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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:35 pm 
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This chapter begins with a long, matter-of-fact description of Bree and the surrounding Bree-land, complete with a bit of the history of its big and little people. It seems to me that this is the first real introduction of Frodo and his companions to the outside world. The Old Forest, Tom's house, and even the barrow-downs don't quite seem real.

Bree is very real. Harry the gatekeepers is our Hobbits first introduction to Bree and it is not a pleasant one. Tolkien's little hints that things are not right set a mildly ominous tone. It's all too much for poor, provincial Sam:

Quote:
Sam stared up at the inn with its three storeys and many windows, and felt his heart sink. He had imagined himself meeting giants taller than trees, and other creatures even more terrifying, some time or other in the course of his journey; but at the moment he was finding his first sight of Men and their tall houses quite enough, indeed too much for the dark end of a tiring day. He pictured black horses standing all saddled in the shadows of the inn-yard, and Black Riders peering out of dark upper windows.
"We surely aren't going to stay here for the night, are we, sir?" he exclaimed. "If there are hobbit-folk in these pans, why don't we look for some that would be willing to take us in? It would be more homelike."


But Frodo puts a happier face on the situation, and indeed I get the sense that for all his worries about black riders and Gandalf's absence, he is happy to be out of the Shire and experiencing new things. That perhaps contributes to what is to come.

Their introduction to Butterbur is wonderfully breathlessly welcoming, and contrasts nicely to sense of far off danger generated by the description of the scene in the common room, with the talk of troubles away south (and the squint-eyed ill-favoured southerner), and most of all by the famous first sight of Aragorn (captured so perfectly on the film). I love how Frodo's answer to the problem of Pippin's ridiculous, clueless silliness is a more sophisticated form of ridiculous, clueless silliness, culminating in his "accidental" disappearance.

Was anyone else as tickled as I was by the Man in the Moon song the first time you read LOTR?

The chapter ends with Frodo agreeing to speak with Strider, and then also with Butterbur, and Frodo becoming (perhaps belatedly) suspicious of their intentions.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:11 am 
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Yep, The Man in the Moon is perfect Jocular Tolkien, the donnish wit behind Farmer Giles. Love it.

Here again after Danger we have a Refuge- although T is careful to remind us the danger is close, and that all is not well.

I especially love the description of the hobbits' dinner: one which some rather dim critic once held up as an example of "bad writing!" You see, the chairs are 'comfortable', and our academic snob compares that unfavorably to some forgotten writer's descriptive paragraph which includes 'shiny Grand Rapids furniture.' Besides the datedness of the reference to that long-abandoned furniture-factory town (would any reader under 60 today catch the reference?) the mention is, of course a social comment, a sneer: the favored expression of what Shippey calls the Ironic voice.

But the Pony's chairs are comfortable- which is precisely what they need to be. This is a scene of comfort, homely, domestic comfort, with hobbits eating their comfort food ("half an hour's steady going, without unnecessary interruptions.")


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:03 am 
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Shiny Grand Rapids furniture? :scratch: :rofl:

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This is a scene of comfort, homely, domestic comfort, with hobbits eating their comfort food ("half an hour's steady going, without unnecessary interruptions.")


It is, of course, the Hobbits last good meal until they reach Rivendell, almost a month later (except one, which they only got because of an unplanned delay, as we will see).

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:19 am 
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solicitr wrote:
I especially love the description of the hobbits' dinner: one which some rather dim critic once held up as an example of "bad writing!" You see, the chairs are 'comfortable', and our academic snob compares that unfavorably to some forgotten writer's descriptive paragraph which includes 'shiny Grand Rapids furniture.' Besides the datedness of the reference to that long-abandoned furniture-factory town (would any reader under 60 today catch the reference?) the mention is, of course a social comment, a sneer: the favored expression of what Shippey calls the Ironic voice.


Thomas Wolfe is not yet a forgotten writer. Look Homeward, Angel is one of my mom's favorites books, and so, like The Lord of the Rings, she encouraged me to read it at a young age. Too young, probably.

I once led an online discussion of that critical essay, Burton Raffel's "The Lord of the Rings as Literature", in a weeklong series that also looked at Edmund Wilson's "Oo! Those Awful Orcs", Christine Brooke-Rose's "The evil ring: realism and the marvellous", and Nick Otty's "The Structuralist's Guide to Middle-earth". The consensus of the discussants was that Raffel's was the best of the four essays. He actually likes The Lord of the Rings, and says so repeatedly, but is determined to distinguish it from "literature", in one sense of that term. Here's < one response >:

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It’s quite an interesting point Raffel is making: Wolfe’s books are not good, but his “style” is. It is Wolfe’s style that Raffel says “belongs to literature” while Tolkien’s does not.

