8.28.2009

#17. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings

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"And then we can have some rest and some sleep," said Sam. He laughed grimly. "And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo. I mean plain ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning's work in the garden. I'm afraid that's all I'm hoping for all the time. All the big important plans are not for my sort. Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We're in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: 'Let's hear about Frodo and the ring!' And they'll say: 'Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn't he, dad?' 'Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot.' "

"It's saying a lot too much," said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. 'Why, Sam,' he said, 'to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you've left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. 'I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his talk, dad? That's what I like; it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam, would he, dad?' "

"Now, Mr. Frodo," said Sam, "you shouldn't make fun. I was serious."

"So was I," said Frodo, "and so I am. We're going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book, now, dad; we don't want to read any more.' "


Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Synopsis: The peaceable little hobbit Bilbo Baggins sets out on an adventure, and among his discoveries is a magic ring that will affect the destiny of hobbits and elves, dwarves and men, and all Middle-earth. Bilbo's young relative Frodo receives the task of carrying the ring to its destruction, accompanied by his loyal friend Sam. The evil forces of Sauron must be fought, and the heroes and heroines of the epic include immortal Elvish royalty, a rightful king questing for his throne and his beloved, a desperate maiden from the land of horses, a tree-shepherd, and many others.

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I have immense respect for Tolkien's work. He created, not a mere story but a mythology--a world with languages and history and unheard-of creatures described with intricate detail. Unfortunately, for me Tolkien's narrative is almost more work to get through than Dickens', especially after the great war is won in Return of the King. Also unfortunately, I find it difficult to sympathize with any of the female characters except for Eowyn, and she can be downright frustrating.

Men love LOTR, probably because it qualifies as epic adventure with lots of battling and almost Gothic portrayals of beauty and horror; there's just not quite enough relational psychology for us girls, I suppose. Despite all that, the set still belongs in my favorites, partly because there are so many great thoughts in the tale.

I am currently re-reading it (am right in the middle of the Council of Elrond); it might wind up higher on my list after a second read, since the first trip through a good story is always the hardest.

RRR: Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories". It's on my list-of-things-to-read too, but I hear great things about it.

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