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Old 07-26-2004, 07:33 PM   #361
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Boots April is the cruelest month

Child, fascinating that Tolkien mentions the theme of death in your 1958 letter, for he does as well in the letter I am thinking of.

Tolkien uses the word 'allegory' in that letter.

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Old 07-28-2004, 12:36 AM   #362
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She's got it! By Jove, she's got it. (At least I think she does....)

Try again! How about Letter 185, to Joanna de Bortadano in April 1956:

Quote:
Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for Domination).
And all that time, he told us it wasn't an allegory!

Later in the same letter, he discusses the theme of Death, implicitly contradicting his initial statement:

Quote:
I do not think that even Power or domination is the real centre of my story.... The real theme for me is about something much more permanent and difficult: Death and Immortality: the mystery of the love of the world in the hearts of a race 'doomed' to leave and seemingly lose it; the anguish in the hearts of a race 'doomed' not to leave it, until its whole evil-aroused story is complete.
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Old 07-28-2004, 07:46 AM   #363
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Boots The (spring) rain falls mainly on the plain

In the words of an ancient dialect, "Right on" Mistress Cami!

The fact that we have had some rather long discussions here about allegory and applicability had absolutely nothing to do with my chosing that letter, let me assure you.

Your choice now.
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Old 08-04-2004, 09:00 AM   #364
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Thank you, Mistress Bethberry. Sorry for the delay.

In the year 1934, Tolkien published a paper that is regarded as "required reading" for anyone who wants to understand the regional variations of fourteenth-century English. What specific piece of fourteenth-century literature does this study focus on?
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Old 08-04-2004, 09:08 AM   #365
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Pipe Northernisms!

Chaucer, certainly. Reeve's Tale, methinks. A rare case of a philology in-joke.
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Old 08-04-2004, 09:16 AM   #366
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Thank you, Master Rimbaud. You are indeed fast! The thread is yours.
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Old 08-04-2004, 09:54 AM   #367
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Pipe *bows*

Thank'ee. But eleven years earlier, what problems did JRRT discern with feline fiddle playing?
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Old 08-04-2004, 03:22 PM   #368
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He thought that the poem "Hey diddle diddle / The cat played a fiddle" made no sense, and that is was a fragment of a longer, now lost poem with a full narrative. He set out to 'recreate' the lost poem, and it appears in its full form when Frodo (?) sings it at the Prancing Pony.

?????????????
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Old 08-05-2004, 01:31 AM   #369
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Pipe Close enough!

Yep, 1923 saw him write The Cat and the Fiddle: A Nursery Rhyme Undone and its Scandalous Secret Unlocked, referring to its 'seeming' nonsense. If you read the piece, you'll find the dashing Professor creating a context for the work. Good work and the floor is yours, sir.
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Old 08-05-2004, 04:27 AM   #370
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All right. . .this will either be painfully easy or ridiculously difficult. I'm not very good at these kinds of games. But here goes:

To which Old English poem do we owe the creation of Earendil (and, subsequently, the creation of Middle-Earth)?
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Old 08-05-2004, 04:35 AM   #371
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Silmaril

That was Cynewulf's Crist, a group of Anglo-Saxon religious poems.
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Old 08-05-2004, 05:47 AM   #372
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Hmmmm. . .clearly I am an utter noob. That took you all of 8 minutes Esty! So I guess that means it's your turn.

Special bonus mark, though, if anyone can give me the specific line that sparked Tolkien's imagination and got the Elven-ball rolling.
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Old 08-05-2004, 05:56 AM   #373
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Quote:
Eala Earendel engla beorhtast
ofer middengeard monnum sended.
It's not what you know, but whether you know where to find the information, right?! I have a well-stocked bookshelf right next to my computer. And part of it is the chance of being online at the right moment - if chance it be...

Now, to find a new question - a more difficult task at times! I'll edit it into this post shortly.

--> We've probably all cringed at Tolkien's first choice of a name for Frodo - Bingo! He had a reason for using it though, one that was not an isolated case in his stories. Where did that name originate?

