating sound:

belladonnamirabelladonnamirrabella..... etc etc.

Belladonna, (1252-1334), Donnamira (1256-1348), & Mirabella (1260-1360)

What the Old Took would have done if he had had any more daughters I have no idea, he would soon end up repeating himself!


The fair Belladonna had the misfortune of marrying a Baggins. (Very respectable folk). Who did not at all approve of adventures. Which seems to have left Poor Belladonna fairly constricted in her life. Perhaps this is why she only ever produced one son - which is unusual for hobbits, but considerably more common amongst the Bagginses! Bilbo only had one cousin per aunt & uncle and Frodo was also an only child - whatever her lot was with Bungo, at the very least she could console herself in her son being the most respected of Hobbits in Hobbiton.. at least, he was....

"Bilbo Baggins is no ordinary Hobbit, no... although I’ll admit the differences between ‘ordinary’ and ‘unusual’ tend to be fairly hard to discern amongst the short chubby ones. But Bilbo is the son of Belladonna Took (and isn’t that a name that just screams of black lace gloves and too much eye makeup?), and Belladonna was very interested in my tales of adventure when I used to frequent these parts. I was thinking that the mix of Tookish adventurousness and Bagginsesque sense would help keep Bilbo alive and in one piece... "

~ Gandalf's diaries, the Hobbit Years, by TORnado Ufthak

Belladonna is another common name for Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

Some of the other common names for this poisonous plant are: Devil's Cherries and Naughty Man's Cherries

Taken from

"A peculiar symptom in those poisoned by Belladonna is the complete loss of voice, together with frequent bending forward of the trunk and continual movements of the hands and fingers, the pupils of the eye becoming much dilated."

"The apples of Sodom are held to be related to this plant, and the name Belladonna is said to record an old superstition that at certain times it takes the form of an enchantress of exceeding loveliness, whom it is dangerous to look upon, though a more generally accepted view is that the name was bestowed on it because its juice was used by the Italian ladies to give their eyes greater brilliancy, the smallest quantity having the effect of dilating the pupils of the eye."

Black lace gloves and eye makeup seems pretty accurate!

All you ever wanted to know about the Belladonna flower, but were afraid to ask...

(Additional information supplied by Ringer Arevanye)

'The Lay' Third Extract

A very different kind of Book Spoiler...

An extract from Tolkien's 'Lay'

Morgoth Falls:

Then flaring suddenly they fell,
down, down upon the floors of hell.
The dark and mighty head was bowed;
like mountain-top beneath a cloud
the shoulders foundered, the vast form
crashed, as in overwhelming storm
huge cliffs in ruin slide and fall;
and prone lay Morgoth in his hall.
His crown there rolled upon the ground,
a wheel of thunder; then all sound
died, and a silence grew as deep
as were the heart of Earth asleep.

Beneath the vast and empty throne
the adders lay like twisted stone,
the wolves like corpses foul were strewn;
and there lay Beren deep in swoon:
no thought, no dream nor shadow blind
moved in the darkness of his mind.
'Come forth, come forth! The hour hath knelled,
and Angband's mighty lord is felled!

It might be interesting to compare this with Sauron's destruction in ROTK.

......"..Sam got up. He was dazed, and blood from his head dripped in his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe...
.........The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed... ...Suddenly Sam saw Gollum's long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm's edge."

"...Out from the beleaguered hills knights of Gondor, Riders of Rohan, Dúnedain of the North, close-serried companies, drove against their wavering foes, piercing the press with the thrust of bitter spears. But Gandalf lifted up his arms and called once more in a clear voice. 'Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.'
......And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed, tottered, and fell down; the mighty rampart crumbled; the Black Gate was hurled in ruin; and from far away, now dim, now growing, now mounting to the clouds, there came a drumming rumble, a roar, a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.
......'The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.'
......And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell...."

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Greenwood Hobbit comments:

Well, that prose wins hands down over that extract of poetry - so much more dramatic and evocative. I always find the 'dedum dedum dedum dedum' gets in the way of the vision for me, when trying to describe something as awesome as that.

