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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:34 pm 
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I prefer Stracheys, for no real reason apart from its format and "intimacy", if you get me.


I get you completely. :)

I like both :) and have, in the past, pored over them for hours. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:04 pm 
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Right; discussions of the way something _really_ happened or looked quickly become absurd because none of it really happened at all. The best one can do is apprehend what Tolkien intended, and in cases like this one even that is impossible because he kept changing his mind.


:agree:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:39 pm 
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Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth? That is just wonderful.

There's also Barbara Strachey's Journeys of Frodo.
I like both and have, in the past, pored over them for hours.


Me too. Strachey's is great for instant dipping into to check dates and mileage, but Fonstad's is just wonderful for all the geographical detail and architectural layouts as well as the descriptive information.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:49 am 
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Moving along a bit, we see some of the most important verse in all of LOTR in this chapter.

First we have Sam's reciting part of The Fall of Gil-galad. This nice little poem is particularly important in what it says about three characters. We start to get a better sense of who Sam Gamgee is (even more here, to me, than later when he recites his own Troll song). And we learn that Bilbo has translated old Elvish lays. But most of all, we learn that Strider was learned in old lore, and not just in the ways of the wild.

This sets up the other, more important piece of verse in the chapter, the long, beautiful poem telling of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien (which was based on the poem Light as Leaf on Lindentree, published in the Leeds magazineThe Gryphon in June 1925, and going back to older poems). This is truly some of the most beautiful verse that Tolkien ever wrote, and together with the prose description of Beren and Lúthien's story that follows, are certainly the most extensive connection between the new story and the old tales of what would become known as the First Age. At this point, what had started as a sequel to The Hobbit had now become firmly a sequel to the unpublished Silmarillion.

In the final form of the story, Strider's reciting this poem and telling this story takes on particular importance. Wayne and Christina quote Paul Kocher as saying:

Quote:
None of the hobbits has the faintest glimmer of an idea why Aragorn chooses this particular legend to recite, and neither have we at first reading, thanks to Tolkien's failure to mention Arwen at all up to that point. But in the light of later revelations it can dawn on us that the longing for Arwen is a torment, a joy, a despair, a comfort to Aragorn in a time of little hope. Small wonder that he is 'strange and grim at times,', but he seldom speaks of the life of private emotions stirring within. [Master of Middle-earth, p. 137


But what is most remarkable (though of course Paul Kocher couldn't know this back in 1972), is that this verse and tale was originally recited and told not by Aragorn, son of Arathorn, hoping to tie the knot with Lúthien's great-great-great-granddaughter, but rather by Trotter the wooden-shoed hobbit, though he also was "strange and grim at times." Indeed, even once Trotter became Aragorn, descendant of kings, Arwen still did not exist, and the reciting of the story of Beren and Lúthien still did not have the special significance to him than it eventually had.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:44 pm 
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Kewl.

What I like about this part of the book is the "nature" aspect. Tolkien was not a rural dweller, as far as I know his life was pretty well spent in towns and cities. But he had an amazing ability to describe the wild so that you were "there". Now, his "wild" was never really "wild", except for the Old Forest; everywhere they went was once part of a kingdom. Everywhere they went there were ruins and old roads, etc. Still, his feel for the outdoors was so obvious, you can see the rocks and the heather and the birds overhead as he writes about it. I especially love his hills and mountains, that feeling of desolation and isolation, the bare land, the wind-shaped trees, the rocks. He makes Aragorn's skill in the wild very believable, because he makes the wild believable.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:00 pm 
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Yes. Tolkien brings to life the bleakness and wildness of the Wild in autumn. How empty it must have seemed to anyone who had lived his whole life in the cozy, tamed, tended Shire. This is where the story stops being a fireside tale, where the world opens out and the hobbits seem very small indeed.

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


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:38 am 
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Yes Yes! The Wild! Seems wild!

That's what I've always loved about the book: the journey it takes you on. The way you feel it in your feet and your knees and your back.

(I'd rather skip the midges, though, personally.)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:47 am 
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I first read LOTR in the late summer between 8th and 9th grade. (Then I immediately read it again.) A few months later I read it again in the fall of ninth grade - I couldn't get enough of it. Anyway, I distinctly remember sitting in 9th grade English class daydreaming about how great LOTR was. And the image that came to my mind which epitomized the whole book was Strider leading the 4 hobbits through the wilderness toward Rivendell. Although I wasn't thinking in terms of specific chapters, the image in my mind had to be from " A Knife in the Dark" because Frodo was still unwounded.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:37 pm 
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It's interesting to compare The Hobbit's account of the passage of the same terrain:

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Now they had gone on far into the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, no inns, and the roads grew steadily worse. Not far ahead were dreary hills, rising higher and higher, dark with trees. On some of them were old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people. Everything seemed gloomy, for the weather that day had taken a nasty turn. Mostly it had been as good as May can be, even in merry tales, but now it was cold and wet. In the Lone-lands they had to camp when they could, but at least it had been dry.

