The Annotated LOTR - A Knife in the Dark

Discuss Tolkien's masterpieces within the walls of this forum.

The Annotated LOTR - A Knife in the Dark

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Nov 28, 2004 12:10 pm

As they prepared for sleep in the inn at Bree, darkness lay on Buckland...

It is 29th September. Gandalf is actually in the Shire, finding out from the Gaffer that the hobbits have left. Crickhollow is raided in the early hours of 30th September, Gandalf passes through later that day and reaches Bree at night.

---------------------------------------------------------------
The Brandybucks were blowing the Horn-call of Buckland, that had not been sounded for a hundred years, not since the white wolves came in the Fell Winter, when the Brandywine was frozen over.

See the Prologue:

Even the weathers had grown milder, and the wolves that had once come ravening out of the North in bitter white winters were now only a grandfather's tale.


The Fell Winter occurred in 2911 TA (SR 1311). Bilbo was 21 years old at the time, and the Old Took was still alive at the age of 121. No other living hobbit remembered it (cf. 'The Ring Goes South'). The Fell Winter should not be confused with the Long Winter of 2758 TA.

TA 2911 is 107 years before this time (or 108 years, if the winter of 2910-11 is meant). "Had not been sounded" must mean "had not been sounded in earnest": The call and its meaning would have been forgotten if it had not been regularly played for instruction.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
One of them let fall a hobbit-cloak on the step, as he ran

The cloak belonged to Frodo, and was later found by Gandalf (cf. 'The Council of Elrond'). It was most likely left behind with Fatty to help him play the part of Frodo ('A Conspiracy Unmasked'). For a description of what senses the Nazgul could use, see ?

-----------------------------------------------------------------
[The Black Riders] rode down the guards at the gate and vanished from the Shire.

In an early version a grey man confronts the Riders at Crickhollow, appearing in a splendour of light to vanquish them with wand and horn at the ready. This early anticipation of Gandalf the White, is abandoned in the later versions, the wand is never heard of again and the horn is given to others. This, surely, is Tolkien playing with and rejecting what he would later deride as “anticipation” and “flattening” when commenting on the Zimmerman script. Here is some more:

But before them all there galloped a white horse. On it sat an old man with long silver hair and flowing beard. His horn sounded over hill and dale. In his hand his wand flared and flickered like a sheaf of lightning. Gandalf was riding to the North Gate with the speed of thunder.


Home: 6, Chapter XVIII

--------------------------------------------------------
As soon as Strider had roused them all, he led the way to their bedrooms. When they saw him they were glad that they had taken his advice: the windows had been forced open and they were swinging, and the curtains were flapping; the beds were tossed about, and the bolsters slashed and flung upon the floor; the brown mat was torn to pieces.

After the question whether the Balrog of Moria had real wings or figurative ones, this is possibly the most debated incident in LotR. At issue is whether it was the Nazgûl themselves who broke into the rooms, or Bill Ferny and his associates acting on their orders.

Strider's remarks in the previous chapter certainly point to Ferny:

What will happen?" said Merry. "Will they attack the inn?"

"No, I think not," said Strider. "They are not all here yet. And in any case that is not their way. they will not openly attack a house where there are lights and many people - not until they are desperate, not while all the long leagues of Eriador still lie before us. But their power is in terror, and already some in Bree are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work: Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, the gatekeeper too."


The question, however, is: If Ferny and the others were set on by the Nazgûl to break into the Prancing Pony, what were their instructions? Even if all three were involved, could they have been expected to break into all the rooms in turn, kill each of the hobbits, and find the Ring and escape with it, without rousing the other occupants of the inn? The Southerner may be supposed to have been a practiced cutthroat, but Ferny, whatever his local reputation, could hardly have gone in for burglary and murder on any significant scale. Moreover, it seems unlikely that the Nazgûl would have trusted any of them with the Ring, or even with the knowledge of its existence.

In the first draft of the preceding chapter, Merry's description his nighttime excursion runs as follows:

"I followed [a Black Rider]," said Merry. He went through the village, right to the east end, where the Road turns round the foot of the hill. Suddenly he stopped under a dark hedge; and I thought I heard him speaking, or whispering, to someone on the other side. I wasn't sure, though I crept as near as I dared. But I'm afraid I came over all queer and trembling suddenly, and bolted back."

