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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:32 am 
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Taking a look at the history of the chapter, in the original version, of course there is no conspiracy (though many details, including the three bath tubs, and a version of the Bath song). Bingo's hobbit companions really do join the quest mostly out of sense of adventure and light hearted fun, as seen by this exchange between Bingo (Frodo's predecessor) and Marmaduke :shock: (Merry predecessor):

'There is nothing to do,' said Bingo, 'except to go home. Which is difficult for me, as I haven't got one now. i shall just have to go on, as the Elves advised. But you need not come, of course.'

'Of course not,' said Marmaduke. 'I joined the party just for jun, and I am certainly not going to leave it now.'


Then, after Marmaduke suggests that they avoid the Black Riders by entering the Old Forest, eliciting a protest from Odo (sort of Pippin's predecessor, but not really), he states:

'It seems to be silly, anyway, when you are beginning an adventurous journey to start by going back and jogging along a dull river-side road.'

I think this shows the real reason why Tolkien had the Hobbits enter the Old Forest rather than stay on the road: to provide them with an opportunity for adventures.

Even in the following intermediate version of this chapter, which moves much closer to the final version, the objection to going into the Old Forest (still given to Odo), centers on the fact that the Riders themselves would likely be more dangerous met in the Forest than they would on the Road. This is an argument that makes a fair degree of sense to me.

Turning back to the dream at the end of the chapter, Scull and Hammond are correct of course that it goes back to the original version of the chapter. But there is a small but significant difference between both the original and intermediate versions, and the version in the final text. In original version, Bingo seems "to be lying under a window that looked out into a sea of tangled trees." In the intermediate version, he seemed "to be looking out of a window over the dark sea of tangled trees," almost the final language, but missing one important word. In the final version, he "he seemed to be looking out of a high window over a dark sea of tangled trees." The fact that Tolkien went back and added the word "high" into this sentence suggests to me that while the snuffling originally was meant to refer to the Riders, after he wrote the scene in Lothlórien in which Frodo was high up in a tree tower looking over the tangled forest of Lothlórien, with Gollum crawling and snuffling at the base of the true, he added this additional word to make this dream better anticipate this later scene.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:18 pm 
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I would say that perhaps it is time to move forward to the next chapter, yes? If anyone wants to take a shot at starting a new thread, go for it. If I feel inspired to do so, I will. Or maybe people still have more to say about this chapter?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:59 pm 
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Here belatedly I found a bit of time to go over the history of this chapter.

As so often with LR, especially Book I, it's amazing how much material survives from the original draft right through to the published version, even when the very foundations had been overthrown and rebuilt. After all, when what would become I/5 was first written, the Ruling Ring had yet to emerge, Tolkien had little more idea than his characters what the Black Riders were after, and the group in the little house in Buckland was Bingo Baggins, Frodo Took, Odo Took, and Marmaduke Brandybuck- above all, no Sam!

No sign of a conspiracy yet, of course. Bingo/Frodo had not bought the house, was not pretending to be moving to Buckland: it was a Brandybuck guesthouse chosen by Marmaduke because Old Rory was ticked at Bingo (the Party having just happened), and Brandy Hall thus an impolitic choice.

Yet plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Much of the dialogue survived, "Odo's" lines going to both Pippin and Fatty; the physical descriptions and even the (embryonic) Bath-song are all there, as is the tunnel-gate into the Forest as the next chapter starts- even though it's clear that the whole concept of Buckland first sprang into existence during this draft.

More than anything, though, it was the narrative function of the chapter that was little changed: it was here that the decision was taken to avoid the Road and enter the Old Forest, a decision in which the Black Riders figured prominently. The 'more adventure' argument cited earlier in the thread was something of a subsidiary argument, a throwaway line. Bingo says, even before they reach the house, "I wanted to get out of the Shire unseen, just to complete the joke, but now I have other reasons for wanting to be secret." And, after dinner, Marmaduke/Merry: "I rather fancy Riders will have to go around by the bridges to get across the River... I think we should avoid the road at present." He thern brings up the geographical argument: "We should actually be going back westward if we made for the road-meeting near the Bridge. We must make a short-cut north-east through the Old Forest." Even the adventure-comment is framed by the desire for secrecy, objecting to "beginning an adventurous journey to start by going back and jogging along a dull river-side road [i.e. the Buckland Road, not the East Road] -- in full view of all the numerous hobbits of Buckland. Perhaps you would like to call and take leave of old Rory at the Hall. It would be polite and proper; and he might lend you a carriage."