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Linkinpark Elf says:

B0th dramatic and poetic in their own way

though the destruction of Sauron seems more immediate and powerful as we are given the point of view of those witnessing the event, whereas the fall of Morgoth reads more like a recounting. Yet his fall seems at the same time more personal as he is described as a corporal being rather than a bodiless shadow.
Interesting read, Amatire. Where exactly is Morgoth's fall described? I'm not familiar with Tolkien's 'Lay'.

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It has a number of different names..

The Geste of Beren and Luthien
The Lays of Beleriand
The Lay of Leithian

The Lays of Beleriand is the title of the third History of Middle-earth book.

Well worth the read.
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I prefer the passage where Sam is running out of the forge (carrying Frodo? Can't remember) and it seems like he sees all of the courts of Sauron, and then the tower itself, crashing down. I'm afraid that I don't have the book with me, so I can't show it to y'all.

They are wonderful parallels, but I think there were meant to be, consciously, or subconsciously, parallels between the quest of Beren and the quest of Frodo.

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Squire's comments:

Brilliant connection!

How excellent! Morgoth's fall to Luthien's song, rendered in a metaphor of mountains collapsing (after all, his incarnate form was evidently gigantic compared to the Elves) -- in language that Tolkien echoed 20 years later in describing the fall of Sauron's mountaintop castle.

I don't have it with me, but you really should also look at Sam's vision of the collapse of Barad-dur as seen from the Sammath Naur. Similar language is used there too.

Also notice how even Hell must be a place, and the devil a physical being: Morgoth's throne room is ultimately just a room, populated with snakes and wolves; and Morgoth is a gargantuan, but physical, being. The poet uses metaphors of immensity and intensity to convey a level of horror belied by such mundane words as floor and throne.

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......"Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him out to the door. And there upon the dark threshold of the Sammath Naur high above the plains of Mordor, such wonder and terror came on him that he stood still forgetting all else, and gazed as one turned to stone.
......A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder and seared with lightening. Donw like lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the Nazgul came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out."

good grief...!

It has so many elements that appear in both, the hero lying prone on the floor as one dead, his faithful friend coming to his rescue, the whole area crumbling around them...

..showing that it was the power and will of their evil opponant that held the whole thing together.

Time and again in Tolkien's work I see repeating themes. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was a firm believer in the addage "history always repeats itself!"

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He called it "eucatastrophe."

And yes, Tolkien loved to return to favorite themes, both dark and light, making them echo throughout his fictional history. Although as with history, Tolkien does not exactly repeat himself, he just rhymes. ~ Curious

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What Udun says:

it reminds me of a symphony, or probably more accurately, an opera..

With overtures and reccuring musical themes.

I remember (just to dumb it down a moment) the Composer who wrote the music for the first Harry Potter movie, saying that he had created themes for each different character, and also for different places or moods.

I imagine Tolkien having an 'Evil' theme, (and others I guess) that repeats itself many times over throughout the history of Middle Earth. Each time a little different, but still recognisable.

Sauron's greeting

Posted on TORn by TORnado 'Bumpkin' on Sunday 3rd October 2004.

"I see you!"

Bear with me, its Sunday arvo here, and I have a sore head from last night ...Last week I was watching the Oprah Show and Bill Clinton was being interviewed. He was speaking of the enormous efforts and hard work being done in Africa to get generic medications to AIDS victims. He said that one of the most impacting things he experienced whilst being there was that he had met people in a region (cant remember if he said where) who when greeted with the words "Hello" that the reply was "I see you". He thought this so profound and meaningful, he uses it now himself.

Now this might not be any big deal and I may be ignorant in not knowing any better, but the words 'I see you'is also a form of greeting in the ROTK - although not as welcoming - and JRRT being born in SAfrica - I thought that this maybe a common greeting reply.

Are there any other cultures that use this expression on a meet and greet?

Any thoughts on this?

No loud ones please .... my head y'know.

