The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

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The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Mon May 30, 2016 9:24 pm

Welcome to the first ever (as far as I'm aware!) Forumshire chapter by chapter discussion of The Hobbit!

Although I have been active in the online Tolkien fandom for nearly five years, in all that time I've only participated in a couple of read throughs, and even then rarely in any real depth (mostly just looking in from the sidelines), I thought it would be fun to combine my sudden urge to re-read The Hobbit with a forum read-through, so thought it would be fun to do a read through of 'An Unexpected Party' as a test run of sorts.

(So apologies if this is badly formatted/too over the top etc, never done one of these before_

I will start by mentioning that, although I first read The Hobbit after reading LOTR (properly at least, I have extremely vague memories of being read the opening chapters in primary school several years prior by school teahcer) I have always tended to look at it as a largely independent, rather different story that precedes (rather than prequels) The Lord of the Rings, more of a stand alone fairytale that was brought into a wider mythology, rather than a prequel that was retconned into being more connected, it is perhaps a slightly odd viewpoint, but it's not one that I necessarily expect any of you to share.

So in this read through (whether I lead all the potential discussion or not...frankly I'm not sure I'd want that amount of responsibility!) I will mostly be looking at The Hobbit as a largely stand alone fairytale that has little directly to do with the epic that follows, (though having read the various drafts in The History Of The Hobbit etc I know about the novel's evolution in story and tone and it's various connections to early drafts of The Silmarillion legends) Tolkien’s later ambiguity about its role in his legendarium, and regrets about the use of 'narrative voice' will not be ignored in this discussion (and make very interesting subjects on their own), but aren't my primary focus.

In my opinion The Hobbit is a both a gripping children's story, and a delightfully unconventional narrative packed with symbolism and moral lessons about the power of greed and loyalty. Tolkien's background as a scholar both enhances and works against the novel, and the fact that it continues to inspire (or annoy) readers and critics alike even today stands as a perfect testament to his genius as a writer, by no means a flawless masterpiece, but certainly one of my favourite stories.

You may feel completely differently about the tone, storyline or even writing style Tolkien uses for this story, so feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions on the novel, and even the various adaptations or artwork inspired by it, as you respond to my questions. I'm fully aware there are a lot of questions beneath, I'm not expecting everyone to answer everything (I might struggle to do that myself...) just pick and choose want to want to respond to, and jump in with you own comments, this is afterall, supposed to be fun (ha!)

I'm going to assume everyone taking part whether reading along or not, will have a copy of the book handy (or at least be quite familiar with the story) as such I will only be including limited chapter synopses and brief quotes from the book.

(Most editions of The Hobbit contain a short preface on runes, and many also include an introduction by the editor, I personally found little to talk about relating to this but chime in with your own thoughts if you have any)

(The edition I am using for this read through is 'The Annotated Hobbit' by Douglas A Anderson, (revised Hardback edition 2003), page numbers and illustrations might differ)

And with that long winded introduction at an end let’s begin with a synopsis of the first chapter:

Copied and pasted from:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/hobbit/section1.rhtml

‘’Hobbits, the narrator explains, are little people, roughly half the size of humans, with thick hair on their feet, round bellies, and a love of good food, comfort, and security. Though some hobbits live in houses, they traditionally live in holes in the ground. The holes are not dank and smelly but comfortable, cozy underground dwellings with all the amenities of their aboveground counterparts. The hole occupied by the hobbit known as Bilbo Baggins is called Bag End. It is quite a pleasant dwelling, with comfortable furniture and a well-stocked kitchen, nestled in a snug little village under a hill.

Bilbo’s ancestry is somewhat noble by hobbit standards: his father was from the well-to-do, conventional Baggins family, but his mother was from the Tooks, a wealthy, eccentric family infamous for their un hobbit like tendency to go on adventures. Despite his Took blood, however, Bilbo prefers to stay at home and live a quiet life.

On the day the story begins, Bilbo is enjoying a pipe outside his front door when an old man with a long cloak and a staff arrives. After the old man introduces himself, Bilbo recognizes him as the wizard Gandalf, who has created spectacular fireworks displays on holidays in Hobbiton, but Bilbo still looks on the old wizard with a suspicious eye. When Gandalf asks if Bilbo would be interested in going on an adventure, Bilbo declines and quickly excuses himself. He invites the wizard to come over for tea sometime but only so as not to seem rude—in reality, he wants nothing to do with Gandalf and his adventures.

When the doorbell rings the next afternoon, Bilbo assumes it is Gandalf. To his surprise, a dwarf named Dwalin pushes past him and promptly sits down to eat. Soon, other dwarves began to arrive, and as Bilbo’s neat little home becomes crowded with dwarves, Bilbo becomes increasingly confused and annoyed. At last, Gandalf arrives with the head dwarf, Thorin. The thirteen dwarves and the wizard nearly clean out Bilbo’s pantry before finally settling down to discuss their business.

It soon becomes clear that Gandalf has volunteered Bilbo to be a “burglar” for the dwarves on their adventure. The hobbit protests, and the dwarves grumble that the soft little hobbit does not seem suited to their adventure. Gandalf, however, is certain that Bilbo is useful, and insists that there is more to the hobbit than meets the eye.

The wizard then brings out an old map of a great mountain and points to a mysterious secret entrance, a door to which Thorin holds the key. Bilbo demands some clarification about the point of the whole expedition. Thorin explains that his grandfather, Thror, mined the mountain shown on the map and discovered a wealth of gold and jewels. Thror then became King under the Mountain, but his fantastic treasure attracted unwanted attention. Before long, the dragon Smaug came and killed or scattered all of Thror’s people. The dragon has been guarding the treasure ever since. Thorin and the dwarves are out to reclaim their rightful inheritance, even though they are unsure of what to do with Smaug when they find him.

Bilbo suspects that the dwarves want him to play a part in slaying the dragon. Although his Baggins side would like nothing better than to sit at home with his pipe, the Took influence in him fuels his curiosity about the adventure, and he is reluctantly excited by the tales of dragons and treasure and great battles. After looking at the map and discussing the adventure with the company, the hobbit makes up beds for all his guests and then spends the night in troubled dreams.’’

Part 1. 'In a hole...'

The first section of this chapter introduces us to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (an unknown word to the reader of the time, except that it was the title of the book) where and how he lives: in a comfortable hole in the ground. What follows is an elaborate description of the layout and furnishings of the hole, which follows the conventions of an English country house, albeit compressed into a single winding underground tunnel with side rooms and basements.

1) Is it possible Tolkien was describing Bilbo and his Hobbit hole in such a fashion as to give the reader the impression that a “hobbit” was a kind of animal or part human?(this links in with the beast-fable conventions in popular children’s literature of the era, the Anthropomorphism found later in the book, and in some of Tolkien's other writings of the period)

Though Hobbit is not a word created by Tolkien, it combines the obscure english word 'hob' (meaning rustic or peasant) with rabbit (rabbits being quick, quiet and nimble creatures), I have very vague memories of being read the first chapter by a teacher in primary school (before I'd seen the movies) and had pictured Hobbits to be kind of impish…

Although Tolkien himself denied as such in one of his letters, and later information contradicts this, it is certainly a reading that seems to have influenced many illustrators of the book.

2)On a personal level I think my own imagery and analysis of the book is largely still based on my first reading of the book...do you feel first impressions count more when it comes to reading Tolkien's books?

The opening line “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” is arguably quite mundane by literary standards and introduces us to a strange creature, and an apparently unusual home, but the opening chapter runs contrary to this in many ways, the narrator is at pains to point out how much Hobbits love comfort in much the same way humans do, fond of visitors (they know at least), food and bright garish clothing, coupled with Bilbo's reaction to the apparently outlandish Dwarves later in the chapter, he is short (no pun intended) a very human hero.

3. How deliberate do you think these contradictions are?


A couple of questions on Bag End now:

4.The hole is described as going almost straight into the hill and yet still close enough to the outside slope to have an entire series of windowed rooms on one side of the hall, is there really enough room inside a Hill for such an apparently expansive home, or did Tolkien make a mistake?

5.We learn that Bilbo has “whole rooms” full of clothes, multiple bathrooms a well stocked pantry and several dining rooms, given his quiet bachelor lifestyle, and no mention of a job, is being from a “very well-to-do” family sufficient explanation for his lifestyle and apparent wealth? How much money does it take to be “very well-to-do”?, do you think Bilbo's wealth has any baring on how the reader, or characters perceive him?


Narrative Voice.

Many children’s stories contain a narrative voice of some kind, often used to convey information and act as a neutral viewpoint for younger readers, but in The Hobbit, unlike the sparse, impersonal ‘narration’ in LOTR the narrator seems to be from ‘our’ world, using real world analogies, subtly (or sarcastically) commenting on the events of the story from his/her own perspective, and seemingly having a limited amount of knowledge about the wider storyline, in short the narrator here seems to have their own opinions and viewpoint on the storyline and characters.

