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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:56 pm 
Aldrig nogen sinde Kvitte
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Location: Northern Utah Misty Mountains
Finally I can get this posted! I would like to do 1 or 2 a month and focus somewhat on The Hobbit for my posts as I have never really studied that in depth.

Taken from my birth year (I was 5 days short of 8 months) I read this letter which is concerning preparations for a British paperback of The Hobbit. I take it that Tolkien did not like the Blurbs that had been written for the book as it detracted from the meaning of the story.

What was insightful, if not knew, but a good reminder is how Hobbits differ from anyone else. A hobbit likes a "quiet life and abundant food" and a latent desire for adventure. Hobbits chief physical mark was their stature "the chief characteristic of their temper was the almost total eradication of any dormant 'spark', only one per mil had any trace of it."

I guess I'm brain dead today because that seems like a contradictory statement to me. No one is a hobbit because they like a quiet life and abundant food, while have a latent desire for adventure. Yet Tolkien says that only one in a mil had a trace of this spark of adventure. Nevermind, the correlation I draw is that like for many of us, we get into a comfortable routine and continue with it, never challenging it, never seeking out that adventure. The majority of humans today have also eradicated this spark, or have by adulthood, except for a few.

Tolkien points out how unique this made Bilbo and how Gandalf selected Bilbo with his authority and insight as being abnormal for a hobbit. Bilbo had the common hobbit qualities of "shrewd sense, generosity, patience and fortitude, and also a strong 'spark' yet unkndled. I hope in the movie they can bring that uniqueness out though I think it will be hard to show the contrast of Bilbo with the other hobbits around him.

Tolkien makes a very important part about the story here I think. He states that the story is "about the achievements of specially graced and gifted individuals." To be specific Tolkien states "'by ordained individuals inspired and guided by an Emissary to ends beyond their individual education and enlargement.'"

He concludes this part of the letter by stating that this is very clear in LOTR, yet it is in The Hobbit, only veiled. There is also a part of using names, and how using the term Professor is ok to him, though he fears it will lead the public to think him knowledgeable on myths.

I wonder if subconsciously if this ideal of an ordained individual being inspired and guided by an Emissary is reflected in Tolkien's own life? After his mother died, when he was in the care and custody of Father Francis Morgan who may have acted as Tolkien's emissary to ends beyond his own individual education and englargment, or was it something that evolved in his life, as it does in all our lives? I think we each have critical people in our lives, a mentor early in life, a spouse or companion, and hopefully one or two close friends as adults that act as emissaries to us, that help us to ends beyond our own individual education and englargement? Perhaps that is a reason why the stories of Tolkien reach out to us.

I look forward to others thoughts and responses on this letter.

1. " . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.

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: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:19 pm 
Living in hope
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Maybe the "latent desire for adventure" is the fuel for the rare spark? We do see hobbits fired up by other hobbits' "sparks" of venturesomeness or willingness to resist wrong. Maybe the capacity to respond in that way isn't rare, but it's rarely set alight and most hobbits never suspect they have it.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:14 am 
Feeling grateful
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Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:41 am
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ArathornJax wrote:
I wonder if subconsciously if this ideal of an ordained individual being inspired and guided by an Emissary is reflected in Tolkien's own life?

This makes me think of the letter that he received from his friend G.B. Smith, a short time before Smith was killed in WW I.

My chief consolation is that if I am scuppered tonight - I am off on duty in a few minutes - there will still be left a member of the great T.C.B.S. to voice what I dreamed and what we all agreed upon. For the death of one of its members cannot, I am determined, dissolve the T.C.B.S. Death can make us loathsome and helpless as individuals, but it cannot put an end to the immortal four! A discovery I am going to communicate to Rob before I go off tonight. And do you write it also to Christopher. May God bless you my dear John Ronald and may you say things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them if such be my lot.

Yes, I think that this ideal of an ordained individual being inspired and guided by an Emissary is reflected in Tolkien's own life.

There is much else to be said about this letter, but that will have to wait.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

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