"What's to be done?" said Bingo, turning to Trotter.

"Don't go to your rooms!" said Trotter at once. 'That must have been Bill Ferny - for his hole is at the east end of Bree; and it is more than likely that he will have found out which rooms you have got . . ."


HoME v. I, pp. 161-62. (Frodo was still called Bingo at this stage; Ferny was a hobbit, like all the inhabitants of Bree.)

The most natural interpretation of this passage is that Ferny was telling the Nazgûl where the hobbits would be sleeping, for the Nazgûl's guidance (though it is of course possible that the Nazgûl went on to instruct Ferny to carry out the attack). This is consistent the idea that Ferny's role was essentially that of a spy, which is present in the following passage in the published volume:

"And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted," [Strider] went on. "Bill Ferny, for example. He has an evil name in the Bree-land, and queer folk call at his house. You must have noticed him among the company: a swarthy sneering fellow. He was very close with one of the Southern strangers, and they slipped out together just after your "accident." Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement."

"What will Ferny sell, and what has my accident to do with him?" said Frodo, still determined not to understand Strider's hints.

"News of you, of course," answered Strider. "An account of your performance would be very interesting to certain people. After that they would hardly need to be told your real name. It seems to me only too likely that they will hear of it before this night is over. . . ."


In the second draft, Merry's encounter with the Black Rider is much the same, except that it is Harry the Gatekeeper who is involved. HoME v. VI, pp. 353-54.

Tolkien returned to this chapter in a sketch headed "New Plot. August 27-28 1940." HoME v. VII, p. 70 ff. In this document (which contains the first appearance of Saruman) Tolkien is attempting among other things to trace the movements of all nine of the Ringwraiths, whom he labels with the letters A through I. The important passage for the present question is as follows:

D E get in touch with Bill Ferney [sic], and hear of news at the Inn. [pi]Struck out at once[/i]: they attack the Inn but fail (and get the idea that "Green" has gone off?)] they fear "Trotter," but get Bill Ferney and the Southerner to burgle the Inn and try to get more news, especially of the Ring. (They are puzzled by two Bagginses.) The burglary fails; but they drive off all the ponies.


Id. at p. 71. ("Green" was Frodo's traveling name at this time - replacing the original "Mr. Hill of Faraway," and later to be superseded by the "Underhill" of the published version. "They are puzzled by two Bagginses" is a reference to the impersonation of Frodo by "Hamilcar Bolger.")

It thus appears that Tolkien's original intention was for the Nazgûl themselves to break into the Pony, and that he changed his mind in the act of drafting this sketch. Questions remain, however. Clearly at this point Ferny and the Southerner were not seeking the Ring itself, but "more news" concerning it. But it is hard to imagine what useful information they could have obtained in this way, other than the exact location of Frodo's room; hard to envision how they could have done so without arousing him; and equally hard to see what use the news would have been to the Nazgûl in any event, unless they intended to follow up with an attack.

Nevertheless the conclusion, pending further evidence, must be that it was Ferny and the Southerner who broke into the Inn, but that they were not seeking to obtain the Ring or to harm the hobbits, and that the violence done to the bedclothes was perpetrated out of frustration.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr Butterbur paid for it himself, and offered Merry another eighteen pence as some compensation for the lost animals...

In compensating Merry for his lost ponies Butterbur is honouring the liabilities of English innkeepers. Since the 1360s they have, by the 'custom of the realm', been responsible for guests' chattels brought on their premises. That formula as to custom was approved by the King's council.

'Innkeepers were probably not regarded as bailees in respect of goods kept in guests' rooms, and any other action against them might well have failed on the ground that the loss was caused by unknown intruders.'

JH Baker An Introduction to English Legal History $th Ed pp 407-8

-----------------------------------------------------------------
But when news of the events at Bree came to Tom's ears, he sent them to Mr. Butterbur, who thus got five good beasts at a very fair price.

In the original draft, Bombadil paid Butterbur for the ponies and kept them.