By the "Second Phase" draft of the chapter, the Conspiracy (indeed the title) is in place; in fact but for niggling details (and the continued existence of Odo and Frodo Took, neither quite corresponding yet to Fatty and Pippin) the published version is already present.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:16 pm 
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I knew there was a reason I wanted to keep this thread active. Nice post, soli.

soli wrote:
it's amazing how much material survives from the original draft right through to the published version, even when the very foundations had been overthrown and rebuilt


Yes, that is the most interesting thing about studying the history of LOTR.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:16 am 
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solicitr wrote:
By the "Second Phase" draft of the chapter, the Conspiracy (indeed the title) is in place; in fact but for niggling details (and the continued existence of Odo and Frodo Took, neither quite corresponding yet to Fatty and Pippin) the published version is already present.


Not towards the end of the chapter, as I pointed out earlier. As I said before, the "intermediate" (or second phase) draft basically retains the original version of the discussion about the danger of going into the Old Forest versus not doing so. In particular the argument that it would be even more dangerous to meet the Black Riders in the Forest than on the Road is still present. I am convinced that Tolkien removed that because it was too good of an argument, and would have made the decision to enter the Forest seem even more illogical.

This has never occurred to me before, but thinking about it now, I realize that with all the time the Hobbits took bathing, and munching mushrooms, and revealing conspiracies, and cleaning up, and then sleeping into the early hours of the morning, the Riders should have had plenty of time to catch up with them, even having to go 10 miles north to the Brandywine Bridge. In editions prior to 2004, this read "20 miles north to the Brandywine Bridge" but in The Return of the Shadow CT had noted that was an error, since his father had amended the statement describing the length of all of Buckland from "something over forty miles" to "well over twenty miles" but neglected to change Merry's statement that it was 20 miles to the Bridge. Logically, if the Riders only had to ride 10 miles to the bridge, they should have been able to find the house in Crickhollow that night, or at the least should have been waiting for the Hobbits as the left for the Forest. If they were truly effective enemies to be feared.

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The 'more adventure' argument cited earlier in the thread was something of a subsidiary argument, a throwaway line.


The 'more adventure' argument is actually retained in the final version, but in a much more subtle (and therefore much more satisfying way). After Fatty makes the argument against going into the Forest, stating that he is more afraid of it than anything else, and that the stories that he has heard about it are a nightmare, Tolkien makes a point of stating that as fond as Fatty was of Frodo, he "had no desire to leave the Shire, nor to see what lay outside it." Tolkien thus cleverly sets up Fatty as the typical provincial, staid, adventure-hating Hobbit, and thus the others who are willing to not only leave the Shire but brave the terrifying Old Forest as bold adventurers. At least for Hobbits. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:05 pm 
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Well, Voronwë, twenty miles in eight hours or so is a fair clip even for mounted men who know where they are going (you can't gallop a horse for miles on end, Shadowfax notwithstanding).

But of course the BR didn't know where they were going. Khamul lost the trail at the Brandywine, and from that point knew no more than that the Ring was somewhere in Buckland. As Tolkien (retro)explained it in the Hunt for the Ring papers,
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"B [Khamul] is now well aware that the Ring has crossed the river, but the river is a barrier to his sense of its movement....As soon as he has assembled his forces (in the early morning of the 26th, probably) [i.e. after midnight while the hobbits are at Crickhollow] B leaves one to lurk near the Bridge and watch it; he sends DE along the East-road, with orders to report to A [the Witch-king] the eastward movement of the Ring; he himself with C passes secretly into Buckland by the north gate of that land. But desiring to attract as little notice as possible he (mistakenly and against Sauron's orders) sacrifices speed to stealth...

Meanwhile BC [Khamul and companion] are searching Buckland, but can do little except at night; and they are at a loss, since Buckland did not appear in Saruman's charts of the Shire at all. By good fortune they do not discover the Hay-gate or become aware that the Ring has departed. On 28 September they find Crickhollow at night, but do not attack though B is aware that the Ring has been, or is still, there....