To many readers (arguably more so for adults), the ‘narrator’ character is one of the more unusual or annoying aspects of The Hobbit, setting it apart from Tolkien’s other middle earth writings or disrupting the flow of the story, Tolkien himself stated years later, that he regretted the using it, viewing it as talking down to children (see his essay ‘On Fairy Stories for further comments), yet when he attempted to re-write The Hobbit and dropped this ‘narrative voice’ to bring it more in line with the writing style of LOTR, he stopped when others told him he was altering the book too much, narrative voice in The Hobbit has already been discussed in a different thread-see here:

https://www.hobbitmovieforum.com/t1296-how-do-you-feel-about-the-use-of-narrative-voice-in-the-hobbit-novel-is-the-hobbit-a-fundamentally-male-story

but it is interesting enough that I think it deserves being adressed again.

6.The narrator quickly draws a connection between being respectable (and rich) and not doing anything unexpected or adventurous, do you think Tolkien is satirizing or accepting the literary conventions of British country life and the 'class system' that contrast respectability and routine with adventures and the unexpected? Would it be fair to say he might even be poking fun at members of his own 'class'?

7. In this very first chapter, the narrator also lets us know the entire point to, and ending of the story, just leaving Bilbo's character arc in the story a mystery, does this weaken its impact, knowing the end in advance?, or does being told this early that Mr Baggins survives his journey unharmed reassure the young reader?

8.The narrator takes several 'detours' during the course of the story, here interrupting the story to explain just what a hobbit is. We learn that they are not animals or half animals, but essentially little people roughly half human size, these narrative detours aren't really necessary, but strike me as an enjoyable quirk of The Hobbit, do you find such detours endearing or distracting?


(Although The Hobbit is immediately established to be a children's novel, even fairy tale, there is an sense even in this first chapter that we are entering a world with long established history and mysterious unseen vistas (the dungeons of the Necromancer cast a brief if ominous shadow on proceedings), the narrator of the story explains Bilbo's lineage, gives us a glimpse at Thorin's history, and even touches on local geography, this is something that continues and expands in successive chapters, but what effect does you it have on this seemingly quaint establishing chapter? Added depth, annoying diversion, or curious mystery?)

9. A much more general question now, many consider Hobbits to be Tolkien's most famous 'invention' in terms of fantasy races, they aren't bearded like Dwarves or winged like the fairies of folklore...but are they really that unique? Bilbo appears to share many character traits and aspects of British culture and history, essentially he just comes across as an english version of the mystical but hard to spot “little people's” of European folk legend...so why are Hobbit considered so unique to Tolkien?

10.The so called magic of Hobbits, is described as the “ordinary everyday sort” that allows them to “disappear” (or hide) when they hear “big people” (humans) coming along in their clumsy manner, how is this hobbitish magic contrasted with that of the Dwarves and Gandalf in this Chapter?

(Looking ahead in the story, this apparently 'magic' ability foreshadows the disappearing Elf fires later in the novel, and Bilbo’s acquisition of a certain magic ring that allows him to do literally what he could apparently already do metaphorically)

11. Next we learn Mr. Baggins’ first name – Bilbo – and about his “fabulous” and “remarkable” mother, Belladonna Took, daughter of the 'Old Took'. The Tooks live just across the Water at the foot of Bilbo’s Hill. They are known for being richer, rather less respectable, and more adventurous, than the Baggins family. But what exactly makes Belladonna so fabulous? is the narrator hinting that she had adventures before her marriage? or making another sarcastic dig at Bilbo's seemingly quaint lifestyle?

12. This is followed by the reference to an “absurd” story that i Took once married a “fairy wife” at some point in the vague past, to explain this trait, is this just an example of the narrator making a joke, or another hint at the strange wonders that lay beyond Bilbo’s neighbourhood?

13. Another more general question now, The Hobbit has infamously few female characters named or featured in the story (even in the background) by far the most prominent is Bilbo's mother, whilst this doesn't effect the story in any major way, should this be considered problematic, or frowned upon? Or was Tolkien simply a man of his time writing for a male audience?

14. Some have put forth the idea that Bilbo represents Tolkien himself, an academic man torn between A) the kind of mature and dignified respectability his bank manager Tolkien father or co workers would have approved of, and the routine and comfort of home, and B) a childlike love of poetry,folklore and fantasy (and the yearning to escape the trappings of home) that is more prominent in his Suffield Mother's side of the family (and perhaps influenced by his Mother's teaching as a child), would you agree with this? Is The Hobbit in any way a biographical comment on Tolkien's character or life?


To be continued...


Last edited by malickfan on Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:00 pm; edited 1 time in total

_________________
The Thorin: An Unexpected Rewrite December 2012 (I was on the money apparently)
The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
The Sod-it! : Battling my Indifference December 2014 (You know what they say, third time's the charm)

Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Eldorion on Mon May 30, 2016 11:35 pm

Very cool of you to get this underway, Malick! Very Happy

1) Is it possible Tolkien was describing Bilbo and his Hobbit hole in such a fashion as to give the reader the impression that a “hobbit” was a kind of animal or part human?(this links in with the beast-fable conventions in popular children’s literature of the era, the Anthropomorphism found later in the book, and in some of Tolkien's other writings of the period)

I've never thought of Hobbits being particularly animalish; they seem like smaller humans for most intents and purposes and most of their characteristics and references (aside from hole-dwelling, which was downplayed in LOTR, though I suppose the implication in TH alone is that all Hobbits live in holes) seem to point mainly to Tolkien's idealized English countryside. That said, Shippey in (I think) Author of the Century pulled out a number of quotes that sort of compare Hobbits and rabbits beyond just the name sounding familiar, so I think it's worth taking into consideration.

2)On a personal level I think my own imagery and analysis of the book is largely still based on my first reading of the book...do you feel first impressions count more when it comes to reading Tolkien's books?

I would say that the way in which I discovered The Hobbit definitely influenced how I read it, even the first time. I had received it as a gift as part of a box set with the three volumes of LOTR, and the reason I finally cracked them open was my curiosity being sparked by the LOTR movie tie-in video games. So even though TH was the first Tolkien book I read, I was already primed to think of it as part of a larger whole. I do still think of that way a lot of the time, but I think LOTR, TH, and The Silmarillion all have their own styles and identity to some extent and that nothing is gained (and much lost!) by trying to mentally mash them all together and iron over the inconsistencies.

3. How deliberate do you think these contradictions are?

I'm not sure how strange we're really supposed to think of Hobbits in general or Bilbo in particular as being. The narrator distances himself from Bilbo at times and will occasionally point out the differences between Bilbo's experience and our own modern one, but generally speaking I think Bilbo is a remarkably effective point-of-view character for a children's novel given that he's a fussy 50-year-old man Hobbit. I mean, he's described in the most bland and commonplace terms (though a hint of the exotic has crept in over times since most readers these days find Victorian England almost as distant from their real lives as any invented fantasy world Razz), really. He has "Esquire" after his name, he receives meat from the butcher all cut up already, he goes for lots of walks but only really in his neighborhood. There is quite a bit that is new and strange and exciting in The Hobbit and it is explained to Bilbo (as the fish-out-of-water main character) as much as it is to the audience. In that way Bilbo is actually closer to conventional heroic characters like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter than Frodo is, since Frodo is already fairly well-informed and worldly (by Hobbit standards) before his adventure begins.

4.The hole is described as going almost straight into the hill and yet still close enough to the outside slope to have an entire series of windowed rooms on one side of the hall, is there really enough room inside a Hill for such an apparently expansive home, or did Tolkien make a mistake?

Looking at Tolkien's painting of Hobbiton (below) -- while keeping in mind that a lot of his drawings shouldn't necessarily be taken absolutely literally -- the Hill appears to be a quite large landform and Bag End only takes up one portion of it. I don't remember if this is how I envisioned when I first read the book at nine, but for as long as I can remember I've imagined the front door of Bag End being at least halfway up the Hill, allowing one to survey Hobbiton from that vantage point. Though now that I'm describing it this is more how I envision things in LOTR than when reading TH.

5. We learn that Bilbo has “whole rooms” full of clothes, multiple bathrooms a well stocked pantry and several dining rooms, given his quiet bachelor lifestyle, and no mention of a job, is being from a “very well-to-do” family sufficient explanation for his lifestyle and apparent wealth? How much money does it take to be “very well-to-do”?, do you think Bilbo's wealth has any baring on how the reader, or characters perceive him?

I've mentioned before that I have always interpreted both Baggins as being upper class aristocrats or at the very least "country squires". Much of the evidence for this is in LOTR (such as the Bagginses being landlords to the tenants of Bagshot Row) but even sticking to TH, the Took's prominence is well established and Bilbo's father built a big luxurious hole with a portion of that money. I know a lot of people including Shippey describe Bilbo as "middle class" but other than the apparent lack of servants I don't really see it. Though honestly the ease with which Bilbo abandons his home implies to me someone who knows that it will be looked after while he is away, though that's probably putting too much thought into an aspect of the fairy tale model.

