Tolkien Tuesday #25

~ 05 July 2022 ~

This the first time in a couple of weeks that I’ve managed to post this on the right day! Woohoo! However, I am still a terrible read-along hostess as I am still behind with comments. I hang my head in shame. I would like to think I might get around to them by the end of the week, but be forewarned…it’s equally possible I may not. Sigh…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finish Book 2, Chapter 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring, Many Meetings.

Gloin, keeping the conversation neutral, regales Frodo with all that has been going on at the Lonely Mountain and its surrounds. Frodo says he would like to see Bilbo again, more than anything.

After the feast, the gathering moves to the Hall of Fire, to listen to music, songs and stories. Frodo spots a small figure by the fire who looks to be asleep. Elrond wakes him, though he wasn’t really asleep, and beckons Frodo over. It’s Bilbo, who has been busy composing a song which Elrond wishes to hear that night. But Bilbo claims he needs help from his friend, who is sought out, and it turns out to be Strider.

While they are waiting for him to appear, Bilbo asks Frodo about the ring, and asks to see it. Although Frodo is reluctant, he shows it to him. Bilbo reaches out to touch it and Frodo pulls backs, causing a terrible transformation in Bilbo. Bilbo, on seeing the look of distress on Frodo’s face, immediately understands, and returns to being himself once more.

Bilbo and Strider leave to finish writing the song, and Frodo is left alone to think and ponder. He falls quickly into an almost-dream like state, but eventually he comes to hear Bilbo’s voice as he performs his latest song about Earendil.

Afterwards, Bilbo and Frodo slip away. Retiring to Frodo’s room, they exchange stories of all the wonderful things they had seen on their adventures, avoiding any darker subjects.. A while later, Sam turns up, on Gandalf’s orders, to remind Frodo he needs to rest ahead of the Council tomorrow, so Bilbo takes his leave, to go walk beneath the stars before bed.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Although we’ve made mention of the “master and servant” dynamic of Frodo and Sam’s friendship before, I don’t think it was as awkwardly obvious as it was in this chapter, or at least, that’s how it came across to me. I hated how Bilbo referred to Frodo as “your master” when he was speaking to Sam, even though the tone was not one of reminding him of his station.

I loved spending time in the Hall of Fire. Gandalf’s description of it was wonderful! I could have pulled up a chair by the fire and listened to the songs and stories until I drifted off into an enchanted dream myself…

Next week we begin Book 2 Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

This week my musing is inspired by Bilbo Baggins himself, and I think it is something many of us can identify with. First, the quote:

“…I have written some more of my book. And, of course, I make up a few songs. They sing them occasionally: just to please me, I think; for, of course, they aren’t really good enough for Rivendell…”

Imposter syndrome. It was this which was brought to mind on the reading of that passage. What is it? A feeling of inadequacy and crippling self-doubt when it comes to one’s own gifts and talents. As Bilbo points out, the idea that we, or our work, or our art, is not good enough and hasn’t earned the attention or praise it is being shown.

Yet, I can’t imagine elves, who are often considered to be lofty and aloof, wasting their time and effort on sub-standard offerings, all in the name of politeness, even if they are kind. Can you?

And, if we are looking for a real world equivalent, this also goes for publishers, reviewers, readers and those kind enough to leave supportive, encouraging comments full of praise in the comment section of our blogs too. Publishers don’t have to accept our work, reviewers don’t have to leave reviews, and no-one has to take the time to tell you they enjoyed your poem or piece of flash fiction. They do it because they see merit in it. They do it because they were moved by your creative expression to do so. It can be so difficult to remember that sometimes.

Why do we find it so hard to believe in ourselves? Why do we find it so hard to accept compliments?