HoME v. VI, p. 164 note.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
It turned out later that only one horse had been actually stolen.

The implication is that the horse was stolen by Bill Ferny's Southerner associate (but see below).

The others had been driven off, or had bolted in terror

Whoever actually broke into the inn (see above), the Nazgûl must have had a hand in clearing out the stables. Only a source of supernatural terror could have induced so many horses to leave their comfortable stalls in the middle of the night.

The southern travellers had lost several horses and blamed the innkeeper loudly, until it became known that one of their own number had also disappered in the night, none other than Bill Ferny's squint-eyed companion. Suspicion fell on him at once.

"If you pick up with a horse-thief, and bring him to my house," said Butterbur angrily, "you ought to pay for all the damage yourselves and not come shouting at me. Go and ask Ferny where your handsome friend is!" But it appered that he was nobody's friend, and nobody could recollect when he had joined their party.


There is an apparent puzzle here; if the squint-eyed Southerner had been traveling with a mounted party, he must have had a horse himself, so why would he need to steal another? The answer may be that the party was traveling on foot, and the horses were packing the baggage (like Bill the Pony later in the story).

"So that is where that southerner is hiding!" he thought.

It seems a little strange that the southerner, having apparently stolen a horse to get away from Bree, is risking discovery by hanging around - especially as the horse must be concealed somewhere nearby, if not actually on Ferny's property.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
'He looks more than half like a goblin'

Which, in fact, he was. The squint-eyed southerner is from Isengard, and is the result of Saruman's breeding experiments that mixed orcs with men. For more information on this, see Treebeard's conjectures in 'Treebeard' and Merry and Aragorn's observations in 'Flotsam and Jetsam'.

Interestingly, Frodo has never seen a goblin before, and must be relying on Bilbo's descriptions to make the comparison.

--------------------------------------------------------------
'Our last short cut through woods nearly ended in disaster.'

Pippin is referring to the trip through the Old Forest, and the encounter with Old Man Willow, not Frodo's short cut through the Woody End that led to Farmer Maggot's.

--------------------------------------------------------------
On the third day out from Bree.

October 2

--------------------------------------------------------------
They were far beyond the borders of the Bree-land, out in the pathless wilderness, and drawing near to the Midgewater Marshes.

In the Guide to Names, Tolkien said of this name:

Translate by sense. The name was suggested by Mývatn in Iceland, of the same meaning.


Mývatn is not a marsh, but a sizeable lake. It is one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations, with a great profusion of birds as well as volcanic pools similar to those in Yellowstone Park in the US. Here are some pictures:

http://www.davidbray.org/iceland/myvatn.htm

"Midge" is from Old English mycg (pronounced like the modern word, but with the "front round" vowel not found in Modern English).

[I have read that in Norway, the great clouds of biting insects that inhabit the Arctic in summer are known by the collective name "migg," which is obviously the same word. Can anyone confirm this?]

-----------------------------------------------------------------
...the Midgewater Marshes.

Called the Flymarshes in early versions.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
The next day, the fourth..

October 3

-----------------------------------------------------------------
far away there came a light in the eastern sky: it flashed and faded many times. ... 'It is like lightning that leaps from the hill-tops.' p.

Frodo and Aragorn are witnessing Gandalf's confrontation with the Nazgul. Aragorn guesses this when they reach Weathertop, and Gandalf confirms this at the Council. Compare this description to Gandalf's report of his battle with the Balrog: 'Those that looked up from afar thought that the moutain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire.' ('The White Rider')

------------------------------------------------------------------
They had not gone far on the fifth day...

October 4

------------------------------------------------------------------
"...We might reach it by noon tomorrow..."

Noon of October 5th; they reach Weathertop in the afternoon of October 6th, because they approach it from the north.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Next morning they set out again...

October 5

------------------------------------------------------------------
'I hope the thinning process will not go on indefinitely, or I shall become a wraith.'

Foreshadowing - Frodo does indeed come dangerously close to becoming a wraith. See Gandalf's comment after he recovers: 'You would have become a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord' ('Many Meetings' p. 216). Frodo is only joking, but Aragorn takes such things seriously.

