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Old 05-06-2012, 06:28 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Pipe Hobbit2 - Chapter 01 - An Unexpected Party

Quote:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single hobbit in possession of a cozy hole must be in want of an adventure.
Wrong start? Oh well, you all know the first sentence - carry on!

(The new discussion is herewith officially opened.)


(Link to the previous discussion, for those interested.)
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Old 05-06-2012, 01:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post
Wrong start? Oh well, you all know the first sentence - carry on!
Haha, and you know, I think The Hobbit is the only book that I could recite the first sentence from memory. Well there's that, and Moby Dick's "Call me Ismael." But that is not nearly as a captivating first sentence as "In the hole, in the ground, there lived a hobbit."

Apologies that this will just seem like a summary of the first chapter, but I'm not sure how to explain it other than "An Unexpected Party" made me feel good, and welcoming. It felt like a long-lost tale and Tolkien, removed from the story, was the story-teller reading it to me. It starts out light and funny, as Bilbo frets over having enough food for all of the unexpected visitors who keep showing. Then there is a mood switch when the dwarves tell the tale of Smaug's coming and their home being sacked. We're left with a frightened Bilbo, full of tales about dragons and uknown adventures, but still having some "Tookish" quality that makes the thrill of adventure lying dormant within Bilbo. It's really a beautiful chapter.
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:29 PM   #3
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Yes, Boro! But what awakened the Tookishness?! It was the music!
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As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside of him...
Music crossed cultural barriers and prepared the unlikely hero for adventure!
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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I always loved the idea of those warring sides of Bilbo. Sensible Hobbitishness on the one side and then this slowly awakening Tookish side. What is a poor hobbit to do in such situations but scream like a boiling kettle?!

The whole chapter just evokes pictures in your head. I'm not naturally a visual person, I don't need a picture with the words, but in this chapter it is impossible not to see it all playing out.

Though I must admit to wishing for more description of the hobbits, or some kind of comparison, because from the day I read this at age 7 to the day I saw the Lord of the Rings films I imagined hobbits as looking something like tall, less furry guinea pigs.
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:50 PM   #5
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But that is not nearly as a captivating first sentence as "In the hole, in the ground, there lived a hobbit."
Hey, hey, no commas there!

I have quite enjoyed all the meanings of "good morning" in this chapter. A phrase with so many meanings!

Tolkien does a neat trick on the reader - rather like the one Gandalf plays on Beorn a while later. He keeps interrupting the story with bits of history to make us more informed and at the same time more curious.

Overall, I think this chapter has a naughty kind of mood. Just the right combination of funny and serious and mysterious and adventurous to make a kid excited to read on and someone older go "aww" for the "child mood".
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:25 PM   #6
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Since no one else has referred to The History of the Hobbit yet, I will mention a few aspects of the book's early stages. The most significant difference is that of nomenclature. The dragon was named "Pryftan", the wizard "Bladorthin", and the chief of the dwarves was - Gandalf! The other dwarf names were as we know them, though bits of dialogue were switched. The goblin king who was killed by Bullroarer Took (simultaneously inventing the game of golf) was Fingolfin!

Another fascinating aspect is that of magic. I discovered this when researching the dwarven instruments for my book on music. In the early version, Bombur produces a drum from nowhere and Bifur and Bofur turn their walking sticks into clarinets. Why do you think Tolkien removed all references to dwarven magic?
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:31 PM   #7
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The goblin king who was killed by Bullroarer Took (simultaneously inventing the game of golf) was Fingolfin!
Now that's... not what I expected!...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Esty
Another fascinating aspect is that of magic. I discovered this when researching the dwarven instruments for my book on music. In the early version, Bombur produces a drum from nowhere and Bifur and Bofur turn their walking sticks into clarinets. Why do you think Tolkien removed all references to dwarven magic?
I think that Dwarves of the late TA are meant to have lost much of their former skill and magic. They are supposed to be an echo of times past - like most everything else in that time period.
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post
Since no one else has referred to The History of the Hobbit yet, I will mention a few aspects of the book's early stages. The most significant difference is that of nomenclature. The dragon was named "Pryftan", the wizard "Bladorthin", and the chief of the dwarves was - Gandalf! The other dwarf names were as we know them, though bits of dialogue were switched. The goblin king who was killed by Bullroarer Took (simultaneously inventing the game of golf) was Fingolfin!
The different names are easily one of my favorite parts of the History of the Hobbit - especially Fingolfin as the goblin king (I especially love that one as a fanfic author). The curious thing to me is how almost all of these names show up somewhere else in Tolkien's works - Fingolfin and Gandalf are obvious, Bladorthin shows up (for one line) later in The Hobbit. Pryftan seems to be the odd one out, unless somebody else remembers somewhere I've forgotten that Tolkien used it?

