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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:08 am 
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Been awhile but I want to pick up Letter 131 in terms of how Tolkien explains The Hobbit to Milton Waldman. On page 158 in the third paragraph Tolkien explains how The Hobbit differs from his other works. Specifically Tolkien points out that in The Hobbit many things like "Hobbits and Hobbitry are not explained, but taken for granted." The world politic as described earlier in the letter are "alluded to" and "there in mind" but not delved into.

I'll stop there to comment. I think this is where the movie The Hobbit may differ from Tolkien's description. I believe the world politic will become a focus on the three movies and not just be alluded to or be there in mind. For me this would mean a different focus than Tolkien intends for the story. On page 159 in Letters, Tolkien makes it clear that Gandalf's departure "leaves the Hobbit without help or advice in the midst of his 'adventure', forcing him to stand on his own legs, and become in his mode heroric." Indeed Tolkien makes a wonderful point down below that quote that the "tone and style (of The Hobbit) change with the Hobbit's development, passing from the fairy-tale to the noble and high and relapsing with the return." This is a story of Bilbo, his growth, his gain, of his becoming a hero and then rejecting it and returning to his life. Yes, the finding of the One Ring is also very critical to the story but that is still about Bilbo. As Gandalf points out to Frodo, Bilbo was meant to find the Ring and it was met to go to Frodo as a result.

Now on these pages the White Council is mentioned, as is the Necromancer and allusions to the great history of the Elves i.e. Gondolin. I do like this quote "The shadows and evil of Mirkwood provide, in diminished 'fairy-story' mode, one of the major parts of the adventure." So I would hope that PJ in the movies makes Mirkwood a major part of the adventure and a major part of Bilbo's growth. It is here that Bilbo rises up to achieve his heroric status, gain his inner confidence and justifies Gandalf's trust in him to Thorin back in Bag End.

I fear in terms of the movie, The Hobbit is going to going in directions that are far a field from the actual story and intent of the author. What will the result be? I think for many fans they will just be thrilled to go back to Middle Earth and they will be thrilled with having three films to do so. For others the movies themselves may signal break with PJ's vision of Middle Earth. For others, they will just sit back, enjoy the ride and perhaps dribble into the lore behind the book verses the movie. Finally for others, the films will bring them to read Tolkien. I will state from this letter though that I fear that PJ may bring this simple story into an epic. Only time will tell if that is an epic worthy of the story, or an epic failure. I surely hope the focus is on Bilbo, his growth, the triumph of his character, his confidence and trust in his abilities and his return back to his life. I hope the other material doesn't distract from that simple message. I guess we'll know over the next three years.

So what are your thoughts regarding Letter 131 and The Hobbit was a literary work and from what we know of the movies? I'll be interested to hear what others think.

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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: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:31 am 
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I would have liked to have had a stand alone single film of The Hobbit, and just The Hobbit, but that was never likely to happen once the LOTR films were made first. My perspective is to take the films for what they are, which is a very different thing than the book, though with some of the elements in place. After all, Tolkien himself did make an effort to tie the Hobbit story into the world politic in "The Quest of Erebor" and to some extent in the abandoned 1960 revision (as well, to some extent, as the 1947 revision of Riddles in the Dark).

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:49 am 
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Voronwë,

Do you know if anyone has compared and contrasted Bilbo and Frodo both using the main texts, the additional textual information and info from Letters? I think that may be an interesting comparison.

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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: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:51 pm 
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AJ, I don't know of any specific work like that, although I do know that Kristin Thompson (the author of The Frodo Franchise) is working on a close textual comparison of the two works.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:06 pm 
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Thanks for finding that, AJ. It reinforces my big-picture notion of the structure of both TH and LOTR as journeys "There and Back Again" between modes of fiction, a la Northrop Frye.

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