Prologue

A chapter by chapter as well as general discussion of Tolkien's masterpiece
Philipa
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Re: The Prologue

Postby Philipa » Sun Sep 18, 2005 4:02 pm

kathie ny wrote:Guilty! I skipped the prologue too! I know what I will be doing later today!


Excellent Kathy...we are planning a chapter by chapter book club soon. You will be well prepared. :wink: :D
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Sep 18, 2005 4:04 pm

Mithrandir wrote:I guess to discuss Tolkien, we have no choice but to place him in his time and also react to him based on our own life experiences. I just hope we have no “allegory wars” at MeJ and can accept what each person experiences when reading the text.

You're right, Mithrandir and it will be fascinating hearing everyones viewpoints here.

I also feel huge nostalgia for a bygone pre-industrialised age when I read the prologue. It's a world that we want to see preserved as the story unfolds and darkness encroaches on it. It's why the Scouring of the Shire at the end is so painful. We don't want anything there to be lost or changed and Tolkien sets this up in the prologue for us. We know what's at stake here. And as Riv has said, it's a shock when this cosy world that he's built up for us is suddenly invaded at the start of the book by the Black Riders and Gandalf's terrible revelations about Bilbo's Ring.
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Postby Merry » Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:48 pm

I knew that this day would come, but I'm sorry to be on the second page of this thread, because now we won't as often see the lovely drawing of the White Tree!

Mithrandir, your comment about 'allegory wars' is interesting--it sounds like you are a veteran of such wars! It's interesting, too, since Tolkien repudiated allegorical interpretations.

I think that people who insist on only one interpretation of Tolkien do him (and themselves) a disservice. It is clear from his letters that he was aware of and aiming for a story that functions on many different levels. I've never had any problem with someone saying, oh, look, here's another layer of meaning. The problems I have are usually with people saying, oh, no, that couldn't possibly have been one of the things he meant. Tolkien found a story that could include all of his loves.

I agree with everything that has been posted here about the prologue. And I think that there are a few other layers as well!
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Postby Philipa » Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:58 pm

I was doing some thinking today about the prologue and Tolkien setting the scene. He does give us the idyllic place, the Shire, and lays the foundation for a people not prone to war or conflicts among themselves.

But then he tells us the Hobbit’s involvement in the last war in the shire (S.R. 1147) called the Battle of Greenfields against marauding Orcs. He also writes:

Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt or to kill; and they were, perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least because they could, when put to it, do without them, and could survive rough handling by grief, foe or weather in a way that astonished those who did not know them well and looked no further than their bellies and their well-fed faces.


So, why are we are surprised when Frodo takes up the call (granted anyone would balk at that job) and does the only thing he knows how and that is to take the situation upon himself to complete his task.

Was Tolkien inadvertently setting the stage for another important fact, which was Frodo was indeed up to the task at hand? Perhaps he was made of stronger stuff then we thought.

Just my thoughts after re-reading the prologue.
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:58 pm

Just to inpsire Merry and everyone else...here you go...


Image
Becky Carter-Hitchin
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:03 pm

Oh, thanks, RR! Isn't that lovely? I think Tolkien would have loved that stylized tree.

And now I apologize for being off topic. I will slink over to the art threads.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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and he shall dwell among you
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Postby Mithrandir » Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:04 am

Iolanthe
“I also feel huge nostalgia for a bygone pre-industrialized age when I read the prologue.”
I do too, but only in an idealized way. After having milked cows … I just don’t want to go back. :wink:

Philipa
“…They were, … difficult to daunt or to kill; when put to it, … could survive rough handling … in a way that astonished those who did not know them well… “
I remember that passage. (flips through Prologue) This was wonderful foreshadowing. Of course, since he already had meditated for years on sections of the Silmarillian, Tolkien was preparing us well for the journey. Still, such a little crumb of an observation, yet it gets to the heart of his Hobbit-characters. You can easily jump from that passage to the climb up Mt. Doom or to Merry and Pippin sitting on top of Saruman’s soggy supplies. (While taking a wee bit of the weed…) What a master. :!:

I have discovered Emoticons. Woe to all of you. :(
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Postby bruce rerek » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:19 am

What strikes me most about the Hobbits is that they are late comers to a very long and complicated history of struggles and conflicts of people and beings they only know in song and legend. FOr most Hobbits, life is about good tilled earth, an ale, tending to the hearth and kin. Do stern heros and wielders of power and might come from such agarian folk? Indeed, they do, and only one wizard knows enough to place a great deal of trust in one family.
But his isn't the power of swords and spells, it is the very human qualities of love. compasion, loyalty that is coupled to a clever wit and quick mind. Above all, this single purposed focus to see through what they have commited themselves to do. I name this a very true form of authentic existence; that what we know we are called to do, what has brought us to a given moment is propelling us along the way of a unique life.
I submit to you that not only did the Professor write his tale but also challenged the conventional thinking of what it means to be the hero of one's tale.
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Bruce
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Postby Merry » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:30 am