Quote:
Another fascinating aspect is that of magic. I discovered this when researching the dwarven instruments for my book on music. In the early version, Bombur produces a drum from nowhere and Bifur and Bofur turn their walking sticks into clarinets. Why do you think Tolkien removed all references to dwarven magic?
I think that they disappeared because even at this stage, Tolkien's mind was already turning away from such obvious instance of magic by his characters. Most of the instance in the published Hobbit that I can recall involve objects (or Gandalf making his fireworks), and not something like that. Even the instances in Mirkwood seem less in your face then that. I suppose getting a drum from nowhere would be too...I don't know the term, today I would say Harry Potterish, but Tolkien wouldn't have known that. ...and out of place with the rest of the instances in The Hobbit.

I don't know how much future events can be brought in, so I'll leave it at this - considering the other instances of "magic" in the books, I would have considered the musical instruments appearing out of nowhere to be far more elf-magic for the book's time period, and far less dwarven. After all, the main mention of the dwarves' magic in the first chapter of the published book is "...not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days. So my grandfather’s halls became full of armour and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toy market of Dale was the wonder of the North." Apparently, Dwarves were Middle-earth's answer to the "First Toymaker to the King". ;p

Apologies if the above doesn't make much sense, I'm currently miles away from my copies of History of the Hobbit.
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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Anyone who hasn't should try to get a copy of The Annotated Hobbit c1988, by
Douglas A. Anderson. In addition to giving various published versions of the Hobbit (including the original Gollum riddle chapter) there are numerous illustrations and some blurbs/reviews from various countries. In Chapter I alone including Hungary, Russia, Portugal, Rumania, France, etc. as well as sketches by Tolkien.

Btw, "Struck by lightning! Struck by lightning!"

And wouldn't you like to know more about the land of the wild Were-worms in the last desert.
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:32 PM   #10
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The first chapter is always such fun to read!

And I agree with Esty that the dwarves' song is the turning point in the chapter. I guess its effect on the reader is the same as on Bilbo. I am so glad that in the upcoming Hobbit movie they kept this song, and what I hear of it in the trailer even sounds quite appropriate to me!

I think Tolkien did well not to keep the dwarven magic in. The effect of "magic" is much greater when only used sparingly!

Though I haven't seen the annotated Hobbit, I read somewhere about the original names, and knew that "Gandalf" was one of the Dwarves. ("Gandalf" figures in fact in the "dvergatal" in the Völuspa)
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:56 PM   #11
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No-one has yet mentioned any similarity between the portion of this chapter where one dwarf after another unexpectedly arrives on Bilbo’s doorstep and the famous Marx Brothers Stateroom scene where person after person comes to Groucho’s stateroom with reasons why they should be admitted to the madness.

See http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/2...tate-Room.html .

Of course this film was released in 1935, more than two years after Tolkien first finished The Hobbit at the end of 1932. So Tolkien could not have been influenced by the film. Similarities must be coincidence, unless both the writers for the film and Tolkien might have been influenced by some related or identical earlier work.

Does anyone know of such a work?

When I first read the book as a child I was impressed by its authenticity, as I remembered encountering at least some of the dwarf names previously, probably remembered from some children’s book on Norse mythology which included all or part of the Eddic list of dwarf names. So I assumed that hobbits were also authentic as the word hobbit looked authentic.

Much, much later I learned that hobbits are authentic, appearing in a list of spirits in the Denham Tracts, which even Tolkien years after writing the story no longer recalled, if indeed Tolkien had not invented a word which only by coincidence already existed.

