Questions And Answers About Tolkien And His Work

A place for general Tolkien discussion and also a place to ask questions
Philipa
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Questions And Answers About Tolkien And His Work

Postby Philipa » Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:55 pm

Questions And Answers About Tolkien And His Work

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In this thread you can ask any question that is on your mind about Tolkien the man or anything about his books and the characters in them. No question is a stupid question and in the process of helping we all learn a little bit more about what attracts us to this man and his stories.

So please feel free to ask your questions and someone will try and help answer them.
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Postby Merry » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:31 pm

Serinde asked these questions in the introduction thread, and I thought they were good ones:

My first question: for those of you who read the books several times before, have you had any trouble reading them since the movies? ( I, to my shame, have to include two half-reads in my total!)

My second question: what is up with the similar names? Sauron & Saruman (which since hearing them pronounced in the movies are much clearer, -- a true blessing to have pronounciations), and in the Sil -- Hurin & Huor, Turin & Tuor -- Please, did anyone keep them straight their first time through?


Any answers?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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serinde
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Postby serinde » Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:03 am

It used to be that I could pick up the books, and no matter how long it took (reading other stuff in between), I would read the trilogy from beginning to end.

Now the scenes from the movies are in my head all the time. In fact, I'm surprised that the crossing of the gap in the bridge/stairs from FotR is only a small comment from the journey through Moria.

Am I just being impatient because the books have all of the WONDERFUL details that I love, but are slower paced than the movies?

Sometimes I catch myself comparing the two mediums in certain scenes. Maybe I need to dip more into the artwork, so I can see different versions of the characters, so it isn't just Peter Jackson's choices I see in my head. (But who could replace Viggo?)

Perhaps I need to concentrate on reading them through - a good 'time between Christmas & New Years' project, eh?

so, we agreed? One more concentrated effort, perhaps starting with the prequel (the Silmarillion) first.

Never would I have thought that reading Tolkien would have to be an effort! (but I haven't dipped much into the latterly published tomes)

Well, that was an interesting dialogue worthy of Gollum/Smeagol himself! :D

Namarie,
Serinde
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:11 am

Well, Smeagol/Gollum! :lol: I also have occasional memory problems between the books and the movies, but I'm also having memory problems in every other area of my life, so that shouldn't be surprising, should it? I'm spending more time with the books these days, and that helps. It is sometimes a pleasure not to read to find out what happens, but for the joy of the small detail.

I do find all the names confusing, especially in the Silmarillion. I assume that Tolkien, the philologist, was having a good time playing on the roots of his invented languages by making the roots inherited in a family line. And I think Shippey has something about the pairing of Sauron/Saruman and Theoden/Denethor--he wrote, I think, that we're meant to think of the two together, comparing and contrasting. Maybe I'll try to find that this weekend.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:41 pm

I think there is also something in Shippey about the roots of Sauron and Saruman's names that shows they both subvert nature into their own distorted creations. It makes it less surprising that Saruman was easily corrupted into being a shadow of Sauron. I need to do some looking up too!
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Postby marbretherese » Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:18 pm

Merry wrote: It is sometimes a pleasure not to read to find out what happens, but for the joy of the small detail.


That's so true, Merry, and it's the "small detail" of the trilogy which drew me into LOTR in the first place, quite as much as the epic story. I also empathise with your comments about memory problems!

The films didn't spoil my enjoyment of the books as much as I thought they might, Serinde. When they came out I hadn't touched the books for several years and I deliberately didn't reread the trilogy until I'd seen all three. Which took a considerable effort of will, mind you! and from time to time I did dip into the books to check details included in the films. In fact I was staggered to realise how much of them was included in the films - whole chunks of dialogue which I thought PJ must have invented were there on the printed page!

I had vivid ideas about the characters when I first read the books (I've even posted a painting of a couple of them on the MEJ Tolkien-inspired art thread!) and even though the casting of the films was excellent, my original ideas stayed with me. So I've had no problems re-reading and enjoying the trilogy (although I confess I've always found the Frodo-Sam-into-Mordor strand less gripping than the goings-on of the other Fellowship members. Which is strange considering they carry the Ring and the fate of everyone else in their hands!)

The Sil is a totally different matter. I got really confused with all the similar names practically from the start. :oops: But then, I'm not sure it was ever intended to be published, was it? if I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me! I should say, however, that it was worth the struggle and one day I'm going to get around to doing a watercolour or two of the Valar. Hopefully.

