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Old 06-23-2004, 04:25 PM   #41
Boromir88
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1420! The quick build up of Saurons forces, or was it?

As we have already established the beginning of LOTR is set up in a lighter mood, we establish Frodo and Bilbo's history and the lead up to the party. We slightly see some clues of Ted Sandyman perhaps becoming a problem with his comments and the clear dislike the Gaffer has towards the miller. A topic I wanted to bring up was it seems like Sauron and the enemy builds up his forces rather quickly (I'll give examples when the appropriate chapters are being discussed). Or did all of this really happen "quickly?"

I believe it just seems fast because of the middle-earth's people (hobbits in particular) refusal to see that Sauron is back and evil again is rebuilding. For a short background a few years before Bilbo takes the ring from Gollum, Saruman finds out Sauron has learned of Isildur's death and turns to Anduin to search for his ring. Saruman however does not tell the council (example one of the refusal to see "evil" approaching). Then around that same time Saruman agrees to push out forces of Dol Guldur to try to get Sauron's attention away from the river. It was either the same year or a year after Bilbo returns to the Shire that Sauron secretly returns to Mordor. So, for 60 some years you have Sauron hiding in Mordor. That is the background.

Then the story starts out with this "long expected party" and there is a light jolly mood established, but soon you see this ring Bilbo has is more then just a ring. And underneath all these "happy" times evil is rebuilding. The hobbits as we know don't like foreigners too well and anyone who mixes with them is thought as "queer." The hobbits especially try to think that all evil is gone and passed, theres only good and happy times left, when it's not so. That's why I believe it seems how Sauron is quickly able to launch attacks against the dwarves of Erebor and the men of Dale, quickly apply pressure to Gondor and Rohan, and so quickly able to affect places far beyond Mordor. The inhabitants refuse to see evil, refuse to believe it, so when they are attacked they are caught off guard.

This is ver similar to the events of WW2. The world just got out of a Global depression, just got out of WW1, so what do they do? They appease Hitler (as well as evil) to try anything to prevent another world war. Grant it the middle-earth peoples did not "appease" Sauron but they ignored the threat, they refused to see that anything was wrong and the whole time they were living under a "flawed peace." Within 6 weeks (correct me if I'm wrong) Hitler is able to take France, and within months all of Western Europe had fallen, except Britain. Same instance in LOTR, within months and a matter of years Sauron is able to press assaults upon all of Middle-earth, and Saruman easily takes the Shire. Sauron, as well as Hitler, weren't able to build up forces that rapid, they weren't able to do it within months, but it seemed like they could take control within a short period of time because of the people thinking there was no evil, hiding behind a "flawed happiness."
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Old 06-23-2004, 06:01 PM   #42
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The inhabitants refuse to see evil, refuse to believe it, so when they are attacked they are caught off guard.
I find that it is a beauty of Tolkien's main characters, the hobbits. They do not even wish to realize that there is evil, and they are the ones to face the most evil. All the inhabitants of Middle-Earth have this trouble, as well, but not to the extent of the Hobbits.

The Chapter's title sums up more than just the central event in it. There are many 'long expected' events that happen in the first chapter, setting up the story with its very historical feel. The story does not have a beginning, as it unfolds as events that have long been expected or long in the 'brewing', and have possibly even been fated, occur.

(Short, and continuing my rant concerning the 'feigned history'...I am disatisfied.)

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Old 06-24-2004, 01:41 AM   #43
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Concerning names

Just to add some things to the soup. It had been already noted that Long Expected Party is built to parallel, and, at the same time, be an antithesis to the Hobbit chapter 1 – Unexpected Party.

But, with a bit of hindsight, both are quite the opposite – for, in the Hobbit, the party is unexpected to Bilbo only (and half so, since he himself invited Gandalf to tea). Gandalf had it planned long before with a clear purpose in mind, and dwarves look up to it all the way, even before they see the sign on the door.

The Long Expected Party is full of unexpected things, on the other hand (the main thing to happen – Bilbos’s disappearance, is expected mainly by Bilbo himself, though Gandalf knows it to and Frodo may have doubts) – the mere ring of Bilbo’s as we know it from the Hobbit to become the Ruling Ring, Bilbo exhibiting Gollum-like qualities and than vanishing in the midst of a party etc

In both cases Gandalf is in the know, though. But he is Gandalf, and has to be, if you follow my meaning

But one of the main differences lies in the names of protagonists, main [hobbit] heroes, which we come to know in the first chapter off hand.

Not to outrun my own pace – it should be noted that hobbit names are generally categorized in two ways – those of no meaning but mere sound – like Bilbo, Bungo, Bingo and so forth, and those of ‘foreign’ origin with some meaning to them

It is very interesting that main hero of the Hobbit, Bilbo, has a name with no meaning at all. It is significant, than that all four main hobbit characters of LoTR justify their names.

Meriadoc – has some Welsh connotations to it, to the best of my knowledge, and roughly may be rendered as “master of the sea”. True, Merry has not much doing with the sea as the sea, but is Brandybuck, i.e. of the only hobbit family to do anything with [big amounts] of water whatsoever. Besides, shortened form sounds like Merry, and Merry the hobbit is a merry hobbit indeed.

Peregrin – Now Latin rooting, meaning “wanderer”, or “pilgrim”. That’s him, it is -wanderer, for sure. In both senses – he wanders (i.e. travels a lot), and he is curious above measure of average (Palantir, per instance). But not merely wanderer, but wanderer with a quest, i.e. pilgrim. And shortening brings him to be Pippin, and Pippin the Short was a frank king in 8th century A.D., and who is that who dare say hobbits are not short, even if Pippin be taller than most? But, most interestingly, Pippin the Short drove Saracens (i.e. Muslims) out of France, and, strikingly, Pippin the Hobbit drove ruffians our of the Shire.

Samwise – old English for ‘half-wise’. But now that is matter of optimism – is the glass half full or half empty? I daresay it is half full, for if it were not so, Gollum would not have been spared and quest would have failed

Frodo – that being the special case. For one thing, in the first drafts of the LoTR Frodo is Bingo (if my memory does not fail me). And that is in line with Bilbo, i.e., is a name with sound to it, not meaning. But as the scope of the work widens, so the name changes, and we get Frodo. And, what with assessment that ‘hobbitish’ masculine ending is ‘a’, it gives us Froda, as original. But Froda is Norse, and is character out of mythology – old king, father of Ingeld (this latter mentioned in Beowulf), but, unlike main bulk of Norse heroes, not heroic at all in a sense he is not bloodthirsty, but peaceful. In fact, he owns a mill which grinds peace for him, and while he rules there is peace. Unfortunately, he is killed, and his son Ingeld turns back to old bloody heroism. Rings any bells? Especially with Frodo later on, when he draws no sword, takes no part in battles, and is generally kind of a pacifist, but very much neglected by his own people

But I’m again off and beyond current chapter. So I would conclude that, even when we take into account Tolkien’s statement that actually the names in Westron sound different (can not give reference or the list right away) and are merely translated, it is all very much interesting. Or, to summarize it all, we have four hobbit names of Welsh, Latin, English and Norse origins, all with the meaning, all highly relevant to the text and events that befall their bearers, and their behavioral pattern. And all is so well hidden, and at the time is so obviously on the surface, that I can not help but am awestruck (constantly so with Tolkien, that is).
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:48 AM   #44
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The passages I quoted were very selective - Flora Thompson also describes the poverty & everyday struggle of the people - which is why her account of her early life is so moving. But to focus solely on the starkness & harshness of that life is as mistaken as focussing solely on the simple beauty of it. For all the struggles she & her friends & family knew, she is full of regret for what had been lost. She lived through it, & she saw value in it, & knew that something important had been lost.

Its the same with the focus on the 'horrors' of WW1. Yes, horrors there were, but many of the men who fought believed in the cause they fought for, valued the comradeship & were proud of their service. By no means were Owen & Sassoon typical of the men who served. (Interesting points made in Tolkien & the Great War). In short, many of those who fought didn't think of WW1 as a futile exercise or as nothing more than an example of 'man's inhumanity to man' writ large.

