Lord of the Rings

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Convince me it isnt a silly adventure novel and that it was worth giving up a great philogy career .

anthony, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Hobbit Motherfucker

RickyT, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I wonder what the Dwarves cocks are like

Mike Hanle y, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

^all dwarven women have beards^

This fact scarred me as a child - gimme Legolas anyday

or indeed a LEGOlass

, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I liked that Jenny Turner piece that mark s mentioned in the thread spoke of above by RickyT.

And I've never read the books.

Cryosmurf, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

whos more fuckable ; legolass or elron?

Mike Hanle y, Friday, 16 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

haha sean bean (= boromir) was on the frank skinner show promo-ing LoTR:
fs (who plainly thinks the book = hippy toss): "So, tell us abt Boromir"
sb: "Well, er, he's good"
fs: "You haven't read it, have you!"
[interview shifts into zne where fs embarrasses sb into talking rubbish about dwarves]

mark s, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

That's Boromir in a nutshell, innit? Nice on the casting. Maybe I should see. Though no CG will ever = the REAL Balrog. etc etc

After seeing the trailer, I am getting nervous. Not about the execution of the film, which looks pretty good, but I am realizing that the PRONUNCIATION of all those odd names is inchoate in my head and I like it that way. "Sauron" for instance is wonderfully slippery the way my mind says it. I'm not sure that I want the Webster's versh. And before you all say "well jrrt was a philologist and he had very precise rules about things" it's a bluddy BOOK, but one whose fuzzynesses I treasure. I'm willing to give this up visually but those NAMES, those impossible names...

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

eleven years pass...

Have the bbc radio drama on my phone atm, it's magical. Tracer otm about pronunciation too.

darraghmac, Tuesday, 13 August 2013 23:41 (seven years ago) link

Loved the radio version as a kid, we had it in a big box of about twenty cassettes.

I wish to incorporate disco into my small business (chap), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:33 (seven years ago) link

i had this weird bbc adaptation of the hobbit when i was a kid, i remember all the pronunciations seemed kind of off ('gan-DALF,' 'gol-LOOM,' etc). otherwise it was pretty awesome.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:36 (seven years ago) link

Yeah the Hobbit and LOTR BBC productions were made with a different team each, I think.

Do very much love the LOTR BBC version for sure. It's a nice blend of classically stage-y radio drama -- lots of overexplaining what the characters are seeing when a visual version wouldn't need it and all -- and good atmosphere and detail. Easily the most accurate adaptation done in terms of the actual book itself. IIRC there was a late fifties adaptation for BBC Radio as well -- wonder what that was like?

There were also American radio versions done of both the Hobbit and LOTR -- The Hobbit was passable but LOTR, ack.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:45 (seven years ago) link

What's killin me is that it's v clear that jackson had the actors take pointers from this, then the cunt goes and writes his own dialogue/scenes.

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:48 (seven years ago) link

what;s killing me is Aragornth lithp come on admit it it's fucken hilarious

failed skirty tropes (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:00 (seven years ago) link

Im not getting it tbh? Its weird his talkin all country lord like tho

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:01 (seven years ago) link

is this the OG adaptation from the 80s? i swear when i re-listened years later that lisp was all i cd hear

failed skirty tropes (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:03 (seven years ago) link

Check yr tape heads maybe

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:04 (seven years ago) link

has anyone heard the bbc adaptation of asimov's 'foundation'?

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:47 (seven years ago) link

i had the american "the mind's eye" dramatization of the hobbit that aired on npr in 1980, listened to it approx a zillion times

one yankee sympathizer masquerading as a historian (difficult listening hour), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 06:15 (seven years ago) link

nv u sonbitch i can hear nothing but lithp now

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:41 (seven years ago) link

soz dude, thought it was obvious

http://valawyersweekly.com/files/2009/12/important-ops-logo.jpg (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:45 (seven years ago) link

you've given me a yen to hear it again if that's any consolation, altho this Foundation adaptation sounds pretty cool

http://valawyersweekly.com/files/2009/12/important-ops-logo.jpg (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:46 (seven years ago) link

i had the american "the mind's eye" dramatization of the hobbit that aired on npr in 1980, listened to it approx a zillion times

Yeah that was the clusterfuck I mentioned. The elves sounded like they were squeaky toy dolls on helium, except for Elrond, so sounded like an old bloated Santa Claus reject.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 11:57 (seven years ago) link