Elsewhere

Although we’ve briefly discussed some of the other books written by Tolkien, about Tolkien, and about Middle Earth, and although I’ve mentioned attempting to catalogue my collection of books on Goodreads (and struggling with multiple editions – I’ve not yet looked into your suggestion, Joy, I will get to it!) I’ve never taken a look at Tolkien’s author page on Goodreads until this week…

If you’re looking for a potted biography of Tolkien, I can highly recommend it. It feels a little repetitive for something so short, but all the main points are there. And the most mind-blowing fact on the page? 520 distinct works…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

If you could only pick one of the following to do in Rivendell, all taken from Book 2, Chapter 1, which would it be?

  1. Attend a feast
  2. Listen to music and songs in the Hall of Fire
  3. Look at the stars of Elbereth in the garden
Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

When I was writing this question, I had anticipated choosing 2, and, on any other day I probably would have. The Hall of Fire sounds so wonderful – it sounds like a dream come true. Yet when I read that final sentence of the chapter, where Bilbo said of his intentions to go out for a walk in the garden and look at the stars…I just wanted to go with him! So, at this moment in time, my answer is definitely 3, no matter that you can see the stars pretty much anywhere in Middle Earth, unless you’re under a mountain or in a cave. I think it would be so special to simply sit and stare up into the night sky and enjoy the gentleness, the serenity of the moment.

28 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #25

  1. This time in th Hall of Fire was a wonderful respite. I’m not too keenon the Master/Servent thing with Sam and Frodo, either. I know Bilbo just states what for him is obvious… still.

    I think only the truly confident do NOT suffer from imposter syndrome and I don’t think the elves would sing along if they thought they were not worthy.

    Oh, you are a mean taskmistress! Only one of the three we can choose? I am such a gourmand and love food, but I love song and dance and meander the gardens whilst looking at the stars? However is one to choose? Sigh… I will take option 2… today ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Definitely number 2 – listen to the poetry and songs in the Hall of Fire. Though I’m also an avid stargazer so number 3 has some appeal.

    By the way, if anyone wants to read an actual biography of Tolkien, the one written by Humphrey Carpenter is well worth checking out, though it was written in the 1970s.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Such choices you give us, Sammi. But with the way I am with food, best I avoid the feast. Tempting to stare at their stars. But I think the music would draw me most strongly.
    Handling praise? Mmm. Since publishing I’ve had to get used to that. It’s weird. It’s not just the reviews, which anyway are few (& I understand that, cos I’m abysmal at writing them), it’s the comments I get from readers on Twitter, fellow writers for the most part. Apparently my writing is good. Wow. I’ve stopped ducking my head & grinning inanely, now I smile and say thank you. Everyone has a talent, and this seems to be mine…I’ve worked hard enough for it ๐Ÿ˜Šโ€‹๐Ÿ˜Šโ€‹๐Ÿ˜Šโ€‹๐Ÿ˜Šโ€‹๐Ÿ˜Šโ€‹

    Liked by 4 people

  4. If you weren’t behind on the comments, I’d never catch up, so I for one am rather glad you are… ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I have yet to comment on earlier posts.
    About the master/servant thing: yes, agreed. I think this is so ingrained in their worldview (like it used to be in ours in times past) that it didn’t registere (except for some of the servants who had time enough to think their own thoughts and weren’t brainwashed by the powers that be sufficiently to not question the power structure). And in a way Sam’s acceptance of his being Frodo’s servant leads right into the impostor syndrome I think. Bilbo sees the elves as superiour and never questions it. They are, to him, his betters. And they, in turn, treat hobbits like children. Artists would praise children’s art but not necessarily ‘inferiour’ art of other adults. Or maybe they treat him like some old relative who is being humoured. They do recognize his merit, how he could withstand the ring for so long. Elves are kind, strong, and talented but there is also that subliminal arrogance.
    About the question: Definitely walk under the stars.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I also loved seeing the Hall of Fire. Such great descriptions! We also get our first glimpse of Arwen here. I love the description of her sitting beside her father at the feast, although it feels one-dimensional that she is only characterized by her beauty and never gets to speak. It was also interesting to get the first hint of the relationship with Aragorn, sitting beside him, and him looking all fancy and handsome. (Swoon!)

