From Definitions to the Divine

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From Definitions to the Divine

Post by marbretherese » Tue May 01, 2007 8:26 pm

From Definitions to the Divine

by marbretherese

To peregrinate means to travel or wander, and the peregrine is a pilgrim falcon. It is a name which is much more appropriate for Aragorn (in any form) than for the silly Pippin in LOTR.

Per Håkan Arvidsson, “The Tales of the Heir of Isildur” MA Thesis 2004
When I first read this remark, I was horrified – yet I had no evidence to back up my reaction. Why did I instinctively feel that ‘Peregrin’ would not be at all suitable as a name for Aragorn? Could I prove this without having access to The History of Middle Earth – or most of the other background to Tolkien’s mythology, such as his Guide to the Names in Lord of the Rings?

Besides, there was more to be considered: what do the names ‘Peregrin’ and ‘Aragorn’ – and the nicknames that go with them – tell us? Would Tolkien not have chosen the names of his characters to tell us something? Is Pippin truly silly? Is he fulfilling some function within the plot or the story?

In answering (or failing to answer) these questions I’ve discovered so much about Tolkien – and had such fun at the same time – that I just had to share it. So let’s continue . . .

Of ‘Peregrin’ and ‘Aragorn’

I’ll start by consulting the Oxford English Dictionary, where Tolkien worked as a lexicographer after the First World War. The Concise version says:
peregrinate: v. archaic or humorous: – travel or wander from place to place – ORIGIN from Latin peregrinat-, ‘travel abroad’

peregrine: n. a powerful falcon that breeds chiefly on mountains and coastal cliffs [falco peregrinus] adj. archaic foreign – ORIGIN ME: from L peregrinus ‘foreign’; the noun is a translation of the mod. L. taxonomic name, lit. ‘pilgrim falcon’, because falconers’ birds were caught full grown on migration, not taken from the nest.

pilgrim: n. a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons – ORIGIN from Provencal pelegrin, from Latin peregrinus :‘foreign’; related to peregrine.
‘Peregrin’ in the sense of ‘foreign’ might at first glance seem to apply equally well to Pippin or Aragorn. Pippin leaves the Shire and travels in strange lands, all the way to the Black Gate; what’s more, his journey is not only physical – in many ways he travels a very long way indeed during the course of LOTR. Aragorn on the other hand, while active throughout his Kingdom, gathering information and keeping track of Sauron’s activities, is not so much travelling as biding his time until he can claim his crown.

For Aragorn is not a foreigner (although some perceive him as such) – he is the King of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor. Even Rohan owes him some allegiance, having been gifted to Theoden’s ancestors by his own. Aragorn calls on this old alliance when, along with Legolas and Gimli, he meets the Riders of Rohan while chasing the Orcs who have abducted Merry & Pippin:
Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade Andúril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. ‘Elendil!’ he cried. ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!’ . . . Éomer stepped back and a look of awe was in his face. He cast down his proud eyes. ‘These are indeed strange days,’ he muttered. ‘Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.’

Whereupon Éomer, who is supposed to arrest any strangers he finds wandering in Rohan without King Theoden’s leave, not only invites Aragorn to explain further: he allows him and his companions to go free and gives them horses to aid their pursuit of Merry and Pippin’s abductors!

Even the Shire is part of Aragorn’s Kingdom:
There remained, of course, the ancient tradition concerning the high king at Fornost, or Norbury as they called it, away North of the Shire. But there had been no king for nearly a thousand years . . .

(LOTR, Prologue)
As for the peregrine falcon, medieval falconers called it the ‘pilgrim falcon’ because the young peregrines were caught during migration (‘on pilgrimage’) from the nesting place. In other words, captured in flight: exactly as Merry & Pippin are caught by the Uruk-Hai in the woods near Amon Hen! (Pippin could also be said to be ‘snatched’ later in the story: this time by Gandalf, who bundles him off pretty quickly to Minas Tirith after he has aroused Sauron’s interest by looking in the palantír).