I don’t see that any magic need by assumed in respect to the musical instruments. See http://www.vintagedrum.com/barry_col..._bass_drum.htm for a collapsible bass drum patented in 1917. The dwarves had expected this to be a final party before setting off (as it was) and so naturally brought their instruments. Only Thorin’s harp and the two viols are specified as being especially large. And in the next chapter it is specified about the dwarves’ ponies:
… each pony was slung about with all kinds of baggages, packages, parcels, and paraphernalia.
I expect we should imagine that the dwarves had the instruments with them on their journey until most of their provisions were stolen when the dwarves were captured by the goblins.


What puzzles me is that Fíli and Kíli each arrive at Bag End with “a bag of tools and a spade.” What did they expect to do with those at Bag End? Perhaps they are to be understood as recent purchases which Fíli and Kíli have decided not to bother to take to Bywater before heading to Bag End.
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:29 PM   #12
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Quick note before jumping into the Chapter 2 discussion.

This could make me a horrible Tolkien fan, I tried reading the Annotated Hobbit, but I just can't get into it. When I'm reading I like getting into a linear, mental zone, where I'm just reading the story. And all the pictures, notes, and extra material in the Annotated just distracts my eye and I lose my place

Maybe from now on I'll try to read my copy of The Hobbit, and then go to the Annotated for all the extra stuff after. I'm sure there's bunches of interesting details, but when I sit down to read, I can't have clutter in the margins distracting me.
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:30 AM   #13
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Picked up my copy today for a re-read and spotted a little gem that sparked a small amount of discussion on the old fac-e-book. It's a small point but may be slightly amusing.

The Dwarves, upon arrival, are expecting food. Balin and Dwalin are having cakes and tea and beer and the rest come along for more, including scones and so on. Now, the Dwarf famous for his love of food, or at least the consumption of it in vast and unhealthy quantities, is, of course, Bombur. However, take a look at what he requests...

Quote:
Originally Posted by An Unexpected Party
"And pork-pie and salad!" said Bombur
My first thought was that this was a joke on Tolkien's part. He's already established that Bombur is fat and after a long list of food from the other dwarves it is this fat one that asks for the salad - the healthy option. Albeit with some pork pies. Can't be too healthy I suppose.
But perhaps there is more to this? Were salads considered healthy in medieval times, or not? Do Dwarves have different notions of healthy foods? Or did Bombur simply not stick to his diet and this is why he ends up requiring teams of young dwarves to lift him to the dinner table by the time of the Lord of the Rings?

A small point, I know.
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:34 PM   #14
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Nice site on food in TH - with a bit of background on pork pies http://recipewise.co.uk/tea-in-the-hobbit
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Old 11-19-2017, 08:23 PM   #15
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I got this itch to return to Tolkien again after reading all the Dexter books. How a serial killer of serial killers working in a police department segues to "I want to get back to Tolkien" I have no idea but it did. I picked up The Hobbit today, read the first chapter and scanned through the previous CBC discussions and suddenly my Tookishness kicked into action.

I don't know where this will go, because I probably won't have a post for every chapter and I don't expect anyone to pick up the book and join me. I'm just going to try to take advantage of the standing offer to post and add to previous CBC threads.

This time reading it I'd like to pay more attention to the dwarves, and how the book gets knocked for it's lack of depth. It could well be by the end my opinion that it would have been better with 4-5 fewer dwarves (sorry Kuru and Agan ) and more depth provided on a fewer number of dwarves. But maybe I'll be surprised.

I do think An Unexpected Party contains more depth than what it's usually given credit for...is there another book where the reader is introduced to 15 characters in slightly over 20 pages? Also, within the same chapter there is a detailed description of Bag End, Bilbo's parentage as a Baggins and a Took, Gandalf's backstory, glimpses of a deeper history and world: wereworms, Bullroarer Took's victory over Golfimbul, Gandalf's fireworks at the Old Took''s birthday party, a short exchange between Thorin and Gandalf about the Necromancer (unbeknownst to the reader at the time this turns out to be the big bad evil of the past and in the future). And of course what the story is going to be about, the loss of Erebor and the dwarves seeking to take back their riches from Smaug is all laid out in a little over 20 pages. It's rather stunning to just sit and think how Tolkien does not waste a sentence, let alone doesn't waste a word. (as well as depressing considering all the waste and trash in Jackson's movies).