"To think it will soon be June," grumbled Bilbo as he splashed along behind the others in a very muddy track. It was after tea-time; it was pouring with rain, and had been all day; his hood was dripping into his eyes, his cloak was full of water; the pony was tired and stumbled on stones; the others were too grumpy to talk.


With the present chapter:


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Along the crest of the ridge the hobbits could see what looked to be the remains of green-grown walls and dikes, and in the clefts there still stood the ruins of old works of stone. By night they had reached the feet of the westward slopes, and there they camped. It was the night of the fifth of October, and they were six days out from Bree.

In the morning they found, for the first time since they had left the Chetwood, a track plain to see. They turned right and followed it southwards. It ran cunningly, taking a line that seemed chosen so as to keep as much hidden as possible from the view, both of the hill-tops above and of the flats to the west. It dived into dells, and hugged steep banks; and where it passed over flatter and more open ground on either side of it there were lines of large boulders and hewn stones that screened the travellers almost like a hedge.

'I wonder who made this path, and what for,' said Merry, as they walked along one of these avenues, where the stones were unusually large and closely set. 'I am not sure that I like it: it has a - well, rather a barrow-wightish look. Is there any barrow on Weathertop?'

'No. There is no barrow on Weathertop, nor on any of these hills,' answered Strider. 'The Men of the West did not live here; though in their latter days they defended the hills for a while against the evil that came out of Angmar. This path was made to serve the forts along the walls. But long before, in the first days of the North Kingdom, they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sûl they called it. It was burned and broken, and nothing remains of it now but a tumbled ring, like a rough crown on the old hill's head. Yet once it was tall and fair. It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West, in the days of the Last Alliance.'


Already in The Hobbit "you can feel the rain on your neck;" but the sense of the weight of history has not yet entered. The evil-looking castles (prob. by the later geography in Rhudaur, not the Weather Hills), set the bleak mood, but are otherwise context- and meaningless, like Peter Jackson's random ruins.

But as much as anything the contrast here is between Frodo & Co. and (pre-Mirkwood) Bilbo: their un-hobbitlike curiosity about what they are seeing and its meaning, whereas Bilbo frankly couldn't care less provided the rain stops. Gandalf of course could have provided the same commentary as Strider or more, but Bilbo just isn't interested.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:27 pm 
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vison wrote:

What I like about this part of the book is the "nature" aspect. Tolkien was not a rural dweller, as far as I know his life was pretty well spent in towns and cities.


Oxford isn't that urban for a city and there are large open spaces nearby. Merton backs onto ChristChurch meadow, which is a big green space.

Leeds is of course very urbasn, but there is lovely countryside not too far away.

The lass said about Birmingham the better.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:20 pm 
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Err...actually, Sarehole was just a rural hamlet when Tolkien lived there (for four years) as a boy. :)

http://www.bplphoto.co.uk/TolkiensBirmingham/TolkienSarehole.htm

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:56 pm 
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Sometimes those that live in the urban or what we call today suburbia have a wonderful ability if not a need, to get out into nature. I think often we see that captured as Tolkien did in his writing, for others it is with either photography or artistic works, well for others it remains in their memories impacting them. I think Tolkien was perhaps such a person who loved what he saw and observed in nature, be it from his vacations (his artwork shows that he did get out in nature and observe it) or from simply being near his favorite tree at the university.

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2. We have many ways using technology to be in touch, yet the larger question is are we really connected or are we simply more in touch? There is a difference.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:04 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
This sets up the other, more important piece of verse in the chapter, the long, beautiful poem telling of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien (which was based on the poem Light as Leaf on Lindentree, published in the Leeds magazineThe Gryphon in June 1925, and going back to older poems). This is truly some of the most beautiful verse that Tolkien ever wrote, and together with the prose description of Beren and Lúthien's story that follows, are certainly the most extensive connection between the new story and the old tales of what would become known as the First Age. At this point, what had started as a sequel to The Hobbit had now become firmly a sequel to the unpublished Silmarillion.

In the final form of the story, Strider's reciting this poem and telling this story takes on particular importance. Wayne and Christina quote Paul Kocher as saying:

Quote:
None of the hobbits has the faintest glimmer of an idea why Aragorn chooses this particular legend to recite, and neither have we at first reading, thanks to Tolkien's failure to mention Arwen at all up to that point. But in the light of later revelations it can dawn on us that the longing for Arwen is a torment, a joy, a despair, a comfort to Aragorn in a time of little hope. Small wonder that he is 'strange and grim at times,', but he seldom speaks of the life of private emotions stirring within. [Master of Middle-earth, p. 137


But what is most remarkable (though of course Paul Kocher couldn't know this back in 1972), is that this verse and tale was originally recited and told not by Aragorn, son of Arathorn, hoping to tie the knot with Lúthien's great-great-great-granddaughter, but rather by Trotter the wooden-shoed hobbit, though he also was "strange and grim at times." Indeed, even once Trotter became Aragorn, descendant of kings, Arwen still did not exist, and the reciting of the story of Beren and Lúthien still did not have the special significance to him than it eventually had.