Frodo also considers his appearance before he sets out from Bag End ('Three is Company'), and when he arrives in Rivendell ('Many Meetings').
Last edited by Queen_Beruthiel on Mon Apr 04, 2005 12:34 pm, edited 11 times in total.
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Nov 28, 2004 12:11 pm

But long before, in the first days of the North Kingdom, they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sûl they called it.

We learn in Appendix A.I.iii that "the chief Palantír of the North" was kept at Amon Sûl. The tower was destroyed in TA 1409:

Angmar in 1409, and crossing the river [Hoarwell] entered Cardolan and surrounded Weathertop. The Dûnedain were defeated and Arveleg [king of Arthedain] was slain. The tower of Amon Sûl was burned and razed, but the palantír was saved and carried back to Fornost.


Don't think I am mistaken in suggesting that Sûl is from here:

THÛ-puff, blow Q. súya breathe; súle breath. Cf. Súlimo surname of Manwe (wind-god). N thuio breathe; thûl breath.


Hence Amon Sûl = "Hill of Wind," of which "Weathertop" would be a free translation.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Gil-galad was an Elven-king

According to the rules set out in Appendix E, the name "Gil-galad," if it were written without the hyphen, would be prononced with the accent on the first syllable. However, the meter of this verse (iambic tetrameter) calls for the second syllable to be accented. This is not conclusive as to Tolkien's intentions, as a certain amount of rhythmic variation is acceptable in poetry, and is indeed desirable to avoid monotony.

In the first draft, the name was written without the hyphen at its first appearance (HoME v. VI, p. 169) but acquired the hyphen a few pages further on (Id. at p. 179).

-----------------------------------------------------------------
”No!” said Strider interrupting. “I do not think that tale should be told now with the servants of the Enemy at hand.”

Among his comments on the Morton Zimmerman film treatment, Tolkien wrote:

Aragorn did not “sing the song of Gil-galad.” Naturally: it was quite inappropriate, since it told of the defeat of the Elven-king by the enemy.


Letter 210, Letters at p. 273.

. . to be the bride-price of Lúthien to Thingol her father.

A note to Letter 257 says that “bride-price” was “[m]isprinted as ‘bride-piece’ for many years, and only recently corrected.” Letters at p. 451. Letters came out in 1981.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
'I will tell you the tale of Tinúviel,' said Strider, 'in brief – for it is a long tale of which the end is not known; and there are none now, except Elrond, that remember it aright as it was told of old.

The song of Beren and Luthien as read by Tolkien himself is available at the following location:

http://www.nytimes.com/richmedia/source/2001/11/19/books/tolkien-fellowship.html

Tinúviel: S. “daughter of twilight”, in some texts used as a poetic term for “nightingale”, which has led to erroneous translations such as “dusk-singer”. Derived from N Tindúmhiell (THIN>?TIN “sparkle, emit silver/pale beams” >N. tinnu “twilight, dusk” + YELL (old root) “daughter” >N. iell “daughter”)

It's obvious that Tolkien was inspired by both the morphology and etymology of the bird known as nightingale.

The Nightingale, scinia megarhynchos an inconspicuous thrush-like forest bird which has been famous from antiquity for its melodious song, often, though not exclusively, delivered at night. In England it is found only in the south, where it is at the northern limit of its range. Populations there have been declining for several decades. Here is a link to a website which includes a sound clip:

[url]//www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/nightingale.htm[/url]

Lt. luscinĭa <†luscĭnus seems to be the morphological source of inspiration for “Lúthien”. But, IMO, it also seems like Tolkien was playing with words, and introducing and repeating concepts such as twilight, to sing, voice, song… related to the name he was coining.
In Lt. luscĭnĭa the cluster -cinia can be identified and linked to < Lt. -clueo < Gr. klûo “to be famous, glorious”. But having a look at the first element of the term, two different meanings can be found depending on the two sources they have hypothetically derived from, and both related in some way or another to the name Lúthien Tinúviel:
~ Latin Luscus “light”< PIE *leuk- "light, brightness". In several Romance languages we find the term luscus-fuscus for “twilight” (“light-dark “)
~ Hebrew “tongue, voice”, whose radicals are L-S-H-N, that happens to be generally represented as LuSHeN

Also, going back to En. nightingale, it’s possible to identify where the element of “magic” in Lúthien Tinúviel came from since O.E. galan "to sing," derived in galdor "song," but also "spell, enchantment”.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering


In Letter 165, to his American publishers, Tolkien wrote:

The kernel of the mythology, the matter of Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren, arose from a small woodland glade filled with "hemlocks" (or other white umbellifers) near Roos on the Holderness peninsula - to which I occasionally went when free from regimental duties while in the Humber Garrison in 1918.


