LotR Re-read – Stop laughing!

OK. Seriously. It’s been that long? *sigh* Well, anyone-who’s-still-out-there (hi, and thank you!), yesterday was Tolkien Reading Day. And I had just finished what I had been reading. And despite this being what I’ve often seen called “the bad timeline” (I mean, really, Mr. Mueller, would it have been so very hard to keep digging until you found something?) (and also, my job is more stressful than it has any right to be for the paycheck – thanks, coworkers), I am pretty settled into my new apartment (things that happened since last I wrote: I moved! From a 440-odd square foot cubbyhole to a two-bedroom flat which feels four times bigger and can become a real home, in which I can set up a library AND a workroom, though I haven’t done it yet: and so, a place to write. Soon.), and what better time to pick up FotR again than Tolkien Reading Day? Soooooooooo…

Really, though? 9/11? My new apartment wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye yet – I heard about it a month later, and moved in on December 31.

My oldest niece was still alive then. I’d really like to go back and live in that time before December 3.

ANYWAY.

One night (probably not long after December 3) I couldn’t sleep, was having a terrible night – so I turned on the audiobook for FotR. I remember having all kinds of inspirations and ideas from that listen … but I was half asleep and even if I’d had paper and pencil nearby I wouldn’t have had the oomph to write things down. I don’t think any of those brilliant realizations have returned this time, but c’est la guerre.

Have I really never gotten past “Shadow of the Past”? Oh dear. Wow. That’s sad, and worse than I thought. OK. *rolls up sleeves* Here are a few bits and bobs about the first two chapters – AGAIN – and then I plunge onward into unmarked territory.

Honestly. Stop laughing. I mean it. I KNOW I’ve said that before, but it’s different this time. All right, I’ve said that before too…

Here’s something else I said, years ago: “[Frodo]’s intelligent, sensitive, curious, a wee bit finer than most hobbits. Does this gain him respect from the rest? Absolutely not. Intelligence is a bit suspect; hobbits don’t go in much for sensitivity; curiosity is definitely weird. He’s a cardinal among sparrows. Not that it bothers Frodo, or Bilbo before him.”

Little did I know then that this would become, or be revealed to be, the prevailing attitude of about half the United States towards the other half. Seriously, I couldn’t have described it better if I had known.

I also described the Hobbits as “firmly ethnocentric, xenophobic, almost fiercely unfierce, almost aggressively unarmed.” Switch that last one to “aggressively armed” (and maybe get rid of the bit about fierceness), and you’ve got a Trump voter. How horrifying. No, I don’t think I want to live in the Shire. I wish I hadn’t made these connections …

Moving on. A favorite quote from the Professor is “I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood. But the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril.” Sam has the same yen for Elves – and isn’t it a beautiful thing that he gets his heart’s desire. I’ll come back to this in a post or two, because I’m with both of them. (And isn’t it odd that with his craving for dragons, both the dragons I can think of in his Middle-earth are pretty horrific?)

Regarding Bilbo’s agelessness: “‘It will have to be paid for,’ they said.” I love that line reading.

I also love the reference Gandalf makes to the Shire having been constantly guarded. If it is explicitly explained in the text, I missed it for years, because I remember it coming up in discussion on the Board Which Shall Not Be Named (Lest I Be Sued for Defamation) (henceforth the BWSNBN), and I remember being moved by the idea of Aragorn’s Rangers being deployed to protect Bilbo and his folk. I love the idea of Aragorn having a team; he’s so solitary throughout the whole story, so isolated among strange folk, that it’s nice to think of him surrounded by other Men of like blood and bone and belief. I wish we’d seen more of the Rangers.

(And of course now, having re-watched much of Babylon 5, Marcus and company are creeping in around the edges of that thought.)

Let’s see, what else; Ted Sandyman is awful … What alphabet do the Hobbits use, since the children recognized the Tengwar “G”? … Why are so many Dwarves on the move through the Shire? … In one of my old posts I said “I wonder if Gandalf just didn’t have the heart to tell him ‘Oh, those Ringwraiths I mentioned? Yeah, you’ll want to keep an eye out for them. They’re probably on their way in some form or other.'” Having just gotten finished rocking poor Frodo’s world with the news that – yeah, you know that wonderfully independent, comfortable life you’ve had for fifty years? That’s over. I can kind of see Gandalf thinking he’ll save the tidbit about “By the way, those nine rings I mentioned? There’re these people attached to them …” After all, he’ll be back before long, and it’s not like Frodo will be going anywhere without him, right? Right? It’s interesting that in a minute Gildor will try to take the same way out.

Of course, Gandalf may have just thought he was being pretty clear about the relationship between the Ringwraiths, the Nine, and the One, without beating poor already-beat-up Frodo over the head with it.

I love this thought that came out of one of the earlier Re-read attempts: “[Frodo]’s been carrying this thing close to him for years, and Bilbo for decades before him – it would be like being told your cell phone had agency.” Sure, it’s a magic ring. Sure, that’s unusual. And sure, Gandalf did sort of kind of … ok, explicitly … warn Bilbo and later Frodo against using it. But from Frodo’s point of view it’s always been there, part and parcel with Bilbo. Literally – Bilbo came back with it before Frodo was born. It never did Bilbo any harm, right? And it’s so useful! I mean, really – think about it. You see the S-B’s, singly or in force, coming up the road – what *do* you do? Keep going with the knowledge that you’ll meet them in a minute and they’ll be nasty as usual? Or … just slip on this handy-dandy magic ring and vanish and let them walk on by in their permanent state of high dudgeon, and then go about your day with a chuckle? No contest.

OK, I think that’ll about do it for an umpteenth starter post. I’ve already got “Three’s Company” half-written, at least in my head, so honestly – I’ll at least get there this time.

I shall return.

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2 Responses to LotR Re-read – Stop laughing!

  1. Helen DAll says:

    Welcome back – I’ve missed your insight. I am so sorry you have had a loss in the family. I have moved too, to be closer to my grandchildren of which I now have two very active youngsters, big brother is 6, little brother just turned 1. They keep one going. Hopefully you will not take as long to write this time!!

  2. stewartry says:

    Thank you! It’s so good to hear from you. I hope I can keep going!

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