6.The narrator quickly draws a connection between being respectable (and rich) and not doing anything unexpected or adventurous, do you think Tolkien is satirizing or accepting the literary conventions of British country life and the 'class system' that contrast respectability and routine with adventures and the unexpected? Would it be fair to say he might even be poking fun at members of his own 'class'?

I think quite a bit about Hobbits can be taken as gentle satire of English country life, though Tolkien's clear love of it comes through as well. Given my aforementioned view of Bilbo's class, though, I don't think there was any self-satire of Tolkien's own class, since he was in no way rich until very late in life when LOTR became a phenomenon.

7. In this very first chapter, the narrator also lets us know the entire point to, and ending of the story, just leaving Bilbo's character arc in the story a mystery, does this weaken its impact, knowing the end in advance?, or does being told this early that Mr Baggins survives his journey unharmed reassure the young reader?

I've honestly never really thought about this before on re-reads; I wish I could remember what I thought of it at the first. I don't think that the "spoiler" really makes much of a difference though. TH is not the sort of story in which the main character dies (Dean O'Gorman's description of Thorin as Tolkien's main character notwithstanding Rolling Eyes) and many kids are savvy enough to understand that, to say nothing of adult readers. Plus there's enough vagueness that you don't really know what Bilbo will come out looking like.

8.The narrator takes several 'detours' during the course of the story, here interrupting the story to explain just what a hobbit is. We learn that they are not animals or half animals, but essentially little people roughly half human size, these narrative detours aren't really necessary, but strike me as an enjoyable quirk of The Hobbit, do you find such detours endearing or distracting?

I've always enjoyed them. Smile

Gonna have to come back to the rest of these later (hopefully)...
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Eldorion on Tue May 31, 2016 7:18 pm

9. A much more general question now, many consider Hobbits to be Tolkien's most famous 'invention' in terms of fantasy races, they aren't bearded like Dwarves or winged like the fairies of folklore...but are they really that unique? Bilbo appears to share many character traits and aspects of British culture and history, essentially he just comes across as an english version of the mystical but hard to spot “little people's” of European folk legend...so why are Hobbit considered so unique to Tolkien?

I'm no expert on European folklore so correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the "little people" of folklore more fairies (or pixies, brownies, elves, sprites, etc.)? That was a model Tolkien was deliberately moving away from with his Elves, of course. I can see some similarities to Hobbits (including living beneath hills), but generally speaking Hobbits are far too mundane (see question #10) to really compare IMO.

]10.The so called magic of Hobbits, is described as the “ordinary everyday sort” that allows them to “disappear” (or hide) when they hear “big people” (humans) coming along in their clumsy manner, how is this hobbitish magic contrasted with that of the Dwarves and Gandalf in this Chapter?

Gandalf's magic seems much more traditionally magical in TH than it does in LOTR, where everything is played very low key (except for the "word of command" I suppose, but that takes place "offscreen"). Dwarvish magic seems very much a part of their craft and thus, like elf-magic, not necessarily something they themselves would describe as magic but rather just part of their art and (I hesitate to the use the word in this context) technology. The "magic" of Hobbits is also not precisely what we would think of as magic but obviously not focused on crafting like the Dwarves or Noldor.

11. Next we learn Mr. Baggins’ first name – Bilbo – and about his “fabulous” and “remarkable” mother, Belladonna Took, daughter of the 'Old Took'. The Tooks live just across the Water at the foot of Bilbo’s Hill. They are known for being richer, rather less respectable, and more adventurous, than the Baggins family. But what exactly makes Belladonna so fabulous? is the narrator hinting that she had adventures before her marriage? or making another sarcastic dig at Bilbo's seemingly quaint lifestyle?

Well the text mentions the "three remarkable daughters of the Old Took" so I assume they somehow gained a reputation as a group, though it's possible they each individually did things that caught people's attention. With no specific textual evidence in mind, I imagine the Old Took somehow encouraging disrespectability in his children or being more permissive than most other Hobbit families would approve of.

12. This is followed by the reference to an “absurd” story that i Took once married a “fairy wife” at some point in the vague past, to explain this trait, is this just an example of the narrator making a joke, or another hint at the strange wonders that lay beyond Bilbo’s neighbourhood?

Well I think we need to read "fairy" for "elf" here, and I do think it's a little absurd to suggest that the Took's are descended from an elf-hobbit marriage. But I could see Hobbits having dim and distant memories of hearing stories about Beren and Lúthien and Tuor and Idril from the period when they were subjects of the Kings of Arthedain. Then when they found themselves "ruled" by Tookish Thains (who obviously wielded little real power in the day-to-day) who acted unusually people made the connection with the old stories. But I've never thought it to be a true tale.

13. Another more general question now, The Hobbit has infamously few female characters named or featured in the story (even in the background) by far the most prominent is Bilbo's mother, whilst this doesn't effect the story in any major way, should this be considered problematic, or frowned upon? Or was Tolkien simply a man of his time writing for a male audience?

I talked about this a bit in the other thread. Having spent a good bit of time on tumblr lately I'm not sure what "problematic" means anymore. Laughing I think it's generally speaking good to have female representation in stories in a way that at least sort of mirrors the number of women there are in the real world. On the other hand, Lawrence of Arabia has no speaking female roles either and it's widely hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time. I don't think Tolkien's artistic or creative accomplishments with The Hobbit are diminished by the lack of women in its cast of characters, but it's not something that I would defend as a general principle.

14. Some have put forth the idea that Bilbo represents Tolkien himself, an academic man torn between A) the kind of mature and dignified respectability his bank manager Tolkien father or co workers would have approved of, and the routine and comfort of home, and B) a childlike love of poetry,folklore and fantasy (and the yearning to escape the trappings of home) that is more prominent in his Suffield Mother's side of the family (and perhaps influenced by his Mother's teaching as a child), would you agree with this? Is The Hobbit in any way a biographical comment on Tolkien's character or life?

I've actually not thought of this before. My instinct is to say that Bilbo is not particularly reminiscent of Tolkien, though. Bilbo was a lifelong bachelor, whereas Tolkien was married for 55 years to his teenage sweetheart (whom he waited for five years to talk to after being prohibited to by his guardian). Tolkien worked in academia for almost all of his adult life, whereas Bilbo does not come across as particularly scholarly (or inquisitive in general) until after his adventure.
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Tue May 31, 2016 7:38 pm

Will reply a bit later.

_________________
The Thorin: An Unexpected Rewrite December 2012 (I was on the money apparently)
The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
The Sod-it! : Battling my Indifference December 2014 (You know what they say, third time's the charm)

Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Tue May 31, 2016 8:31 pm

Eldorion wrote:Very cool of you to get this underway, Malick! Very Happy


Well i thought it would be a fun experiment at least, we've spend so much time moaning about the faults of the films, it just felt like it was time to go back to discussing why we like the book, at least it gave me an excuse to re-read it and flex my rusty writing 'skills'. Not making any promises on further chapters though.

I've never thought of Hobbits being particularly animalish; they seem like smaller humans for most intents and purposes and most of their characteristics and references (aside from hole-dwelling, which was downplayed in LOTR, though I suppose the implication in TH alone is that all Hobbits live in holes) seem to point mainly to Tolkien's idealized English countryside.

Neither have I, but I do get a slightly less the human feel from Billbo in The Hobbit from time to time, but that may simply be based on my earliest memories of the book. Interesting point about the hobbit holes in LOTR, re-read the first couple of chapters, and Bag end certainly feels less 'homely' as it were.

So even though TH was the first Tolkien book I read, I was already primed to think of it as part of a larger whole. I do still think of that way a lot of the time, but I think LOTR, TH, and The Silmarillion all have their own styles and identity to some extent and that nothing is gained (and much lost!) by trying to mentally mash them all together and iron over the inconsistencies.

I have really vague memories of being read the first few chapters in school, but I actually read it properly for the first time several years after reading and watching LOTR several times, so in a weird way I think this differences in style and tone stood out more-it was easier for to detatch it from LOTR and appreciate it on its own merits because I had already read it's successor, I do think it's one of Tolkien's weaker books, but oddly enough perhaps my favourite...

Tolkien's 'canon' dosen't mesh 100% together and it would be a shame if it did...

The narrator distances himself from Bilbo at times and will occasionally point out the differences between Bilbo's experience and our own modern one, but generally speaking I think Bilbo is a remarkably effective point-of-view character for a children's novel given that he's a fussy 50-year-old man Hobbit.

I would agree with that, though he does act very young for a 50 year old...

though a hint of the exotic has crept in over times since most readers these days find Victorian England almost as distant from their real lives as any invented fantasy world

It's still fairly recent history for us in the UK, but it seems so distant...

In that way Bilbo is actually closer to conventional heroic characters like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter than Frodo is, since Frodo is already fairly well-informed and worldly (by Hobbit standards) before his adventure begins.

Another good point.

Bag End only takes up one portion of it.

Hmm...maybe the imagery from the films is effecting my own, Bag End seems to take up more of the hill in the films then described in the book...