I struggle to imagine a worse elrond than weaving tbrr

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 11:58 (seven years ago) link

I don't think Weaving was that bad (he's pretty good at conveying the Elvish holier-than-thou attitude towards the other races), but IMO it wasn't very wise to cast an obviously balding guy to play a character who's supposed to be eternally young.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:02 (seven years ago) link

He was, tho, that bad. He was woeful. He looked like the mekon. He looked like the dudes from mars attacks. He talked like he had challenges. He played it one dimensional frosty headmaster rubbish. Jackson ballsed up every elf, goes without saying, but his treatment of elrond and galadriel are gross incompetencies of the highest order may he shit needles forevermore.

darraghmac, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:06 (seven years ago) link

I struggle to imagine a worse elrond than weaving tbrr

Arnie or Stallone would have been worse.

not_goodwin, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:10 (seven years ago) link

I struggle to imagine a worse elrond than weaving tbrr

Trust me. It IS that bad. A little backstory:

It was produced by “The Mind’s Eye” theatre company, who at the time were responsible for numerous adaptations of classic literature for radio. The script, written by Bernard Mayes, was an abridged version of the book. Its eleven hour running time focused significantly on the dialogue, with much of the back history and expositionary narration removed.

The production was very low budget, drawing upon local amateur actors and friends of the producer. There was extensive use of library music and home made sound effects. Due to scheduling issues the cast often recorded their dialogue separately which leads to some somewhat stilted exchanges of dialogue in key scenes. The actors also had to provide multiple voices and their own accents are at times apparent. It is also clear that the production was not driven by a Tolkien scholar. The pronunciation of many names and places is often incorrect and some aspects of the plot have been reduced so excessively it leaves many questions unanswered to those unfamiliar with the story.

Oh and you get Tom Bombadil too. Rather too much.

It's all on YouTube! You've been warned, but if you want to start somewhere...


Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:14 (seven years ago) link

Oh man, so much love for these adaptations! The LOTR one in particular I've just listened to death since I was a lad. Remember being astonished years after the fact to discover that it was really Bill Nighy playing Sam Gamgee in it.

Peter Woodthorpe (aka Del Boy's dad) as Gollum is absolutely 100% spectacular the whole way through this, he walks the line between creeping villain and pitiful wretch perfectly, makes your skin crawl. And he does it in a way that rarely if ever descends into the kind of comedy space that Serkis' version sometimes ended up occupying. Special mention for Gandalf too - I love Ian Mac, but Michael Hordern is just another level, when he gets angry in this I get chills.

The atmosphere and production throughout is wonderful, I love how frequently they bring the music in, although tbf some of the soprano little-boy opera grates at times (Boromir's prophecy etc). But the circling strings --> staccato stabs --> mournful theme of the main title music haunted my childhood.

Is the BBC Hobbit version mentioned further up-thread the one with Heron Carvic (also briefly of Dick Barton Special Agent) as Gandalf? Guy's voice fascinates me, it's so soft and oily. The music in this is also quite fun, slightly odd little medieval motif that plays at the start and end of each section. And the song that the goblins sing as the dwarves and Bilbo are taken down to Goblin Town used to give me nightmares, honest to god. TERRIFYING!

Third Rate Zoo Keepers With Tenth Rate Minds (Windsor Davies), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 16:27 (seven years ago) link

nine months pass...


“Anybody who says they knew it was going to be the success it was, I don’t think it’s really true,” he says. “They didn’t have an inkling until they showed 20 minutes in Cannes, in May of 2001. They were in a lot of trouble, and Peter had spent a lot. Officially, he could say that he was finished in December 2000 – he’d shot all three films in the trilogy – but really the second and third ones were a mess. It was very sloppy – it just wasn’t done at all. It needed massive reshoots, which we did, year after year. But he would have never been given the extra money to do those if the first one hadn’t been a huge success. The second and third ones would have been straight to video.

james lipton and his francs (darraghmac), Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:12 (six years ago) link

Mortensen thinks – rightly – that The Fellowship of the Ring turned out the best of the three, perhaps largely because it was shot in one go. “It was very confusing, we were going at such a pace, and they had so many units shooting, it was really insane. But it’s true that the first script was better organised,” he says. “Also, Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back. In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.

james lipton and his francs (darraghmac), Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:13 (six years ago) link