The use of the word ‘pilgrimage’ in the context of Pippin’s or Aragorn’s journeys is also inappropriate, as their travels have no specific religious context; and using the word in a more general sense of a long journey or search, one could apply it to either of them.

How, then, might ‘Peregrin’ fare as a name for Aragorn? It’s an instantly recognisable English first name derived from Latin. Aragorn’s names and nicknames, however, show a stark difference in style: they are invented names, mainly Elvish, and so reflect Aragorn’s status as a King with a lineage stretching back through Tolkien’s mythology: for example, ‘Elessar’ (Elfstone), ‘Estel’ (Hope), ‘Thorongil’ (Eagle of the Star).

The intended meaning of the name ‘Aragorn’ itself – according to the Encyclopaedia of Arda – is unknown, with ‘Ara-‘ denoting ‘Lord’ or ‘King’; Tolkien apparently rejected his early idea that Aragorn’s grandmother Iorwen interpreted it as ‘kingly valour’. Either meaning would be fitting: the incomplete version conveys an air of mystery entirely in keeping with Aragorn’s true status, which is slowly revealed to the reader as the story progresses. This air of mystery – intensified by the range of names & nicknames bestowed upon him, all of which have a symbolic or superhuman quality about them – suggests a sense of detachment. Aragorn is “set apart” and defined as much by what he is not as what he is. There is a general impression of responsibility, leadership and destiny.

Even the name by which we first know Aragorn – ‘Strider’ – has no dictionary definition. There are obscure internet references to the word (a nickname for a water insect; translation of the title of a Tolstoy novel) – but to all intents and purposes it is an invention.

Its sense, however, (as opposed to its meaning) is considerable, conveying simultaneously an idea of movement and height. Moreover, associated words and phrases such as “astride”, “bestride [like a Colossus]”, “take in one’s stride”, imply a sense of confidence and competence wholly appropriate to the King, which the name ‘Trotter’ – originally used by Tolkien when he first developed this character – does not. ‘Trotter’ of course is a real English word meaning a pig’s foot, and ‘trotting’ is something a horse does. ‘Trotter’ is also a real English surname, and wholly inappropriate for a King.

So the name ‘Strider’ – bestowed on Aragorn by the Bree-folk – tells us a lot about him before we learn anything of his background or true identity. There is, incidentally, no doubt that Aragorn is the King, even if some characters don’t realise this at first – and although he doubts the wisdom of some of the choices he makes, Aragorn displays little self-doubt during the course of the book. In fact, we are told remarkably little about his feelings at all – this heightens the sense of mystery about him as he remains fairly inaccessible, a blank canvas onto which the reader can project their own thoughts about him.

Tolkien’s careful choice of words (not names in the next example) is apparent when we first meet ‘Strider’: he talks, and is described with, quite plain language. As we learn more about ‘Aragorn’ this changes to what is often referred to as Biblical language ie that of the Authorised Version of the Bible, translated into English in 1611:
Then Aragorn said: ‘The hour is come at last. Now I go to Pelargir upon Anduin, and ye shall come after me. And when all this land is clean of the servants of Sauron, I will hold the oath fulfilled, and ye shall have peace and depart for ever. For I am Elessar, Isildur’s heir of Gondor.’
And with that he bade Halbarad unfurl the great standard which he had brought; and behold! it was black,
and if there was any device upon it, it was hidden in the darkness.

LOTR, Book V Ch II
(Once Aragorn’s true self is revealed, Tolkien does not completely abandon the name ‘Strider’, however – in LOTR Book VI Ch IX we learn that Frodo has given that name to his horse!)

It’s clear that ‘Peregrin’, which Tolkien himself described as a ‘real, modern name’ (Letters, 168) simply will not do for Aragorn! The subtle meanings of the nickname ‘Strider’ emphasise the care with which Tolkien named his characters and explain the many revisions he felt obliged to make. According to Shippey, Tolkien went even further:
He thought that people could feel history in words, could recognise language ‘styles’, could extract sense (of sorts) from sound alone, could moreover make aesthetic judgements based on phonology.

