Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book Marathon Day X

Fog on the Barrow Downs

I am officially caught up since I'm about 150 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring.  I got a blanket, set up reading-HQ outside on the deck with my Legolas cup full of iced tea, and just charged through the story.  It was such a beautiful day outside--it was pretty windy, but the sun is still strong in the sky and since it's getting to be fall it's at the stage where it's not the bright white summer beam, but is more like a soft orange glow.  Autumn is my favorite season and I am so excited that it's fast approaching!

A photo I took of the pathway to the archery range from a few years ago--it's so beautiful when the leaves turn colors!

Anyway, I noticed a couple things this time through.  First of all, the almost comical attention paid to the "Authorities" of the Riddles Game in the Prologue.  There is close to a formal statement about why Bilbo didn't cheat in the Riddles Game he played with Gollum in The Hobbit.  I find it hilarious that Hobbits pay so much attention to such a little game and debate over rules violations.

Furthermore, I came to the realization that the Sackville-Bagginses are pretty similar to the Thenardiers from Les Mis (probably because I was humming Master of the House while reading A Long Expected Party).  But think about it:
  • they are both very greedy
  • they both use sneaky tactics to swipe money/goods from people
  • they take advantage of other people
  • they are very rude and snobby
Just read this quote about Lobelia Sackville-Baggins:
"A little later Frodo came out of the study to see how things were going on and found her [Lobelia] still about the place, investigating nooks and corners and tapping the floors.  He escorted her firmly off the premises, after he had relieved her of several small (but rather valuable) articles that had somehow fallen inside her umbrella."
Image result for thenardiers stealing gif 

They just remind me of the greedy Thenardiers and I found the comparison sort of funny.

Another thing I just adore about the first chapter of The Fellowship is the description of the gifts Bilbo gave to his relations.  He has two intentions for each gift and his kind rebukes are so hilarious:
"For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo; on an umbrella. Adelard had carried off many unlabelled ones. 
For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large waste-paper basket. Dora was Drogo's sister and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century. 
For MILO BURROWS, hoping it will be useful, from B.B.; on a gold pen and ink-bottle. Milo never answered letters. 
For ANGELICA'S use, from Uncle Bilbo; on a round convex mirror. She was a young Baggins, and too obviously considered her face shapely. 
For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor; on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and worse than usual at returning them. 
For LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, as a PRESENT; on a case of silver spoons. Bilbo believed that she had acquired a good many of his spoons, while he was away on his former journey. Lobelia knew that quite well. When she arrived later in the day, she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons."
Image result for lobelia sackville-baggins spoond
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
I personally find the whole sub-plot about the Hobbits and the tiresome relations with family quite funny because I relate a little bit to family feuds, but the inclusion of this idea in The Fellowship raises a question.  Was Tolkien applying a little bit of his life experience to the book?

Of course writers can write about things they never experienced.  But this sub-plot is clearly meant to be comedy, so we can assume that Tolkien himself thought it was funny, right?  And how did Tolkien find this funny unless he related a little bit to it?  

Now this is purely speculation and I hope Tolkien isn't mad at me for trying to apply biographical information about his life to his story (though he very well may be...sorry!!) but I was just thinking about it a little bit.

I know when Tolkien was young he had a bitter relationship with his mother's extended family who basically cut ties with him when he, Hilary, and Mabel converted to Catholicism (his mother's side was Protestant and at that time there was a very big divide between the two groups).  

But then again, maybe Tolkien just knew about how funny family feuds can be just like how I know people think sky-diving is fun even though I've never done it.  He may or may not have written this based on personal experience, and I suppose it doesn't really matter.  It's funny either way!

Image result for lotr laughing
The final thing I would like to point out, is how happy I am to get a lot more dialogue in this book.  The Silmarillion and The Hobbit don't have as much dialogue as The Lord of the Rings, and I think that hearing the characters actually speak gives a lot more character to the story.  

Congratulations to Chaeli Borchers for answering yesterday's trivia question!  She wins the title "Honest Burglar".

Today's trivia question winner gets to be called "A Merry Fellow".  The challenge is:

Can you name one of the subtitles from the Prologue to the Fellowship?

Good luck! 


  1. YAY!!!!! :D I'M AN HONEST BURGLAR!!!! :D :D

    Honestly I'm not quite sure what you mean by today's question...

    1. Congrats!

      Well within the prologue there are little subheadings like Concerning Hobbits or Concerning Pipe-weed and the challenge is to see if you can name one without looking at the book.

  2. They ARE rather like the Thenardiers. Although I thiiink they'd be a bit kinder to Cosette than the Thenardiers were... Speaking of Les Mis, were you able to watch it with your mom? What did she think?

    Hmmm, the dialogue in LotR IS a bit more present than in The Hobbit. I do feel like a lot of the dialogue is stiff, but it's also more fun to read than pure narration.

    1. True, true. We actually noticed Raiders of the Lost Ark was on TV so we watched that instead (I didn't have time to update the blog when we were done though). But my mom has seen the film which she liked (though she considered it very depressing--I sort of disagree with her on that point) and she thought it was a bit too much for PG-13.

      Definitely more stiff, but I agree it is better than just narration. The characters seem more real and less legendary than the Silmarillion characters because of the added dialogue.

  3. I never realized, but the Sackville-Bagginses are much like the Thenardiers!
    I love that list of the things Bilbo left behind for his relatives. It's hilarious how the gifts are both generous and mocking in many ways. XD It would be interesting to know if Tolkien knew of or had experienced the trials of petty family feuds. I recently read that he disagreed with his foster father over the courtship of his beloved wife, who was older than him and Protestant. Did you pick any of that up from reading his personal letters?

    1. :)
      Oh yes, I knew about that. He was under the care of a priest who wanted him to wait until he was 21 to speak to Edith for exactly the reasons you state. But I don't think there was much feuding there since he did obey the instructions and eventually the relationship worked out without further intervention from his caretaker. Other than that and the problem with his mother's side, I didn't see any underlying feuds within his family.

  4. Ohhhh I see what you mean. Let me see.... Concerning Hobbits? Jk, I'll try Of Bilbo and the Ring.

    1. A valiant guess; my edition says "Of the Finding of the Ring", but your guess was close enough. Congrats, "Merry Fellow"!