Trying to wade through his specific examples of Lawrence’s and Wolfe’s prose, I think I’d conclude that Raffel’s definition of literary style centers on the language serving a personal point of view and so demanding an individual and specific set of choices for description and emotion, almost independent of the narrative of the story. Raffel, I think, praises Tolkien repeatedly for telling a great story, but at the expense of developing any individual expression either as an author or through his characters’ point of view.

It goes without saying (since I and others have said it plenty of times by now, as has Raffel himself) that Tolkien would have nodded cheerfully at this indictment. It possibly doesn’t go without saying that Tolkien’s own style can be interpreted and analyzed to a great degree of depth, the kind of depth associated with the finest classical literature, if one can only forego the need to have it mediated through a modern, individual actor or narrator.


Raffel is still writing, I believe; I recently saw one of his books at the store. Much of his work has been translations; among those is one of Beowulf, which he shared with Tolkien in correspondence. Tolkien didn't approve of Raffel's choices -- see Scull and Hammond for details.

By the way, this the passage from Wolfe in question:

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She replaced the disreputable furniture of the house by new shiny Grand Rapids chairs and tables. There was a varnished bookcase, forever locked, stored with stiff sets of unread books The Harvard Classics, and a cheap encyclopedia.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:30 am 
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I guess the real question is "what is literature?" Is Beowulf literature? Chaucer? How about Tom Wolfe's Electric Koolaid Acid Test?

Or perhaps the real question is: "does it matter what we call it?"

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:47 am 
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The gatekeepers of the canon are pretty strict in their definitions. ;)

But I think ordinary readers and ordinary writers shouldn't fret about what is and is not "literature." Though it's hard to avoid an emotional reaction when a beloved and unique book is dismissed as "not literature" when you suspect what is really meant is "not worth an intelligent person's time."

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:27 am 
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Wow, I had completely forgotten it was Wolfe. I like Wolfe.

Nonetheless,
Quote:
She replaced the disreputable furniture of the house by new shiny Grand Rapids chairs and tables. There was a varnished bookcase, forever locked, stored with stiff sets of unread books The Harvard Classics, and a cheap encyclopedia.


is a sneer.

And I must say, for Raffel's essay to be judged the best of that lot is a rather dubious honor- like winning Third Runner-up in an ugly contest.

Quote:
it was no more than a guess of blue and a remote white glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains.
is 'literary' enough for me.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:14 am 
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When I just looked back at something I wrote on this chapter for TORC long ago, I had to laugh when I got to the following bit:

Teremia, in a former life, wrote:
And here's a confession: I think this is probably just about the first time in upwards of twenty-thirty (?) rereadings that I ever read every single word of that ridiculous "Cow Jumped Over the Moon"! Well, I've done it now, and I shan't need to again in the future. Honestly, Bilbo has better works to be proud of than this.


So . . . sorry, Voronwë and Solicitr! That wasn't, I guess, my favorite LOTR song. I set many of the other ones to music when I was a kid (and still remember those tunes today), but this one I just waltzed by, as it were.

This chapter reads quite differently for me against the backdrop of the movies. Certain things I never paid much attention to in previous years jump out at a person in the wake of the films, like for instance the curious nature of the Bree-land, where Big Folk and Little Folk dwell quite amicably together. We get quite a few paragraphs to start with on the oddity of the place, on its ancient and slightly mysterious history (the men of Bree claiming to be "the descendants of the first Men that ever wandered into the West of the middle-world," and the hobbits rather likewise "claim[ing] to be the oldest settlement of Hobbits in the world, one that was founded long before even the Brandywine was crossed...". These two ancient (at least in their own estimation) tribes now live together at a great crossroads, where the road from the south turns into the abandoned "Greenway" leading north and crosses the great East-West Road which our hobbits have been mostly avoiding. Being a crossroadsy sort of place, Bree is represented chiefly by its inn, "The Prancing Pony," where, on the night of our heroes' arrival, there are gathered not just local men, but a passle of local hobbits, dwarves, squinty-eyed visitors from the south spouting bits of evil rumor that we and the hobbits will understand better much later in our story, and a tall, dark Ranger.