Point being, those who lived through such times saw them differently to most of us. Just as Flora Thompson can find beauty amid the poverty, & place a value on that beauty, so can Tolkien. There is poverty in the Shire, but the fact that it isn't focussed on doesn't mean that Tolkien is deliberately 'caricaturing' that world, or being ironic. I think he is presenting what he loved about that world honestly. If he doesn't spend time presenting us with what he hated about it (though we can glimpse it if we look hard enough, & we see it in the state of the Shire when the hobbits return) that's no more dishonest than emphasising a loved ones good points.

(This is what I think Tolkien meant by 'parody', though I think the term is a little extreme - its certainly not 'burlesque', or we wouldn't care about the world or its inhabitants. Its a positive parody in Tolkien's case, & I don't get any sense that he's setting out to mock or belittle the people & culture he's writing about. He simply plays up the people's foibles. As to parodying the toponomy, I think he's 'idealising' the names of places. Its an archetypal rural England - as Rohan is an archetypal Anglo Saxon England)

In short, I chose the quotations from Lark Rise not to try & imply that village life in the 1880's was ideal, but to show that to the people who lived it, it was full of beauty & magic.

And besides, how significant is the last sentence I quoted:
Quote:
Bands of little blue butterflies flitted here & there or poised themselves on quivering wings on the long grass bents; bees hummed in the white clover blooms, & over all a deep silence brooded. It seemed as though the road had been made ages before, then forgotten.

Last edited by davem; 06-24-2004 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 06-24-2004, 04:03 AM   #45
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Do you think that Tolkien might be saying to us that 'traditions' are wise to keep re-telling ? With the seeming departure of Sauron/Ring from ME the tale of the old days has been forgotten, even the fact that The One Ring was not destroyed. Also, ignoring the old traditions, ignoring warning signs, placing ones cranium up ones anus and believing that all is well is not just a habit peculiar to Hobbits. Is Tolkien reflecting what had gone on in the two WW's and also what goes on today ?

I think it might be fair to say that Sauron's forces appeared to gather quickly once the One Ring had been brought from underground. He would have known that it was around somewhere, but not exactly where. Once Bilbo brought it out from Gollum's hiding place it would have been easier for Sauron to 'sense' it. A couple of questions arise here - was the One Ring trying to return to Sauron, did it leave Gollum and 'find' Bilbo ? Why did Bilbo lie about the ring ? If he had said something earlier then perhaps they could have gotten the One Ring to Mt. Doom before Sauron had gathered all his forces to him.

In reference to your last paragraph

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This is ver similar to the events of WW2. The world just got out of a Global depression, just got out of WW1, so what do they do? They appease Hitler (as well as evil) to try anything to prevent another world war. Grant it the middle-earth peoples did not "appease" Sauron but they ignored the threat, they refused to see that anything was wrong and the whole time they were living under a "flawed peace." Within 6 weeks (correct me if I'm wrong) Hitler is able to take France, and within months all of Western Europe had fallen, except Britain. Same instance in LOTR, within months and a matter of years Sauron is able to press assaults upon all of Middle-earth, and Saruman easily takes the Shire. Sauron, as well as Hitler, weren't able to build up forces that rapid, they weren't able to do it within months, but it seemed like they could take control within a short period of time because of the people thinking there was no evil, hiding behind a "flawed happiness."
I'm not sure that it was a 'flawed happiness' in either case. Remember that Hitler lost his stab at the first election, then suddenly got in about 6 months later....could have been one of those election rigging thingys. But if it wasn't, then the people of Germany voted Hitler in, it must have been the feelings of a nation that got him there. Sauron did virtually the same thing with people......promises of power, promises of wealth, promises, promises, promises. Tolkien may be showing us not to listen to other peoples BS
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Old 06-24-2004, 04:45 AM   #46
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Meanings of Names

H-I I ran across this in the dictionary the other day. Something else to add to your collection of names and their meanings.

bil·bo (n. Archaic pl. bil·boes)
1. A sword, especially one having a well-tempered blade.
2. An iron bar to which sliding fetters are attached, formerly used to shackle the feet of prisoners.

Either definition sets one thinking.
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Old 06-24-2004, 05:26 AM   #47
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heh, Hilde, you tear half of my argument apart with that bil-boes reference. for indeed I was driving at that Bilbo's name, as part of the more light-hearted story about 'adventures', where lot of toponimy is just plain (The Hill, The Water, The Mountain, The River), is also just funny, whilst the LoTR, work of much wider scope, has layers upon layers of things to be seen and appreciated

But, well, one lives and learns.

On the other hand, I believe the said argument is still plausible, for all of the hidden meaning for 4 hobbits resides in real personal names (exeption possibly Sam, but than, his short name corresponds with our Sam, though it be derived from Samuel and Hebraic, not Samwise and English), whilst 'bilbo' is stated by my dictionary to come (probably) from spanish town of Bilboa.

I believe therefore Bilbo's case to be a coincidence, whilst the other four cases to be there on purpose

Which, probably, proves how much of a swindler I may be.

Or, still, maybe not
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Old 06-24-2004, 06:50 AM   #48
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I still think you have a point about The Lord of the Rings, Heren; it's just that Tolkein made a lot of philological jokes in all his writing, and not just the piece we're discussing. It would be typical of Tolkien to give the hero of his first novel a name that could both mean 'a good sword' and 'a fetter', because Bilbo starts out his adventures as a burden on the Dwarves, but soon becomes as useful in a pinch as a well-made blade, eventually releasing them from the Elven-king's prison in a final ironic flourish.

That's heinously off-topic, so I'll return to something that's been kicked around above. Why Tolkien encloses the word 'parody' in quotation marks in the letter quoted by Bêthberry is anybody's guess. Perhaps he was unsure of what he wanted to say, or perhaps he meant to use 'parody' in some modern vernacular sense that he refused entirely to accept. I don't think that we can discount his use of it, though. Given the satirical use to which Tolkien puts hobbits, their status as a pastiche or a parody of rustic Midlanders is entirely plausible. Something doesn't cease to be a parody when it runs close to reality; quite the reverse in my opinion: the best parody never loses sight of the true nature of its subject.

If Tolkien did intend the Shire as a smaller or parodic version of rural England, though, it was an affectionate and nostalgic one. In that respect it's similar to P.G. Wodehouse's sketches of British upper-class life in the 1920s and '30s, which he continued to write long after that social world had gone the way of the Dodo. Tolkien had a strong sense of fun, which would be very likely to depict literal 'little Englanders' rising up to trouble the counsels of the great and the Wise. What The Hobbit began by putting a country gentleman in a legendary setting, The Lord of the Rings continues; although as we are already seeing the author takes the mythical element a lot more seriously in the later work.

As for the unwillingness of good to recognise evil that was mentioned above, I think that Tolkien is more depicting evil growing where one least expects it. Who is it that holds back the attack on Dol Guldur? Why, Saruman; as yet unrecognised as a traitor working for his own ends. Good in Tolkien's works is always divided and uncertain of itself, while evil is always self-assured and at least nominally united. The difference is that the alliances of evil are fatally flawed by selfish motives, whereas when the good and the wise form alliances they have the common good at heart, which gives them greater strength in adversity. Evil always creeps back in, each time attacking where good seems strongest, warping or perverting the greatest bastions of its opposition to serve its own ends. The 'good' side do not allow the existence of evil to make them leave off their trust and goodwill: essentially they refuse to oppose evil at the cost of becoming more like it, which is the hardest lesson of all and one of the major themes of The Lord of the Rings.
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:51 AM   #49
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Please, all excuse the fragmented nature of what is about to come, but there are so many different points I wish to address that I shan’t even try to render them all into a single line of argument.

Names: frodá is also Old Germanic for “wise by experience,” so that meaning must pertain to Frodo, inasmuch as during his journeys he does very much grow wise by experience. I think this meaning plays off very nicely with the meanings H-I has uncovered in the names of the other hobbits: Sam is already half-full of the ‘native’ wisdom of the hobbits; Pippin and Merry are not really ‘wise’ but possess virtues that they bear with them from out of the Shire to the aid of a world that is in need of those virtues.

I’ve already posted a long entry about names and naming and their importance in the thread Tolkien and Philosophy in which I talk about Aragorn and Arwen as well; not really relevant to this thread, however, so I cite it only for those who are interested.