The Road to Middle Earth, Ch 4
It is clear that Tolkien chose his names very precisely indeed; which is borne out when we take a look at the names and nicknames of the hobbits who set out from the Shire with the Ring.

First-names and Nicknames
In some old families . . . it was, however, the custom to give high-sounding first-names. Since most of these seem to have been drawn from legends of the past, of Men as well as Hobbits, and many while now meaningless to Hobbits closely resembled the names of Men in the Vale of Anduin, or in Dale, or in the Mark, I have turned them into those old names, largely of Frankish and Gothic origin, that are still used by us or are met in our histories.

LOTR, Appendix F
Both Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck have first-names which fall into this category, conveying the idea of nobility and lineage behind ‘Pippin’ and ‘Merry’; as reflected in the family histories of these two characters. Both the Tooks and the Brandybucks are influential families within the Shire; Pippin will one day become Thain, while Merry will inherit the title Master of Buckland.

Meriadoc was a Celtic Christian saint now celebrated as the patron saint of Camborne in Cornwall, England. Believed to have lived somewhere around the 4th to 7th centuries, he has been linked with Conan Meriadoc, who founded the house of Rohan in Brittany, France with the help of Welsh mercenaries. A later St Meriadoc, who died in 1302, is said to have lived as a hermit in Rohan. Both saints led an ascetic life and both became Bishop of Vannes. Tolkien clearly had this connection in mind when choosing ‘Meriadoc’ as a relevant name for the hobbit who serves Rohan in his story!

Logically, then, we should be able to link the name ‘Peregrin’ to the real-life position of Gondor, which David Day asserts is said to have been envisaged by Tolkien as “being . . . in a location that might be equivalent to Florence.” (Tolkien’s Ring, Ch 7). Sure enough, amongst a clutch of saints Peregrinus and Peregrine we find Saint Peregrine Laziosi, patron saint of those suffering from cancer and other serious diseases, born around 1260 in Forli, Italy – fifty miles north-east of Florence! He died in 1345, and so would have been a contemporary of the later St Meriadoc.

[A short detour here: since the 1970s, the peregrine falcon – virtually extinct in Italy for some time – has made a welcome return, overwintering in – yes – Florence. Nothing to do with Tolkien, but it fascinated me!]

Let’s take a look at Tolkien’s nickname for Meriadoc. ‘Merry’ is appropriate enough:

adj (merrier, merriest) 1. cheerful & lively – characterised by festivity 2. Brit. informal: slightly drunk PHRASES make merry, indulge in merriment DERIVATIVES merrily (adj) , merriness (noun) ORIGIN Old English myrige pleasing, delightful
Merry is indeed as cheerful and lively as his nickname suggests; he is also a born organiser, finding Frodo a new home when he sells Bag End, for example, and overseeing the move. The name gives us a sense of optimism and energy, of making the best of things, and a typically hobbit-like enjoyment of food and drink, as demonstrated in the ruins of Isengard:

‘Will you have wine or beer? There’s a barrel inside there – very passable. And this is first-rate salted pork. Or I can cut you some rashers of bacon and boil them if you like. I am sorry there is no green stuff: the deliveries have been rather interrupted in the last few days!’


The usual short form for ‘Peregrin’ is ‘Perry’, but ‘Merry & Perry’ sound like a couple of circus clowns, don’t they? Tolkien shortened ‘Peregrin’ to ‘Pippin’ or ‘Pip’. Let’s take a look first at some more definitions:

: noun (pl.perries) an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears ORIGIN Old French pere, from Latin pirum ‘pear’

pippin: noun a red & yellow dessert apple ORIGIN originally denoting a seed of a fruit: from Old French pepin

pip: nouna small hard seed in a fruit ORIGIN abbreviation of pippin
I was amazed when I first realised this connection (although I probably shouldn’t have been). Perry is essentially a cider made from pears . . . cider is more usually made from apples . . . which leads directly to Pippin/Pip! What’s more, by choosing ‘Pippin’ as the short form of ‘Peregrin’, Tolkien is giving the reader a sense of a small, rustic person – when LOTR was first published in the 1950s, ‘Pippin’ would immediately convey the idea of an apple – while ‘Pip’ carries the additional underlying meaning of something small and insignificant (eg. ‘pip-squeak’). It also implies that Pippin is at the start of his development – he arguably has less experience of life than the rest of the Fellowship.