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Old 08-05-2004, 06:07 AM   #374
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All right, all right, I know when I'm licked. The bonus mark goes to Esty too. At least this time it took you 9 minutes.

(But can you give the Modern English translation of the lines? No, never mind -- like I said, I know when I'm licked. *Fordim does obeisance to Esty* I'm not worthy; I'm not worthy.)
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Old 08-05-2004, 06:11 AM   #375
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Silmaril î - New question above

Your wish is my command!
Quote:
Hail Earendel brightest of angels
above the middle-earth sent unto men.
Oh, and a special thanks to Humphrey Carpenter for not only a well-written biography, but also a pretty good index...
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Old 08-10-2004, 12:07 AM   #376
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Quote:
--> We've probably all cringed at Tolkien's first choice of a name for Frodo - Bingo! He had a reason for using it though, one that was not an isolated case in his stories. Where did that name originate?
Esty - Wasn't Bingo the name of one of his son's toy bears? And there are other characters that took their origin this way. Tom Bombadil was orginally based on a Dutch doll that belonged to Michael Tolkien. And the dog Rover who went on adventures in Roverandum took its origin from the toy that Tolkien's young son Michael lost on the beach. In fact, the tale was written to console Michael for his loss.
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Old 08-10-2004, 03:22 AM   #377
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You're right, Child! As a matter of fact, according to HoME6, it was
Quote:
the name of a family of toy koala bears owned by his children, 'The Bingos'.
We owe a great debt to the Tolkien children and their toys for his inspiration, but I am very glad that this particular name was changed!
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Old 08-12-2004, 10:23 PM   #378
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Silmaril

Your turn, Child...
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Old 08-12-2004, 11:09 PM   #379
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Who was Clyde Kilby and how did he try to help Tolkien?

Bonus Points (not required but kind of interesting): What does "contrasistency" mean?
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Old 08-22-2004, 10:12 AM   #380
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Any takers?

I think many of the regulars of this thread are off on vacation. Here is a hint: try an internet search with the man's name and the term "Silmarillion". (There is also a brief reference in Carpenter, but it's actually something that goes beyond that.)
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Old 08-22-2004, 11:27 AM   #381
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I had already worked out my answer but not had a chance to post it!

I think that Kilby (in his book Tolkien and the Silmarillion) tried to get the message out that there was more to ME than the two books published in Tolkien's life. He tried to promote the Sil to people as an important work in its own right; even the more 'important' work in terms of Tolkien's total vision.

He also spent some time at Tolkien's in the summer of '66 and I think that he did some gardening and tidying up in Tolkien's notoriously messy study! In particular, I think that he tried to help the professor get some of his Sil papers in order.

As to "contrasistency" -- it was a word coined by Tolkien himself which means being consistent "at the time of writing", by which he meant that it was more important to make sure that each work about ME was consistent within and to itself rather than trying to ensure that the whole corpus of works were in exact accord at all times.
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Old 08-24-2004, 11:46 PM   #382
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Thumbs up

Master Fordim,

Thank you. The floor is yours.

I find some of Kilby's reflections on Tolkien quite intriguing. His book was published before the Letters and Carpenter's study, but it is filled with many allusions to the "Catholic" underpinning of LotR, or at least how Tolkien regarde that underpinning by 1966. At the time I read it, I found it these comments very suggestive, especially since no one had put these things in print before. A year or so later, when the Letters came out, there was a lot more of this type of thing revealed.

Please do check your box for two pms. I have a slightly different angle on "contrasistency" and wanted to check with you....

~Child/Cami
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Old 08-25-2004, 10:39 AM   #383
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Me Bad. I could have sworn that “contrasistency” was a word of Tolkien’s own, but I was apparently wrong. Cami sent me the following via PM but I think it deserves to be posted here. It is from the Prologue to Kilby’s Tolkien and the Silmarillion:

Quote:
I felt that Tolkien was like an iceberg, something to be reckoned with above water in both its brilliance and mass and yet with much more below the surface. In his presence one was aware of a single totality but equally aware at various levels of a kind of consistent inconsistency that was both native -- perhaps his genius-- and developed, almost deliberate, even enjoyed. The word, if there were one, might be "contrasistency." If my account of him is sketchy and is itself inconsistent, it has the virtue of reflecting my real impression of the man.
Blame my increasingly faulty (near-hallucinatory, as it turns out) imagination on my own definition of the term. As to the idea of being consistent “at the time of writing”…well, it’s not “constrasistency” but I’m still sure that I read that somewhere about Tolkien… Probably best to assume I got that wrong, too, however (until, that is, I can track down the source or somebody more learnéd than I does it for me *note to self: contact davem*

But on with the game!