Revelations: Reading through the posts in this thread I’m beginning to realise that this chapter is all about revealing the ‘fabulous’ or ‘magical’ or ‘darker’ or ‘higher’ matters that lie so closely beside the day-to-day that we no longer see them. Tolkien wrote quite brilliantly about this process of (what he calls) “recovery” in “On Fairy-Stories” but I shan’t address that essay here directly. In terms of what we find in this chapter however:

This process of revelation begins, I think, with the Gaffer’s opposition of “cabbages and potatoes” to “Elves and dragons”; in this line he opposes the Shire and the every day to the two adventures of the hobbits (Bilbo’s quest to the dragon and Frodo’s participation in an essentially Elvish story). He clearly is aware of the existence of both, but just as clearly prefers or thinks it more proper to concentrate on the former.

As the chapter goes on, however, we find that the Gaffer’s idea of an opposition between these two worlds is perhaps a mistaken one. For right in the very heart of the land of cabbages and potatoes we find Bilbo and Frodo – two hobbits who ‘used’ to be ordinary and sensible until they were affected (Bilbo by Gandalf, and Frodo by Bilbo) and thus became “queer.” The way that they ‘stand out’ in the Shire has been commented on already in the thread.

The next revelation is about Gandalf. When he first enters this story he is very much the Wizard of The Hobbit. But there are already hints that there is perhaps more here than meets the eye. At the fireworks display we learn that Gandalf’s “art improved with age.” The Wizard is thus connected with that terribly loaded and powerful word in Tolkien’s world: “art”. What’s more, his association with fireworks foreshadows the moment at which his full power is finally revealed to the hobbits who accompany him on the journey: “I am the bearer of the secret fire of Anor!” Bilbo is the first to see this true side of Gandalf when the Wizard becomes such a threatening presence in their argument, and he threatens to “uncloak” himself.

Closely connected to the revelation of Gandalf is the revelation of the Ring. Throughout this chapter is it merely a small-r ring, but by the end we already have a sense that there is much much more going on with it; it might not be The Ring yet, but it sure is more than a simple trinket!

This is, I think, closely connected to the idea of Road as expressed in Bilbo’s song. As H-I has already quite brilliantly pointed out, the Road becomes for Bilbo and for us, in this moment, much more than just a way to get from Shire A to Rivendell B; it becomes an analogue for life itself with the comforts of home at one end and the comforts of a new resting place at the other, with the adventure of experience along both sides.

The fact that all these revelations (recoveries) are so subtly sounded is, I think, a major part of the chapter’s purpose as it strives to indicate that just beside the ordinary, as though from the corner of our eyes, there is the extraordinary, both wonderful and terrible: Elves and dragons are not just ‘out there’ in some other place that we are isolated from, but ‘right here’ standing upon the same soil from which sprouts our more familiar and comfortable cabbages and potatoes.

Just What is this Ring Anyway?: My final thoughts go to, as always, the wonderful enigma that is the Ring and how it works on one. For me, one of the most highly resonant and important passages in this chapter is:

Quote:
Bilbo drew his hand over his eyes. 'I am sorry,' he said. 'But I have felt so queer. And yet it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it any more. It has been so growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I am always wanting to put it on and disappear, don't you know; or wondering if it is safe, and pulling it out to make sure. I tried locking it up, but I found I couldn't rest without it in my pocket. I don't know why. And I don't seem able to make up my mind.'

'Then trust mine,' said Gandalf. 'It is quite made up. Go away and leave it behind. Stop possessing it. Give it to Frodo, and I will look after him.'

Bilbo stood for a moment tense and undecided. Presently he sighed. 'All right,' he said with an effort. 'I will.'. . .

. . .

Bilbo took out the envelope, but just as he was about to set it by the clock, his hand jerked back, and the packet fell on the floor. Before he could pick it up, the wizard stooped and seized it and set it in its place. A spasm of anger passed swiftly over the hobbit's face again. Suddenly it gave way to a look of relief and a laugh.
In the first paragraph we have a lot of “I”’s as Bilbo reflects upon the effect that the Ring is having upon him. Against his “I” however is the overpowering nature of the “eye” that is looking at him. This sets up, I think, the contest that will take place throughout the story between Frodo’s “I” and the “I/eye” of Sauron. The immediate effect of the Ring here would seem to be doubting and even loss of the self: Bilbo is wanting to “disappear” (which is what happens to the Wraith’s sense of self) and he can’t “make up” his mind anymore. This paragraph also shows that the hobbits of the Shire have been quite right in their assessment of Bilbo – he is, as they predicted, feeling “queer.”

Only when he agrees to give up the Ring is he able to once again say “I will” – that is, he once again has a will of his own.

The other part of this passage that I find so intriguing is the manner in which Bilbo finally “gives up” the Ring. The suggestion is, here, that he did not really manage to give it up. He did pass over the envelope, but he could not relinquish it completely, as his “hand jerked back” – I love how it is the hand that jerks back and not “Bilbo jerked his hand back”; it’s as though some other will is at work. The most disturbing aspect of his paragraph is the phrase “before he could pick it up,” which implies that Bilbo wanted or intended to pick it up, and only the quick intervention of Gandalf prevented him from doing so (as is further suggested by the “spasm of anger” that Bilbo feels in response).

I think this is an important moment, for in the entire history of the Ring only one person was able to willingly give it up – but here we see that this person was, perhaps, not quite so “willing” after all. Gandalf does not precisely take the Ring from him, but neither does Bilbo precisely give it up on his own. The Ring, that is, does not go from Bilbo’s hand to Frodo’s but from Bilbo’s to Gandalf’s (although he is careful to keep it in the envelope) to Frodo’s.

That’s it for now. Anyone who makes it through the whole post let me know!
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:29 AM   #50
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Like many others who have posted here, I enjoy the light-hearted atmosphere in this opening chapter immensely. The highlights have been addressed already: the gossipy banter about Bilbo and Frodo, the pithy comments of the Gaffer, the labels on the gifts left at Bag End and, of course, Bilbo’s speech. Squatter stated:


Quote:
Surely anyone who has been present at a wedding will recognise this sketch of a sympathetic audience, their knowledge of the host's oratorical eccentricities lulled by a sufficiency of food and drink.
Those were my thoughts exactly when I re-read the speech this time round. I was put precisely in mind of a slightly boozy but good-natured audience listening to the best-man’s speech at a wedding dinner. The scene is a familiar one, and thus helps to draw us in (more on this aspect of the chapter later).

The humorous “Hobbity” feel to this chapter is, to my mind, essential, as it provides a provides a “bridge” between the light style of The Hobbit and the much darker tone evident in much of LotR. But it is equally essential that the light-hearted passages are interspersed with the more serious moments concerning the Ring which foreshadow the events which are to come. They counter-balance each other and therefore help ease those who have read and loved The Hobbit into the deeper story that he is now telling and prepare them for the darker moments to come. In this regard, it is interesting that the chapter opens with a passage which combines the two:


Quote:
“It will have to be paid for,” they said. “It isn’t natural, and trouble will come of it!”
This concludes what at first appears to be a light-hearted and affectionate dig at the tendency of Hobbits to gossip about anything slightly out of the ordinary, in this case the fact that Bilbo appears to be remarkably “well-preserved”. But, as Squatter pointed out, the cause of Bilbo’s apparent youthfulness for his age is indeed unnatural and will have to be paid for (although not by Bilbo). It is, of course, the Ring – the very focal point for the darker tone which later becomes more prevalent.

I was struck, on re-reading this chapter, by the manner in which Tolkien introduces (or should I say re-introduces us) to the Ring. Simply by means of the actions and conversations of the characters, he tells us two very important things about it:
  1. It is “unnatural”. While not directly stated, it is implicit that it is the Ring which is the cause of Bilbo feeling “like butter that has been scraped over too much bread”, ie the cause of his “unnatural” preservation.
  2. It has a seductive effect on the minds of those who come into contact with it. This, of course is evident from the dramatic exchange between Bilbo and Gandalf occasioned by Bilbo’s reluctance to leave it behind. And, as Child has noted, its power in this regard is apparent from Frodo’s temptation to put it on to escape the attentions of the Sackville-Baggins the very day after having “inherited” it.
Another aspect of this chapter that has been commented on (particularly by Gorwingel and Child) is the way that Frodo is introduced in such a way that makes him stand out from other Hobbits. We know from The Hobbit that Bilbo is regarded as rather “queer” by his fellow Hobbits, and the chapter opens by reasserting this: “Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar”. Frodo is introduced by reference to his relationship with Bilbo and therefore by association becomes peculiar too. And this sense of Frodo being somehow special is affirmed by the conversation in The Ivy Bush, where reference is made to his childhood with the “queer breed” in Buckland.