There is, however, more to the name ‘Pippin’ than a list of dictionary definitions. Pippin (Pépin) of Landen was Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia (roughly speaking, modern Germany) at the beginning of the 7th century. So popular that he is known as ‘Saint Pippin’ (despite never having been canonised), his deeds are recorded in the Chronicle of Fredegar , which recounts the events of Frankish Gaul at that time. ‘Fredegar’ is, of course, the real first name of the hobbits’ friend ‘Fatty’ Bolger, who remains in the Shire to look after things while the others are away.

Pippin of Landen was also the grandfather of Charlemagne, first ruler of what is now referred to as the Holy Roman Empire. According to David Day:
. . . it seemed to [Tolkien], Aragorn’s great task of forging the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor from the ruins of the ancient Dúnedain empire after more than a millennium of barbarian chaos was historically parallel to Charlemagne’s task of creating the Holy Roman Empire from the ruins of the ancient Roman empire.

Tolkien’s Ring, Ch 7
The name ‘Pippin’, therefore, can be historically linked to a comparison with Gondor! The analogy is not exact – Tolkien saw Gondor at the time of the War of the Ring as ‘a kind of proud, venerable, but increasingly impotent Byzantium’ (Letters, 131), which was the Orthodox half of the split within the Catholic world – but Tolkien has chosen ‘Pippin’ as carefully as he chose ‘Meriadoc’.

There is even a Saint Meredicus who was known as ‘Saint Merry’. Born in Autun, in modern day France, he was a Benedictine monk and contemporary of Pippin of Landen. Later in life he went to Paris with one of his disciples, where a church – St Merri – was built after his death at the start of the 7th century on the site of his cell (near what is now the Place Georges Pompidou). The name of the disciple? Saint Frou – also known as Frodulf.

The name of Sam Gamgee isn’t as straightforward as it first appears, either. He’s not called after a saint, because, as Tolkien himself explains:
‘Sam’ by the way is an abbreviation not of ‘Samuel’ but of ‘Samwise’ (the Old E. for Half-wit)

Letters, 72
This abbreviation works on several levels. When we first meet Sam, we take his name and character at face value: an ordinary fellow with what we assume to be a familiar English nickname, a faithful retainer to Frodo. Sam is steady, plain-speaking and straightforward; not particularly distinguished, although not exactly half-witted. In Ring of Words the authors explain that there is often a mismatch between a word’s obvious form and its established meaning:
Often there is a sense of humour to be found in such a mismatch . . . creatively, Tolkien would sometimes use a word in its ‘apparent’ sense, using the context to make this meaning so obvious that its more established meaning could be ignored . . . in this way he subverts the ‘etymological fallacy’ by creating a context in which the ‘wrong’ explanation of a word’s form turns out actually to be the ‘true’ one.

Ring of Words, Part 2
For Sam IS wise – he recognises his limitations and his role in the grand scheme of things; never more so than when tempted to use the Ring to rescue Frodo from the Tower of Cirith Ungol:
In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

This tells us all we need to know about Sam – ordinary and yet not (like his nickname), unambitious yet capable of great strength and heroism. In the end, it is Sam – not Frodo – who resists the lure of the Ring. As Tolkien said:
My “Sam Gamgee” is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself.

Biography Ch 8
Sam returns from Mordor to the Shire to marry his sweetheart Rosie Cotton. ‘Rosie’ is another typically English first-name, the ‘English Rose’ being the archetypal girl-next-door. ‘Gamgee’ means ‘cotton wool’ and is a word with which Tolkien was familiar in his childhood, so he connected the families of Cotton and Gamgee in his story(Letters, 184) . Together they raise a large family and Sam becomes Mayor of the Shire. As a Ring-bearer, however, Sam receives the final accolade of a passage to the Grey Havens – Tolkien’s fitting tribute to the ‘ordinary’ troops of the First World War.