I know a lot of people including Shippey describe Bilbo as "middle class" but other than the apparent lack of servants I don't really see it.

Bilbo always struck me as a minor 'lord' esque landowner in terms of status and class, rich and slighty 'removed' from the common hobbits, but not at so far a distance as to be completely unlikeable as a entry level character, you mention servants...wouldn't Gaffer Gamgee be working at Bag End during this time?

Though honestly the ease with which Bilbo abandons his home implies to me someone who knows that it will be looked after while he is away, though that's probably putting too much thought into an aspect of the fairy tale model.

I think that's probably just either an overlooked plot point, or merely down to the shire being so peaceful and crime free, another aspect of Bilbo's complacency, maybe Gandalf asked the neighbours to watch over Bag-end whilst locking up?

I think quite a bit about Hobbits can be taken as gentle satire of English country life, though Tolkien's clear love of it comes through as well. Given my aforementioned view of Bilbo's class, though, I don't think there was any self-satire of Tolkien's own class, since he was in no way rich until very late in life when LOTR became a phenomenon.

Hmm...I certainly read more into the partly biographical origin mentioned below than you do, so personally I think the more satrical elements were deliberately written with his children in mind, maybe based on personal experiences.

TH is not the sort of story in which the main character dies (Dean O'Gorman's description of Thorin as Tolkien's main character notwithstanding

Well in fairness it's Thorin's quest that drives the narrative (mostly) we are just seeing it through Bilbo's eyes, so who is he true passenger on the journey? O'Gorman wasn't wrong about the films though, Bilbo seemed quite content to dissapear into the background of his own story Mad

I've always enjoyed them.

For me it goes back to my personal experience of approaching TH as a the prelude to something bigger, rather than a lesser prequel, it helps the book stand apart from LOTR, and fits with the more heightened fantasy aspects, the narrator seems to have his own personality as well which lends itself very well to reading aloud to children.

I'm no expert on European folklore so correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the "little people" of folklore more fairies (or pixies, brownies, elves, sprites, etc.)?

That is possibly true, I'm not an expert either, but the quaint magic, homely appearance of Bilbo's hobbit hole etc did strike me as really familiar in some ways, maybe its' just a cultural thing? I think Rateliffe addresses this subject in his History Of The Hobbit commentary...

Gandalf's magic seems much more traditionally magical in TH than it does in LOTR, where everything is played very low key (except for the "word of command" I suppose, but that takes place "offscreen"). Dwarvish magic seems very much a part of their craft and thus, like elf-magic, not necessarily something they themselves would describe as magic but rather just part of their art and (I hesitate to the use the word in this context) technology. The "magic" of Hobbits is also not precisely what we would think of as magic but obviously not focused on crafting like the Dwarves or Noldor.

I'd agree with that, I think the Dwarvish magic as it were seems more alien to Bilbo largely because of the unexpected intrusion into his house, he's seeing things more than they are (though your point about the Craft is interesting...the enchantment on the hidden door strikes me as particularly 'magical')

I can't remember, but does Tolkien tone down Gandalf's magical nature in the 1960 Hobbit rewrite, Gandalf certainly seems slighty more brusque and mysterious in that version...

Well the text mentions the "three remarkable daughters of the Old Took" so I assume they somehow gained a reputation as a group,

...That is a rather obvious reading od the text I had never considered before...

Well I think we need to read "fairy" for "elf" here, and I do think it's a little absurd to suggest that the Took's are descended from an elf-hobbit marriage. But I could see Hobbits having dim and distant memories of hearing stories about Beren and Lúthien and Tuor and Idril from the period when they were subjects of the Kings of Arthedain. Then when they found themselves "ruled" by Tookish Thains (who obviously wielded little real power in the day-to-day) who acted unusually people made the connection with the old stories. But I've never thought it to be a true tale.

Agree with all of that, I just read it as hearsay combined and confused with folklore being passed down the generations.

Having spent a good bit of time on tumblr lately I'm not sure what "problematic" means anymore.

Very Happy Laughing

I don't think Tolkien's artistic or creative accomplishments with The Hobbit are diminished by the lack of women in its cast of characters, but it's not something that I would defend as a general principle.

I wouldn't say the time of writing and the circumstances of Tolkien's job, life etc at the time completely excuse this, but I don't think it's fair to place 1st century thinking on a 80 year old children's book, more female characters would have probably benefitted the book, but it's never something I really considered problematic until I started getting seriosuly interested in Tolkie i.e it seems to work for casual viewers so if it aint broke?

My instinct is to say that Bilbo is not particularly reminiscent of Tolkien, though. Bilbo was a lifelong bachelor, whereas Tolkien was married for 55 years to his teenage sweetheart (whom he waited for five years to talk to after being prohibited to by his guardian). Tolkien worked in academia for almost all of his adult life, whereas Bilbo does not come across as particularly scholarly (or inquisitive in general) until after his adventure.

Good points, personally I can see why some look at the story from this perspective, even if it isn't a theory with a great deal of evidence, The Hobbit feels very 'English' to me and does strike me as more personal and characterful than Tolkien's later (or earlier but later published) books, and Tolkien himself claimed he was 'a hobbit in all but name' at one point (though that may have been in jest)...this might again just be a cultural thing maybe I'm reading too much into connections I know/see in other Brits?

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by halfwise on Tue May 31, 2016 8:37 pm

Good god, you folks are maybe through the first 3 pages at this point.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue May 31, 2016 8:48 pm

{{{ Very Happy Good, isn't it! Sadly I haven't had time to write out a full reply yet, but here is the short bit pertinent to some of the above discussion that I sent to Malick by pm originally (edited slightly)-

Many of the questions you ask seem related to me to the same thing- my own view is that Tolkiens mocking of Bilbo's comfortable English world and its etiquette and manner- which you correctly point out are basically English serve several purposes and run through the entire first chapter.
From the good morning conversation to the entire party Gandalf assaults Bilbo's world of manners and politeness. It throws Bilbo completely off at every turn- first in the goods morning conversation it ends with a Bilbo so flustered he invites Gandalf to tea. The manner in which the dwarves arrive and how they treat him breaks all the rules of polite society- uninvited guests, treating the host like a servant, eating him out of house and home, treating his precious front door on his beautiful hole he is so proud of as a sign post. It shatters Bilbo world view as a Baggins, and it wakens the restless Took who can see through the chinks now and that all the manners and comforts and everything else is, out side of its own comfort zone useless as a defence- he cant stop the guests arriving, or the party happening.
And even after all that, the next morning he is ready to try to just settle back into his old habits and comfortable life until Gandalf turns up and shoves him out the door. Like Bilbo many a UK man found himself being called up out of his comfortable English world which he would never otherwise have left had he not been forced out the door.
What Tolkien is doing is poking fun at English manners and class and structure, and at the same time demonstrating that outside its place of existence, in this case within the Shire, its no use- something he probably had driven home in the trenches where the class of the guy next to you becomes irrelevant, and no amount of good manners or societies niceties will stop the bullet flying or the shells falling- and Tolkien also uses it narratively to shake Bilbo's little world upside down. What the dwarves and Gandalf bring to Bilbo's world is chaos- and Tolkien portrays it chaotically to emphasis this.}}}


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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Tue May 31, 2016 8:50 pm

halfwise wrote:Good god, you folks are maybe through the first 3 pages at this point.

Halfway through the 4th page in my copy Shocked

I guess I had a lot to talk about Shrugging

It's been too long since I really sat down and thought about the books, The Hobbit may be short, but there's alot of story and subtext within its pages...

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:36 pm

malickfan wrote:Well i thought it would be a fun experiment at least, we've spend so much time moaning about the faults of the films, it just felt like it was time to go back to discussing why we like the book, at least it gave me an excuse to re-read it and flex my rusty writing 'skills'. Not making any promises on further chapters though.

I'm enjoying it so far. Doesn't really matter how many more chapters (if any) we discuss if we're having fun in the here and now. I've already been trying to write more and at greater length lately but having another opportunity to do so is very welcome, especially when it's here on Forumshire.

Neither have I, but I do get a slightly less the human feel from Billbo in The Hobbit from time to time, but that may simply be based on my earliest memories of the book. Interesting point about the hobbit holes in LOTR, re-read the first couple of chapters, and Bag end certainly feels less 'homely' as it were.

Hmm, I haven't really thought about whether Bag End feels less homely in LOTR. I was just referring to the line in (I think) the Prologue about only the richest and poorest Hobbits living in holes. The Bagginses being rich, Bag End is certainly a well-appointed and luxurious (by rural/Hobbit standards) hole. I think even in TH the description makes it sound awfully large for a single inhabitant, which of course it is, even if it's not as big as Brandy Hall or Great Smials.

Tolkien's 'canon' dosen't mesh 100% together and it would be a shame if it did...

It took me a while to come to terms with that but I'm a more satisfied (and I like to think more perceptive) reader for it.

I would agree with that, though he does act very young for a 50 year old...