What did Tolkien have in common with Ava Gardner? (Again, painfully easy, but I’m still reeling with shame.)
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Old 08-26-2004, 02:19 AM   #384
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Neither had heard of the other before! Tolkien wrote to his son Michael about their meeting in Letter 267, describing the film star as "a pleasant young woman", "well but quietly dressed, easy and agreeable", with whom he got on well. Professor Robert Graves introduced them to each other, and only when JRRT was told of her fame did he realize that "the press of pressmen and storm of flash-bulbs on the steps of the Schools were not directed at Graves (and cert. not at me) but at her..."
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:50 AM   #385
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Thank you Esty for taking a few hours to get the answer this time!

That meeting is my single favourite anecdote about Professor Tolkien. I would give a lot to be able to go back and watch that moment unfold. The sight alone of Ava Gardner (*drool*) standing next to JRRT would be worth it! I wonder what on earth (or in Middle-Earth) they talked about??

At any event -- the floor, she is yours Estelyn.
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Old 08-27-2004, 02:44 AM   #386
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But what would I do with another floor, Fordim? I already have one! (Several, as a matter of fact... )

New question: One of the persons closely connected with Tolkien's literary career was knighted. Who was it?
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'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:10 AM   #387
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His publisher -- Sir Stanley Unwin!
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:19 AM   #388
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
An answer that's both fast and correct, Fordim - fitting to one who now has the fame of Frodo! Congratulations!
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Old 08-27-2004, 05:46 AM   #389
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All right, this is as tough a question as I am capable of. Which means it will probably take Esty all of 15 minutes to get it. *sigh*


What is the connection between the following poem and Tolkien's reputation as a writer?

Doom is dark and deeper than any sea-dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud-soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.

There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.

Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger's leap at corner;
Protect his house,
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.
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Old 08-31-2004, 07:18 AM   #390
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Bump

Herm Hoom Baroom, was this too obscure? Unfair? Would a hint be appropriate?

The poem itself is not by Tolkien, but by a famous contemporary of his.
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Old 08-31-2004, 07:40 AM   #391
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Master Fordim,

I was just about to pop onto this thread and beg you for a hint. I am lost in the dark.....

~Cami
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Old 08-31-2004, 07:58 AM   #392
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Boots The Master's Voice

The poem is W.H. Auden's translation of the Old English poem, The Wanderer, which Tolkien would have taught Auden. Auden studied Old English under Tolkien. I believe he said that hearing Tolkien read Beowulf in class, one heard Gandalf speaking.

Auden was regarded during his lifetime as the greatest living English poet. There is much else that can be said of the poem, but I offer this token for now in answer to Fordim's challenge.

EDIT: I have not read Auden's biography, but I found this passage on the Net from J.D. McClatchy, about Auden. Wouldn't it be intriguing if this referred to Tolkien? Does it, Fordim?

Quote:
When he arrived at Oxford as an undergraduate, W. H. Auden went to see his tutor in literature, who asked the young man what he meant to do in
later life. "I am going to be a poet," Auden answered. "Ah, yes," replied
the tutor, and began a small lecture on verse exercises improving one's
prose. Auden scowled. "You don't understand at all," he interrupted. "I mean
a great poet."
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Old 08-31-2004, 08:18 AM   #393
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Well, Bethberry, that is a very good answer, and I shall accept it, but you missed the crucial component when you did not address the initial question:

Quote:
What is the connection between the following poem and Tolkien's reputation as a writer?
The answer being, of course, that Auden was among the very first critics to write glowing reviews of The Lord of the Rings. He was also, as an interesting tidbit, the keynote speaker at the first meeting of the Tolkien Society in 1966. The text of his speech has been reprinted, but darned if I can remember the citation at the moment. It's very interesting though!

