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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Rivendell 12 ~ Bilbo’s Gifts 1: The presentation of Sting, plus “Finely Crafted”.

Posted on 2009.02.06 at 13:26


mechtild at 2009-02-07 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
"The light in the phial Frodo receives goes all the way back to the Two Trees."
Wow, that statement gave me the shivers! What an extraordinary thought.
Doesn't it? I never really got any of this during decades of reading, because I only read LotR over and over, never any material about the backstory, even the appendices. The light in the phial was light from a star the Elves liked best, the sword was made by Elves so it had to be super. But that's all. But when the films renewed my interest in reading LotR, I didn't stop there but read everything Tolkien wrote that I could find, and lots of secondary material, too. Then "the depth dimension" commentators are always talking about in LotR really opened up. It's not as though I wasn't enjoying and loving the book without knowing all that stuff, but knowing it has enriched it so much.

I love what you said relating Frodo's post-war experience, focussed on the sword, to that of other veterans. Tolkien was so good at conveying his own war exerience in the book, his and that of those who were with him, but always so subtly, no discreetly, never banging readers over the head with it. I so appreciate that.

I think it's both the up and the down side of fanfic that it goes further than Tolkien went, expressing what he did not choose to or get around to expressing. When it illuminates, it can be a revelation, and a true pleasure, expanding my understanding and love for the canon story. But it can also say too much. Writers get too gung ho and dish out [what they imagine to be] Tolkien's unspoken material with such an unrestrained hand that it no longer resembles Tolkien or his characters because of excess and a lack of subtly and narrative discretion.

Well, I got off on a tangent! Must be the size of my morning cup of coffee. Thanks for bearing with my while I did what I said I didn't like: saying too much. :)

Edited at 2009-02-07 02:43 pm (UTC)
primula_baggins at 2009-02-07 15:52 (UTC) (Link)
I've been trying to read the Silmarillion for, how many years now? lol! I've just read the part where the Trees are destroyed by Morgoth and Ungoliath, and the Silmarils are stolen. Finwe has convinced some of his group to go after the Silmarils, he gets up to a place where the big boats are built, then abandons some of his most loyal subjects so he can cross over to the other shore. Then he burns the boats. My heart hurt about that. Anyway, I think because I've been reading that part, the fact that some of the light from the two Trees are in the Phial really affected me. How precious that light was. But if one doesn't read about them in the Silmarilion, then it doesn't seem as precious, I think.

"Writers get too gung ho and dish out [what they imagine to be] Tolkien's unspoken material with such an unrestrained hand that it no longer resembles Tolkien or his characters because of excess and a lack of subtly and narrative discretion."

I've never thought they imagine themselves to be writing what Tolkien would have written. They just want to know more so they make it up for themselves. I remember after I saw the end of ROTK that I ached to know what happened when Frodo sailed West. What happened there? I've read many stories people have written, and I enjoyed them even though I knew that only Tolkien could have written "the truth". There certainly are all sorts of ways things could go, and Tolkien's writings have stimulated a lot of other writers to imagine it for themselves.

But yes, Tolkien never hit us over the head with most things, they were to be discovered by ourselves. It's such a rich form of storytelling. Thanks for illuminating the part about the gift-giving for me.

Now I've gone on too long! : D

mechtild at 2009-02-07 17:39 (UTC) (Link)
[Edited for clarity.]

I actually enjoyed reading the stories that form The Silmarillion more in their draft forms, collected in the HoME and The Unfinished Tales. Almost every time, these earlier versions are more detailed and developed, even though they are always unfinished--works in progress--the stories altered with each new writing. This can be exasperating to keep track of, but, as narratives, I find them far more rewarding.

I also made a copy of the maps for the early lands (before Beleriand sank under the Sea) and a copy of the Elf and Man family trees to keep at hand. This made the reading far more involving, since I had a better idea in my head of who was who, who was related to whom, and where the places were they were living in or passing through. Sounds like a lot of work, but once done it wasn't, and made the reading much richer.

You are so right about fanfic. Right after I hit "Post Comment" I thought, "Don't be daft, Mechtild. You have enjoyed loads of fan fic stories that Tolkien would not, could not have written. It isn't necessary that they stick to the original book." It's true.

When I am honest, I think I have different expectations for different genres of Tolkien fanfic. If it claims to be true to canon, I expect it to be as faithful as the best gap-filler fics are. But there are loads of entertaining stories that are much more loosely based on the original. The stories alter Tolkien's world, his themes, and his characters. Yet there is enough resemblance to find them satisfying as Tolkien fanfic. The film writers did a similar thing, and look how much I liked them! The films are only "based on", "adapted from", the characters and story of Lord of the Rings. The film makers made changes large and small. Yet I watch the trilogy as "The Lord of the Rings", even if it is not the same as what Tolkien wrote.

Thanks for your evocative comments, Primula.

Edited at 2009-02-07 05:41 pm (UTC)
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