All of this multiculturalism catches me, post-films, by surprise! In the movie Bree is used to demonstrate the way hobbits are out of place (or at least, out of size) in the parts of the world inhabited by men. The tricks used by Jackson to convey the smallness of the hobbits in this man-city are very effective, and the overall effect is spooky and threatening. But the scene is very different in the book. Although Sam is a bit overwhelmed by the three-story vastness of the "Prancing Pony," the hobbit-sized table on which a lovely meal is quickly spread, the hobbit-sized ministrations of Nob-you-Slowcoach, a hobbit himself (and for me a reminder of TORC!), and the quality of the beer win him quickly over, and the others, too.

Only Merry is cautious enough not to go into the public rooms with the other three hobbits. Merry continues to impress me -- he's so much the grown-up in the crowd! (When I was a kid I either found him too much a grown-up or just dull for always being so sensible, but now I'm full of admiration and sympathy.)

And finally, to go back to the start of the chapter, one of the unimportant little images that has always stuck with me is that of the "Greenway," a road gone to grass, but still, in some sense, a road. Roads are rather impressive symbolic things. I still recall very vividly being driven along roads as a child by parents who would say with great drama, "THIS, children, was once a ROMAN ROAD. We can tell because it goes on STRAIGHT STRAIGHT STRAIGHT, with never a curve!" And there would be a little shiver of thrill going through us, because where we were now driving, legions of dusty, strange, ancient men had once lumbered along, long ago. Bilbo messed up with that Cow song, but he was right on the mark with his thoughts on Roads, and I'm glad and grateful that Mr. Jackson used some of them in FOTR:

Quote:
He used often to say [says Frodo, a few chapters back] there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,' he used to say. 'You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?' He used to say that on the path outside the front door at Bag End, especially after he had been out for a long walk.'


I notice also the pernicious influence of the ring on Frodo:

Quote:
Frodo suddenly felt very foolish, and found himself (as was his habit when making a speech) fingering the things in his pocket. He felt the Ring on its chain, and quite unaccountably the desire came over him to slip it on and vanish out of the silly situation. It seemed to him, somehow, as if the suggestion came to him from outside, from someone or something in the room. He resisted the temptation firmly, and clasped the Ring in his hand, as if to keep a hold on it and prevent it from escaping or doing any mischief. At any rate it gave him no inspiration.


"as if the suggestion came to him from outside, from someone or something in the room..." -- how creepy is that? The "outside" turns out to be not VERY far outside, after all. We're not sure "where" the strange agency of the Ring should be located. "Resisting firmly" is clearly rather futile, and "clasping the Ring in [one's] hand" won't do any good, either. "No inspiration" or evil inspiration?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:51 am 
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:scratch: Literature must mean something very different in this context. In my world, the word "literature" refers to "anything written down and published."

Anyway, the Prancing Pony. It was supposed to be a safe place, but I always felt something sinister underlying the place. By this point, it's pretty clear that there's something dangerous about the world outside the Shire and something very dangerous about that ring. Bree itself sort of lives on the edge, not as idyllic as the Shire but not as threatened as lands eastward. Safe but not safe. The Hobbits, in their naivete, didn't really pick this up until Frodo stuck his finger in it and Strider hauled him off.

I'm trying very hard to remember my initial reaction to Strider, the first time I encountered him (in subsequent readings I just smile because I know how it turns out). I think I was inclined to see him as a friendly, mainly because my impression of the Rangers was they were supposed to be good guys and, even though Strider was coming across as shady, there was no malice in him. He did know a surprising amount, but he didn't seem interested in causing harm. Looks foul, feels fair...but that's a whole other chapter. In the hindsight of one who has finished the book, one understands why Strider was being so shady. There were spies in Bree, allied with Saruman and with Sauron. Both he and Frodo were in terrible danger already and Strider had to stick his neck out even further to contact Frodo. And then Frodo has to go and act the clown like that and disappear and draw further attention to himself and now Strider has to hook up with this idiot who put on a performance at the Prancing Pony...no wonder he seemed so hostile. Frodo could've gotten them both killed. He was probably thinking, somewhere in the back of his mind, "Amateurs! Is Gandalf effing kidding me?"