Sounds right enough from here.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:24 (six years ago) link

too easy on the clown by far obv but at least he has achieved clarity with time

james lipton and his francs (darraghmac), Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:29 (six years ago) link

Hey, smart enough to recognize a fluke was a fluke. I'm still very fond of the original three films but I'm kinda glad I kept my expectations for the new ones at the level of 'just give me a good Smaug.' Which they did, so.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:34 (six years ago) link

nb the clown there is jackson, i dig viggo

james lipton and his francs (darraghmac), Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:41 (six years ago) link

Ha, I got that, trust me.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:42 (six years ago) link

Zeal of a convert---from ILB's Speculative etc thread:
I finally read The Lord of the Rings--finally, that is, after putting it down in early high school--thee appointed tyme of maximum susceptibility--upon realizing that I was expected to go epically Questing with a hero who had furry toes. Apparently a lot of detractors don't get past the first forty pages, or the first sentence, about Bilbo's elevetny-first birthday, but the whole point is the pull from light to dark and back again, and the way they get mingled---leaders on all levels, incl. drafted patrol leader Frodo, are subject to temptation, corruption (in the sense of physical and psychic wounds, some of them permanent/recurring--plus of course effects on Middle-earth, "the circles of the world," as mentioned briefly, in an end in one of the Appendices of this 1990s one-vol edition: circles, like the Ring, which must have their own kind of end, limits, be something, some thing, however elusively so, 'til the reader can peer through them, as Tom Bombadil does, and see something beyond. He does it and laughs, it's all nonsense to him, seeing his unchanged turf, but he knows it's real enough to others, with real enough, inescapable consequences for all, even a victorious Quest/Anti-Quest means the Grail/Anti-Grail will both save the world and destroy it, in terms of sucking the magic out of it (no spoiler, Gandalf tells Frodo that right off, when he drafts him for the destruction of the precious, corrupting Ring, cos magic's gone as far as it can go; time for the cycles continue by secular means, and slow down the death spiral, anyway)
One limitation: we're told the significance of most things as they happen---which is better than being swamped by codes, as can happen with Gene Wolfe--but an enjoyable exception is being allowed to ponder the fate of Sauron. I think (aside from his own obsessive psycylcling through Ages) seeing though his stone has intensified his focus on the Ring---stones don't lie, but their views, the contexts they create/intensify, given the viewer's own anxieties, antagonisms, hopes and dreads, have a lasting and sometimes entrapping affect on several characters. So yeah, I disagree with those who claim Tolkien doesn't do psychology--and the effect of the stone is not so far from science fictional concerns (note also the networking of stones).
And when the ship sails, it sails, buddy. Not that it doesn't leave some real nice (and not-at-all nice) stuff behind. "There's a feeling I get/When I look the West." Eh, guess I better go listen to some more of those folk-death-or-doom-metal promos (in recent years, Wino's way ahead of the pack). Also, now I need to check out the ancient albums of Cirith Ungol. But book-wise, should I read more Tolkien, beyond The Hobbit?
PS: search "Tolkien" on The New Yorker site, get lots of good results, especially Auden, Gopnik, and Anthony Lane.

― dow, Sunday, May 4, 2014 10:54 AM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Also the stress of leadership on all levels is a big part of the fateful psychology.

― dow, Sunday, May 4, 2014 11:05 AM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

dow, Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:00 (six years ago) link

Still awaiting advice on other Tolkien books.

dow, Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:03 (six years ago) link

But it’s true that the first script was better organised

To be fair, it was also a simpler story. One party is easier to follow than three parties. But I completely agree that it was the best of the movies.

jmm, Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:09 (six years ago) link

Dow: well that's a lot to unpack! Mark S is the one who I think would lock into your read most readily and would be able to advise, so take what I'm about to say with grains of salt: If you want to read the Silmarillion as the book that some characters in LOTR would read themselves (which is how it's intended) then that'll help. If anything it'll play up the idea of cycles -- Tolkien himself went through some major revisions of Middle-earth as conceit in the last ten years of his life so if anything the final three manuscript collections -- Morgoth's Ring, The War of the Jewels and to a degree The Peoples of Middle Earth -- might be of particular interest, though I'd say you'd want to read them only after having read The Silmarillion first. The Children of Hurin expands one key tale from there in full.