Houghton Mifflin must have been puzzled by this, if they paid attention to it at all, but the very late Letter 340 to Christopher Tolkien makes clear that Tolkien's wife Edith sang and danced for him in the glade, as Lúthien did for Beren. (This letter gives the date as 1917.)

The Holderness Peninsula, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, lies between the southward-flowing Humber River and the North Sea. The village of Roos is directly to the east of Hull. The peninsula is rapidly being eroded, and can be expected to disappear completely into the sea quite soon on the geological time scale.

An "umbellifer" is a flowering plant of the family Umbelliferae. (Once again, Tolkien demonstrates here that he was quite well versed in botany.) The name "umbellifer" means "one who bears little shades," and refers to the fact that the flowers of plants in this family grow in flat clusters, shaped like parasols, called umbels. Many plants used as food by humans are umbellifers, including the carrot, parsnip, celery, parsley, and many whose seeds are used for flavoring (e.g., dill, anise, coriander, cumin, and caraway).

http://www.arcadian-archives.com/umbellif.htm

The Poison Hemlock, which is probably the species to which Tolkien refers, has previously appeared in LotR, in the Bonfire Glade (Bk. I, ch. 6).

http://montana.plant-life.org/species/conium_mac.htm

-----------------------------------------------------------------
‘That is a song,' he said, 'in the mode that is called ann-thennath among the Elves, but is hard to render in our Common Speech, and this is but a rough echo of it. It tells of the meeting of Beren son of Barahir and Lúthien Tinúviel.

Ann-thennath: S. lit. “long-shorts”, elven verse mode based upon the alternation of masculine & feminine rhymes, or long & short vowels”

---------------------------------------------------------------------
but Lúthien was the daughter of Thingol, a King of Elves upon Middle-earth…

Thingol “Grey-mantle”, Doriathrin name derived from Thind(THIN) “pale, grey, evening” + gol (KOL) “cloak, matle”, although formerly its meaning was “Grey-wise”, Tolkien decided to change the origin of the second term of the compound – gôl - shifting it from ÑGOL “wise, magical” to KOL.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
dwelt in Angband in the North,..

Angband: S. “iron hell, prison”

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Kingdom of Thingol in the forest of Neldoreth. There he beheld Lúthien singing and dancing in a glade beside the enchanted river Esgalduin.

Neldoreth: Doriathrin name of a beech-wood. Derived from reconstructed form neldor “beech”, a compound formed by neled “three” + orn “tree”. In LR:376 Tolkien confirms this compound and its reference to "the great beech of Thingol with three trunks" = the Hirilorn where Lúthien was imprisoned.

Esgalduin: S.“river under veil”, from esgal (SKAL) “veil, screen” + duin (DUI) “water, river”

-------------------------------------------------------------------
For of Beren and Lúthien was born Dior Thingol's heir;

Dior: Doriathrin name meaning “successor” from ndeuro, stem NDEW “follow, come behind” + agential ending -rô.

------------------------------------------------------------------
and of him Elwing the White whom Eärendil wedded,

Elwing: S. “star-spindrift, star-spume”. Tolkien changed the meaning of this name, originally el- derived from 3EL “sky”, quoting as examples the names Elwing and Elrond.

------------------------------------------------------------------
As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire.

Presumably Strider's face is "eager" because of his personal connection to the story of Beren and Luthien (not fully revealed to the reader until Appendix A) - his betrothal to Arwen, Luthien's descendant and likeness. Oddly, however, this sentence was much the same in the first draft: "They could see his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire." HoME v. VI, p. 184. The oddity is that the face originally belonged to "Trotter," the hobbit with wooden shoes, who could hardly have been in a similar position. It is as if the author's explicit image of Trotter had not yet caught up to his subconscious sense of the character's importance. As Letter 163 says: "Strider sitting in the corner was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than Frodo."