Strider's whole introduction, beginning here and running all the way through Rivendell, is one of my favorite parts of the book. The larger world that's been touched on starts coming into focus in the form of one awesome character. And it begins with a shady Ranger in Bree.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:06 am 
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The history of this chapter is interesting. When Tolkien first started drafting it, he envisioned Bree as having mostly human inhabitants, mixed with some hobbits, much like the final version. But he quickly abandoned that first draft before it when very far, and wrote a full version of the chapter, with Bree having only hobbit inhabitants, including Butterbur, and Trotter the wooden-shoed Hobbit, who would eventually morph into Aragorn. What is remarkable is how much of the final version is already present in this first draft; not just in broad outline but even in the specific language. Later, when he came back to the chapter after the major changes that had been made to the previous material, he vacillated back and forth as to what race(s) made up the population of Bree. Finally he settled on the final formula, with Butterbur as Man. But Trotter remained the mysterious hobbit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:18 am 
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Just for fun, I shall post a wee fanfic set in the Prancing Pony that I wrote long ago, but I won't do it in this thread.

I was never really comfortable in The Prancing Pony. Tolkien perfectly created the atmosphere - and it struck me immediately. Inns, or pubs, are not my favourite places in real life, if they are noisy and full of strangers: which the Pony was. I liked the poem the first time I read it, and I still do.

I confess that I did not understand Aragorn very well when I first met him. I did "get" that he was not a Bad Man, but I did not think he would turn out to be the King. I guess no one would, but when I read it now, I sometimes have a hard time seeing Strider instead of Elessar.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:20 am 
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vison wrote:
I did not think he would turn out to be the King. I guess no one would


Including Tolkien. :)

I forgot to mention that initially the song that Bingo/Frodo sang in the inn was the original version of the Troll song that eventually Sam sings after they see the stone Trolls.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:55 am 
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To me, Strider at the first reading appeared as a Han Solo-like character: basically good, but not quite snow-white, some kind of an adventurer. At that point, I didn't expect him to be the King, either.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:35 pm 
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Rowanberry wrote:
To me, Strider at the first reading appeared as a Han Solo-like character: basically good, but not quite snow-white, some kind of an adventurer. At that point, I didn't expect him to be the King, either.


Yes, that's it. But Strider has no "past". He's as stainless as Lórien - and that was something I thought was almost a flaw and still do.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:23 pm 
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V, thanks for adding the histories of these chapters! I find it interesting that Bree started as a mixed human/hobbit sort of place, went all-hobbit, then back to mixed, then (in the film) to All Human and Therefore Kind of Scary (even before the true bad guys arrive).

Strider is less scary in the book than in the film, too, I think (but in the film they were just playing up the ominous atmosphere for all it was worth).

It's true that Strider/Aragorn is a strange character! An implied History which we never hear -- a blank slate that seems a bit old and weatherbeaten when we first encounter it, so why does it still seem "blank"? And then he shifts from being human and witty and warm into (on various extended occasions) the High Epic Kingly Mode, where we hardly know him. But it's the human warmth that draws us (the HANDS of the King, not just his crown), so we keep hoping to get more of that.

The Reader As Éowyn, you know! Our love is frustrated even before it can really get going.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:35 am 
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Some thoughts/observations inspired by (or in some cases made in) the Reader's Companion.

First, sticking with the discussion about the first appearance of Strider, I really like what Wayne and Christina have to say about it:

Quote:
Tolkien introduced the character without knowing who he was; he wrote to W.H. Auden on 7 June 1955 that 'Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo' (Letters, p. 216). This may be one reason why this scene works so well. Frodo, Tolkien, and the reader see Strider from the same point of view.


Yes indeed.

Going back to the beginning of the chapter, W and C point out that the names of the other villages of the Breeland -- Staddle, Combe, and Archet -- are all described in the Nomeclature of the Lord of the Rings as having their origins in real languages. Staddle and Combe both have Old English roots, whereas, Archet "is actually an English place-name of Celtic origin." Curiously, they don't say anything about the name Bree itself, but in the Nomenclature, Tolkien states "Retain, since it was an old name, of obsolete meaning in an older language." The "Retain" is a direction to translators (which was the purpose of the Nomenclature). I presume that he is referring to an unidentified "older language" of Middle-earth, not a "real" older language. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?

One interesting element of the "introductory" portion of the chapter is the several references to the "old Kings" ("when the Kings returned again over the Great Sea ... "when the memory of the old Kings had faded into the grass"). This is the type of thing that gives LOTR such great depth, because the references are to something that actually exists in the fictional universe, not just some vague, meaningless throwaway line.