A sort of running log, on what I discover about the individual dwarves (or maybe I forget a lot and am relearning all that I forgot?):

Thorin - an important dwarf. Wore a sky-blue hood with a silver tassle, and plays a harp. Naturally he gets the best bedroom to sleep in. Along with Gandalf, drinks red wine. It might turn out that Thorin is the individual dwarf we learn the most about in Tolkien's Legendarium. Where Tolkien doesn't like to waste words Thorin appears to pick up the slack. The first conversation between Gandalf and Bilbo gets a lot of discussion (and rightfully so) but I also think the interactions between Thorin and Bilbo is humorous tension.

Quote:
"Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are met together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit - may the hair on his toes never fall out! all praise to his wine and ale! -" He paused for breath and for polite remark from the hobbit, but the compliments were quite lost on poor Bilbo Baggins, who was wagging his mouth in protest at being called audacious and worst of all fellow conspirator,...
In "mock-politeness" he asks for Bilbo's expert burglar input. We also learn about his grand-father and father when Gandalf gives him the map and key and their history with Azog.

Dwalin- first to arrive. "blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his dark-green hood." Brother of Balin. It said he pushed himself inside once Bilbo opened the door. Along with Balin plays a "viol as big as himself." I would say Dwalin is one of the well-to-do dwarves in the company. I don't know the intricacies of instruments but a large viol to me suggests a higher status symbol than a clarinet or flute. Also, he must think himself also pretty important by the way it's remarked he forces himself in as soon as Bilbo opens the door.

Balin- The oldest dwarf, red-hood and white beard. Brother of Dwalin, but also catch a different personality from his younger brother. Where Dwalin pushed his way in, when the door opened, Balin "hopped inside" and "Balin at your service!" he said with his hand on his breast. Bilbo offers him tea, Balin prefers ale and seed-cakes.

Fili and Kili- brothers, nephews to Thorin and the youngest dwarves - "blue hoods, silver belts and yellow beards." Carrying a bag of tools and each a spade. Play fiddles. Named, along with Bilbo as being too young to know their exact situation with Smaug and quest.

Dori, Ori, Nori - not sure if it's every established how these 3 are related. They all play the flute. Nothing in this chapter to really distinguish between them, besides Dori and Nori wear purple hoods and Ori a grey hood. This group calls out for ale, some porter and one of them for coffee. I wonder which one is the coffee drinker?

Oin and Gloin -They come in with Dori, Ori and Nori, and I don't think their relationship is mentioned in this chapter. At some point, I believe it's revealed they are brothers. No instrument is mentioned for either of them. Where Thorin is too important to be plain and direct with his words, Gloin steps in as Thorin's bully. He is the most direct in his doubts about Gandalf's choice in Bilbo Baggins.

Quote:
"As soon as I clapped eyes on the little fellow bobbing and puffing on the mat I had my doubts. He looks more like a grocer than a burglar."
Quote:
"Yes, yes, but that was long ago," said Gloin. "I was talking about you."
If this was re-imagined into Thorin's mafia family, I'm picturing Gloin as the meat-headed muscle/enforcer of the mob family. He truly is a bully to Bilbo, but Gandalf puts him in his place:

Quote:
"Of course there is a mark," said Gandalf. "I put it there myself. For very good reasons. You asked me to find a fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal."
Gandalf's insult directed at Gloin about digging coal, reinforces he is not the important, well-to-do dwarf that Thorin is.

Bifur- yellow hood, played a clarinet. Requested raspberry jam and apple tart.
Bofur - yellow hood, played a clarinet. Requested mince-pies and cheese.
Bombur- Pale green hood, established as the fattest of the dwarves. Characterized as the the "comedic relief" in the company by requesting a "pork-pie and salad." Plays a drum.

Do the hood colors, instruments, and special food requests reveal anything about the individual dwarves? If so, I'm not sure what other than in some cases like Thorin and Bombur. But how about the "mince pies and cheese" of Bofur, and "raspberry jam and apple tart" of Bifur?
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