------------------------------------------------------------------
In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light.

Sam does not “sink his blade into the Ringwraith’s thigh”, not does his thrust save Frodo’s life. (If he had, the result would have been the same as in III 117-20: the Wraith would have fallen down and the sword would have been destroyed.)


and...

Even as he swooned he caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand.

Strider does not “Whip out a sword” in the book. Naturally not: his sword was broken. (its elvish light is another false anticipation of the reforged Anduril. Anticipation is one of Z’s chief faults.) Why then make him do so here, in a contest that was explicitly not fought with weapons


Letter 209

(in both cases, JRRT is commenting on the Zimmerman script)


[/i]
Last edited by Queen_Beruthiel on Sat May 14, 2005 6:06 am, edited 11 times in total.
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Nov 28, 2004 12:21 pm

As they prepared for sleep in the inn at Bree, darkness lay on Buckland...

It is 29th September. Gandalf is actually in the Shire, finding out from the Gaffer that the hobbits have left. Crickhollow is raided in the early hours of 30th September, Gandalf passes through later that day and reaches Bree at night.

... the Midgewater Marshes...

Called the Flymarshes in early drafts.

On the top they found, as Strider had said, a wide ring of ancient stone-work, now crumbling or covered with age-long grass. But in the centre a cairn of broken stones had been piled.

They actually found a letter from Gandalf in the early drafts, telling them he was on his way to Rivendell.
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby MithLuin » Sun Nov 28, 2004 4:01 pm

not since the white wolves came in the Fell Winter, when the Brandywine was frozen over. p. 173

The Fell Winter occurred in 2911 TA (SR 1311). Bilbo was 21 years old at the time, and the Old Took was still alive at the age of 121. No other living hobbit remembered it (cf. 'The Ring Goes South' p. 281). The Fell Winter should not be confused with the Long Winter of 2758 TA.

One of them let fall a hobbit-cloak on the step, as he ran. p. 173

The cloak belonged to Frodo, and was later found by Gandalf (cf. 'The Council of Elrond' p. 256). It was most likely left behind with Fatty to help him play the part of Frodo ('A Conspiracy Unmasked' p. 106). For a description of what senses the Nazgul could use, see p. 185.

'He looks more than half like a goblin' p. 176

Which, in fact, he was. The squint-eyed southerner is from Isengard, and is the result of Saruman's breeding experiments that mixed orcs with men. For more information on this, see Treebeard's conjectures in 'Treebeard' (p. 462) and Merry and Aragorn's observations in 'Flotsam and Jetsam' (p. 552).

Interestingly, Frodo has never seen a goblin before, and must be relying on Bilbo's descriptions to make the comparison.

'Our last short cut through woods nearly ended in disaster.' p. 177

Pippin is referring to the trip through the Old Forest, and the encounter with Old Man Willow, not Frodo's short cut through the Woody End that led to Farmer Maggot's.

On the third day out from Bree p. 178

October 2

The next day, the fourth p. 178

October 3

far away there came a light in the eastern sky: it flashed and faded many times. ... 'It is like lightning that leaps from the hill-tops.' p. 178-9

Frodo and Aragorn are witnessing Gandalf's confrontation with the Nazgul. Aragorn guesses this when they reach Weathertop (p. 183), and Gandalf confirms this at the Council (p. 257). Compare this description to Gandalf's report of his battle with the Balrog: 'Those that looked up from afar thought that the moutain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire.' ('The White Rider' p. 491)

They had not gone far on the fifth day p. 179

October 4

We might reach it by noon tomorrow p. 179

noon of October 5th; they reach Weathertop in the afternoon of October 6th, because they approach it from the north.

Next morning they set out again p. 180

October 5

'I hope the thinning process will not go on indefinitely, or I shall become a wraith.' p. 180

Foreshadowing - Frodo does indeed come dangerously close to becoming a wraith. See Gandalf's comment after he recovers: 'You would have become a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord' ('Many Meetings' p. 216). Frodo is only joking, but Aragorn takes such things seriously.