Frodo, on the other hand, has no nickname. This immediately distinguishes him from the other three hobbits – do they regard him as too serious or too senior to nickname him? He is the most restrained of the four and not quite one of the crowd. Just as Aragorn’s names set him apart and imply a sense of detachment, so does Frodo’s first name and his lack of nickname.

Originally the ‘Frodo’ character was called ‘Bingo’, after a family of toy koala bears owned by Tolkien’s children. ‘Bingo’ is also PG Wodehouse’s name for Bertie’s hapless chum in the Jeeves & Wooster novels of the 1920s and 30s. The word is more familiar to us nowadays as the popular game. Tolkien was no ivory-tower academic – a family man, he was keenly aware (if not always approving) of the cultural influences surrounding him, as reflected particularly in his own paintings and drawings; as the plot of LOTR grew darker, he rejected the name ‘Bingo’ in favour of ‘Frodo’, a real name, but one which has no modern English connotations at all; it remains firmly rooted in myth as befits a hero on a quest (or in this case an anti-quest):
Frodo is a real name from the Germanic tradition. Its Old English form was Fróda. Its obvious connexion is with the old word Fród meaning etymologically ‘wise by experience’, but it had mythological connexions with legends of the Golden Age in the North . . .

Letters, 168
A mythical name, then, for the leader of the hobbits; Frodo does indeed become ‘wise by experience’ during the course of LOTR, but he is arguably wiser than his companions to begin with. Bilbo chooses him as his heir, and brings him to live at Bag End; and Gandalf persuades Bilbo to leave the Ring with him. Frodo’s behaviour after that point emphasises the differences between himself and the other three hobbits, particularly as the Ring begins to affect him:
. . . more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. Merry and Pippin suspected that he visited the Elves at times, as Bilbo had done.

This sense of “otherness” intensifies throughout the story. As the Ring takes a hold of Frodo we are told less and less about his inner feelings; by the time we reach Mount Doom we are seeing the action through Sam’s eyes. In this way Tolkien conveys not only a sense of detachment but also compulsion surrounding Frodo.

As we have seen, the names and nicknames of the four hobbits are carefully chosen not only to give the reader clues to their character; they encourage us to identify with them and in this way Tolkien draws us into the story. We travel to Mordor with Frodo and Sam; Merry takes us to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields with Theoden and the Riders of Rohan; and Pippin leads us to Minas Tirith, in the service of he Steward of the King of Gondor. Each hobbit has a specific part to play in the telling of the story, as well as within the tale itself; which seems an appropriate time to consider: is Pippin truly silly, or is he fulfilling a specific function?

“Fool of a Took!”

It’s difficult for a committed Pippin fan like me to admit, but Pippin certainly does some silly things during the course of LOTR. He draws unwelcome attention to the hobbits at the Prancing Pony; he drops a stone down the well in Moria and (by implication) arouses the Balrog; he looks in the palantír and draws Sauron’s attention to Isengard. Each of these actions, however, drives the plot, most significantly in taking Gandalf to Minas Tirith:

Maybe, I have been saved by this hobbit from a grave blunder. I had considered whether or not to probe this Stone myself . . . I am not ready for such a trial . . . That dark mind will be filled now with the voice and face of the hobbit and with expectation: it may take some time before he learns his error. We must snatch that time . . . I will ride ahead at once with Peregrin Took.


We must not forget that when Pippin leaves the Shire, he is in effect an adolescent in the process of growing up, the youngest of the hobbits:
The travellers hung up their cloaks, and piled their packs on the floor. Merry led them down the passage and threw open a door at the far end. Firelight came out, and a puff of steam.
‘A bath!’ cried Pippin. ‘O blessed Meriadoc!’
‘Which order shall we go in?’ said Frodo. ‘Eldest first, or quickest first? You’ll be last either way, Master Peregrin!’

