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Old 02-13-2009, 04:38 PM   #81
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Czech. And speaking of the translation, it's a very good one, just sometimes there are moments when the translator probably did not think that deeply about the etymology of some ambiguous names (like Twofoot. Another one I recall is Standelf, which is an otherwise unknown village on the edge of the Old Forest, apparently derived from stone-delf, which the translator however interpretated as stand-elf. But say, nothing one would discover unless really examining it deeply - and the trick is, if you think you understand the word, you usually don't think of questioning it and look for other possible translations).
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:42 PM   #82
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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?
You know, I don't think there is any... maybe they had four legs (Fourfoot) and were actually small Wargs.

More seriously:
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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.
There is also what Tolkien says in the UT, on the Druedain
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...the 'magic' skills with which the Dwarves were credited...
Which assumes that at least others (outsiders), saw some of their work as magic.

But anyway, magic in ME is not really "magic", but only seems so to those who do not understand it.



'Tis late-ish. I'll be back with more tomorrow.
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:08 AM   #83
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This has always struck me - the 'Englishness' of the world of the Shire - to the extent that I was deeply surprised that readers from other countries could relate to the story at all. I can't help asking the (probably unanswerable)question, whether English readers understand/experience the Shire & its inhabitants differently from readers in other countries (as, I'd assume, a Russian would understand/experience, say, War & Peace differently to a non Russian). Or, if you're not English, are there parts of your country that feel like the Shire - Hope this is not too far off topic, but the effect of the opening chapter on myself (& like Squatter I'd include the map of the Shire in with the first chapter) is to place me in a world which I recognise - landscapes, placenames, personal names, etc - so that the sense of 'menace' is more intense & disturbing because its happening 'at home', as it were. If you come from a country/culture which is very diferent from the one described, do you identify with the Shire, or does it feel more 'alien' to you. 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?
I realize that this thread is quite old but having found this particular observation fascinating I could not help but respond.

While the Shire is very English in its placenames and geographical features I, as an American, have always been able to identify very strongly with the Shire and its inhabitants simply because I am from a part of the US that shares many features (IMHO) with the Shire.

I am from Mississippi - a VERY rural and agricultural state. We have a remarkably varied landscape here, just like the Shire. We have more than our share of gently rolling hills, woods, fields, and little rivers. A dirt road is not uncommon when one gets outside of town (or "out in the county" as we would say). It is green and beautiful. We even have a region much like the Marish, i.e. the Delta, where it is very flat, sometimes marshy, near a river on our border, largely farm land, and so on.

Much of our culture in Mississippi (and the rural Southeastern US in general) has a tendency to be parochial and insular. Conversations run as much, if not more, to the doings of the neighbors and other acquaintances as they do to events on the national scale. Of course there are exceptions - there are large cities like Atlanta and great centers of learning and education like the famous universities in North Carolina. But Mississippi is hundreds of miles away from those places and is still very rural. In fact one might say, with some truth, that a love of learning is far from general here - a very frustrating fact.

Meanwhile genealogy is very important here and conversations between strangers inevitably run to which county one is from, whom one knows, and to whom one is related. I have heard and listened to conversations that sound very much like things the various Hobbits say through the first few chapters in the Shire (i.e. syntax, diction, turns of phrase, etc.) all my life, though of course with Southern accents rather than English ones.

Of course the parallels are not exact and it is easy for me to see many differences as well. Americans who live in other parts of the country may not be able to relate so well but I have always imagined that Americans living in the Southeast and New England (as another example) probably don't have too tough a time finding a vicarious home in the Shire.
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:58 AM   #84
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The title of the first chapter in The Lord of the Rings obviously links the book to The Hobbit, in which the first chapter is titled ‘An Unexpected Party’. It certainly feels like the sequel Tolkien’s readers and publisher expected of him. Let’s discuss what happens in this chapter and how it affects you. What do you especially like about it – or dislike? Do you remember reading it the first time?

Let’s keep the discussion primarily on the events of this chapter, without touching on things to come more than absolutely necessary. Everyone is welcome to join in!
I only saw the connection after I read The Hobbit. However, while the opening chapter of The Hobbit is like to the light-heartedness of the first chapter of LotR, the latter seemed to have a more profound effect on me.

I'll be honest - the first time, I actually disliked it. In fact, I shoved it in my cupboard and didn't look at it again for another month. But after I picked it up a second time, well, it had me hooked. The chapter had a very 'magical' and 'fairy-like' feel, which continued till the end of Lothlórien.