What I found really interesting was the discussion of the death of Frodo’s parents. Reference has been made already to the parallel between Frodo losing both his parents and Tolkien’s own childhood (which I hadn’t picked up on, but find very interesting). But it is the manner in which their death is referred to that intrigues me. Boating itself is a strange pursuit to the folks of the Shire (west of the Brandywine) and so that in itself makes their manner of death unusual. But the rumour-mill goes further than this. Drogo and Primula supposedly “went on the water after dinner in the moonlight” and Sandyman adds that he heard that Primula pushed Drogo in and that he pulled her in after him. Now, while the Gaffer dismisses such rumours, they nevertheless lend a strange and possibly sinister feel to Frodo’s background and this too marks him out as different.

And all this before we actually meet Frodo!

Also, while on the subject of Drogo and Primula, is there perhaps further material here to support the parallels which Fordim draws between Bilbo and Frodo on the one hand and Gollum on the other? Frodo’s parents died in a boating accident, while Gollum was “born” of a rather earlier boating incident which led to Deagol’s discovery of the Ring.

Child referred to Bilbo’s comment of Frodo that:


Quote:
It's time he was his own master now.
An interesting reference since, in addition to its literal interpretation as signifying Frodo’s inheritance of Bag End (and of course the Ring), it might also be taken as a signal to readers that Bilbo is no longer the central figure in the story. Frodo is taking over that role. Also, ironically, Frodo is in one sense never the master of the Ring which he inherits. Rather the opposite is true. He becomes subject to it. To mis-quote Gandalf from later on in the book, there is only one Lord of the Ring and it’s not Frodo.

I would also add that it’s not just Bilbo and Frodo who are marked out in this chapter as different from other Hobbits. Although there is only a relatively fleeting reference to him, Sam gets the same treatment too. He is closely associated with Bilbo and Frodo by reference to the fact that both he and his father are “on very friendly terms” with them. Some might think this unusual in what is effectively a master and servant (or, as Squatter puts it, officer and batman) relationship. What’s more, he has in one sense been “raised above his station” by Bilbo having “learned him his letters”. And of course, we have an immediate reference here to Sam’s love of tales of Elves and Dragons. So Sam too is marked out at the outset as being somewhat special in comparison with his fellow Hobbits.

Davem said:


Quote:
Or to put it another way, does the Shire feel like the familiar & 'everday' world to everyone, or does it have the same kind of 'otherness' about it as Lorien or Gondor - does anyone start the book with the feeling that they're [I]already[/] in another world?
As an Englishman myself, I would agree entirely with what both davem and Squatter have said regarding the familiarity of the place-names in the Shire. The same applies to the general atmosphere of the Shire, the role of pubs as meeting places and the references to post-offices and postmen. All of these are very “normal” (to an Englih reader, at least) and help to lend an air of familiarity to Shire life. Even the Hobbit family names, while quaint, have an oddly familiar ring to them. This, I think, ties in very much with what I said in the Prologue thread about the reader identifying with the Hobbit characters and so setting out with them on a journey into the unknown of the “other world” outside the Shire. Arkenstone asked:


Quote:
Do you think it is possible that Tolkien was trying to show how normal the Hobbits were and how they could very well be us ? Except for the hairy feet and short stature. I think it is the overall normalness of this chapter that at once draws folks into the book.
To which I would reply very much so.

And so to answer davem’s (rhetorical) question:


Quote:
if Tolkien had set his stories in some typically outlandish fantasy world, would we care as deeply (or at all) whether it was saved or not?
No, quite possibly not, as far as I am concerned. Which is probably at least a part of the reason why no other fantasy novel has ever made quite the same impression on me as LotR.

Finally, mention has already been made of the anachronisms that may be found in this chapter and which certainly jumped out at me this time round. Now, carriage clocks and umbrellas I can live with in Middle-earth. But express trains? This seems wholly incongruous. I am sure that Tolkien would have spotted this reference (in the description of the “dragon” firework) when re-working the chapter, so I wonder why he chose not to change it. This seems strange to me, particularly given his dislike of machinery and his portrayal of the Shire as an agrarian society. Trains have a much greater association with industrialised societies than rural societies. Might there be some reason why he left it in, or was it simply an oversight after all?
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Edit: I cross-posted with Fordim, who touches on a number of the points discussed above, particularly the contrast between the "normal" and familiar surroundings in which we start and the strange lands into which Tolkien later takes us.

Interesting point questioning whether Bilbo did in fact give the Ring up willingly. For me, you are spot on in your analysis of this passage, Fordim. I wonder whether Tolkien re-worked this when he realised that Frodo would not be able to give up the Ring voluntarily, or whether he knew that this would be the case from the outset? Anything in HoME on this? Child?
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Old 06-24-2004, 09:20 AM   #51
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This seems strange to me, particularly given his dislike of machinery and his portrayal of the Shire as an agrarian society. Trains have a much greater association with industrialised societies than rural societies. Might there be some reason why he left it in, or was it simply an oversight after all?
Morgoth breeds (manufactures?) Dragons - the ones in Fall of Gondolin in BoLT are machines - to destroy his enemies & by extension to destroy/mar Arda. Tolkien thought of trains as a manufactured object which destroyed this world (Christopher Tolkien tells of sitting as a boy with his father on the white horse hill, & being excited by the appearance of a steam train. He says his father was most upset, & saw it as an 'intrusion'. (interview in the film JRRT A video Portrait).

Dragons are certainly magical but even within Midddle Earth they're an 'unnatural' force. Perhaps Tolkien is trying to emphasise that, playing up the idea of the 'Machine'.

Just a thought. Don't know if it stands up.
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Old 06-24-2004, 09:36 AM   #52
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Intersting thoughts davem, and they possibly explain why Tolkien used the phrase in reference to a Dragon-like firework (albeit one made by Gandalf). But the reference is still to my mind incongruous with the fiction of the story having been written by the Hobbits. Even if steam trains did exist in Mordor and Angband, they are surely unlikely to have been sufficiently common features of Hobbit vocabulary to be used in this way.
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Old 06-24-2004, 10:17 AM   #53
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A quick note

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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
But the reference is still to my mind incongruous with the fiction of the story having been written by the Hobbits.
On the other hand, you can chalk it up as a liberty taken by the "translator" of the Red Book (i.e., Tolkien), just as the word "Hobbit" itself is an invention, and other Hobbit family and place names have been normalized for the modern reader. See the very last page in RotK, at the end of the appendices.

By casting himself in the rôle of translator, Tolkien is able to smooth over any straggling errors, anachronisms, or inconsistencies in his work. A stroke of genius on his part, I'd say.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:40 PM   #54
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Apropos Express Train

Tolkien seems to have been fond of this figure of speech ; I noticed that already in the Hobbit there is something similar:
" he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel."

But of course Mr.Underhills explanation is spot on!
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Old 06-24-2004, 09:05 PM   #55
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LotR -- Book 1 - Chapter 01 - A Long-Expected Party
Fingolfin II wrote:
Quote:
with just a hint of darker things
Squatter wrote:
Quote:
However, the gentle comedy masks a tension that Tolkien begins to build right at the beginning of the chapter.
*Varda* wrote:
Quote:
Tolkien again drops hints of darker things to come
I saw several hints of darker things (subtle unless one is looking, perhaps.) Drownings. The Old Forest. Dangerous boats. Elves and Dragons… don’t go getting mixed up in the business of your betters or you’ll land in trouble too big for you. And (Gandalf’s) real business was more difficult and dangerous.

Fordim wrote:
Quote:
Gollum would never have given away his birthday present but kept it for himself; Bilbo, because he's a hobbit, does give away birthday presents, and does manage -- after a struggle -- to give away this one too.
Frodo is the only one of the three who actually DID receive it as a Birthday Present! He could honestly call it that! (And wouldn't it be eerie...) Not just birthday, but Coming-Of-Age birthday present... and an inheritance... what a way to recieve your Life-Changing Doom...