    I didnโ€™t have the same reaction you did to Bilbo referring to Frodo as Samโ€™s โ€œmasterโ€. To me that sounded similar to him referring to someone as Samโ€™s boss or father or uncle. What struck me more was the part where Sam had to be convinced not to wait on Frodo at the special dinner, that Sam felt it was his duty. I think Tolkien was trying to convey how loyal and thoughtful Sam was though, not that heโ€™s subservient.

    I read the scene with Bilbo asking to see the ring very differently this time. It doesnโ€™t actually say that Bilbo transformed. It describes what Frodo *sees* and itโ€™s Frodo that has a violent reaction to that, wanting to strike Bilbo. I had always thought that Bilbo was showing his โ€œGollum sideโ€ in this moment, but perhaps it is Frodo showing his for the first time, reacting viciously when the previous carrier of the ring seems to be trying to take it back. It makes sense that Bilbo could see the possessiveness in Frodoโ€™s eyes, and recognizes it from his own difficulties in giving the ring up, which is why he then apologizes that his nephew has to bear this burden. Not sure which way Tolkien meant it, but either way, itโ€™s a caution about the danger of being the ring bearer.

    Before this reading and before the movies, I remember thinking that the long period between Bilbo getting the ring and Frodo actually leaving home with it was a big plot hole: why didnโ€™t Gandalf deal with it faster? But on this re-read, I keep noticing places where the delay is mentioned and explained (for instance in this chapter, with Bilbo saying itโ€™s a pity that Gandalf didnโ€™t โ€œfind out soonerโ€).

    For the question of the week, the stars in the garden do sound marvelous, but I would be more torn between the first two. While in theory I would most love to listen to stories (including those in songs), it occurs to me that many of the elf songs would be in Elvish and I wouldnโ€™t understand them. And then thereโ€™s the song thatโ€™s shown in this chapter which I honestly didnโ€™t like very much; it felt too long and repetitive (although perhaps if it were performed live, that would be more entertaining). Whereas the FOODโ€ฆ ah, the feast would be amazing and after appreciating the beauty of its presentation, I would savor every bite of it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Not sure I’d want Dwarven food, but Hobbit food looks like good, solid British fare (which I enjoy). My guess is that Elven food would be refined and elegant and very subtlety flavored — and super pretty too. โค

        Liked by 2 people

      • When the dwarves and Bilbo reluctantly stayed at Rivendell in the film, they were given leafy greens, mostly raw. Probably for the humour, but if it’s written somewhere that this is elven food, I’d go with Hobbit food as well, LOL. I do like leafy greens, mind.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I like leafy greens too, but I can’t believe that elves wouldn’t at least do something *interesting* with their vegetables. Maybe Tolkien wanted them to be vegetarians but was such an old stick-in-the-mud that he couldn’t imagine good food that was vegetarian. Real elves cook much better than Tolkien imagined, I’m sure! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve made some wonderful points here, Joy. I especially like the idea of Sam being thoughtful and loyal rather than subservient.

      As to the Bilbo – Frodo interaction…yes, Bilbo doesn’t change but Frodo does perceive him to be different, and I really like your explanation of it. It is Frodo having a “Gollum moment” not Bilbo.

      The feast would certainly be interesting, but I’m not sure what food exactly would be served. I have very specific ideas of hobbit food – it makes me think of the type of food my grandmother would have eaten. But what sort of food would have been served in Rivendell? I remember in The Hobbit movies they made it out to be salad and vegetables (I think one of the young dwarves said they didn’t like green food)…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Having lived in California and eating tons of delicious gourmet vegetarian food, that’s what I picture the Elves making — an exquisite art form of natural foods, exploring all that veganism can develop over the centuries. And yet all the hobbits and dwarves see is the lack of a big piece of meat and some mysterious green stuff. Reminds me of trying to get my midwestern parents to try new foods, lol!

        Liked by 1 person

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