Tolkien goes on to explain that an inadvertent result of the search of Buckland and the focus on Crickhollow was the leaving of the Road west of Bree unwatched, permitting Frodo to reach the village undetected- so Fatty's role was not by any means fruitless.

I don't know if any of you have ever played a naval wargame, but if you have you'll recognize them as gigantic exercises in Hide and Seek, or Blind Man's Bluff. If once you lose an enemy track, it takes a lot of deduction, guesswork, and especially time to pick it up again- think of the hunt for the Bismarck.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:20 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
Well, Voronwë, twenty miles in eight hours or so is a fair clip even for mounted men who know where they are going (you can't gallop a horse for miles on end, Shadowfax notwithstanding).


Well, I've walked twenty miles in less time, and marathoners even in Tolkien's day could cover twenty-six miles in two-and-a-half hours. But I agree with your other points.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:28 pm 
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20 miles could easily be covered on horseback in a couple of hours. Khamul and friends really should have been able to locate Frodo before he left Crickhollow. The fact that they were not able to supports my contention that they were not very effective enemies.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:52 pm 
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20 miles could easily be covered on horseback in a couple of hours.


Jack Jouett's legendary 1781 ride from Cuckoo to Monticello, about forty miles, took him from 10 PM to five the next morning- riding as fast as he could drive his horse without foundering it. Tarleton's cavalry, despite traveling by road, took three hours longer. Paul Revere took three hours to cover the 12 miles from Charlestown to Lincoln where he was captured- and all three knew their destination and route.

So it's certainly possible for men and horses to cover 20 miles or better in eight hours (not "a couple")- but only if they don't have to search around and generally figure out where the heck they are and where they're supposed to be going. Why on earth should Khamul and pal have been able to locate Crickhollow (actually the Ringbearer) by dawn? Buckland may only be the size of a small county, but the idea that two individuals, even on horseback, could find one person somewhere in that much alien terrain in a few hours just doesn't compute.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:57 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
20 miles could easily be covered on horseback in a couple of hours. Khamul and friends really should have been able to locate Frodo before he left Crickhollow. The fact that they were not able to supports my contention that they were not very effective enemies.

At the risk of repetition, I would stress solicitr's point: while the Riders can cover that distance easily, they don't know where they're going --you try to find a person in a 200 square mile area-- and for the moment they're not busting down doors and interrogating people to find out. In further "Hunt for the Ring" notes, Tolkien writes that the Witch-king is soon disturbed to find that their mission, meant to be one of stealth, has instead caught the attention of the Rangers, the Elves, and Gandalf.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:45 pm 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
20 miles could easily be covered on horseback in a couple of hours. Khamul and friends really should have been able to locate Frodo before he left Crickhollow. The fact that they were not able to supports my contention that they were not very effective enemies.

At the risk of repetition, I would stress solicitr's point: while the Riders can cover that distance easily, they don't know where they're going --you try to find a person in a 200 square mile area-- and for the moment they're not busting down doors and interrogating people to find out. In further "Hunt for the Ring" notes, Tolkien writes that the Witch-king is soon disturbed to find that their mission, meant to be one of stealth, has instead caught the attention of the Rangers, the Elves, and Gandalf.


I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. All they would have had to do is exactly what they already had been doing. It was well known that Frodo had bought that house in Crickhollow. If they had approached any local person in the same way that they approached Gaffer Gamgee or Farmer Maggot, they would have quickly learned where Frodo was, with plenty of time to spare.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:29 pm 
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In the middle of the night? :)

Moreover, the BR didn't know that everyone (or anyone) knew that "Baggins' had bought Crickhollow. That piece of data wasn't available to them. *All* Khamul knew was that the Ring had crossed the Brandywine at Bucklebury.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:41 pm 
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You know, every time you make a post in these discussions with that picture in your avatar, it makes me feeling like I am debating with Christopher Tolkien himself. It's very intimidating!

(Just to be clear, please don't take that as a suggestion that you remove the picture. I like it a lot!)

