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Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:23 pm
bruce rerek wrote: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.
I can't image not having this or any problem writing such a huge monster.
Thanks for your observations Bruce...they add food for thought to what little I know. It is true in this case, the more I read the less I know.
Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:14 pm
I make no pretense that I am a Tolkien scholar, I jut happen to love readig his books and find deep resonances in the texts. Structural details are difficult to keep in order while a mutitude of names and events srround them. I also enjoy this exchange, for it allows voices to add to an extrordinary experience on many individual levels.
Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:33 pm
Merry wrote:I think that people who insist on only one interpretation of Tolkien do him (and themselves) a disservice.
Hear hear! Surely it's impossible to have only one interpretation of any book (or painting, film, play etc), because each individual will view it from a different standpoint according to their own experience?
Apart from setting the scene the prologue also prepares the reader to expect an epic adventure - it generates a huge sense of anticipation - you can't wait to get into it! Compare that with some novels where you struggle to like any of the characters or the author's style (at which point I usually give up and look for a different book). With the Prologue we're not just getting to know the Shire and it's place in the scheme of things - we're getting to know the voice of Tolkien, too!
Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:03 pm
Just going to toss out an idea here...
If anyone has read all of, or parts of Christopher Tolkien's 12 volume History of Middle-earth, and you catch a glimpse of this in Tolkien's letters as well...you see that Tolkien constantly revisited and reworked much of this story over and over and over again, until he got all the parts in sync. There are many, many examples of re-writes and character changes and name changes, etc., etc.
Because of all of that which is picked up graphically in HoME...I think it would be a wee bit off the mark to think that Tolkien wrote his chapters, and especially this prologue sequentially. To the contrary, it definitely looks to me that the prologue was most certainly written after the rest of the story had been settled on...sort of Tolkien thinking "How do I get the reader from the story of The Hobbit to this massive tale of the Quest for the Ring?"
Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:16 pm
Thanks all for your great insights. I felt intuitively that the prologue must have come quite late in the refining of LOTR, I find the process that the professor went through, to get this epic out into the public, endlessly fascinating.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:14 am
I tend to agree with Riv Res about when the Prologue was done--Tolkien foreshadows far too much in those few pages to have written it without knowing where his story was going, and like Bruce suggested, he needed a bridge to get his readers from The Hobbit
to LOTR. Anyway, in my own humble experience, for what it's worth, I have never written an Intro before the rest of the work. But that does not make me an authority-I only hope to aspire to Tolkien's beacon.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:32 am
I think it had to be that way. We know, for example, that Strider started out being Trotter, who was a Ranger hobbit!
He didn't turn out to be one of the Dunedain until a later revision. (And aren't we grateful for that?)
In fact, in the Tolkien archives at Marquette, one can see that handwritten version of LOTR, with 'Trotter' crossed out and 'Strider' written in. (There was a paper shortage, so Tolkien had to make due. Lucky for us: one can see the story changing right on the page.) So it would be interesting to study the manuscript for the Prologue to see how worked over it is.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:29 pm
We know, for example, that Strider started out being Trotter, who was a Ranger hobbit!
So it would be interesting to study the manuscript for the Prologue to see how worked over it is.
Yes merry, indeed it would be great to see what shapes the Prologue took before becoming what it is today. Finding that gem would be like finding a Da Vinci under another Da Vinci.
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 2:57 pm
Quite a good analogy Philipa. I rather like how he used the Dunedian as a body of stealth warriors who harrased Orcs and were intelligence gathers. If I am not mistaken the Professor also used this theme in the First Age when Beren became an outlaw with his father Barahir after the Dagor Bragollach. He and 12 faithful men harressed Morgoth from a secret lair of Tarn Aeluin. It is still moving to read how Aragorn retold the lay of Luthien to the Hobbits - only if it was fragmentary.
So shall we in honor of the 22 of September join Bilbo for 111th birthday?
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:20 pm
bruce rerek wrote:So shall we in honor of the 22 of September join Bilbo for 111th birthday?
Yes...let's discuss this in the Tolkien in General
thread shall we?
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:28 pm
In Christopher Tolkien’s The Return of the Shadow
, there is an enlightening excerpt from a letter that JRRT wrote to Christopher Bretherton in July 1964 (letter no. 257). I think it tells us a lot about Tolkien the storyteller, and I believe it gives us some insight into his motives in writing the Prologue the way he did. Take a look…
JRRT wrote:The magic ring was the one obvious thing in The Hobbit that could be connected with my mythology. To be the burden of a large story it had to be of supreme importance. I then linked it with the (originally) quite casual reference to the Necromancer, whose function was hardly more than to provide a reason for Gandalf going away and leaving Bilbo and the Dwarves to fend for themselves, which was necessary for the tale.
Christopher Tolkien writes…
The importance of The Hobbit in the history of the evolution of Middle-earth lies then, at this time, in the fact that it was published, and that a sequel to it was demanded. As a result, from the nature of The Lord of the Rings as it evolved, The Hobbit was drawn into Middle-earth – and transformed it; but as it stood in 1937 it was not part of it. Its significance for Middle-earth lies in what it would do, not in what it was.
That sheds some light…thoughts?
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:37 pm
From what I can gather from Deborah and Ivor Rodgers', JRR Tolkien and of the lecture given by Goerge Sayer in 1992, the Professor took 14 years to write the LOR and the Silmarillion. In that time he evolved his craft to become a much fuller and complete work. The ironic part was that his peers at Oxford were very disappointed in his academic output. One cannot say that he was not enthusiastic about his studies, it is my belife that he didn't want to be just a scribe or another voice to a field that had a long history of studies. His private vice, the creation of his own languages held more facination for him. He was actually living his work as a philologist.
In those 14 years the language and voice grew from a child's tale with a sprinkling of wise insights to a fully developed landscape with its own histories, languages, and larger than life characters. But let us not forget that it all started with: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. An apt analogy would be to take a folk song and place into a full orchestrated symphony.
George Sayer brought Tolkien one of the first personal tape recorders, named a ferograph, and the Professor narrated the LOR onto tape. It was fortunate that he had done so. At that point the Professor held little hope that his life work would see the light of day, and after hearing his words it gave Tolkien renewed courage that his writing was worth publishing. Humorously enough, the Professor first recorded the Lord's Prayer in Gothic to "cast out the devil that was sure to be in it since it was a machine."
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:11 am
bruce rerek wrote:Humorously enough, the Professor first recorded the Lord's Prayer in Gothic to "cast out the devil that was sure to be in it since it was a machine."
Now thats funny! What a nice glimpse into the mans personality.
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:57 pm
I love that story, too! Tolkien was this strange mixture of medieval and also seeing ahead of his time. I find such views quite compelling.
Another kind of anachronistic element of the Prologue (and the rest of LOTR) was the simple enjoyment of smoking, which is made a bit more complex by adding the historical and botanical elements to it. (I myself grow nicotiana, a pretty plant which has the added benefit of being unpalatable to the deer which roam my neighborhood in large numbers.) My modern sensibility wants to warn the young hobbits to cast aside their pipes. It seems that the only way we can make this relevant is to wink-wink about the references to 'weed', a suggestion that the Professor would have found insulting indeed!
Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:58 pm
Would anyone like to start tomorrow (Bilbo's birthday) off with the first chapter open for discussion?