'A Long-Expected Party' was one chapter which was, to me, more striking in imagery than most. Why, I still can't fathom.
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:25 PM   #85
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Silmaril So Legate and I have started rereading...

...and of course we intentionally started on September 22nd, but apparently we were even more accurate than we thought we would be because Bilbo and Frodo's birthday was Thursday September 22nd, just like today. Nice!

On this reread, the thing that caught my eye the most was the hobbits' conflicted relationship with literacy. It's said - elsewhere - that hobbits tended to learn how to cook before they learnt their letters and many never got so far as the latter. Here Gaffer Gamgee is very defensive about letting his son to learn reading and writing. Yet Bilbo sent written party invitations by a well established mail service and there's no mention of some people not understanding their mail. Furthermore, letter writing seems commonplace.

Is there a subtle class division here? Or is Tolkien poking fun at hobbits and consequently at "common people" for their lack of reading comprehension/ aversion to reading? Or is his world building simply a little incoherent? (The hobbits get the most anachronistic parts too, anyway.) I think I might be one of those instances were Tolkien's otherwise very complete world-building is forgotten in favour of something else - in this case, social commentary.
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:52 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
...and of course we intentionally started on September 22nd, but apparently we were even more accurate than we thought we would be because Bilbo and Frodo's birthday was Thursday September 22nd, just like today. Nice!
I think that's amazing, even though (as it happens) completely unintended. But great! How often does one get such an opportunity, right? (Now, hands up, how many of you who are reading this started looking at calendars to see on which year will this be possible again...)

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Originally Posted by Lommy
On this reread, the thing that caught my eye the most was the hobbits' conflicted relationship with literacy. It's said - elsewhere - that hobbits tended to learn how to cook before they learnt their letters and many never got so far as the latter. Here Gaffer Gamgee is very defensive about letting his son to learn reading and writing. Yet Bilbo sent written party invitations by a well established mail service and there's no mention of some people not understanding their mail. Furthermore, letter writing seems commonplace.
Interesting that you bring that up, because this time I have just noticed and paid attention to the persona of Mr. Hugo Bracegirdle, who seems to be quite a reader. It seems obvious that he must have read dozens of books, which is probably dozen times more than you would expect from a common hobbit.

On the general scale, I think there might be something about what you said regarding the "class division" - it should be noted however that for example Gaffer Gamgee is presented as really really the lowest of low classes, labeled as "poor" on more than one occassion. You are probably right about the "social commentary" - the whole Shire is a bit of "social commentary", or maybe not so much a commentary as just plain fun. And from the "inside the world" point of view, the poor hobbits who can't read can probably just figure out when they get a letter written in golden ink that it is an invitation to Bilbo Baggins' party.

Of course, there are other explanations possible - maybe there is some sort of dichotomy here in that there may actually be tons of books around in the Shire, but they are all family chronicles. Maybe people also don't mind Hugo Bracegirdle not returning books that much if they don't read so much themselves. (What else could these be if not belles-lettres? Books about herbs? Treatises on pipeweed? - I bet that exists! - Atlas of mushrooms. That kind of stuff...)

Anyway, Mr. Bracegirdle just became one of my favourite very minor characters. Must be an interesting fellow, in any case.

What else did I notice on this re-read? Well, among other things, I am going to name especially this one: I guess many people would have paid attention to it already on first reading, but somehow, I never did...
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"...I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days."
Gandalf laughed. "I hope he will. But nobody will read the book, however it ends."
I guess always whenever reading this part I have been preoccupied by thinking about what Bilbo is saying: connecting it in my mind already to the future, thinking about how the story ends, about Frodo's wounds which never heal and so on. This time, really for the first time, I paid attention to what Gandalf is saying. He is so wrong, for one, and secondly, he is talking about us. About the people who are reading this book. I think that's brilliant, also from the writer's part. As we know, Tolkien was all about "living the story" and this makes us part of the story even more, because here we are being talked about. By Gandalf! And what more, by Gandalf who claims we don't exist! O he of little faith.
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Old 09-23-2016, 09:56 AM   #87
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I guess always whenever reading this part I have been preoccupied by thinking about what Bilbo is saying: connecting it in my mind already to the future, thinking about how the story ends, about Frodo's wounds which never heal and so on. This time, really for the first time, I paid attention to what Gandalf is saying. He is so wrong, for one, and secondly, he is talking about us. About the people who are reading this book. I think that's brilliant, also from the writer's part. As we know, Tolkien was all about "living the story" and this makes us part of the story even more, because here we are being talked about. By Gandalf! And what more, by Gandalf who claims we don't exist! O he of little faith.~Legate
It's fascinating that no matter how many times you read this book there's always some little detail or comment that grabs your attention in a way that hadn't happened previously. And it creates a different reaction, different perspective.