Fordim: about the Foreshadowing-- just *wow*. I took a break after reading your post just to let it sink in. Bilbo vanishes from the party; then leaving Bag-End, rather light-heartedly, happy with his three companions, he foreshadows Frodo's route westward and over the gap in the hedge; he melts into the twilight, dwarf-hooded and dwarf-cloaked (a foreign cloak again, dark green but so stained and patched it must be practically camo, blending perfectly into the woods) and Gandalf watches him go. .... Then Frodo watches Gandalf go, bent and burdened....

I also saw a very divided Frodo from my first introduction to him here.
Quote:
He had difficulty keeping from laughter at the indignant surprise of the guests. But at the same time he felt deeply troubled: he realized suddenly that he loved the old hobbit dearly.
Quote:
”I wish—I mean, I hoped until this evening that it was only a joke,” said Frodo. “But I knew in my heart that he really meant to go.”
Quote:
Frodo was waiting on the step, smiling, but looking rather tired and worried.
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He looked indisposed—to see Sackville-Bagginses, at any rate; and he stood up, fidgeting with something in his pocket. But he spoke quite politely.
Quote:
…if I could get Bilbo back and go off tramping in the country with him. I love the Shire. But I begin to wish, somehow, that I had gone too.”
All this foreshadows the torn Frodo we see as the quest continues, and makes his statement to Sam all the more poignant: “You cannot be always torn in two. You were meant to be one and whole”-- although Frodo was torn in two from the time Bilbo disappeared from under the Party Tree.
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Old 06-25-2004, 12:20 AM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark 12:30
Frodo is the only one of the three who actually DID receive it as a Birthday Present! He could honestly call it that! (And wouldn't it be eerie...) Not just birthday, but Coming-Of-Age birthday present... and an inheritance... what a way to recieve your Life-Changing Doom...
Well noticed

But I think there is a bit more to it. Frodo's person is quite a composite and contains a load of hints to load of things

First, let me retain my Norse mythology connotations to his name (I'm glad to accept the 'wise by experience' explanation by Fordim Hedgethistle too and incorporate it into)

But, remembering Tolkien's famous 'consciously so in the revision' quotation, let me be so bold to mark that Frodo at the same time is Christ-like figure (so is Aragorn, per instance, but that is to be seen later on)

Note one of the similarities - to be revealed in the very first chapter, and heavily stressed upon - Frodo receives the Ring (may I say, his cross?) when he is 33 years old. Having in mind that he is to become the saviour of whole ME later on in the story, it certainly rings certain bells.

It seems to me that in Frodo Tolkien tries to unite Christian myth with those of the pagan mythologies of the north-west of Europe. He certainly employes what C.S.Lewis was referring to as the reflections of True Myth (True Myth referring to incarnation of Christ) scattered across pagan myths (dying god of corn to bring new life). Frodo is to do exactly this - he is to die (in a sense, his departure from ME by the end of the book is death, and, if another sense of death is to loose this world, than Frodo certainly looses it), but than, Frodo does let the world live on by it.

And with all this in mind, Frodo's Ring (very strikingly referred to as 'burden' throughout the narration) comes to him as he reaches 33 years of age.
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Old 06-25-2004, 04:01 AM   #57
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Yes, 33 does ring a bell, but alas Frodo does not take up his burden at thirty, and dawdles a bit before heading down that road, a bit of a reluctant savior in contrast. Perhaps Tolkien only wants to hint at that reflection of True Myth. Frodo is a hobbit and not a god, after all. But the idea of him returning to the Shire for a time, and then sailing west strikes me as a wonderful parallel, as is the change in his friends upon returning to the Shire.

But it seems, I'm having trouble sticking to the first chapter here. Many apologies!
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Old 06-25-2004, 06:15 AM   #58
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Silmaril A Frodo divided?

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I also saw a very divided Frodo from my first introduction to him here. (mark12_30)
Good point Helen, and well-supported by the quotes you give, each of which makes a statement about the conflict between Frodo’s outward appearance and his inner feelings. It seems to me that this ties in with the idea of Frodo being marked out right from the outset. On the surface he displays characteristic Hobbit traits: good-humour, cheerfulness, politeness and a love of the Shire. But, internally, there is something deeper going on. He is troubled, indisposed, tired and worried and already taken with the beginnings of wanderlust. There is a similarity with the contrast in the opening chapter of The Hobbit between Bilbo’s stay-at-home nature and his adventurous Tookish side. But, in keeping with the darker theme of the book, Frodo’s inner feelings are darker and deeper.

You are right also, I think, that this hints at the turmoil that Frodo is to undergo. Perhaps it also foreshadows the choice that he ultimately has to make between his beloved Shire and a higher calling in the Undying Lands. The fact that the non-Hobbitish characteristics are the less superficial, and perhaps represent the real Frodo, suggests that his ultimate choice can never really have been in any doubt. But for the Quest, he would surely have ended up in Rivendell or somewhere similar, like Bilbo.
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Old 06-25-2004, 03:24 PM   #59
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Helen,

Your characterization of the "divided" Frodo is very perceptive. This is what I was inching towards when I said that not only was Frodo different from his Hobbit neighbors but even from folk like Merry and Bilbo who were his most intimate companions. You are right to identify these inner doubts or division as the source of that difference. Frodo may huzzah with his friends or dance on tables, but underneath other things are going on.

SPm,

Quote:
Interesting point questioning whether Bilbo did in fact give the Ring up willingly. For me, you are spot on in your analysis of this passage, Fordim. I wonder whether Tolkien re-worked this when he realised that Frodo would not be able to give up the Ring voluntarily, or whether he knew that this would be the case from the outset? Anything in HoME on this? Child?
I will deal with this more extensively on the HoMe thread. A short answer is that the idea of the Ring being irresistable and Bilbo being unable to "lose" it is present in Tolkien's notes as early as six weeks after he started the work. However, this idea doesn't appear in the chapter until draft 6 that seems to have been written a number of months later. Here Bilbo at least admits he can't throw the Ring away, and even finds it hard to leave behind. So the idea at least was there almost from the beginning, but it took a while for Tolkien to integrate it with his characters.

The final version of the scene that we have -- the confrontation between Gandalf and Bilbo -- is even stronger than draft 6. I'm not sure when this came in as I haven't read that far in Return of the Shadow! If I find out, I'll add another note. So perhaps, as the story developed, certain long-standing themes such as this were strengthened and emphasized as the story developed.
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Old 06-25-2004, 05:41 PM   #60
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Silmaril

Thanks for that, Child. Interesting that the confrontation between Gandalf and Bilbo was not at first as strong as it appears in the final version. Tolkien may initially have been concerned not to have Gandalf seem too intimidating. Personally, I feel he plays it very well in the final version since he is able to establish Gandalf's power and authority right from the outset, while handling it sufficiently sensitively not to risk having Bilbo-loving readers question his motives. This he acheives by having Bilbo act irrationally (Gollum-like) and out of character in such a way that we can understand that there is something else at work here. In other words, it is the Ring and its effect on Bilbo, and not Gandalf, causing the problem. Indeed Gandalf acts totally reasonably, reasoning with Bilbo and referring to their long-standing friendship before resorting to intimidation. Even then, he reassures Bilbo that he is trying to help him rather than rob him. And the moment passes quickly, Gandalf seeming troubled in consequence. It is crucial that we trust Gandalf's instincts at this point and, to my mind, Tolkien handles it very well.
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Old 06-25-2004, 09:34 PM   #61
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Pipe

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I was born in England and came to Australia when I was 15, that was 32 years ago, which makes me 21, that'll save you overworking your calculator. I can relate very much to the English countryside that Tolkien plans his Shire in, but there are also places where I live that could be a good backdrop for the Shire as well. Had I first read LotR in Australia I think that I could have still related a place in OZ to the Shire.......
Interesting, Arkenstone (Post #29). I was born in Tasmania and moved to Victoria about 9 years ago and I think I can relate Tasmania to the Shire quite easily. For one thing, it is a very 'green' place full of trees and hills that look exactly like the ones shown in the movies and it's inhabitants are a very close and tight-knit community. They share common ground in many areas and know everyone in the neighbourhood and are just overall, friendly and jolly people, like the hobbits are in the Shire.