What I have hugely enjoyed reading, post-films, is the book of Tolkien's letters, which give such insight into the great man himself, and John Garth's book "Tolkien and the Great War". In fact I just checked my wish-list at Amazon and it looks as though I shall be reading my next batch of Tolkien-related literature between Christmas and New Year :D

Apologies for rambling off topic. Isn't the menopause wonderful? :?
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:17 pm

I agree with you Marbretherese that seeing the films has not spoiled my love for the books, and I have also been able to retain my original vision of the characters. Particularly the hobbits. During my first reading of The Hobbit, I got it firmly into my head that hobbits looked a bit like anthropomorphized hedgehogs -- and not in a Disneyfied way. I think it was the fact that they lived underground plus the number of times that Bilbo got referred to as a bunny or a rat. I just saw them as a humanoid version of a burrowing animal --walking upright, but with considerably more "fur" on their bodies and appendages, but more human-like faces with red cheeks and laughing eyes. Very exotic, very different from men, dwarves, or elves, but still distinctly humanoid.

Although I thought PJ's casting of the hobbits was excellent, I was disappointed that they weren't more furry -- and furtive. The movie hobbits crashed about too much. Hobbits were supposed to move very silently.

As far as The Silmarillion is concerned, Marbretherese, Tolkien did very much want to have it published. The problem is that the opportunity to do so came much later on in his life, and he never really had the time to polish and develop it as he would have wished before his death. It was also conceived very differently than LOTR. The Silmarillion grew as a series of eventually inter-related myths -- Tolkien's effort to build in world in which his elvish languages would have naturally emerged -- whereas LOTR was built as a continuous narrative.

If you haven't already done so, you might want to purchase or borrow a copy of The Letters of JRR Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter. You can follow through the Professor's own correspondence the manner in which his books emerged, developed, and were published. Many, many interesting insights into his thoughts about characters, themes, etc. Really fascinating reading!
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Postby Merry » Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:49 pm

I agree that the Letters are fantastic--great for insights and just pleasurable if you enjoy wordcraft.

Marbretherese, I'd love to see pictures of the Valar!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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Postby Merry » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:23 pm

I've noticed that TOR.n has a link to the Tolkien Library site with the cover art for the new Children of Hurin edition due out soon. Beren, would you be willing to share the information and art here, too?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Dec 07, 2006 5:17 pm

serinde wrote:Sometimes I catch myself comparing the two mediums in certain scenes. Maybe I need to dip more into the artwork, so I can see different versions of the characters, so it isn't just Peter Jackson's choices I see in my head. (But who could replace Viggo?)

This is the main reason I started doing essays on different artists. I really wanted to look at other views of Middle-earth and its characters because the imagery from the films was so strong. But I must admit that when I re-read the books my own vision of M-e returned, even though it was years since I'd first read it! Even Aragorn :wink: .
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Postby serinde » Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:53 am

Hmmm, it appears I am the only one with this problem. Perhaps despite my patience in cross stitching, my patience in reading wears thin. I am eager to get back into the Trilogy.

I made a comment that the Silmarillion reads like the Bible to me. Actually the Old Testament. There's the beginning of the universe, Middle-Earth's genesis; there are wonderful broad, sweeping sections that deal with the mythological history, the migrations of the Elves & the First Men; then there are the detailed stories of certain persons, the heroes and the anti-heroes. I like starting there.

Serinde
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Postby Merry » Fri Dec 08, 2006 5:14 am

Serinde, I think your analogy between the Old Testament and the Sil is really apt. With your permission, I hope, I'm going to move your words to the Silmarillion thread so we can discuss it further!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Merry
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Re: Questions And Answers About Tolkien And His Work

Postby Merry » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:49 am

I have a question someone might be able to help me with. I've been doing a little research into the two different versions of 'Riddles in the Dark' that Tolkien published, the second of which is the revision Tolkien did when he realized what the Ring was and that Gollum was going to play an on-going role in LOTR. In both versions, Gollum says, 'Bless us and splash us', which is kind of funny. In the second version, when Gollum realizes the Ring is missing, he says, 'Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!"

This 'bless me' language is also something that both Gandalf and Bilbo say all through The Hobbit and I think Sam says in LOTR. So I'm wondering if anyone knows if this is a common thing to say in England, if it is still said, if it belongs to a class or a generation of people? (I need to invite Iolanthe and marbretherese back to see what they know about this!) As far as I know, this isn't an American expression, is it?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Philipa
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Re: Questions And Answers About Tolkien And His Work

Postby Philipa » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:16 pm

Merry wrote:As far as I know, this isn't an American expression, is it?


I'm no historian but I think you'd find it said within 19th century American novels. It just rings true with writers like Louisa May Alcott and that crowd.
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