Beyond that: Unfinished Tales has some of my favorite writing of his, especially 'Aldarion and Erendis,' which is as close as he ever got to a domestic drama. And of the many shorter works, Farmer Giles of Ham is a goofy-ass lark, but Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle are complementary tales on the same idea of creativity and its worth, the latter story in an explicitly Catholic context.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:38 (six years ago) link

what Ned said.

EZ Snappin, Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:54 (six years ago) link

Silmarillion = tolkein's Kalevala basically

Khamma chameleon (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 15 May 2014 14:59 (six years ago) link

Great, thanks so much, guys! All those appendices in the edition I read were helpful too. Extended entries in the online Science Fiction Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia of Fantasy were what convinced me to try again: knowing what would happen just whetted my appetite for seeing how he would manage all that.
My local library has a lot of Tolkien and related material, like the mostly excellent Tales Before Tolkien, in which Douglas Anderson rounds up stories by authors JRR praised, and/or was evidently influenced by, others he might well have read, plus some cool ringers. Will indeed consult with Mark.

dow, Thursday, 15 May 2014 15:07 (six years ago) link

Yeah, the appendices were Tolkien's way of getting the then-unpublished Silmarillion material out there a bit, but even then it was only a very swift redaction. Definitely piqued my interest for sure first time through! Anyway, enjoy the further reading!

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 15:15 (six years ago) link

lots of great arcane lore to enjoy in 'the simarillion' and 'unfinished tales', like about gandalf and the istari etc. wish there were ten times as much


reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:03 (six years ago) link

Everyone otm nice post dow

james lipton and his francs (darraghmac), Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:07 (six years ago) link

Thanks. Wondering about his recently published version of Beowulf too.

dow, Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:15 (six years ago) link

Not quite out yet, I think! A few more weeks? Been meaning to catch up with that and the other translations/scattered efforts that Christopher T. has overseen.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:27 (six years ago) link

dow otm. reminds me that i started rereading LOTR last year then got distracted by a move, need to get back on that.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 15 May 2014 17:38 (six years ago) link

He used radagast to entice gandalf to a meet iirc

Read the intro and prologue to lotr today and the discussions itt def enriched it for me.

Got emotional!

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:19 (two weeks ago) link


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:26 (two weeks ago) link


Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:28 (two weeks ago) link

I mean im sure its clear from the thread but these books meant a lot to me at very difficult periods of my youth

Dad used pick me up a volume after a dentist visit, worked out neatly tbh

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:38 (two weeks ago) link


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:42 (two weeks ago) link

Youll say perhaps if id have had more than three visits to a dentist before i was in college id be better off now and i wouldnt necessarily disagree with that

But i will say that reading lotr in a morphined adolescent frenzy wasnt the worst way to take the trip neither

Anyway tolkiens writing on the process, the timings, the meanings etc in the prologue is deeply warm, wise, humourous and human and anyone who has enjoyed this thread should take five mins to revisit that alone imo

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:47 (two weeks ago) link

}3 tbh xp

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:48 (two weeks ago) link

I came to love Laurie Anderson in a teenage post-surgical opiate haze

mark e. smith-moon (f. hazel), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:49 (two weeks ago) link

O stuporman

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:51 (two weeks ago) link


— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) April 5, 2021

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:56 (two weeks ago) link

i read in a letter Tolkien wrote to WH Auden that he sort of saw himself in the Ents, in that they had the most of his “voice” iirc

which made me love them all the more


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:00 (two weeks ago) link

His shade game is strong when he sidecuts at critics of the books or those who insist on allegorical parallels he denies

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:07 (two weeks ago) link

"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer"

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:12 (two weeks ago) link

Plenty of gandalf waspishness in that

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:13 (two weeks ago) link

love it

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:43 (two weeks ago) link

It is pure.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 02:08 (two weeks ago) link

loved the Rankin-Bass podcast, Ned! great thoughts from everyone, and y'all all have very good "radio voices" i think!

i especially love how much you come back to the LP. reminded me that also grew up with it, also on a Fisher-Price record player, and probably some of the "rentals" i remember are just me listening back to the album again. probably explains why SO much of the dialogue is really burned into my brain, at the level where any time i hear "mutton" i think "nothin' but mutton to eat." i don't think it was the double LP with the complete thing, though... but maybe?