That's really interesting, Voronwë. Thanks for pointing that out! ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:16 pm 
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Since no one wants to talk about Aragorn's reciting the verses about Lúthien and Beren, and telling their story (which really surprises me), let talk about the actual attack on Weathertop, shall we?

Anyone?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:09 pm 
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I am coming in late to this thread. But I would like to join in.


I wanted to comment on: were the riders in Bree....really the black riders, comments. On reading further in chapter 11...When at Weathertop, they see the specks of riders far off and Merry asks if the riders can "see". Strider answers:

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snip...For the black horses can see, and the Riders can use men and other creatures as spies, as we found at Bree....snip


This goes to further substantiate that it was NOT the Black Riders at Bree.

Regards the poem/tale of Beren and Lúthien. I remember the first time that I read LotR's, I wept to read of the tragic story. It has always stayed with me as a beautiful piece written by the Professor, and also Lúthien with the first of the elves to choose mortality, and for a human. Taking one of the Silmarils as a bride gift to Thingol, well...I am a lady and that is just romantic, however they had to get it. Also we know for the first time (meaning me reading this so long ago now) that Elrond is from the seed of Lúthien. Which indeed ties the LotR's to the Silmarillian.

The attack on Weathertop....Frodo being compelled to put on the ring in the presence of the Wraiths, then seeing them for the first time. This is something that I thought the movie actually captured pretty well. The book gives a paragraph to it and while one gets the feeling of danger, it is not the same as seeing it to me.

The Hobbits are useless in terror and Frodo is basically alone facing the Wraiths and even though he is also terrified and puts on the ring, he tries to fight at the end when he is stabbed. I think we see that there is very much more to Frodo Baggins at this point.

I hope to join in as the chapters roll forward. Peace.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:26 pm 
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You are most welcome, rwhen! :hug:

As for the comment about the Riders using Men as spies in Bree, I don't see that as confirming that it was not the Riders themselves that attacked the Inn. Either way, it is clear that Ferny, Harry and the southerner were spies for the Riders (though of course to what extent the southerner was a double agent with mixed loyalties between Sauron and Saruman is not entirely clear). But the fact that the Riders need to use other creatures or beings eyes to see could tend to suggest that it wasn't them that physically attacked the Inn (although that contradicts some later events, I think).

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the poem/tale of Beren and Lúthien. You know, I have said before that I don't recall my initial reactions to reading LOTR, and while that is true, I can say clearly that nothing made me want to explore Tolkien's wider and deeper legendarium than this.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:54 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
But the fact that the Riders need to use other creatures or beings eyes to see could tend to suggest that it wasn't them that physically attacked the Inn (although that contradicts some later events, I think).


Which events are those, V?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:02 am 
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SPOILER IN CASE LADY DARKSTAR OR ANY OTHER FIRST TIME READER IS READING





Frelga, I was thinking particularly of the Witchking's confrontation with Éowyn. Arguably up to the point that she bravely kills the fell beast, it could be argued that he is relying on that animals eyes for sight. But after she kills the beast, there is no indication that the Witchking has any problem seeing her; he is able to aim a vicious blow with his mace that she deflects with her shield, breaking her arm.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:17 am 
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Ah, good point, V. Well, WiKi is special. ;) And I believe Tolkien indicates throughout the story that the power of the Nazgûl grows with the power of Sauron, so WiKi turns from a spooky shlemil of FOTR into the menace of ROTK

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:10 pm 
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What's really remarkable is that, when Tolkien wrote this chapter, the concept of the Ruling Ring had not even developed (or at least there is no evidence that it had). The existing early version of what would become "the shadow of the past" says only that this is the last unrecovered Ring of many. And yet the draft is nearly identical to the published version of the attack, with only the slightest alteration in detail (chiefly associated with the change of Trotter to Aragorn, and the expanding history of the North-kingdom).

What is already present though is the idea of a "wraith-world," a parallel reality inhabited by those "who have passed through the Ring" as a draft put it. "Yes, if the Ring overcomes you, you yourself become permanently invisible - and it is a horrible cold feeling. Everything becomes very faint like grey ghost pictures against the black background in which you live; but you can smell more clearly than you can hear or see."

And, later on (the first draft of "Many Meetings") Gandald says, "For while the ring was on, you yourself were in the wraith-world, and subject to their weapons. They could see you, and you them." The empahasis on seeing (followed by the comment on the black horses' ability to see) is significant; it was replaced in the final text by "they might have seized you."

The WiKi is a special case, and appears from what we can tell (given the entire corpus) to be able to function as a warrior in the 'material plane.' When this chapter was written, though, originally all the RW had crowns, emended to just the leader; and there is no suggestion that Tolkien even knew that there were nine of them yet.


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