That is very true. Laughing I think narratively the purpose of this is to keep him relatable (and fish-out-of-water protagonists often come across as immature early on since they have so much to learn about their surroundings), but ... yeah, I'd agree he doesn't act his age much of the time.

It's still fairly recent history for us in the UK, but it seems so distant...

I suppose my sense of how old things are is influenced by me living in a newer country, but still ... many kids growing up listening to The Hobbit now have great-great-grandparents who weren't born yet when the Victorian Age ended.

Another good point.

Thanks. Smile

Hmm...maybe the imagery from the films is effecting my own, Bag End seems to take up more of the hill in the films then described in the book...

I agree with that. "The Hill" in the films is also not the only hill around.


(Click for full size.)

Bilbo always struck me as a minor 'lord' esque landowner in terms of status and class, rich and slighty 'removed' from the common hobbits, but not at so far a distance as to be completely unlikeable as a entry level character, you mention servants...wouldn't Gaffer Gamgee be working at Bag End during this time?

I would agree with your description of Bilbo's status. Hobbit society also seems to me to not put a huge amount of importance in social distinctions. Like, the social hierarchy still exists, but it's somewhat permeable. No one seems to object to Sam inheriting Bag End, though he is sort of a special case. The Gaffer does tell him not to get mixed up with his social betters and Bilbo and Frodo primarily socialize in their own class. But the Hobbit doesn't have a ton of government in general so I could see things being not quite so strict as in analogous historical societies. Bilbo may have been an exception, but in any event his interactions with the Gaffers didn't seem particularly hampered by class, and of course he taught Sam to read among other things.

Speaking of the Gaffer, he mentions that he was at the auction when Bilbo returned, as an apprentice to his older cousin Holman. "The Longfather-tree of Master Samwise" in Appendix C mentions this as well, and Holman's father Halfred is also said to be a gardener. Anyway, this didn't occur to me earlier, but I think we can reasonably surmise that Holman looked after Bag End in addition to his duties as gardener while Bilbo was away. But this isn't mentioned in TH and I dunno if Tolkien thought in the back of his mind that Bilbo would have had servants or not. I don't think anything in TH contradicts this idea though.

I think that's probably just either an overlooked plot point, or merely down to the shire being so peaceful and crime free, another aspect of Bilbo's complacency, maybe Gandalf asked the neighbours to watch over Bag-end whilst locking up?

I could see Gandalf doing that, or talking to Holman, as mentioned above.

Hmm...I certainly read more into the partly biographical origin mentioned below than you do, so personally I think the more satrical elements were deliberately written with his children in mind, maybe based on personal experiences.

Perhaps. I don't really know how rural Oxford was in the 1920s-30s; I would think not very much anymore (didn't Tolkien complain about cars in Oxford in the Letters?). But I also don't know how much time his children might have spent out in the countryside. Tolkien's brother Hilary was a farmer so maybe they visited?

Well in fairness it's Thorin's quest that drives the narrative (mostly) we are just seeing it through Bilbo's eyes, so who is he true passenger on the journey? O'Gorman wasn't wrong about the films though, Bilbo seemed quite content to dissapear into the background of his own story  Mad

I just re-watched that clip with O'Gorman and couldn't resist getting a dig in. Embarassed I would definitely describe Thorin as the deuteragonist though. He's certainly an important character.

That is possibly true, I'm not an expert either, but the quaint magic, homely appearance of Bilbo's hobbit hole etc did strike me as really familiar in some ways, maybe its' just a cultural thing? I think Rateliffe addresses this subject in his History Of The Hobbit commentary...

All the fairy tales I heard growing up were so bowdlerized and/or so far removed from traditional folklore that I can't really say. But one could make a connection between fairy hills and hobbit holes at the very least.

I'd agree with that, I think the Dwarvish magic as it were seems more alien to Bilbo largely because of the unexpected intrusion into his house, he's seeing things more than they are (though your point about the Craft is interesting...the enchantment on the hidden door strikes me as particularly 'magical')

I'm reluctant to stretch the point about craft too far, but most of the examples of "elf-magic" that come to mind seem to revolve around objects made by the elves. The Mirror of Galadriel comes to mind, and when Frodo and Sam see it Galadriel expresses confusion over what exactly the Hobbits mean by "magic", especially since they use the same word to refer to some of Sauron's abilities. But this might be more of a specifically Noldorin (and Dwarvish) thing since both cultures were greatly influenced by Aulë. Trying to think of how much "magic" we really see from the Teleri. The Swan-ships and Anglachel/Gurthang come to mind but those are also crafted...

I can't remember, but does Tolkien tone down Gandalf's magical nature in the 1960 Hobbit rewrite, Gandalf certainly seems slighty more brusque and mysterious in that version...

Not sure; unfortunately I don't have my copy of HoTH with me.

...That is a rather obvious reading od the text I had never considered before...

To some extent I think all (or most) of the children of the Old Took were probably "remarkable" to most Hobbits. The Took family tree in Appendix C lists Belladonna's younger brother as having "'gone to sea' in his youth" and one of her older brothers "went off on a journey and never returned". However, I kinda think (with very little in the way of textual evidence) that the Old Took's daughters may have been as remarkable for being more "liberated" than normal Hobbit girls/women. Although according to Letter 214 the headship of families could be held by women and Tolkien tries to describe the Shire as a pretty egalitarian place in terms of gender though some of his descriptions are not super satisfying to modern sensibilities.

Good points, personally I can see why some look at the story from this perspective, even if it isn't a theory with a great deal of evidence, The Hobbit feels very 'English' to me and does strike me as more personal and characterful than Tolkien's later (or earlier but later published) books, and Tolkien himself claimed he was 'a hobbit in all but name' at one point (though that may have been in jest)...this might again just be a cultural thing maybe I'm reading too much into connections I know/see in other Brits?

Very good points. I think I would say more that Hobbits are reminiscent of Tolkien than that Bilbo is specifically, but I get where you're coming from.


Last edited by Eldorion on Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:41 pm

halfwise wrote:Good god, you folks are maybe through the first 3 pages at this point.

Yeah, I was a bit surprised at how much detail Malick wanted to go, but I'm having fun. Very Happy

Pettytyrant101 wrote:It shatters Bilbo world view as a Baggins, and it wakens the restless Took who can see through the chinks now and that all the manners and comforts and everything else is, out side of its own comfort zone useless as a defence- he cant stop the guests arriving, or the party happening.

I think this is a really good and insightful description.
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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:39 pm

Continuing with The Chapter.

As always, feel free to jump in with question or thoughts of your own, and don't feel compelled to answer every question, or agree with my personal opinions

The next section introduces us to the old, mysterious Wizard Gandalf who is looking for a burglar to share in an adventure, Bilbo, rather reluctant to have any part in adventures, suddenly finds himself inviting the strange Wizard to tea, which sets the greater story in motion, and leads to the Unexpected Party that follows.

15. The narrator tells us this meeting happens “…one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green…” how does this compare to the traditional “Once upon a time” opening too many fairy tales? Given the very contemporary (even anachronistic) (i.e., 1930s) atmosphere that will be painted for the hobbit’s background (mantle clocks, morning post, coffee), when exactly is “long ago”...should we suppose “in the quiet of the world” is a reference to time, or place? Is this implying Bilbo's neighborhood was once part of our world, with the narrator looking back from the 1930's?

(I think this simple line adds a little more personality to the story-the narrator has an impersonal viewpoint looking back at the story from an indefinite point far in the future, to me this serves to make the story feel both more 'removed' and 'real', once upon a time seems more 'dreamlike' and generic i.m.o)

Gandalf (who at first is just noted as a old man associated with 'remarkable tales' and strange events, not a Wizard) then appears on the scene, with a sudden, flourish of language from both Bilbo and the narrator:

''Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tale. Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion.''

16. Is it possible Gandalf had anything to do with the occasional disappearances of Bilbo's Took relatives as noted by the narrator earlier?

17. We are told Gandalf is a Wizard, but he also acts as something of a guide and counsellor to Thorin's party, rarely using magic directly, his role as the man who puts the story in motion seems more important to me personally, how do you feel about this lack of outward magic on his part?

18. Bilbo is noted to be “unsuspecting” of Gandalf's plans by the narrator, but Gandalf does remember Bilbo from his Childhood, does this put Bilbo at a disadvantage? i.e how is it humorous or detrimental to the storyline that Bilbo is 'forced' into action?


Bilbo greets this total stranger quite hospitably, politely inviting him to join him for a smoke, but Gandalf seems to make fun of him with a riddling, questioning response to his simple “Good morning”, pressing on with his need for an adventurer. Bilbo is put off, coming to the conclusion he isn't ''quite his sort'' attempting to ignore the stranger and end the conversation.

The difficult old man finally introduces himself as Gandalf, claiming to be an old friend of Bilbo’s family, insulted(?) surprised(?) not to be recognized by the Hobbit. Bilbo reacts to Gandalf’s name, with a rather long winded monologue that finishes the introduction of Gandalf to the reader.

“Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures. Anything from climbing trees to visiting Elves - or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores!”