anyway, once you started talking about that, i decided to pause the podcast and listen to the album first, to get in the mood and bring back the vibes. the copy i have now is one i grabbed a few years back when i saw it in the bins someplace; the cover doesn't match what i remember from childhood, but i could be scrambling things up. it's one LP with a lot of songs trimmed down or eliminated, as well as much of the dialogue. so basically taking the film's already very economical edit and turbocharging it. god knows what it would mean to a fresh arrival, but as just a way to relive the movie without watching it, it did the trick. i love how even in this hyper-compressed version, the depth of the voice performances adds all this space and mood and gravitas. there's just no way to rush through john huston's delivery. agreed that the major voice roles are all fantastic (with brother theodore's gollum maybe being the most inspired), and that preminger's thranduil is bizarre (but memorable!).

next to the voices the best thing about the film is the art style. nothing else really looks like it, and while it's incredibly 1970s it also gives it this weird out-of-time storybook magic for me... maybe that's just growing up with it, idk.

i don't miss the Arkenstone, but of course i've read the book far fewer times than i've seen the movie, in my lifetime... so things like that and Beorn almost feel like bonus deleted scenes when i encounter them. i do think the breathless, episodic story construction of the film does drain out some of the charm and nature-hike qualities which i think are present in this book (if less prominently than in LOTR). i've said this before, but imo the ideal hobbit movie is essentially "imagine Rankin/Bass had been in a position to make a 100-minute theatrical film rather than a 78-minute TV special." that's all it really needs... fill in some gaps so it isn't QUITE so breathlessly jumpy, let the characters breathe a little, and there you have it.

this honking's on a bobo (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 04:10 (two weeks ago) link

also, yarborough's songs never really bother me... again maybe because they're comfortingly familiar as part of the tapestry of the film. try as i might i can't *really* hear them as the work of a successful 20th century musician in his mid-40s choosing to employ a ridiculous amount of vibrato and lilt...... i just hear some bard of middle earth. pathetic i know. tellingly, i have a much easier time scoffing at his cheesiness for "Frodo of the Nine Fingers" (wtf), in a film i didn't see until i was probably 15.

this honking's on a bobo (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 04:15 (two weeks ago) link

whither the wtf re frodo nf

your own personal qanon (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 07:52 (two weeks ago) link

what the frodo

assert (MatthewK), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 11:02 (two weeks ago) link

Sing along!


Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 13:13 (two weeks ago) link

The Ghibli connections are so interesting. I wasn't aware that they used a Japanese animation studio, but you can totally see how that might have influenced the feline/lupine dragon design.




jmm, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 13:23 (two weeks ago) link

the Minstrel of Gondor is such a dick

this honking's on a bobo (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 16:02 (two weeks ago) link

Just wanted to say thanks for the kind comments! And enjoy the archives if you like -- yeah I figured I wasn't alone in having those kinds of experiences.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 16:18 (two weeks ago) link

Frodo of the Nine Finger is a madeleine -level time machine back to me sitting cross-legged on the living room floor watching our TV that we wheeled back and forth from the dining room.

guillotines aren't just for royalty anymore (PBKR), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 17:53 (two weeks ago) link

keep meaning to come back here and post some scattered Tom Bombadil thoughts after that podcast episode but now i fear they've mostly slipped away...

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 15 April 2021 20:51 (five days ago) link

It'll come back to ya

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 15 April 2021 22:11 (five days ago) link

i think it was mostly just agreeing/vibing with all the stuff abt him being above and beyond most of the plot's concerns. always loved the bit about him in the Council of Elrond, which y'all discuss... where it's clear that his corner of Middle Earth would be the last to fall in Sauron's conquest (but fall it would), and yet also that giving him the Ring would be pointless because he just wouldn't internalize its significance. i think i like the *idea of such a figure* more than i like Tom and his antics. though the haziest of memories is telling me i was fonder of him on first read. maybe i responded to the fey, quasi-trickster elements --- i liked characters of that sort. i def pictured him younger and spritelier than the "Adventures" illustrations - more Peter Pan than David the Gnome.

i think also on some story construction level, even if it wasn't planned this way, that Tom is a useful setup for Treebeard, who at first appears to be a similar sort. the Ents, though, *can* ultimately be stirred to action beyond their usual habits. maybe that sequence wouldn't work quite as well if we haven't already encountered this other personification of merry old Nature who is defined in some way by his indifference and unchangingness. and the Hobbits talk about Bombadil with Treebeard, don't they? maybe the only time he ever comes up after Rivendell...?

really the only thing i find totally indefensible about Tom is the stop-startness of the whole section, with his two-for-one sale on deus ex machina rescues. like, sorry JRR, you just gotta pick one. (and it's the barrow wight, no question.)