The middle of the night argument would be a good argument, if it really were the middle of the night. But if it were just dusk when the Hobbits crossed the river on the ferry, the Riders would have crossed the bridge in the middle of the evening. Despite the examples that you gave above, it wouldn't have taken them more than an hour to cover the ten miles along a well marked road to the bridge. Ten miles in an hour on horseback is nothing. The last time I was on a horse I covered five miles in an hour without ever breaking into so much as a trot (until we got back within sight of the barn, at which point the horse took off on his own).

And the even though the Riders didn't know that Frodo had bought the house, they did know from the Gaffer that he had moved to Buckland, and they would have asked whoever they met where Baggins was, just as they asked Maggot.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:11 pm 
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Well, at least according to Tolkien's post facto account, once Khamul reached the Bridge he waited for his three caballeros to join him before setting out, which by then was after midnight.

EDIT: it was already sunset when dinner began at Maggot's, and full dark when they left Bamfurlong, five miles from the Ferry. I would estimate that it was 3 hours or more after nightfall, or roughly 9 pm in late September, when Frodo reached the river. At any rate the opening of this chapter makes it clear that there was no light but lamplight when they arrived at the Ferry.


Last edited by solicitr on Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:12 pm 
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And now I am stuck with the image of Voronwë, in black cloak over tie-died T-shirt galloping through the woods, occasionally stopping to sniff and hiss, "Shire. Baggins."

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:43 am 
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I am super-late to this discussion, having discovered this site less than a year ago; but I'm now following the LOTR discussion with great interest, and wishing there were something I could say! All these points are so interesting!

A couple things about this chapter, though, I do want to mention, things that are dear to my heart (having first read LOTR 44 years ago! :shock: ). One is the very beginning of the chapter, describing the view across the Brandywine of Brandy Hall. It's the first we see of the land beyond an obvious boundary (and we are told that Buckland was originally an outpost of the Shire and still not considered part of it by those more centrally located); it is Sam's first view of the "outside world," and the description of the Hall and its lights and the lamp on the ferry landing seem almost magical, even though it is still a land of hobbits. This many years later I still catch my breath reading those first paragraphs.

The other thing, as has already been noted, is the revealing of Merry's character. I've spent so much energy over the decades trying to convince people that Merry and Pippin are NOT interchangeable! (And that's one of my biggest quibbles with the movie!) Merry here is shown to be a planner, resourceful, intelligent, curious but with due caution, and mature enough to have been allowed to assist Frodo back at the time of the Party; his assistance is mentioned back in Chapter 1 but in this chapter we find that he was also in Hobbiton earlier and saw Bilbo use the Ring to escape the Sackville-Bagginses, and got a look at the Book. We later learn from the Appendices that at that time Merry was a mere child by hobbit standards; certainly his family recognized enough maturity in him to afford him the necessary freedom! Now he has set up Frodo's new house for him, knowing full well that it's all to be a ruse, and here he tells Frodo all he knows, plans the departure, has the ponies and baggage all ready, and is the leader of the party until they are truly lost and have to depend on Bombadil. In further chapters we learn more of Merry's personality, but for now he's already established himself as a truly admirable character. (We already know, from the Prologue, that he goes on to write treatises...)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:49 pm 
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Morwenna wrote:
I am super-late to this discussion, having discovered this site less than a year ago; but I'm now following the LOTR discussion with great interest, and wishing there were something I could say!


You could, if you you would like, start a new thread on the next chapter (Book II, Chapter 5).

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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Morwenna wrote:
I am super-late to this discussion, having discovered this site less than a year ago; but I'm now following the LOTR discussion with great interest, and wishing there were something I could say!


You could, if you you would like, start a new thread on the next chapter (Book II, Chapter 5).


I'm still plugging through the discussions on Book I! (Slowly, I know...)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:19 pm 
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No hurry. It's not like the discussion has been plugging along. But eventually you are still more than welcome to start a new thread on the next chapter (it's hard to believe I made that comment two and half years ago!).

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:24 pm 
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Yes, I know. But I like to do these things in order. It's been ages since I've re-read the whole work, so I'm taking my sweet time, reading the posts on each chapter in order and answering if I can think of something fresh. That is, when I remember to go onto this board. :)


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