Saucepan Man said-

Quote:
It is crucial that we trust Gandalf's instincts at this point and, to my mind, Tolkien handles it very well.
There are a lot of things discussed here that I didn't pick up before, such as this point and Fordim's foreshadowing idea. Gandalf is described as a kindly and sensible character from the outset of the novel (and his character is even more pronounced if you've read The Hobbit), and his reasoning and resolution to Bilbo's uncharacteristic behaviour is a good way of setting up for the next chapters. I agree that Tolkien managed this very well through Bilbo's Gollum-like behaviour and that Gandalf's 'instincts' and his resort to a shock tactic on Bilbo in order for him to willingly let go of the Ring is well counter-balanced by his kind reasoning and friendly, yet firm, persuasions, so that Gandalf isn't taken as someone who uses intimidation as a means to get what he wants (like Saruman)-

Quote:
'Now, now my dear hobbit!' said Gandalf. 'All your long life we have been friends, and you owe me something. Come! Do as you promised: give it up!'
Then Gandalf's tone changes and he becomes angry at what is a personal accusation of wanting the Ring for himself.

Quote:
Gandalf's eyes flashed. 'It will be my turn to get angry soon,' he said. If you say that again, I shall. Then you will see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked.'
He took a step towards the hobbit, and he seemed to grow tall and menacing; his shadow filled the little room.
I agree, SpM, that Tolkien does well with this scene, as we see that even thought Gandalf's angry with Bilbo it is because he is accused of wanting the Ring for himself and it is made clear that he doesn't. This is a very important passage, as it also begins to show what effect the Ring has on it's bearers (i.e. the 'Gollum-like' behaviour of Bilbo), which is a subtle, yet tantalising, hint of events to come.
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:06 PM   #62
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Pipe Thoughts and Musings on Hobbits

Bah, humbug! Late, late. I'm still working my way through Chapter I, which means I'm four chapters behind everyone else. As our dear Mr. Bilbo Baggins would say: 'Time!' A sorry lack of it. Now, I've jotted down all my confused musings on various passages from the books, organized them, rethought them, and now I post them. In this post I am mainly concentrating on the contrast between young hobbits and old hobbits, and the different curiosities of hobbits, and etc.

Quote:
The riches he had brought back from his travels had now become a local legend, and it was popularly believe, whatever the old folk might say, that the Hill at Bag End was full of tunnels stuffed with treasure.
The reference to the thoughts and feelings of the old folk on such subjects seems to be clearly justified in the interactions between some characters in The Ivy Bush. They open by shamelessly gossiping about the Bagginses, saying whatever they fancy saying, be it lies or not, and then they get to the subject of 'jools.'

Quote:
'All the top of your hill is full of tunnels packed with chests of gold and silver?'
So says the stranger of Michel Delving. (I wonder how old he was, for he seemed to quite fancy the idea of there being gold and silver within Bag End.) The Gaffer sensibly denies that there is any treasure in Bag End save that which Mr. Bilbo brought back from his travels, which certainly isn't enough to pack tunnels. The Gaffer is one of the older folk; I can see the stranger from Michel Delving (imagining for a moment that he is a younger hobbit) devotedly retaining in his mind the belief that Bag End is full of tunnels stuffed with gold:

Quote:
But the Gaffer did not convince his audience. The legend of Bilbo's wealth was now too firmly fixed in the minds of the younger generation of hobbits.
And then when the Gaffer goes on to talk about Sam I get the impression that that young lad wouldn't be too unwilling to be convinced that there were tunnels stuffed with treasure.

Why must the older generation take the more sensible view? Sam, to the very last, retained an image that was like a child's: an image full of elusiveness, wanting to imagine everything as being more mystical and wonderful as it is. Sam was always so thoroughly childish (in that sense; he was rarely [if ever] immature), and this is one of the reasons I enjoy his character so much. He never lost his fascination for Elves and Dragons.

Now what strikes me as curious is that Sandyman, who would most likely be of the older generation, seems to lean towards the side of the youngsters, and wants to persist that Mr. Bilbo does have tunnels stuffed with treasure ('adding to what he brought at first,' he says). This intrigued me. Would it be because Sandyman has a contrary nature and would take the opposite side of the Gaffer just to oppose him, or did it occur to anyone else as it occurred to me that much of Sandyman's behavior comes from not so much plain wickedness as from immaturity, and that this immaturity might also show in aspects other than his attitude? Just a thought?

Quote:
Practically everyone living near was invited. A very few were overlooked by accident, but as they turned up all the same, that did not matter.
A presuming lot, aren't they?

Now during the party it says 'there was a splendid supper for everyone; for everyone, that is, except those invited to the special family dinner-party.' Considering the fondness hobbits have for food, mightn't those invited to the special dinner-party feel a little envious that they couldn't be partaking of the splendid supper, that they would have to wait? Or do you suppose that they were content with thinking of what awaited them at a later date?

Quote:
?but so magnificent was the invitation card, written in golden ink, that they had felt it was impossible to refuse.
Why should Otho and Lobelia attend a party held by and for two hobbits they disliked and detested merely because the invitation was magnificent? I find this terribly amusing, and I attribute to the fact that they are hobbits. Golden ink! The invitation was impressive enough to accept, even if the party would no doubt be detestable. Of course, the ultimate reason for their going seems to be the fact that Bilbo's table has a high reputation.

Quote:
Some perfunctory clapping by the elders; and some loud shouts of 'Frodo! Frodo! Jolly old Frodo,' from the juniors.
The elders do not seem to be very excited about Frodo's coming of age. This seems to apply to us as well. The adults will clap for the occasion that requires clapping, even if they don't feel any particular enthusiasm for the event. It might be discourteous if one didn't clap. The youngsters, on the other hand, are very excited about it, which is natural. Frodo is more than likely a constant companion of his, and they know him well. It is characteristic to feel more excited about a big event in the life of someone you know well. The adults probably did not know him that well. The only thing that puzzles (and shocks) me is that the clapping of the adults was described as 'perfunctory.' They didn't show the least concern for the matter, and their applause was indifferent. I wonder why they didn't applause 'courteously' instead?

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?more food and drink were needed to cure the guests of shock and annoyance.
Naturally. Why, I doubt if the hobbits ever made any sort of medicine from herbs, etc. All they needed to cure them was food. Who knows how many imaginary diseases they created for themselves so they could delight in indulging themselves in that all-powerful medicine of theirs: food. The average hobbit's life seems to be centered around food. They're like moths drawn to a candle when it comes to food. My first thought while reading this was: 'They're mad!' Bilbo, mad? I suppose they would have considered it more sane if he had jumped into a giant cake and disappeared. At least it would have involved food, eh?

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?[they] evicted three young hobbits who were knocking holes in the walls of one of the cellars.
The fascination of youngsters. They are so hopeful of finding the treasure, they so firmly believe that their imaginings are true that they are more than willing to knock holes in the walls to find it, hidden away in some secret passage. It's a pity to consider that, when they're older, they will more than likely become like all the other hobbits and abandon all their fancies. Thank goodness Sam never did!

Through the first chapter only, to say nothing of the prologue or other chapters, it can be ascertained that hobbits are a very curious race, and absolutely devoted to food. Yet aside from a few outstanding oddities it strikes me that hobbits are not very much different from ourselves.
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Old 07-25-2004, 02:53 PM   #63
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I'm coming late to this thread and I wish I wasn't as there have been so many interesting ideas posted I'd have loved to have discussed. But anyway, I've two things to post about now, some more linguistics and my own response to The Shire.

Baggins as a name fascinates me. In The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames (I've used this book as a reference in the Chapter 5 thread too!) it does not appear, but this does:

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Bagg(e) - money bag, pack, bundle - Middle English.
This is interesting as it ties in with the alleged large amount of money and treasure that Bilbo is supposed to have hoarded in Bag End. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is also said to be from a well-to-do family. Perhaps the name was derived from this monetary origin. What interests me is that Baggin is a dialect term for food, specifically for the food which you take to work with you. It is a word I grew up with and still use. I don't know if it was used in Tolkien's part of England, but it may have been used by farmers, as that is my own background. If so, then Tolkien may have chosen it as a name to play on hobbits' love of food. I can't find any origins for the name Bilbo, but I know several people who have Bilboe as a surname.