19. Does the style and length of Bilbo’s monologue as a narrative device fit in with the general tone of the book so far, is this exchange amusing or longwinded?, personally it seemed a little...artificial to me...

20. Bilbo mentions various stories attributed to Gandalf ''magic studs'' ''giants and dragons'' “the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows’ sons”? Should we assume that any of these are true? (at least a couple seem to be concisouly referencing the Silmarillion material) Or is this merely showing Bilbo's prejudice/ignorance against adventures, given his sheltered upbringing?

Gandalf finishes by playing another linguistic joke on Bilbo’s polite and apologetic “I beg your pardon.” , he announces that as a gift of pardon, he will choose Bilbo for the adventure he has in mind.

21. Should we suppose that Bilbo has passed some test of Gandalf’s? If so, what was it? or has he just be winding Bilbo up gently, as he wanted to be the burglar all along?

Bilbo hasn't exactly proved himself as a brave, adventurous hobbit so far has he? until I read The Quest For Erebor, Gandalf's choosing of Bilbo for the quest always struck me as a little random, and purely plot driven, Tolkien dosen't go into much detail at all about the other Hobbits in the neighbourhood afterall.

-I like to imagine had Bilbo said no, Gandalf would have gone from door to door continuing to terrify the local hobbits until he struck gold, it does strike me as a little arrogant that Gandalf must have brought Thorin's company to the neighboorhood without finding a burglar first...

22.Until I re-read this chapter I had honestly never really realized just how funny it was, the narrator takes great pleasure in pointing out the faults with the characters, combined with Bilbo's foolish antics, and the longwinded wordplay...would it be fair to call this opening chapter a comedy?

23. Why does Gandalf say that sending Bilbo on an adventure will be “very amusing for me”?, should we assume he's a sinister old man with ulterior motives? (he must have at least some idea of the likely consequences), or, looking at the motives as shown in 'The Quest For Erebor' maybe he simply wants to improve Bilbo as a person?

24. On a related note, for those familiar with Tolkien's later 'The Quest For Erebor', does this conversation really fit with Gandalf's true motives for choosing Bilbo (as later conceived by Tolkien)? If he was so sure this was the correct Hobbit, wouldn't it have made more sense to ask him directly and clearly, pointing out the benefits and reasoning behind the quest and why he was needed?

(Though in fairness this is all with the benefit of hindsight, TH was never supposed to have a sequel afterall)

Bilbo refuses to accept Gandalf’s “gift”, and retreats into his hole, stopping only to (foolishly) invite Gandalf to tea the following day so as not to be completely rude (though he quickly forgets he had done so). Gandalf has a good laugh, and then scrapes a mysterious symbol onto the front of Bilbo’s door. Bilbo is inside, stuffing his face in the happy belief that he has “escaped” the adventure.

25. At this point in the story what were your initial impressions of Bilbo, and Gandalf?


I'm going to leave things there for a while, in the next section, we will be introduced to Thorin's company.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:02 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{{ Very Happy  Good, isn't it! Sadly I haven't had time to write out a full reply yet, but here is the short bit pertinent to some of the above discussion that I sent to Malick by pm originally (edited slightly)-

Many of the questions you ask seem related to me to the same thing- my own view is that Tolkiens mocking of Bilbo's comfortable English world and its etiquette and manner- which you correctly point out are basically English serve several purposes and run through the entire first chapter.
From the good morning conversation to the entire party Gandalf assaults Bilbo's world of manners and politeness. It throws Bilbo completely off at every turn- first in the goods morning conversation it ends with a Bilbo so flustered he invites Gandalf to tea. The manner in which the dwarves arrive and how they treat him breaks all the rules of polite society- uninvited guests, treating the host like a servant, eating him out of house and home, treating his precious front door on his beautiful hole he is so proud of as a sign post. It shatters Bilbo world view as a Baggins, and it wakens the restless Took who can see through the chinks now and that all the manners and comforts and everything else is, out side of its own comfort zone useless as a defence- he cant stop the guests arriving, or the party happening.
And even after all that, the next morning he is ready to try to just settle back into his old habits  and comfortable life until Gandalf turns up and shoves him out the door. Like Bilbo many a UK man found himself being called up out of his comfortable English world which he would never otherwise have left had he not been forced out the door.
What Tolkien is doing is poking fun at English manners and class and structure, and at the same time demonstrating that outside its place of existence, in this case within the Shire, its no use- something he probably had driven home in the trenches where the class of the guy next to you becomes irrelevant, and no amount of good manners or societies niceties will stop the bullet flying or the shells falling- and Tolkien also uses it narratively to shake Bilbo's little world upside down. What the dwarves and Gandalf bring to Bilbo's world is chaos- and Tolkien portrays it chaotically to emphasis this.}}}


agreed. Nod  Bilbo uses politeness as a defence mechanism, the word 'sorry' has defensive properties. I like the contrast between the stolid and polite Victorian tea party mentality of Bilbo and the fact that the Victorians were the most badass reckless adventurers known to man. They would conquer Everest in nothing more than tweeds and Kendal mint cake.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:09 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
Many of the questions you ask seem related to me to the same thing- my own view is that Tolkiens mocking of Bilbo's comfortable English world and its etiquette and manner- which you correctly point out are basically English serve several purposes and run through the entire first chapter.
From the good morning conversation to the entire party Gandalf assaults Bilbo's world of manners and politeness. It throws Bilbo completely off at every turn- first in the goods morning conversation it ends with a Bilbo so flustered he invites Gandalf to tea. The manner in which the dwarves arrive and how they treat him breaks all the rules of polite society- uninvited guests, treating the host like a servant, eating him out of house and home, treating his precious front door on his beautiful hole he is so proud of as a sign post. It shatters Bilbo world view as a Baggins, and it wakens the restless Took who can see through the chinks now and that all the manners and comforts and everything else is, out side of its own comfort zone useless as a defence- he cant stop the guests arriving, or the party happening.
And even after all that, the next morning he is ready to try to just settle back into his old habits  and comfortable life until Gandalf turns up and shoves him out the door. Like Bilbo many a UK man found himself being called up out of his comfortable English world which he would never otherwise have left had he not been forced out the door.
What Tolkien is doing is poking fun at English manners and class and structure, and at the same time demonstrating that outside its place of existence, in this case within the Shire, its no use- something he probably had driven home in the trenches where the class of the guy next to you becomes irrelevant, and no amount of good manners or societies niceties will stop the bullet flying or the shells falling- and Tolkien also uses it narratively to shake Bilbo's little world upside down. What the dwarves and Gandalf bring to Bilbo's world is chaos- and Tolkien portrays it chaotically to emphasis this.}}}


Agreed with all of this Nod

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:12 pm

Mrs Figg wrote:
agreed. Nod  Bilbo uses politeness as a defence mechanism, the word 'sorry' has defensive properties. I like the contrast between the stolid and polite Victorian tea party mentality of Bilbo and the fact that the Victorians were the most badass reckless adventurers known to man. They would conquer Everest in nothing more than tweeds and Kendal mint cake.

That is a very interesting point I hadn't considered before, it's also reflected in the Dwarves I suppose-they are portrayed as great lovers of food and music in this chapter, but have a very dark and warlike history in Tolkien's world (even if the Dwarves in The Hobbit are barely warriors until the Battle Of Five Armies), there's alot of clever juxtaposition in The Hobbit Nod

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:39 pm

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Orwell on Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:38 am

This thread makes for fascinating reading, and as it is about the book and not that travesty they call a movie trilogy, all the better.

I thought I got a comprehensive view from my many reads of the book and and from reading the History of The Hobbit, but I'm really enjoying the insights and idea offerings you guys are putting forth. Good stuff. Some new perspectives to my eye.

One point, the Hobbit might be simple to read, but it is very complex beneath. In LotR the story is all generally spelled out and on the surface, in The Hobbit, it is all between the lines. I prefer The Hobbit for just that reason.

Carry on, chaps! cheers

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Orwell on Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:51 pm

Hey! I read all this days ago! Where's the next bit? Mad

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:01 pm

Orwell wrote:Hey! I read all this days ago! Where's the next bit? Mad

I've finished writing out notes/questions for the first chapter, which I'll post soon (but I'm not sure if we'll go any further than that...)

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by halfwise on Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:38 pm

Orwell wrote:One point, the Hobbit might be simple to read, but it is very complex beneath. In LotR the story is all generally spelled out and on the surface, in The Hobbit, it is all between the lines. I prefer The Hobbit for just that reason.

Very interesting point I had never thought of before.  I think it comes down to the Hobbit being meant as a playful work, and Tolkien approaches this from several angles: tweaking the nose of english society by the mirrored hobbit society, to the voice of the narrator.  Lord of the Rings morphed into a more serious epic work.

16. Is it possible Gandalf had anything to do with the occasional disappearances of Bilbo's Took relatives as noted by the narrator earlier?

I'm rather surprised this had never occurred to me before.  Given Gandalf's obvious familiarity with hobbit family history, it seems quite likely.


