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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:50 am 
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I found Maggot's name somewhat off-putting despite the character being quite sharp.

The reference to ale got me thinking a little. There are references to alcohol based beverages throughout the book, mostly beer of some variety but also wine. What about hard liquor? I’m not sure there would be much rum since sugar cane is the main ingredient in it. How are these various beverages produced? Do you think there was the equivalent of micro-breweries/distilleries in ME? How did these micro-breweries/distilleries produce the amount that theoretically would be wanted by the various populations?

I found it kind of humorous that Maggot views the residents of Hobbiton as "queer". The Shire is not that big and yet we have provincial prejudices showing here.

I also like the word "worriting".

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:29 pm 
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Gandalf keeps his flask of miruvor quite close to him. :) As for micro breweries, each inn would brew its own as mine still does.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:28 pm 
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And each farmwife would brew her own beer, as Mrs. Maggot does—I think; it's not stated that it's beer she brewed, but it doesn't seem likely she'd have ordered it in. Certainly in Scandinavia home brew was traditional in the countryside.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:09 pm 
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The Shire is 200 miles by 250 miles, isn't it? And with rudimentary transport, it would seem fairly big to them. Sam only knew the land within 20 miles of Hobbiton.

Gaffer: "I've never been so far myself; they're rum folk in Buckland" (I think).

And provincial prejudices often abound no matter how small a country is, and even in the days of trains, planes and automobiles. ;)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:15 pm 
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Ceratinly the comments about the relative merits of the beer found at various inns implies strongly that each establishment brewed its own.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:53 am 
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I misspoke earlier when I said that Farmer Maggot was initially an evil character. In fact, the first reference to him in the first draft of this chapter is Bingo referring to him as "good Farmer Maggot". And actually, soli, I have to say that that version really does still retain a lot of the "Hobbit" feel. Not quite actually. It has a lot of the "hobbit talk" that isn't really present in The Hobbit (since Bilbo doesn't have any other hobbits to talk to) that Tolkien found so appealing, but that his readers (primarily Lewis) warned him against. This first draft has Bilbo making a very cavalier use of the Ring, showing that its nature really had not been well developed at this point. As others point out, he sneaks into Maggot's house while wearing it, to steal half a mug of beer. While Maggot has already had an encounter with the Black Riders, and is somewhat alarmed by this additional "queer" occurrence, it all is fairly light and playful.

When Tolkien returned to this part of the story after solidifying the nature and role of the ring, he wrote to alternative versions. In one, Maggot is a ferocious Baggins-hater, and Bingo still makes rather frivolous use of the Ring. In fact in this version of the story, the invisible Bingo actually attacks Maggot and knocks him down! Otherwise, it is actually rather similar to the first draft (complete with the long "hobbit-talk" discussion of the ridiculousness of Hobbits who live in houses rather than holes), and really wholly inappropriate for the story as it now stood. The alternative version was essentially the one used in FOTR, and it reached virtually its final form (save for the names of the characters) on one rewrite.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:57 pm 
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I was surprised at your initial comment, Voronwë, suggesting that there might not be much to say about this chapter, since it and the next have always been two of my favorites, but then I realized while reading that, as you said, the chapter really is quite short. In my mind, the comfortable respite at Farmer Maggot's -- the revelations of Maggot's encounter with the Riders, the bacon and mushrooms, the dogs cracking their bones -- have always been so satisfying that I thought of it as going on for pages and pages when really the description of the dinner is given in a single paragraph! :D

This chapter showcases an aspect of the character of the story that I think is immensely satisfying, and that is the relief Tolkien always provides in respite and sanctuary from the terrifying dangers that beset the characters. The contrast here between the darkness and the simple, homey, earthy comforts and goodness described during the peaceful interludes at Maggot's and later at Crickhollow, and which the darkness is threatening, heightens the awareness of how precious and wonderful those things are.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:42 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
This chapter showcases an aspect of the character of the story that I think is immensely satisfying, and that is the relief Tolkien always provides in respite and sanctuary from the terrifying dangers that beset the characters. The contrast here between the darkness and the simple, homey, earthy comforts and goodness described during the peaceful interludes at Maggot's and later at Crickhollow, and which the darkness is threatening, heightens the awareness of how precious and wonderful those things are.