Now, earlier in the thread there was much discussion about how readers react to The Shire. I grew up in an isolated English agricultural area, surrounded by a lot of older people, and The Shire was instantly recognisable to me as 'home'. The rural landscape was very vivid, including the village pubs, hothouses of gossip for the old men in my own village (there was even an Eagle & Child nearby). Hobbit holes were like the cottages, small and low-ceilinged with colourful gardens. The Gaffer reminded me of my own grandfather; his world centred around his garden and the growing of potatoes and cabbages (his Savoys were in great demand), and if he went to the pub it was to talk and hear news. Characters such as the Mayor make me think of parish councillors, very important (to themselves at least) but in the great scheme of things, doing little apart from opening fetes and issuing newsletters.

I react to The Shire on a very personal level, feeling the same sadness as the hobbits do on leaving it. Now I am far away from where I grew up I find myself longing for my own 'Shire', although I know that it is now very different, and much like anywhere else, filled with commuters instead of rural characters. The Shire is almost an emblem of this longing for the past, the urge to go back to a place that is still there, but also not there. I'm sure Tolkien himself intended this, as he too went through the feeling that he had lost an idyllic childhood world.

On a final note, someone earlier asked whether there are any people who are really like hobbits, being small with hairy feet - they haven't seen my family.
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Old 07-25-2004, 06:05 PM   #64
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I've always liked the beginning of LOTR and not been troubled by its different tone then later in the tale. It seems to me that Tolkien seems to hint somewhere that he should have gone back and changed the early tone, but I think it's a vital "compare and contrast" to the outside the shire world. And was the Ranger strategy of protection of the Shire while keeping the residents "innocent" entirely altruistic or perhaps tinged with a hint of being the "custodians" of Arnor and an (elvish?) regret to have things change?

And isn't it curious JRRT never moved to a rural environment, even in retirement?

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Old 07-26-2004, 12:44 PM   #65
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I'm very glad that Tolkien did not go back and redraft the earlier parts of the book, as they are almost 'comfort reading'. I can well believe he may have wanted to do this, judging by the number of first attempts which are published in HoME. It was obviously a part of the book which he found troublesome.

A thought that's just occurred to me is that being such a part of academia, Tolkien was in effect living in a village of sorts. The environment of Oxford colleges is (or was) on a small scale and almost protective - dare I say exclusive, which I use in the sense that it is an environment which provides safety from the intrusions of the non-academic world. Maybe living in such an environment enabled him to live a 'village' lifestyle.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:03 AM   #66
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This is a chapter I always enjoy rereading, especially for its quiet humour. Tolkien is a master in playing with words, and I am very fond of the subtle, gentle view the dialogues show of the Hobbits. The Gaffer is a treat to read!

In wondering about first sentences and their ability to attract or repel readers, I can't help but wonder if the first lines about Bilbo's birthday party plans might seem too tame to potential readers. Of course, the next paragraph adds a bit of mystery for those who don't already know him from The Hobbit, and right after that, there is a slightly sinister foreshadowing of things to come.
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'It will have to be paid for,' they said. 'It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it!'
Bilbo's luck is meant, but the question arises: Who will have to pay for it?! The Ring, which has brought him his good fortune, will cause a great deal of trouble - fortunately for us readers!

Numbers are significant in this chapter - I like the fun of saying 111 as "eleventy-one"! Have you ever considered if Tolkien had a reason for placing the Hobbit coming-of-age at 33? The only thing that occurs to me is that Jesus was crucified at 33, but I don't see a connection there.

I noticed one detail this time around that hadn't particularly stood out to me before - the fact that the Dwarf-made toys are also magical. I've never thought of Dwarves as having magical abilities such as the Elves did, but obviously they must have some. What do you think is the nature of Dwarven magic?

The chapter ends with another foreshadowing - Gandalf looks as it he is "carrying a great weight". That makes me think ahead to Frodo bearing the Ring in Mordor.
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:25 AM   #67
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On 'Eleventy-one'
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-ty (1)
suffix representing "ten" in cardinal numbers (sixty, seventy, etc.), from O.E. -tig, from a Gmc. root (cf. Du. -tig, O.Fris. -tich, O.N. -tigr, O.H.G. -zig, -zug, Ger. -zig) that existed as a distinct word in Gothic tigjus, O.N. tigir "tens, decades." English, like many other Germanic languages, retains traces of a base-12 number system. The most obvious instance is eleven and twelve which ought to be the first two numbers of the "teens" series. Their Old English forms, enleofan and twel(eo)f(an), are more transparent: "leave one" and "leave two." Old English also had hund endleofantig for "110" and hund twelftig for "120." One hundred was hund teantig. The -tig formation ran through 12 cycles, and could have bequeathed us numbers *eleventy ("110") and *twelfty ("120") had it endured, but already during the O.E. period it was being obscured. O.N. used hundrað for "120" and þusend for "1,200." Tvauhundrað was "240" and þriuhundrað was "360." Older Germanic legal texts distinguished a "common hundred" (100) from a "great hundred" (120). This duodecimal system, according to one authority, is "perhaps due to contact with Babylonia." (from the Online Etymology Dictionary)
So 'eleventy-one'. though it sounds twee, is a word like 'Dwarrow's' which Tolkien knew should have survived down into modern usage. The recent book 'Ring of Words' has a bit more on this, but unfortunately I'm at work now....
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:33 AM   #68
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"perhaps due to contact with Babylonia"- yes, there's absolutely no way those hirsute battleaxe-waving barbarians could have figured out on their own that base-twelve is an eminently superior system once you get beyond counting fingers and toes!

I think it at least as probable that an ancient Teutonic base-12 system was pushed aside by the influence of Rome- especially since, once they became literate, the Roman numeral system required it. But echoes remain in the language: not just eleven and twelve, but words like dozen and gross as well.

(NB: there were 12 pennies in a shilling until 1971; and well into the 20th century, an English "hundredweight" was 112 pounds, which replaced the medieval 'old' cwt of 108 (9x12) lbs. Now, if somebody could just explain the fourteen-pound stone...).
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:06 AM   #69
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Have any of you also wondered which three Dwarves were at Bag End for the party and began the journey with Bilbo? I suppose, in the absence of any actual information by Tolkien, we can only speculate. I'd like to think that at least one of them was from the "There and Back Again" group of adventurers...
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:24 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post

I noticed one detail this time around that hadn't particularly stood out to me before - the fact that the Dwarf-made toys are also magical. I've never thought of Dwarves as having magical abilities such as the Elves did, but obviously they must have some. What do you think is the nature of Dwarven magic?
Reading the line in question, that the toys were of real dwarf make and obviously magical, I thought that "magical" in this case indicated superior craftsmanship the Shire folk didn't understand and couldn't duplicate. The hobbits didn't have any idea how the toys worked and thought them 'magical' but the Dwarves, like Galadriel later in FotR, might not understand why the toys would be described this way.
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:46 PM   #71
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1420!

I discovered one should keep a note paper with him while reading so that he could note down all things that pop up in his mind while reading. But maybe it is better, since it would make a good book itself. And besides, once again I discovered that when reading Tolkien it is absolutely impossible to interrupt - the books is being read so smooth that one does not even know, well, it's like with that road that goes on and on and takes you far away before you can stop...

To some things that have been mentioned here, I am not stopping at the age, because it surely stands out, but I can't contribute with anything better, only that, well, they are nice numbers if nothing else. The three Dwarves - yes, in fact, I always thought them to be some other dwarves than those with whom Bilbo went (maybe because I would have expected "Dori, Nori and Ori came..." instead of just some vague words about "three dwarves"). After all, the remaining Dwarves were now either under the Mountain (or with Balin ), so one would not expect them to go adventuring with Bilbo. So, some Dwarves.

The magical toys, however, were obvious to me on some second, maybe third reading. I always considered the Dwarves as knowing some kind of magic, whatever it was, some sort of a "fairytale" magic, or simply the smith-magic like the Dwarves of the Nordic sagas had to make magic swords and Thor's hammers or golden pigs for Loki (or what was it). Also, this image of Dwarves being capable of "magic" were the verses from the Hobbit: "The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, while hammers fell like ringing bells". So, no problem with "real" magic for me.