This time for me it was Gandalf's fireworks. I mean from a hobbits POV it is Gandalf's most distinguishable characteristic. And I've always been focused on the grand firework, Gandalf's homage to Bilbo's adventure from The Hobbit. This time through I was actually picturing the small novelty fireworks he distributed:

Quote:
...But there was also a generous distribution of squibs, crackers, backarappers, sparklers, torches, dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and thunder-claps.
Tolkien weaves in real life novelties that kids can use (squibs, crackers, backarappers, sparklers, torches) and adds in fantasy novelty fireworks that were distributed to hobbit children (dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and thunder-claps). He uses real life examples that everyone's used...who isn't familiar with squibs or lighting sparklers? Then he adds fireworks that are made up, but we can imagine how they work and look. Dwarf-candles, well probably a more extravagant version of roman-candles. Elf-fountains, a tube with a fuse you light and out shoots jets of gold and silver sparks. Goblin-barkers and thunder-claps, the really loud and obnoxious crackers that parents hate if someone gives their children. I'm not sure if you get this image if the passage just reads:

"But there was also a distribution of dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and thunder-claps."

Some additional comments...

As has been discussed multiple times this chapter parallels the first chapter of The Hobbit. We return to Bag End and are meant to make the connection to The Hobbit. Not only in the two parties and Bilbo's sudden disappearance again, but in slightly different settings and circumstances A Long Expected Party takes you through a rough outline of Bilbo's adventure 60 years ago.

After establishing the parallel, we get first introduced to the protagonist, Bilbo's heir, Frodo, and we learn Frodo's parentage and how he came to Bag End. Gandalf arrives and the last time this happened Bilbo quite mysteriously disappeared. At the party, The description of Gandalf's fireworks culminating in the final nod to Bilbo's adventure with the lonely mountain and dragon. Bilbo mentions during his speech how he arrived in Esgaroth with such a bad cold all he could say was "Thag you very buch." Then we come to the Ring, how it was most unusual in Bilbo altering the story, and Bilbo even becoming very much like Gollum in "It's mine. My precious." Bilbo leaves again, and on the next day when various hobbits came busting into Bag End to pillage, raid and try to bargain for Bilbo's stuff, I was reminded of Bilbo returning in the middle of the auction. So, under a slightly tweaked setting, Tolkien includes a basic run down of events from The Hobbit. He sets these events into a different story, and while there are parallels to the earlier book, we know this is going to be a different sort of tale. Frodo's journey is not going to be like Bilbo's.
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:32 PM   #88
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Of course, there are other explanations possible - maybe there is some sort of dichotomy here in that there may actually be tons of books around in the Shire, but they are all family chronicles. Maybe people also don't mind Hugo Bracegirdle not returning books that much if they don't read so much themselves. (What else could these be if not belles-lettres? Books about herbs? Treatises on pipeweed? - I bet that exists! - Atlas of mushrooms. That kind of stuff...)
This is actually interesting and made me think of this new thread I saw yesterday: Smaug Is Not a Bookworm.

Boro, you mentioned Gandalf's fireworks. They are a lovely detail and a good way to introduce fire as Gandalf's element and thus sort of foreshadow his use of fire in The Ring Goes South and the revelation that Gandalf is the bearer of Narya. (Side note, do you guys think Gandalf was able to make such fancy fireworks thanks to the ring? ) This would be a topic for a thread of its own, but I just thought about how fire is quite closely associated with Gandalf the Grey but Gandalf the White doesn't seem to have any special connection with the element. I wonder if it's an intentional choice on Tolkien's part, or if there is just no space for Gandalf's "fire magic" later in the book.
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:48 PM   #89
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(Side note, do you guys think Gandalf was able to make such fancy fireworks thanks to the ring? )
I never doubted it. If Galadriel uses her ring to make Lórien beautiful, why not use Narya to make the Shire celebrations pretty? I don't think it would be any blasphemy to use the Ring for such purposes.