Something that has often leapt out at me is how Butterbur talks in familiar platitudes when we are introduced to him. Just in the first page, he says "I'm run off my feet," "It never rains but it pours" and "One thing drives out another." This helps to give a sense of familiarity to Middle-earth. I'm sure that we all have encountered people who tend to speak in cliches.

W and C point out a more important consequence of this devise, quoting Katharyn Crabbe's comments about this in her book J.R.R. Tolkien :

Quote:
Barliman's string of platitudes ... is perfect as a representation of the conversation of a man who is too busy to concentrate on what is before him. This sort of nearly meaningless utterance is only probable in a kind of semiconscious conversation that prepares us for a shock of recognition instead of a simple shock when Barliman reveals that he has forgotten to send Gandalf's warning letter to Frodo. [rev. and expanded edn. (1988), p. 100]


This is a very good example of how Tolkien is constantly setting up later events.

Another thing that has often leapt out at me is how the Breelanders refer to the Shire-folk as "outsiders," just as the Shire-folk refer to the Breelanders as "outsiders". As we have talked about before, Tolkien had a fine sense of the arrogance of provincialism, and this bit of irony really shows that.

One thing which I had never realized before reading the Companion is that the term "squint-eyed" (as in the squinted-eyed southerner) has different meanings in English English and American English. Wayne and Christina quote a reply to a letter that Christopher Tolkien made on this subject to Nancy Martsch. Speaking about his father's intention in using this term, he said:

Quote:
... the likeliest meaning, I think, is that the man didn't look straight, but obliquely, watchfully, sideways, suggesting craftiness and crookedness. [quoted in Nancy Martsch, 'The "Squint-eyed Southerner"', Beyond Bree, May 1990, p. 9]


Works for me.

Skipping the observation about Strider's introduction (since I already mentioned it at the beginning of this post, as it followed from the conversation that was already ongoing in this thread), we turn to the main point that I wanted to make in this post (assuming anyone is actually still reading ;) ). Regarding the "ridiculous song" that Frodo sings, W and C state:

Quote:
The Man in the Moon in this poem must be assumed to represent stories and legends among Men and Hobbits who had little idea of the 'real' state of affairs in Arda. In Tolkien's mythology, after the Two Trees of Valinor were wounded and poisoned by Melkor and Ungoliant [VtF note: actually in Tolkien's final conception it was only Ungoliant], before dying Telperion bore one last silver flower and Laurelin a last golden fruit. The Moon was created from that silver flower, and it was guided by Tilion, a Maia, one of the lesser Ainur. The phases of the Moon were ascribed to his uncertain pace, and evidently gave rise to stories such as the one told in this poem.


However, they later remind us that two pages later, in a footnote, Tolkien states that "Elves (and Hobbits) always refer to the Sun as She" and that Tolkien represents the Sun and Moon as female and male (the reverse of Greek and Roman mythology). Doesn't this seem like it is a contradiction? If the Hobbits follow the Elves lead in referring to the Sun as She (and the Moon as he), doesn't that imply that they have learned something from the Elves of the "real state of affairs in Arda"?

Finally, they make an interesting observation about at change that they made to the text in 2004, at Christopher Tolkien's direction. Towards the end of the chapter, after the sentence that states that Bill Ferny left the room, followed by the squint-eyed southerner, there used to be another sentence stating “Harry the gatekeeper also went out just behind them.” There were originally three references to Harry at the inn, all of which Tolkien deleted. He also wrote in a note “Cut out Harry – he is unnecessary.” However, the final reference (the sentence quoted above) “somehow entered the typescript, and so the published text.” According W and C, when they discussed this with Christopher, he

Quote:
argued that it is not credible that if his father wanted to restore the motive of Harry at the inn he would have reinstated only the third reference, and not the two earlier references (in which Harry calls for relief at the gate, and Frodo sees him among the crowd) in order to explain his presence. As such the surviving sentence presented an anomaly best removed, according to the author’s clear intent


I have very mixed feelings about this, at best. On the one hand, I understand the logic of their argument. On the other hand, I have never considered it at all an anomaly that Harry was seen following Ferny and the southerner out of the room without having explained his presence previously; on the contrary, I’ve always considered it a nice touch, after our introduction to Harry’s unpleasant nature at the gate, and I miss having the reference there. Most importantly, Tolkien himself had several opportunities to correct this if he really didn’t want it there: when he reviewed the typescript; when he reviewed the galley proofs; when small corrections were made during the early printings of the first edition (as well as later on) ; and most of all when he made significant revisions for the second edition. I am not convinced that there is sufficient evidence of the “author’s intent” to justify a fairly significant removal from the text as it was published by the author, and as it stood throughout his life.