17. We are told Gandalf is a Wizard, but he also acts as something of a guide and counsellor to Thorin's party, rarely using magic directly, his role as the man who puts the story in motion seems more important to me personally, how do you feel about this lack of outward magic on his part?

Gandalf is clearly Joseph Campbell's messenger from the fantastical realm, playing the same role that the White Rabbit or R2D2 and C3PO played.  These messengers need not be magical, only carry an air of mystery that cannot be refused. There is always peril with doling out too much magic lest the tenuous suspension of disbelief be broken.  Tolkien played his cards with care - and so did not portray Gandalf's magical qualities, rather his connection to adventure and a wider world.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by malickfan on Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:01 pm

Continuing with the chapter, now looking at the beginning of the Unexpected Party through to Thorin's arrival ending just before the Misty Mountains song.

It is the next day, and Bilbo has completely forgotten about the “tea” he invited Gandalf to. Suddenly the doorbell rings, and Bilbo remembers racing around setting a tea for two instead of the quiet solitude he had anticipated.

Throughout this section and the next, we see Bilbo hosting an ever-increasing party of Dwarves to “tea” and the main storyline gets underway.

(Douglas A Anderson notes ''Tea-time in England is traditionally around four P.M. It is a light afternoon meal, usually consisting of tea, bread (with butter and jam) and various cakes or biscuits...'' though in the case of Thorin and company it appears they have little concept of tea time traditions...(The Annotated Hobbit, Revised and Expanded Edition, Chapter 1: An Unexpected Party, page 40, note 18)

We soon realize that Bilbo lives in much more than a mere hole, he has extensive pantries and side rooms, yet he cooks all his own meals and washes up all the crockery himself.

26. Does it strike you as a little odd that Bilbo, aged 50,  lives alone in such a large home, without any servants, and no noted source of income?, given the 1937 publication date and Bilbo's apparent wealth and standing in the local community, is this a further hint that he is lonely, or odd...and looking for something more in life, or perhaps just something comical?

27. Is it fair to say Bilbo's blustery manner of speech, glutony and forgetfulnes make him come across as little childish? Do you think this was this a deliberate move by Tolkien to allow Bilbo to 'grow' on the journey or merely designed to appeal the intended readers?


At the door is not Gandalf, but a SURPRISE! A dwarf! Who has a “blue beard” tucked into his “golden belt” “very bright eyes” and a “dark-green hood.” He walks casually as if Bilbo had planned to invite him in for tea, and hangs up his cloak, introducing himself as Dwalin. Bilbo feels compelled (or intimidated) to invite him to the tea he has set for Gandalf.

(The Dwarves in The Hobbit are mostly thinly sketched out (some have little more than a line of dialogue), but Tolkien makes an effort to give each of the Dwarves a distinguishing colour scheme, it serves little purpose to the reader (as the Dwarves largely operate as one unruly mob) but does add to feeling of the unnatural and surprising bursting in on Bilbo).

28. Should we suppose the multi coloured beards are natural, or an indication of war paint or 'magic'?

29. Does it strike anyone else as frankly a little far fetched, that an uninvited dwarf comes in and hangs his things up in the hall without a word of explanation, or protest from Bilbo?

-Or is this just another of example of Tolkien contrasting the mundane with the ludicrous, and poking fun at the gentle English homeowner?


An uncomfortable silence follows, though both Dwalin and Bilbo are at pains to retain formal manners, Bilbo though surprised it is not Gandalf at the door, doesn't seem too shocked to encounter a Dwarf, he does at least seem familiar with their appearance (we later learn in LOTR, that Dwarves often passed westwards through the Shire on the way to their halls and mines in The Blue Mountains).

30. What do you think Bilbo was thinking at this point in the story?

After Dwalin consumes his third cake, the bell rings again. Bilbo excuses himself and leaves his guest at the table to answer the door expecting Gandalf, but is met by another dwarf! Bilbo is so surprised by this second guest’s assumption that he is expected, that he replies to the Dwarf’s “Balin at your service” with  a polite “Thank you”. We are told by the narrator that this “was not the correct thing to say”, evidently s/he is having fun at Bilbo's expense again.

31. Whilst Balin isn't actually the oldest of Thorin's company (that falls to Thorin himself), he is frequently described as very old or old looking, why do we suppose this is? Does this effect how you consider Bilbo and Balin's long frienship in later years?

(Looking at later information given in LOTR and its appendices, we learn that Balin was also a survivor of Smaug's attack on Erebor, and fought in the Goblin/Dwarf war (where several relatives were killed) he was one of Thrain's party when he went missing or the borders of Mirkwood, and later lead a doomed expedition to reclaim Moria, Balin was from the line of Durin who were particularly long lived, my theory is that he was prematurely aged by all the stress and conflict he had lived through, Balin seems to be the most prominent and senior Dwarf in the party after Thorin, so I like to think watching his friend and king descend into madness was a contributing factor)

*See The History Of The Hobbit: The Second Phase, XI: The Lonely Mountain pages 477-478 (John D Rateliffe, One volume edition, 2011) for a more detailed discussion, analysis and musings on Balin's history, age and appearance (I highly reccomend the book anyway).

32. Why does Bilbo continue to act so polite (and not simply tell the Dwarves to go stuff themselves)? Is Tolkien making fun of the expectation that adults teach little children be patient and learn their manners? Or perhaps he writing as a father trying to teach his young readers manners while entertaining them?

Balin politely but forcefully demands beer, not tea, and seed-cake in response to Bilbo’s invitation to tea. Bilbo finds himself accommodating this demand sacrificing his “after-supper morsel” that he had baked that same afternoon.

Balin treats Bilbo more like a waiter, not a host whose house he is a guest in, as the chapter wears on, it's surprising how abusive things become...

The bell rings yet again, and Bilbo “puffs” back to the door (too many seed cakes probably!). He is no longer surprised that it is not Gandalf, but two more dwarves at the door, this time with bags of tools along with more colourful belts and hoods. A little put out, Bilbo sits in a corner with a drink and tries to recover his wits, while ignoring as much as possible the scary sounding “adventurous” conversation that the four dwarves begin at his dining room table, about “…mines and gold and troubles with the goblins, and the depredations of dragons.”

33. Both The narrator and characters seem aware how vague and ill thought out their plans for dealing with Smaug were, so doesn't it seem a little weird that ''Bags Of Tools'' are noted, but no weapons? (though we later learn that some of the company carry knives at least)


The bell shortly rings yet again 'ding-dong-a-ling-dang!', and yet more Dwarves arrive.  
Going off on another tangent, here Tolkien uses onomatopoeia, or words that make a sound effect, to describe the sound of the door bell, this technique is often found in children's literature (and it is used again in The Hobbit several more times), coupled with the repetition and rhyming of the Dwarven names this chapter lends itself very well to being read aloud in my opinion, it isn't just the tone of the story, but arguably the prose that make it suited to reading aloud to children.

34. So, as the Hobbit is generally considered a 'bedtime' story, is reading it to children something any of you has ever done?

Fili, the third Dwarve to arrive, informs Bilbo that it is four more at the door, he had seen them following behind on his way to the hobbit’s hole (and in a recurring theme for this chapter had neglected to tell Bilbo). Bilbo becomes overwhelmed by confusion and annoyance, and realizes they are all going to stay for supper. He opens his door to five, not four dwarves, and they invite themselves inside just like the others. “…off they marched with their broad hands stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others.”

35. You have to wonder by this point...why didn't the Dwarves simply arrive all together, (and why hadn't Dwalin told Bilbo more were coming), though they seem to be under the impression that Bilbo knew they were coming, surely it would have made more sense anyway to turn up all together to intimidate Bilbo/put everyone on the same footing?

At this point in the story there are nine Dwarves in Bilbo's home, other than the 'old looking' Balin, they are all solely characterized solely by their outlandish clothing, different coloured hoods,  belts, and sometimes their beards. Details are given of some “marching” off to tea, and their “broad hands”, so far, I think it is fair to say the Dwarves in The Hobbit are one unruly, but intimidating mass.

36. The Dwarves in The Hobbit with five exceptions (Thorin, Balin, Bombur, Fili and Kili) are very thinly sketched and operate mostly as one unruly mass, how do you feel about this lack of character? Is it fair to consider this 'mass' a character of its own?

37. Given the sparse, but outlandish description and actions of the Dwarves so far, how do you think Tolkien wanted us to picture them, fairytale esque, or similar to those found in his Silmarillion legends?


Continuing with this chapter, Thorin finally arrives, Gandalf returns, loudly banging on the door with his staff, rather than ringing the bell, (with the intent of rubbing out his scratched mark on the door),  he leaves “quite a dent on the beautiful door”. When the dwarves fall in upon each other (after pressing hard on the door), Gandalf just laughs, but chides Bilbo for keeping 'friends' waiting . The ''very important' Thorin is at the bottom of the pile (under the ''immensely fat'' Bombur)

38. At this point in the story is it fair to consider Gandalf as something of a sarcastic (even abusive) trickster? He damages Bilbo's property, insults his dignity and invites 13 strangers into his home (and larders)...the whole first chapter does strike me as something of a dark comedy, painting the old wizard as just as threatening as the dragon we are yet to meet...or maybe Gandalf is simply acting tough on purpose?