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 10:57 (four days ago) link

like i almost wonder if he wrote the barrow down sequence first, and then found the rescue from this god-being who comes out of nowhere unsatisfying. and so he makes sure we've at least met the guy, but in doing so doubles up on the saves. a retread of Gandalf's bailouts in The Hobbit... fine for a kids' book but not so narratively satisfying in this context, for me.

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 11:00 (four days ago) link

lol and in both cases it’s the hobbits falling asleep that does for them.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Friday, 16 April 2021 11:27 (four days ago) link

a grim reminder of the world beyond second breakfast, one's garden at twilight.... cakes...

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 11:57 (four days ago) link

also, can't remember: is the business of their barrow-weapons being enchanted (or the lead Ringwraith's role in the dim past of the North) ever set up before it comes into play? it's a neat tidbit to think about on the reread, but kinda comes out of nowhere iirc. or does Strider get a moment examining the weapons and hazarding some guesses about their provenance? just thinking about how this whole stretch does/doesn't weave into the tapestry of the trilogy.

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 12:02 (four days ago) link

nice that Merry gets to stab him though. payback for knifing Frodo at Weathertop!

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 12:06 (four days ago) link

For a number of these questions I'd have to dig back into the relevant History of Middle-earth volumes but I'd say it is important to remember he'd already come up with Bombadil and the general coterie some years before writing LOTR. He very much is an 'outside' element.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 16 April 2021 14:38 (four days ago) link


i feel like i could potentially offend hardcore fans here but a lot of the world's history stuff, much as i enjoyed reading and rereading it in the year-by-year appendix form, has never felt "real" to me. i think it's a combination of the timescales being SO long, and the emptiness of the world as we encounter it and as it's drawn on the maps. i think i've posted before about finding Gondor hard to grasp as a kingdom, beyond the walls of Minas Tirith. Tolkien's great, maybe unmatched, at wilderness and hiking down roads... but Middle Earth seems oddly bereft of farms and small towns. strangely, the sleepy Shire which no one down south has ever heard of, seems to be the most productive agricultural landscape on the planet. this has never kept me from enjoying the books, or running my eyes across the map and wondering about things, but it does make it a little harder for me to comprehend this lore of multiple great kingdoms in the north, all fallen long ago. they're just... gone? nobody lives there? why?

(this maybe also contributed to the pattern of CRPGs when they came along: big empty world map, mostly forests and monster-filled wastelands, dotted with a small number of teeny little towns and dungeons where all the plot happens. seems nothing like any place where humans have settled for more than, idk, a century. where is everybody??)

was also thinking about this brushing up on the Witch-King today. that dude had a serious resume! many kingdoms crushed, millennia as Sauron's right-hand man, maintaining strongholds all over the place... and yet the hobbits and Strider are able to hold him and most of his squad off with... a campfire, iirc? works for the spooky head of the terrifying ghost-story posse we've been running from all through the book, but maybe not so much for a deathless age-old Witch-King. it's also very odd it's only after eons of campaigns and struggles that sauron finally thinks to give them flying mounts. probably would have wrapped things up in book 1 prettttty quickly.

what works really *well* for me are the places that have been continuously occupied for ages, but under various regimes, like Moria and Cirith Ungol. that sense of history stacked up in one place feels much more accessible. *there* i have no problem accepting the sense of backstory/chronology looming behind. but man it's so insane that for example Numenor and the high "race of Men" are such a huge thing in LOTR and yet I never had the slightest idea reading those books that Numenor was an Atlantis-like continent sunk beneath the sea thousands of years before our story begins. i just figured it was, like, some kingdom somewhere.