I agree, Cerin. Even in the seemingly unrelenting darkness of the final trek through Mordor there are respites, until - well I suppose I should wait until we get to that part to discuss that.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:54 pm 
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Cerin made me think of the role of food and drink in bringing respite and comfort to those facing difficulties. Here the Hobbits have a good drink and meal with Farmer Maggot and his family, and receive more "comfort food" to be eaten later at Crickhollow. I think food and drink does play a role in many of these respites; Bombadil's house, Bree, Rivendell, Lothlórien, Isengard, Ithilien etc. More importantly, I think food and drink are something that brings respite to most people, especially when shared with friends and loved ones, and is something Tolkien also seemed to enjoy.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:04 am 
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Food and drink are a very common symbols in quest type literature (The Odessey, medieval literature like the Arthurian legends, and Beowulf come to mind for me). It has the use of being a symbol for comfort, but also tends to represent a form of wealth. To be able to host such lavish meals as are often described implies that the hosts are well to do or are very generous individuals, since stores of food were necessary for survival. I agree that Tolkien loves to employ these scenes, but I have seen them as serving another function: to demonstrate the constant cost of sacrifice.

Whenever our heroes are in a place of respite, the comforts and victuals proffered them draw a sharp contrast to the cold, weather beaten nights and simple meals of cram or even lembas, to say nothing of the need for water that later on becomes so desperate for two hobbits. These few moments of respite serve as very acute reminders of the near constant state of insecurity the heroes face most of the time. The places of refuge are few and far between. The food can be so delicous because of its preparation and abundance and just a touch bitter, as the knowledge it will not be available later taints the experience, at least slightly.

There is a very common theme in the LOTR about feast or famine. Though it isn't displayed in this chapter, I doubt the topic will come up later and so I'll throw it in. Despite the apparent woodcraft skills of some of the heroes, Middle Earth as presented in LOTR seems surprisingly deviod of plants, herbs and wild game suitable for supplemental supplies should carried foodstores obtained from places of refuge run out. The only land that has game animals attached to it is Ithlilien. Perhaps Tolkien didn't feel it necessary to mention, demonstrate or maybe the lands travelled through really were that devoid of nautral resources.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:45 pm 
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In another chapter or four, Aragorn is going to tell us that he has some skill as a hunter at need, but that the tracking of game is long and weary work. Gorgoroth can be safely viewed as (largely) devoid of natural food and water, but aside from that, I think the need for haste was the main reason the fellowship preferred boring but quick-and-reliable lembas over foods gathered from the wild.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:03 pm 
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So I once again love the way in which Tolkien builds the terror associated with the Black Riders. That tension impels you to read faster, since you can't actually move the characters on to safety any faster. ;)

The "ole switcheroo" with Merry at the end is brilliant (when you think Merry is a Black Rider waiting for Frodo, et al at the Ferry).

Interesting food discussion.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:13 pm 
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Quote:
The "ole switcheroo" with Merry at the end is brilliant (when you think Merry is a Black Rider waiting for Frodo, et al at the Ferry).


Yes, that scene is brilliant, and oh so very Tolkienesque. I really could picture any other author pulling that off like that.

Now that you mention it, this scene is quite reminiscent of the scene that I mentioned earlier of the first appearance of the Black Riders, when the rider originally turned out to be Gandalf (before the Black Riders actually existed). But I think this is much more effective having already built these mysterious Riders into something to be feared, only to have it turn out to be their small, familiar friend.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:16 pm 
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I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the use of 'victuals' and 'ole switcheroo'.


:D

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:39 pm 
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And I was prompted to look "victuals" up to see if it could also refer to drink, and after all these years discovered that the word is pronounced "vittles" rather than "vik-chyu-uls". Good thing I've never said it aloud. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:53 pm 
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Dave_LF wrote:
Good thing I've never said it aloud. :D


Same here! :D

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:03 pm 
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Good heavens. And I'm fairly sure I have said it out loud. "Vittles" is written, with that spelling, as a funny rural Americanism; I had no idea it was also the pronunciation (the only pronunciation!) in Webster's Collegiate.

<scribbles notes>

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:01 pm 
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Well, I thought it was pronounced vittles, but then I second-guessed that over time. And so I would avoid saying it aloud due to uncertainty. :D

All right, this calls for an etymology study.


<dashes off>

Ah ha!

Quote:
victuals:
c.1303, vitaylle (singular), from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. vitaille, from L.L. victualia "provisions," noun use of plural of victualis "of nourishment," from victus "livelihood, food, sustenance," from base of vivere "to live" (see vital). Spelling altered 1523 to conform with L., but pronunciation remains "vittles."



And there you go. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:08 pm 
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You're such a geek! :love:

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:14 pm 
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Thank you. Image

I feel honored by your compliment. :D


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