Bumpkin x

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Elberbeth says:

It's pretty common in many parts of Africa

and it basically is a form of respectful acknowledgement.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Names - Theoden (& Tookish Thanes)

Posted by Nina Glyndwr on Saturday 2nd October 2004

Possible origin of the name Theoden

I am just doing some volunteer proof-reading for Project Gutenberg (a site where you can read out-of-copyright books - worth a visit)... and I came across this:

"Every thane, in the distribution of his lands, had
two objects in view: the support of his family, and
the maintenance of his dignity. He therefore retained
in his own hands a parcel of land near his
house, which in the Saxon times was called inland,
and afterwards his demesne, which served to keep
up his hospitality: and this land was cultivated either
by slaves, or by the poorer sort of people, who
held lands of him by the performance of this service.
The other portion of his estate he either gave
for life or lives to his followers, men of a liberal
condition, who served the greater thane, as he himself
served the king. They were oalled Under
Thanes, or, according to the language of that time,
Theoden.[1] They served their lord in all public
business; they followed him. in war; and they
sought justice in his court in all their private differences.
These may be considered as freeholders
of the better sort, or indeed a sort of lesser gentry *
therefore, as they were not the absolute dependants,
but in some measure the peers of their lord, when
they sued in his court, they claimed the privilege
of all the German freemen, the right of judging
one another: the lord's steward was only the register."

Tolkien with his interest in Anglo-Saxon prose and poetry probably knew this. Maybe he had even read the original book by Edmund Burke.

Just thought I'd mention it. In the films, Theoden is one of my favourite characters.

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Reera the Red replies:

The Anglo-Saxon word théod means "people". The name Théoden is derived from a word which means "ruler of the people".

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Amatire sticks her or in again:

(this could be interesting to those who are wanting to know about Pippin and the Took family who were Landowners/Thanes)

I've been looking through the Anglo-Saxon dictionary for a diminutive Thegn
(Thane) or a role of Thane's assistant.

I can't find anything, but I can tell you that as far as I know, the Social
hierarchy in A-S England went like this:

(I'm sure Reera will correct me if I'm wrong).

* King (þeoden),

* Prince (æthling),

* high ranking Nobles(ealdormen),

* Thanes(þegn)

* landholder(geneat - my dictionary defines them as "tenants
who works for a lord"
or literally "also-companion")

* Knights (gesið - "follower/retainer/warrior/count/thain"),

* freemen, (ceorls, - layman, literally "churl")

* peasant farmers (gebures - freeholder of the lowest class - word
literally means "peasant farmer")

* Tenants (gafolgeldan/gafolgielden - literally

* serf (læt)

* slave.

A ceorl would be directly under a Thane on the land, so that might be the
Under-Thane your article mentions, or (based on the name's meaning) it could be
the geneat.

Just in case you wanted to know: (From The social context of Anglo-Saxon England)

The hierarchy of Anglo-Saxon society was defined in law. The fine for many crimes varied according to the rank of either the perpetrator or the victim. The most important of these were the fines paid for killing a man, the wergild 'man-price'. The earliest Kentish law codes recognise three main divisions, noble (eorlcundne) with a wergild of 300 Kentish shillings, free men (frigne mann) with a wergild of 100 shillings and three classes of unfree læt valued at 80, 60 and 40 shillings each.

The qualification for the status of a þegn 'thegn' is uncertain. A late law code states that a ceorl who owned five 'hides' of land acquired a thegn's wergild but that a ceorl who acquired a mail byrnie, a helmet and a sword but had no land remained a ceorl. However, thegn status also had a hereditary element that did not depend on ownership of land and it is clear that thegns could be landless.

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On the word "Thegn"

For those who would like to add some real Anglo-saxon to their fanfics...

þegn (þægn) [Thane] - m " I servant, minister, retainer, vassal, folloew, disciple: II freeman, master (as opposed to slave): III courtier, noble, (official as distinguished from hereditory), IIII military attendant, warrior, hero."

ðegnboren (ðegenboren) - wellborn

ðegngylde - n price on a thanes head (to be paid of you harmed a thane)

ðegnhyse - m attendant, retainer

ðegnlic - noble/brave/loyal (ðegnlice - noble-advice)

ðegnian [theine] - to serve, minister, wait on, supply another with anything, perform an office.

ðegnræden - f thaneship, service,

ðegnrigt - n rights or privilages of a thane,

ðegnscipe - m I thaneship, duty, service, II ability, manliness, valour, III body of retainers

ðegnscolu - f band of vassals

ðegnsorh - f sorrow at losing a thane/at a thane's death

ðegning - (ðening/ðenung) a thane's people

ðegnweorud - n band of followers