I doubt very much that the tutor spoken of in the bio was Tolkien, but let's pretend that he was, just because it would be so good!

Sidebar: one of my now-retired colleagues did his undergraduate work at Oxford where he took Tolkien's Beowulf seminar in the winter of 1955. Needless to say, I have plied him with many a drink for interesting stories of the man himself, but all I ever got was that if the students did not feel like working that day, all they had to do was ask the Professor a question about a particularly obscure Anglo-Saxon word, and he would go off on an hour long tangent about its etymology, derivatives and connections to other words in different languages. One other interesting thing is that at the time, none of the students even knew that he had published LotR that very year (!) and only one or two of them had heard that he had published "a book for children some time ago".
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Old 08-31-2004, 08:40 AM   #394
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Boots I demur, and not in the archaic sense

As I missed the crucial component of your quiz, which you have now answered in such a grandly Tolkien manner, I rather think, Professor Hedgethistle, that the floor should still belong to you.

*bows courteously and withdraws to await Fordim's next quiz*

As it so happens, I too, had the priviledge of meeting an Old English scholar taught by Tolkien. And when he was plied with beer at a pub following his public lecture, he mischievously embarked upon a tale of how one kept two bibliographies, one to satisfy the academic requirements and one to keep track of the kinds of things which really inspired one. I always felt he was engaging in the kind of "secret vice" which Tolkien was, keeping one's own wordhoard of inspirational texts. When one's life is so seemingly dreary and mundane on the surface, one must resort to such imaginative play. And they say academics have no sense of humour.
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Old 09-07-2004, 06:42 PM   #395
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I am sorry to have taken so long to take up the gauntlet thrown down once more by the esteemed Bethberry after my all too hasty conclusion to the last round of the game.

I said I was bad at this sort of thing.

In an attempt to justify the long wait, I have combed and wracked my books and my brain to come up with the following question:

Where did the real Sam Gamgee live?
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Old 09-07-2004, 07:30 PM   #396
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Boots

Well now, Professor Hedgethistle, if you keep us waiting so long again you just might find yourself collecting some--gasp!--negative reputation.

But, alas and alak and welladay,
Son of Númenor asked this question,
just back here a way.

*assumes Oliver-like stance*

Some more please.
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Old 09-07-2004, 08:07 PM   #397
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Ah my good lady Bethberry; I am glad that you did not fall afoul of my cunningly laid trick question. Of course I knew that Sono had posed the question already, I was merely testing to see if you all had been paying attention.

Yes. Quite. That was the reason.

At any rate, the real question now is:

Who were Aramund, Tarmund, Rasmund and Turcomund?
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Old 09-08-2004, 01:46 AM   #398
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Master Fordim...

You wouldn't be referring to some of the names Tolkien suggested for someone who wanted to name a "cow" after characters in LotR.

This is his response from one of the Letters...

*****************


Quote:
Personally I am rather against giving strictly human and noble names to animals; and in any case Elrond and Glorfindel seem unsuitable characters, for their names which meant ‘The vault of stars’ and ‘Golden hair’ seem inapt. I recently played with the notion of using the word for bull I gave you, which introduced in the form –mund gives a fairly familiar sound (as in Edmund, Sigismund, etc.), and adding a few Elvish prefixes, producing names like Aramund (Kingly bull), Tarmund (Noble bull), Rasmund (Horned bull), Turcomund (Chief of bulls), etc. I wonder what you think of these?"
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Old 09-08-2004, 04:12 AM   #399
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By Jove, I think she's got it!

You are quite right Child, and I am delighted to yield the floor to somebody else (at long last).
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Old 09-09-2004, 11:21 PM   #400
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A two-part question.... I am fond of the poem Bilbo's Last Song as you might notice from my personal title..... What did Tolkien do with this poem in the last few years of his life, and what unusual form did the "true" first edition of this work take?
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