LOTR, Book I Ch V
Frodo then learns that the other three hobbits have discovered that he intends to take the Ring to Rivendell and are determined to go with him. Unbeknown to him, Merry has known about the Ring for years; Sam has quietly been finding out about Frodo’s plans. Pippin is very much the junior member of the party; he certainly has the most questions:
Merry got down and unlocked the gate, and when they had all passed through he pushed it to again. It shut with a clang, and the lock clicked. The sound was ominous.
‘There!’ said Merry. ‘You have left the Shire, and are now outside, and on the edge of the Old Forest.’
‘Are the stories about it true?’ asked Pippin.

LOTR Book I Ch V
Merry then explains to Pippin (and the reader) the stories about the Old Forest; and so we first learn about the world beyond the Shire through Pippin’s eyes.

Innocent, impulsive and enthusiastic, Pippin is brave enough to set out for Rivendell and volunteer for the Fellowship; he experiences the loss of Gandalf in Moria and Boromir at Amon Hen; he is captured by the Uruk-Hai and sees the Ents destroy Isengard, where he (alone of the hobbits) experiences the probing of Sauron via the palantir. By the time he arrives at Minas Tirith he is well able to offer a dignified response to Denethor’s goading about the circumstances surrounding Boromir’s death:
Then Pippin looked the old man in the eye, for pride stirred strangely within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in that cold voice. ‘Little service, no doubt, will so great a lord of Men think to find in a hobbit, a halfling from the northern Shire; yet such as it is, I will offer it, in payment of my debt.’

LOTR Book V Ch I
This is not the language of a silly character, despite the impulsiveness of the action; as in many relationships, Pippin only comes into his own when he is separated from Merry. Without his friend to look after him, he badgers Gandalf with questions all the way to Minas Tirith, where he is caught up in the siege and Denethor’s attempt to burn Faramir. He raises the alarm, and after the battle of Pelennor Fields brings Merry to the Houses of Healing. It is Pippin – not Merry – who goes on to the Black Gate. By the time he returns to the Shire, the ‘pip’ has become Peregrin Took, Knight of the City of Gondor, ready to take on Sharkey’s gang and gather reinforcements for the Scouring of the Shire:
. . . the silver and sable of Gondor gleamed on him as he rode forward. “I am a messenger of the King . . . You are a ruffian and a fool. Down on your knees in the road and ask pardon, or I will set this troll’s bane on you!’


Having explored the background to the names and nicknames of Pippin, Aragorn and the other hobbits of the Fellowship, I hope I have amply demonstrated that Tolkien settled on the final names of his characters with great care. I say ‘settled’ because of course LOTR was a work in progress for nearly seventeen years and the characters – along with their names – underwent many revisions as the story unfolded in Tolkien’s imagination. This is certainly true of Frodo, and particularly of Aragorn:
In the first drafts Tolkien described this person as ‘a queer-looking brown-faced hobbit’, and named him Trotter.’ Later he was to be recast as a man of heroic stature, the king who gives the third volume of the book its title; but as yet Tolkien had no more idea than the hobbits who he was.

Biography, Part 5 Ch II

Tolkien’s perfectionism and attention to detail underpins not only LOTR but the entire mythology which gives it such depth:
The fact is that the ancient languages came first . . . he wrote the fiction to present the languages, and he did that because he loved them and thought them intrinsically beautiful. Maps, names and languages came before plot. Elaborating them was in a sense Tolkien’s way of building up enough steam to get rolling; but they had also in a sense provided the motive to want to. They were ‘inspiration’ and ‘invention’ at once, or perhaps more accurately, by turns.

The Road to Middle Earth, Ch 4
JRR Tolkien held a First Class Honours degree in English Language and Literature from Exeter College, Oxford; his first job was Assistant Lexicographer with the New Oxford English Dictionary; he became Reader of English Language and then Professor of English at Leeds University, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and then Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford; and he based an entire mythology on languages he invented himself. In LOTR every element has its place and purpose; to suggest otherwise is to deny his genius.