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 15:28 (four days ago) link

aha, yes, posted about this here: LORD OF THE RINGS poll (film version)

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Friday, 16 April 2021 15:41 (four days ago) link

great post DC. hard to argue with much of that. i have a faint memory of 'women and children' being herded to places of safety a couple of times. once at helm's deep and once at... Edoras? maybe? but otherwise yeah.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 19 April 2021 09:28 (yesterday) link

I like the strange emptiness, it fits, though -- like there's a remnant holding on amidst the wider ruins. I think it helps, for lack of a better term, that we don't really see much of Gondor outside of Minas Tirith -- we don't really get a sense of the land otherwise aside from a quick section detailing Aragorn and company leaving the Paths of the Dead, the confrontation/conversation at Erech, and then references to towns and farms and the like where people shut away the night and the fear the King of the Dead and company bring with them. In a way it makes me think (surely the intent, of course) of post-Roman Britain and Europe, where the ruins exist and there's great confusion and legends and stories about what it all meant.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 April 2021 22:52 (yesterday) link

I reread that bit yesterday and it's a very strange counterpoint to the spooky ghost train ride/cliffhanger of the film, where they come out of the other end of the paths of the dead and are followed by the dead for miles through this mysterious, neglected land while its population flees from them in terror leaving non-literal ghost towns in their wake

The film in its own way does sell the peril of the Paths in a bit more of a concrete way, whereas the book chapter is kind of several pages of "please do not go through the paths of the dead, you will die" followed by a short section of "well this sucks. Phew glad that's over with", and the dead are just like "yes boss, absolutely" no questions asked

There is also a fairly long description of places and comings and goings in wider Gondor as Pippin and Beregond look over the walls on the day the various Lords arrive with their forces to Minas Tirith, but it is quite sketchy and remote feeling, possibly not unintentionally

hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Monday, 19 April 2021 23:12 (yesterday) link

I think the feel of the land as the remnants of an historical overstretch works perfectly with the narrative of a dwindling colonial overrace retreating to its last few defensible positions tbh

Paths of dead works ok in books til youve seen jackson, for me, but its one of the parts i cant unsee after so is ruined forevermore

flagpost fucking (darraghmac), Monday, 19 April 2021 23:17 (yesterday) link

Also makes the Reunited Kingdom Aragorn establishes a bit amusing -- sure, take over all that land up through Arnor, there's nobody there to object! Unless you count the Shire and Bree.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:08 (six hours ago) link

Yeah that’s a really good point. It feels a little bit like playing make-believe.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:10 (six hours ago) link

The various RPGs have tried to flesh things out by imagining all sorts of scattered towns and cities and things that just aren't on the map. But, those are RPGs, so.

Still, there is the comment about people 'coming up the Greenway' in Bree and the like, there is the sense that people are moving INTO the area precisely because it's so apparently empty. But set against the various comments about all the darker forces that would menace the Shire without the Rangers' protection and how Bree is similarly protected and the like, kinda have my doubts that it's the best of worlds there.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:17 (six hours ago) link

The intro is strong on setting this up iirc (i do i read it a week ago)

flagpost fucking (darraghmac), Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:33 (six hours ago) link

In this analysis we will look at the case for the lord of the rings as a story about gentrification vs gatekeeping in rural middleclass districts

flagpost fucking (darraghmac), Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:34 (six hours ago) link

I think the feel of the land as the remnants of an historical overstretch works perfectly with the narrative of a dwindling colonial overrace retreating to its last few defensible positions tbh

This^^^ Nearly everything in LOTR is a faded remnant of a former glory, King-less Gondor, Osgiliath, Minas Morgul, Arnor/Barrow Downs, Moria, even Lothlorien.

i bought biden some thin mints with my stimmy (PBKR), Tuesday, 20 April 2021 01:29 (five hours ago) link

i get all that, for sure. but like.... post-Roman Europe still had tons of people in it, right? just retreated to more local territories and fiefs, local lords claiming to offer protection in this increasingly wild and scary world, feudalism as a political economy uniting this structure of devolved, decentralized power with a certain agricultural and trade network... idk i think i just wished the company passed through one more Bree-esque town somewhere along the way. not that i know where that goes in the narrative mind you but it's just odd how much the map consists of mountains, forests and wastelands, and how few dots there are labeled with the name of a settlement. oh well - not what he was going for, and the world he created is quite memorable and vivid as this more primal and perhaps special place for it.

sgt. pepper's one-and-only bobo honkin' band (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 20 April 2021 03:09 (three hours ago) link

Well at the same time we have to remember we're dealing with something that has a patina of reality only. The closest equivalent to Gondor in real world terms -- a geopolitical entity that survives over three thousand years with only one relatively quickly resolved civil war of note and, that interruption aside, one dynasty of kings and another dynasty of stewards -- is *maybe* China, and said country has not exactly had that path over any randomly selected three thousand years of its own history.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 03:18 (three hours ago) link

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