The narrator notes it is the “great” Thorin Oakenshield, and Bombur, the “immensely fat and heavy” dwarf. Why exactly Thorin is deserving of being 'great and important' isn't too clear, whilst Bombur seems to serve little purpose in the story other than being the butt of (occasionally pretty cruel) comic relief...

39. What are your first impressions of Thorin? How does his manner of speech mark him as different to Bilbo or Gandalf?

The differences in language and tone between The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings go far beyond the narration and whimsical humour, especially in the earlier chapters of the book, many instances of vocabulary and speech, and the general appearance and 'feel' of the world are notably different to The Lord Of The Rings, though the similarities are also there, and gradually the story does begin to morph more into the world of LOTR in tone and style, so, a couple of related questions:

40. When you read The Hobbit, do you read it as being from the same 'world' of the LotR story despite the tonal differences and Tolkien's initial intentions with the story? Or do you embrace the disconnect between the two books, and keep the stories largely separate in your mind somehow?

41. Similarly, do the various expansions and alterations Tolkien added to the backstory and history of The Hobbit (i.e the Appendices material, The Quest For Erebor and the abandoned 1960 Hobbit rewrite) have any baring on how you approach the narrative?


Gandalf announces that at thirteen dwarves total, the group is complete. He and the others put in even more orders for further food and drink, and Bilbo storms off to the kitchen to meekly comply. Bilbo becomes more and more resentful at the dwarves’ and Gandalf presumption that he is mere waiter at their disposal, but he is saved from doing anything more when four of the Dwarves appear in the kitchen, who seemingly reading his mind, take all the leftover food out and set a few more tables as well.

''Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!" (evidently Bilbo is either predictable or has a reputation...)

42. Is Bilbo’s behaviour in this chapter  so far believable? Bafflement, annoyance and now anger...why does he keep his feelings and thoughts inside? Surely he would have demanded to know what was going on by this point?

The dwarves continue talking, and Bilbo continues to stew in anger and stress , until the eating is over. Bilbo moves to clear the plates and glasses, and asks “in his politest unpressing tones” if they will stay for supper. “ ‘Of course!’ says Thorin. ‘And after. We shan’t get through the business till late, and we must have some music first.’”

43. Why does Thorin want to discuss the business last thing, all through the night? What have they been talking about all this time during the tea? Wouldn't it make more sense for them to plan things when they weren't half asleep and stuffed full of food and alcohol?

The dwarves, except for Thorin (who is too important apparently), clear the dishes and carry them to the kitchen in a comically threatening manner,  stacking them precariously into tall piles and carrying them off in one hand at a time, Bilbo, “almost squeaking with fright”, runs after them protesting that he can do it and telling them “please don’t trouble”! The dwarves respond by bursting into song (a song which like much of the chapter's events reads like it was written deliberately to wind Bilbo up), quoted in full:

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates –
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!


44. What do you think of the song?

Whilst Bilbo is tearing his hair out in the kitchen, Thorin and Gandalf are having some kind of pipe smoking smoke-ring competition. Thorin blows “enormous” smoke-rings and directs them (how though, isn't clear...speaking? mentally? by magic enchantment?) to fly around the room; but Gandalf blows a smaller ring each time, that catches up with Thorin’s, goes through the middle of it, and comes back to join a cloud of them floating over his head, so that he looks “strange and sorcerous”. Bilbo watching from the sidelines, feels embarrassed about how proud he was of his small smoke rings just the day before.

45. Is this scene a throwaway bit of whimsy, a joke, or something more? Maybe Thorin and Gandalf were psychically communicating?

After tea, supper and the cleaning up finally finish Thorin calls for music, the Dwarves bring out musical instruments, and we are treated to a rousing chorus of 'Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold', which will be discussed in the next post.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by halfwise on Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:27 pm

26. Does it strike you as a little odd that Bilbo, aged 50, lives alone in such a large home, without any servants, and no noted source of income?, given the 1937 publication date and Bilbo's apparent wealth and standing in the local community, is this a further hint that he is lonely, or odd...and looking for something more in life, or perhaps just something comical?

27. Is it fair to say Bilbo's blustery manner of speech, glutony and forgetfulnes make him come across as little childish? Do you think this was this a deliberate move by Tolkien to allow Bilbo to 'grow' on the journey or merely designed to appeal the intended readers?

Bilbo's house seems about the right size for a bachelor in the country, by US standards. And the idea of a 'need' for a servant is unfathomable to most of us these days, even I suspect in Britain. He clearly has an inheritance and no need to pay rent, so nothing struck me as out of the way.

Tolkien was clearly portraying a fussy british bloke out of his element among more adventurous types, but trying badly to fit in. It's a sit-com.

39. What are your first impressions of Thorin? How does his manner of speech mark him as different to Bilbo or Gandalf?

I never liked Thorin, either in his pompous first incarnation or his re-incarnation once he's King Under the Mountain. The only time I found him at all relatable was during his death bed scene with Bilbo. I don't fault the film for trying to remedy this, either. They may have botched the job, but I don't blame them for trying. Only if they had tried to recapture the children's story atmosphere would Thorin have fit in as the stuffy grown-up the kids largely ignore.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Orwell on Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:44 am

38. Somehow I didn't find the depictions of Bombur as being cruel. Maybe because he seemed quite happy (and uncomplaining) about bring fat. He appeared to have worked at it his whole life as a labour of love. Later depiction (at the Council of Elrond) indicate he was so fat he needed to be carried by several dwarfs. No suggestion he was unhappy about it or that anyone had anything but affection for him. Just a thought.

Plenty of other things of interest above, but I'll continue to read things as they come, and cherry pick the things that particularly capture my interest and demand a comment, methinks. Very Happy

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by azriel on Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:15 pm

My opinion of Thorin is that hes head of a large & sometimes unruly family. He wants whats his & to find peace to enjoy it. Hes the Paternal father figure & I think it wears him down a tad. By rights he should be living an ok life under the mountain doing what he wants when he wants. Heading this troop to get things done, meeting people hed rather not meet, being advised when he knows his own mind would gall him. What the hell use are Hobbits ? And what is a Hobbit anyhow ? not had much use for them before ? And having to cow tow to an Elf of all things rubs his nose in it. He doesnt want help from anyone else & he doesnt need anyone else. Kill the Dragon, grab the booty & lets get on with it. Everything is running thru his mind I should think, & hes probably tired of it but, the itch to see this thru & be heralded as a hero for ever burns brightly. I should think not just being a king of Dwarves but a hero to Dwarves, to be sung about etc is quite appealing.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:30 pm


28. Should we suppose the multi coloured beards are natural, or an indication of war paint or 'magic'?

29. Does it strike anyone else as frankly a little far fetched, that an uninvited dwarf comes in and hangs his things up in the hall without a word of explanation, or protest from Bilbo?

It's quite clear that Tolkien was working very hard to make this a kid's fairy tale at the beginning, and then it got away from him as he kept injecting notes of reality. The beard colors were never mentioned again, and most readers in my experience never really noticed them the first time. I think Tolkien enjoyed the atmosphere he was creating and never could bring himself to edit it out as incidental.

There WAS protest from Bilbo...more sort of external flustered consternation, but it was internal protest. Think how you would behave if some friendly but somewhat outlandish person presented himself at your door, then started to make himself at home with all the signals of being expected? You wouldn't know quite what to make of it, and with all the friendly signs wouldn't get up on your high horse and throw them out without a good excuse. Bilbo had no time to come up with excuses, the dwarves kept arriving.

It all seemed very natural to me, I don't find either the dwarves or Bilbo's behaviour to be off kilter. Especially if you've dealt with Ozhobbits, which I have.

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Re: The Hobbit: A Chapter by Chapter readthrough, Chapter One: An Unexpected Party

Post by Orwell on Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:53 pm

Cheeky!


I found it all natural. The beards could be garish colours or normal hair colour, some of which has been described as blue (deep shiny black?)

As to unexpected visitors, I think in earlier days in my life I would have been surprised and polite in the face of unexpected visitors, just like Bilbo, making Bilbo's actions seem natural enough, and even familiar. And the English middle class does like to be polite (if slightly superior and aloof). Nowadays, I would expect a dangerous psychopath at my door. As we now know, in these less naive and idealistic times,  all unkown visitors knocking on your door are dangerous psychopaths.

NB. We had the occasional harmless psych patient walk our streets or even knock on our door, lost and bewildered, but none seemed dangerous, and no dwarfs among them. I did grow up in a government Housing Commission Estate though. Very Happy

_________________
"Skirts!" cried our respectable Master Odo. "Skirts! And they have the temerity to call them 'kilts'.... Eru darn my socks!"

From "The True Tale of the Un-magical Coal Scuttle."
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Orwell
Dark Presence with Gilt Edge

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Age : 99
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