LOTR: Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
Definitions from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th edition, revised 2006)
Biography: JRR Tolkien – A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter(Harper Collins, 1977)
Letters: The Letters of JRR Tolkien, ed Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (Harper Collins, 1981)
The Road to Middle Earth: The Road to Middle Earth, Tom Shippey, (Harper Collins,1982, revised 2005)
Tolkien’s Ring: Tolkien’s Ring, David Day (Pavilion Books, 2001)
Ring of Words: The Ring of Words – Tolkien and the English Dictionary, Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner (Oxford University Press, 2006)
Eyewitness Travel Guide to Paris (Dorling Kindersley, 2006)

Internet Sources:
Encyclopaedia of Arda:
St Patrick Catholic Church, Washington DC:
Camborne Parish Church:
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."

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Post by Merry » Wed May 02, 2007 5:37 am

Wow! What a great piece of scholarship fell into our site today! marbretherese, thank you. I'll need to read this again to reply more substantively, but already this has deepened my appreciation of LOTR once again. These are just the types of associations that Tolkien's specialized education would have prepared him to make. And who knew about those saints?

Well done indeed!
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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Post by Lindariel » Wed May 02, 2007 2:06 pm

Thank you so much, marbretherese, this is just wonderful! Like Merry, I will need to read this through several times to fully appreciate your scholarship, but already you have given a great deal of food for thought. Congratulations on a terrific essay!
Lindariel Image

“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Post by Iolanthe » Wed May 02, 2007 4:00 pm

:clapping: I had a sneak preview of this and it's fascinating, isn't it!! I really enjoyed reading it. Those connections with the Hobbit's names gave me a lot to think about! I think Tolkien must have allowed himself some quiet academic smiles while he came up with all these names :lol: . Of course, because they are real names, not Elvish he could really play around.

I'm on holiday from tomorrow for a week and I'm going to miss a lot of the discussion :( . I shall have to put in my tuppence worth when I get back!!!!
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Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by marbretherese » Wed May 02, 2007 4:02 pm

thanks, both of you - I loved researching it ! At times I felt more like a detective than anything else - I look forward to reading your comments in due course!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."

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Post by Riv Res » Thu May 03, 2007 8:24 pm

I just took the itme to read through your work marbretherese and find it well thought through and deftly written. As with all things written by Tolkien, it takes much research to sort things out and you have done so in excellent fashion. I positively LOVE the migration of names throughout Tolkien's writing and you have made things so much easier with this.

Hats off to you! :D

ps: Didn't Tolkien first and foremost assign the name of Aragorn to Gandalf's horse before he settled on Shadowfax? Glad he made the change. :wink:

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Post by marbretherese » Wed May 23, 2007 1:30 pm

Thanks for your comments, Riv! (I thought I had replied to your post already and have only just realised that I didn't :oops: ).
Didn't Tolkien first and foremost assign the name of Aragorn to Gandalf's horse before he settled on Shadowfax? Glad he made the change
I didn't know this, but I wouldn't be surprised at all. I suspect he swapped names around quite a lot - I suppose the downside of his being a wordsmith is that he had so many options to choose from, which contributed to all those revisions!!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."

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Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Post by Iolanthe » Sat May 26, 2007 7:45 pm

Yes indeed. I'm reading through the first part of the Lost Tales and the constantly evolving names makes my head spin. I have to keep referring to the footnotes (which are invaluable) to see the paths the names go through. They change within the Tales themselves, not just afterwards. How Christopher Tolkien made his way through it all and decided on his editorial choices is beyond me. He must be a Valar.

I've just read through your essay again, mabreterese, with just as much enjoyment as before!
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by marbretherese » Sun May 27, 2007 5:01 pm

I'm glad it stands up to re-reading. Must do that myself sometime, I've tended to stay away from it recently, as for so long I was far too close to it!! :)
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."

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