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This would be a topic for a thread of its own, but I just thought about how fire is quite closely associated with Gandalf the Grey but Gandalf the White doesn't seem to have any special connecion with the element. I wonder if it's an intentional choice on Tolkien's part, or if there is just no space for Gandalf's "fire magic" later in the book.
Actually I think he does some fire-stuff later. I can't recall exactly now what, but I think there were some cases. But in any case sure, they would be much less-pronounced than the earlier ones: from frying Wargs (twice) and making fireworks (and torturing Gollums...), there isn't that much else... of course you could say he is much more associated with pure light there, afterwards: a fire in a "higher form", perhaps? An "ideal fire without smoke"?
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Old 09-23-2016, 03:22 PM   #90
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Thanks for re-starting this discussion, Lommy and Legate! I'm going to try to join in as much as possible.

I just realized that there's an additional echo back to the first chapter of the Hobbit - an impromptu orchestra! The Dwarves played together at the Unexpected Party - with quite a result, getting Bilbo to feel with them and join their quest.

At the Long-Expected Party the younger Hobbits played together with the instruments they got in the musical crackers. They got others to dance (and we learn of the Springle-ring), but other than that, nothing really resulted from their music.

Is it the diminished stature of Hobbits vs. Dwarves that makes their music less moving? Is it the smaller size of the instruments? It does seem that music diminishes in Middle-earth, starting off mighty with the Great Music of creation, then dwindling over the ages.
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Old 09-23-2016, 08:33 PM   #91
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Maybe people also don't mind Hugo Bracegirdle not returning books that much if they don't read so much themselves.
I think they do mind very much. It doesn't matter that they don't really need the book and that they might never read it; it decorates their bookshelf and gives an air of learning and upper-classness and family history and pompousness. How dare that Hugo Bracegirdle not return the familial treasure, the ancient dusty volume passed down from father to son since the times of the Generic Ancestor Number Fifteen? I feel like not returning a book could be considered as stepping on one's honour and thus a great offence.
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Old 09-25-2016, 03:54 AM   #92
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I just realized that there's an additional echo back to the first chapter of the Hobbit - an impromptu orchestra! The Dwarves played together at the Unexpected Party - with quite a result, getting Bilbo to feel with them and join their quest.

At the Long-Expected Party the younger Hobbits played together with the instruments they got in the musical crackers. They got others to dance (and we learn of the Springle-ring), but other than that, nothing really resulted from their music.
But also Bilbo stopped it (at least the part which started impromptu during his Speech) before it had the chance to bloom into anything.

One would say, maybe it is also a parallel to the Unexpected Party like this. Back then, Bilbo's home was hijacked, and strangers just poured into his house and started playing music. Here, half a century later, Bilbo is his own master; the party is not Unexpected but Long-expected, guests arrive but Bilbo invites them first, and when somebody begins to play in the middle of his speech, he is perfectly in control

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Is it the diminished stature of Hobbits vs. Dwarves that makes their music less moving? Is it the smaller size of the instruments? It does seem that music diminishes in Middle-earth, starting off mighty with the Great Music of creation, then dwindling over the ages.
That is nice observation, and sort of sad (but that would fit the overall course of Arda). But yes, Dwarven music would obviously still be more "heroic" and closer to their ancient roots than Hobbit music, even though again the Dwarven music would have roots somewhere in Aulë's domain, while the Hobbit music should ultimately have more in common with the music of Men and therefore also Elves, as other Children of Ilúvatar.
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I think they do mind very much. It doesn't matter that they don't really need the book and that they might never read it; it decorates their bookshelf and gives an air of learning and upper-classness and family history and pompousness. How dare that Hugo Bracegirdle not return the familial treasure, the ancient dusty volume passed down from father to son since the times of the Generic Ancestor Number Fifteen? I feel like not returning a book could be considered as stepping on one's honour and thus a great offence.
That's a good remark. True: hobbits may not be interested so much in reading, but they are (at least some of them) quite aware of their possessions.

Although (and again some interesting dynamic here), there is, also in this chapter, a certain counter-evidence present that actually Hobbits were not as greedy or possessive as it sometimes seems (this image of a grumpy Sackville-Baggins who greets visitors by "get off my field!" "hands off my spoons!" "return my books!"); you have the whole hints at underlying non-possessiveness (starting from "natural resilience" to the Ring, I daresay most hobbits would be still slower to succumb than an average Man; the circulation of mathoms not all of which are just old junk, the general spirit of hospitality when you invite your neighbours for a drink even if it's the Old Winyard and so on).
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Old 04-29-2018, 08:28 PM   #93
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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...
Apparently according to Return of Shadow they might be Nar, Anar, and Hannar

That being said I came here looking for an answer to a question. They were close enough to hear a whistle and it certainly doesn’t seem to me that Gandalf and Bilbo were whispering, did they just not care? Seems like the type of argument you might ask about.
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