Yes! It's a great irony: the power of the powerless.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Postby Riv Res » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:52 am

bruce rerek wrote:But his isn't the power of swords and spells, it is the very human qualities of love. compasion, loyalty that is coupled to a clever wit and quick mind. Above all, this single purposed focus to see through what they have commited themselves to do. I name this a very true form of authentic existence; that what we know we are called to do, what has brought us to a given moment is propelling us along the way of a unique life.
I submit to you that not only did the Professor write his tale but also challenged the conventional thinking of what it means to be the hero of one's tale.


Compelling thoughts Bruce. I do think that the innate quality of The Lord of the Rings, that first drew me to the story and has kept me coming back all these years is the true depth and concept of 'fellowship' that Tolkien built into this tale. It starts, IMHO, in The Hobbit with Bilbo and Thorin and company...but reaches its zenith in the 'Fellowship' of the Ring.

I am also struck by your concept that Tolkien very early on laid a foundation that the Hobbit character was exemplified not only in the 'clever wit and quick mind', but far more importantly in 'this single purposed focus to see through what they have commited themselves to do.'

I think you've hit the nail on the head my friend.
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Postby Chrissiejane » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:02 am

I have never been clear about when JRRT actually wrote down this prologue....in relation to his other works and in relation to the rest of LOTR. Can some-one enlighten me?
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Postby Philipa » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:46 pm

I'm going to guess unless someone knows the answer to your question chrissiejane. In the Forward he starts by writing about how LoTR came to be. I won't paraphrase here but there is a passage that may shed some light as to the time frame.

After discussing the idea of giving up publishing the Sil...

When those whose advice and opinion I sought corrected little hope to no hope, I went back to the sequel, encouraged by requests from readers for more information concerning Hobbits and their adventures.


We know The Hobbit was published in 1937 and FoTR was published in 1954 but was completed in 1949.

I do not know if the Prologue was written before Tolkien had started writing down LoTR or not. We have to remember this guy was writing this stuff way before that and he could very well have written the Forward or something like that while writing The Hobbit.
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bruce rerek
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Postby bruce rerek » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:11 pm

Dear Chrissiejane,
The Prolouge functions as an overview of both a history and of a bridge between the three ages of middle Earth. The Professor wanted his readers to understand not only what Hobbits were and where they came from, but also thier relation to the ongoing struggles between the forces of Sauron and those of the Free Men of the West. The voice of this narrative is none other than Frodo Baggins, who was a person of letters and as we shall see, had learned a significant amount of Elvish lore before setting out on the Quest as a Ring Bearer.
There are many clues within this passage that allows a reader to link significant events to the ongoing quest. One of the most significant is the overview of the Hobbit narrative and the lore of the One Ring. A very important detail is given when Frodo tells this tale; had Bilbo wrote this it would be very different account. According to Frodo, when Bilbo first gained possesion of the One Ring, it had immediately started to work its ill effects on him. He lied to Gandalf and told different accounts of how this magic ring came to him. Why is important? It clearly delayed the destruction of Sauron and exempted Bilbo as the ring bearer to see to its destruction. He kept this to himself for many many years until his 111th Birthday (September 22). More significantly the One Ring snared another Ring Bearer to its will, and as we have seen the only balm that could heal such wounds suffered under its possesion was to be found over the seas and into the west.
Listen the Howard Shore's theme for the One Ring and how he captures its haunting character. This evil could do nothing else but ill, and as much as Bilbo and Frodo were heroic, only through the eucastrophy could the dreadful effects of being its bearer be undone.
I look forward to reading other important clues from our group. BTW, thank Riv, one of the virtues of the empty nest is one's reading time is one's own again.
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Postby Philipa » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:22 pm

I do have a question for you Bruce (excuse my ingnorance here) but why would Frodo write his name in the third person.

After his return to his home he never spoke of it again to anyone, save Gandalf and Frodo; and no one else in the Shire knew of its existence, or so he believed. Only Frodo did he show the acount of his Journey that he was writing.


I suppose it could be his narritive style. It had me confused. :roll:
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Postby bruce rerek » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:10 pm

It may well be that I could be mistaken. Changing voice in a narrative is a tricky business, but I rather suspect if the Red Book was penned by two hands, it has to be one or the other. The overarching truth is that the Professor's pen did all the work and the details are there for us, the readers to find the details that make this text much more meanigful.
I recall that Tolkien had a nettlesome time revising dates to match particular seasons such as the soltices and other events as when a particular star group could be seen in the sky.
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Bruce

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Believe and you will find your way

Mornie alantie

a promise lives within you now


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