Anyway, to my own contributions. Err... *browses the book* Oh yes, I will mention some things I recall have crossed my mind when I look at it.

First, the beginning. It seems to me that a first-time reader who read the Hobbit may expect the book to be about Bilbo. I believe that us who read it with the knowledge of what will come, focus more on Frodo, or not focus, but we understand he is a main hero here. A first-time reader may not think so. Especially at a scene like this:
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"...I am very fond indeed of it, and of all the dear old Shire; but I think I need a holiday."
"You mean to go on with your plan then?"
"I do. I made up my mind months ago, and I haven't changed it."
"Very well. It is no good saying any more."
Actually, the whole dialogue looks to me like calling for the reader to think what's going to happen, and possibly suppose that the whole book is going to be about Bilbo going on another adventure. Up to the scene of Bilbo leaving the Ring to Frodo one can presume that we remain in Bilbo's POV and even at the moment when he's leaving the party, we can expect to follow him on his new adventure! Nothing like this actually happens. Even from the view of a not-well informed reviewing critic it's a good move, as a recurring hero could have become boring. But the story fluently flows towards Frodo as the main character and we don't even notice it.

Something more specific. The scene at "the Ivy Bush" (I believe everyone is aware of the inclusio of this scene later in chapter 2 with Sam&Ted, we just pass one generation further) would itself do for a good thread, but this time I particularly noticed what kept bothering me for a long time, in fact, and that's the name of Daddy Twofoot. Please explain to me, why is someone called Twofoot? I would understand if a hobbit who lost one leg would be called Onefoot (though it won't be a family name but only his personal nickname), but why Twofoot? Harfoot, Puddifoot, why not, but there is either something I don't understand or we have had a wrong images in our heads all the time and most Hobbits in fact have three legs.

And last, the scene with the Ring being given to Frodo. I just realised how important this moment was. I believe this was the last moment when the Ring could have used, and wanted to use, Bilbo to "escape". Frodo was meant to have it, as Gandalf later says, and if you notice the fact that Bilbo was almost leaving and suddenly, with no logical thought, put the envelope with the Ring in his pocket, well, that's really bad. And immediately after that, Gandalf appears to save him. This is probably one of the most important moments in the book, though one does not realise it. If Gandalf wasn't there, who knows whether Bilbo would not have sneaked away with the Ring and who knows how would the tale have ended.

Anyway, overall this chapter is fresh, full of humour of the Shirefolk, even the narrator is telling the tale in such a manner - later chapters will be somewhat more serious. Fortunately, we can take some of this hobbitish humour with us - with the hobbits who are going through the whole story. I always thought why Silmarillion, CoH etc. are all so different - and maybe this is the reason: there are no hobbits.
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Old 01-22-2008, 06:22 AM   #72
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One more thing I have to mention. In this chapter, there is the first occassion (not counting the Prologue) when we hear about Gandalf as Gandalf the Grey. I am wondering whether this is a work of later revision, when Tolkien already knew that Gandalf is going to be the Grey, because it is in the infamous sentence about "Gandalf the Grey uncloaked", where otherwise it is not needed to say that Gandalf is the Grey. Later in chapter 2, we hear about certain "Saruman the White", which we can take only as a part of his name (like Thorin Oakenshield) and only at the Council of Elrond the "title" of Gandalf the Grey repeats itself, and we finally "learn" (or rather, can guess) why he is called Gandalf the Grey: because Saruman greets him like that (in response to Gandalf calling him Saruman the White). Technically, before this exchange of the two, we have no reason to call Gandalf "Gandalf the Grey", because we don't know any other Gandalf, or anyone with another color, if you understand my point. All in all, I consider interesting the fact that after the reader knowing Gandalf for so long (through the Hobbit), he is suddenly named here as "the Grey".
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Old 01-23-2008, 04:18 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post
I noticed one detail this time around that hadn't particularly stood out to me before - the fact that the Dwarf-made toys are also magical. I've never thought of Dwarves as having magical abilities such as the Elves did, but obviously they must have some. What do you think is the nature of Dwarven magic?
Well, after all, the Dwarves had made the magical secret door to the Lonely Mountain, and Narvi made the secret door to Moria.
In the first age, the Dragon-helm of Dor Lomin was made by the Dwarf Telchar, and so was Narsil, Elendil's Sword, as well as the knife Angrist. All of those items have certain magical qualities.
I think their magic is more like a craft, and apparently only a few of them were so skilled, and much was forgotten later. Thorin & co had no idea how to make the door visible, let alone open it, and Gimli was no help either.
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:46 AM   #74
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Hi all,

chapter 1 has been covered very well indeed in this thread!

Guinevere, I agree with you that the Dwarves' magic is tied up in manufacture of magic items, not in casting spells as such. Though I was wondering how much of a market there would be for magical toys and miniature musical instruments in Middle Earth! I guess their presence here shows that Dale had been re-established and was busy distributing goods manufactured by the Dwarves at Erebor.

Pictures are mentioned as being left at Bag End for Frodo. I don't have my copy of The Hobbit on hand at the moment, is there a picture in the drawing of Bilbo's front hall? Anyway, Hobbit art, I wonder what that's like? We know that the Hobbits were skilled craftsmen with nimble fingers, which sounds encouraging. I guess they would have had portraits of ancestors and relations (in the better families naturally!) and maybe landscapes and country scenes, I like the idea of a Hobbit 'Haywain'.
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:59 AM   #75
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I don't have my copy of The Hobbit on hand at the moment, is there a picture in the drawing of Bilbo's front hall?
There are two framed objects which seem to be two mirrors, one on either side of the door - the one on the right reflects the open door & the one on the left shows at tree like one of the two trees just outside the door. However, the one on the left is concave, so it maybe a picture - wouldn't the tree's reflection be upside down in a concave mirror?
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Old 02-21-2008, 11:11 AM   #76
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Hi davem,

cheers for that, I thought I remembered something. I think it would be entirely appropriate for Bilbo to commission a painting of his own garden and the tree and hang it in the hallway to cheer himself up during the winter or foul weather perhaps. After all it does seem to be a jolly nice garden!

Getting tangled up in the translator conceit yet again, does anyone know if the illustrations themselves in The Hobbit are directly attributed to Bilbo or are 'imaginative recreations' by that Tolkien fellow who translated the Red Book?
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:56 PM   #77
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This is the original - & if you click on it you can see the coloured version by HE Riddett. http://search.msn.com/images/results...2Fbag_endm.jpg
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:47 PM   #78
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Legate -
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Please explain to me, why is someone called Twofoot? I would understand if a hobbit who lost one leg would be called Onefoot (though it won't be a family name but only his personal nickname), but why Twofoot? Harfoot, Puddifoot, why not, but there is either something I don't understand or we have had a wrong images in our heads all the time and most Hobbits in fact have three legs.
I'd imagine it refers to height: either ol' Daddy himself or one of his ancestors was uncommonly short even for a Hobbit (possibly not literally two feet - maybe just a little under three, and 'Twofoot' was a humorous exaggeration). In German, at least (and for all that I know in English, too), many family names - such as aren't patronymics or refer to the owner's profession - historically started as personal nicknames that became hereditary. Tolkien's own family name is a nice example, being derived from the German adjective tollkühn = 'foolhardy'. I'd suppose one of the Prof's ancestors (let's call him John) earned the name of 'John the Foolhardy' by his rash and daring temperament; now that person's son would be called 'Christopher Foolhardy' in shorthand for 'Christopher, John the Foolhardy's son', and thus the nickname would be passed on to future generations, although few of them, if any, displayed the character trait that inspired the name in the first place.
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #79
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Ah, truly, truly, Pitchwife. It didn't occur to me. Thank you. (I was probably stemming from the fact that in the translation to my mothertongue, the "Twofoot" is really translated in the sense "Two-legs", so I haven't thought of the other possible interpretation.)

But still, I am not that hasty in accepting this possibility. After all, is there any definite proof in the books that the Hobbits really had usually just two legs?
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:57 PM   #80
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Pitchwife is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Pitchwife is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Pitchwife is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Pitchwife is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Can't help feeling like you're pulling my leg... Wait a sec - which of them? *Retires to count his appendages*
By the way, what is your native language?
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