What say you?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:25 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:

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Curiously, they don't say anything about the name Bree itself, but in the Nomenclature, Tolkien states "Retain, since it was an old name, of obsolete meaning in an older language." The "Retain" is a direction to translators (which was the purpose of the Nomenclature). I presume that he is referring to an unidentified "older language" of Middle-earth, not a "real" older language. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?


Shippey does cover this in "Road to Middle Earth":

Quote:
Three miles from Worminghall and ten from Oxford the town of Brill sits on its hummock, betraying in its name a tale of ancient conquest.'Bree' means 'hill' in Welsh and Brill (from bree-hill') is therefore in a way nonsense, exactly parallel with Chetwode (or 'wood-wood') in Berkshire closeby, exactly opposite to the 'capitalised' names of The Hill, The Water or The Carrock. Tolkien borrowed the name for its faint Celtic 'style', to make subliminally the point that hobbits were immigrants too, that their land had had a history before them.


Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle Earth, p124.

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Last edited by Elentári on Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:48 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
One thing which I had never realized before reading the Companion is that the term "squint-eyed" (as in the squinted-eyed southerner) has different meanings in English English and American English. Wayne and Christina quote a reply to a letter that Christopher Tolkien made on this subject to Nancy Martsch. Speaking about his father's intention in using this term, he said:

Quote:
... the likeliest meaning, I think, is that the man didn't look straight, but obliquely, watchfully, sideways, suggesting craftiness and crookedness. [quoted in Nancy Martsch, 'The "Squint-eyed Southerner"', Beyond Bree, May 1990, p. 9]


Works for me.


I'm not sure I agree. I always connected this to the half-orc suggestion. Leaving PC aside for a moment, in JRRTs lifetime, the Japanese were referred to as "squints" and "Slant-eyes" because of the shape of their eyes. Tying this to Tolkien's own comment about the orcs being similar to the "less attractive of the Mongol features" (paraphrased from memory), and this quote
Quote:
"In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes; but it vanished at once.
"So that's where that southerner is hiding!" he thought. "He looks more than half like a goblin."


I can't help but think this is an "orcish" feature.

Incidentally, one of my favourite moments from this chapter is this little bit of misdirection:

Quote:
The man stared after the hobbits for a moment, and then he went back to his house. As soon as his back was turned, a dark figure climbed quickly in over the gate and melted into the shadows of the village street.


I'm sure I'm not the only one who took this to be a Black Rider, though its of course revealed later to be Strider.

Quote:
I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil or to one another, but one thing interested me. Please remember, said one of them, that the name Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mr. Underhill, if any name must be given. That interested me so much that I followed them here. I slipped over the gate just behind them.


A nice touch I thought.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Thanks, Elentári! Now that you mention that, I do recall it. Time to reread Road to Middle-earth!

Al, I know you have a copy of the Reader's Companion. Take a look at the full entry regarding the "squint-eyed" issue. I'm not saying you are wrong, but it would be good to have you look at the full text of what Christopher (and Wayne and Christina) said before discussing it further.

Quote:
Incidentally, one of my favourite moments from this chapter is this little bit of misdirection:

Quote:
The man stared after the hobbits for a moment, and then he went back to his house. As soon as his back was turned, a dark figure climbed quickly in over the gate and melted into the shadows of the village street.



I'm sure I'm not the only one who took this to be a Black Rider, though its of course revealed later to be Strider.


When I first started drafting my long post above, I had most of it drafted, when I stupidly lost it. I had recreate it from scratch. I thought I had recaptured all of the points that I had previously made, but it turns out that I missed one.

It was exactly this point, almost word for word. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:42 pm 
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(Without the RC before me) CT's response to Wayne and Christina indicates that 'squint' in its American sense, eyes slitted or half-closed, was completely and utterly new to him! He (and one must assume his father) understood 'squint' in its British sense, as Shakespeare and Dickens used it: cross-eyed*, and occasionally by extension not looking straight; sidelong or shifty.


For some reason the title of the Pete Townshend album comes to mind, "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes."

*The older writers usually refer to a person as 'having a squint,' ie a permanent defect, not a facial expression.


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