Frodo also considers his appearance before he sets out from Bag End ('Three is Company' p. 67), and when he arrives in Rivendell ('Many Meetings' p. 219).
User avatar
MithLuin
Mariner

 
Posts: 8527
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 1999 12:00 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Nov 29, 2004 7:13 am

They were far beyond the borders of the Bree-land, out in the pathless wilderness, and drawing near to the Midgewater Marshes.

In the Guide to Names, Tolkien said of this name:
Translate by sense. The name was suggested by Mývatn in Iceland, of the same meaning.

Mývatn is not a marsh, but a sizeable lake. It is one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations, with a great profusion of birds as well as volcanic pools similar to those in Yellowstone Park in the US. Here are some pictures:

http://www.davidbray.org/iceland/myvatn.html

"Midge" is from Old English mycg (pronounced like the modern word, but with the "front round" vowel not found in Modern English).

[I have read that in Norway, the great clouds of biting insects that inhabit the Arctic in summer are known by the collective name "migg," which is obviously the same word. Can anyone confirm this?]
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Nov 29, 2004 7:52 am

It turned out later that only one horse had been actually stolen.

The implication is that the horse was stolen by Bill Ferny's Southerner associate (but see below).

The others had been driven off, or had bolted in terror

Whoever actually broke into the inn (see above), the Nazgûl must have had a hand in clearing out the stables. Only a source of supernatural terror could have induced so many horses to leave their comfortable stalls in the middle of the night.

The southern travellers had lost several horses and blamed the innkeeper loudly, until it became known that one of their own number had also disappered in the night, none other than Bill Ferny's squint-eyed companion. Suspicion fell on him at once.

"If you pick up with a horse-thief, and bring him to my house," said Butterbur angrily, "you ought to pay for all the damage yourselves and not come shouting at me. Go and ask Ferny where your handsome friend is!" But it appered that he was nobody's friend, and nobody could recollect when he had joined their party.


There is an apparent puzzle here; if the squint-eyed Southerner had been traveling with a mounted party, he must have had a horse himself, so why would he need to steal another? The answer may be that the party was traveling on foot, and the horses were packing the baggage (like Bill the Pony later in the story).

"So that is where that southerner is hiding!" he thought.

It seems a little strange that the southerner, having apparently stolen a horse to get away from Bree, is risking discovery by hanging around - especially as the horse must be concealed somewhere nearby, if not actually on Ferny's property.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:55 am

But long before, in the first days of the North Kingdom, they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sûl they called it.

We learn in Appendix A.I.iii that "the chief Palantír of the North" was kept at Amon Sûl. The tower was destroyed in TA 1409:
A great host came out of Angmar in 1409, and crossing the river [Hoarwell] entered Cardolan and surrounded Weathertop. The Dûnedain were defeated and Arveleg [king of Arthedain] was slain. The tower of Amon Sûl was burned and razed, but the palantír was saved and carried back to Fornost.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Breogan » Wed Dec 01, 2004 10:13 am

A few notes on the Elvish names and terms present in this chapter (If any of them has been already dealt with, my apologies, and hopefully, I'll be adding new information):

'I will tell you the tale of Tinúviel,' said Strider, 'in brief – for it is a long tale of which the end is not known; and there are none now, except Elrond, that remember it aright as it was told of old.

Tinúviel: S. “daughter of twilight”, in some texts used as a poetic term for “nightingale”, which has led to erroneous translations such as “dusk-singer”. Derived from N Tindúmhiell (THIN>?TIN “sparkle, emit silver/pale beams” >N. tinnu “twilight, dusk” + YELL (old root) “daughter” >N. iell “daughter”)

‘That is a song,' he said, 'in the mode that is called ann-thennath among the Elves, but is hard to render in our Common Speech, and this is but a rough echo of it. It tells of the meeting of Beren son of Barahir and Lúthien Tinúviel.

Ann-thennath: S. lit. “long-shorts”, elven verse mode based upon the alternation of masculine & feminine rhymes, or long & short vowels”

Beren S.“bold”. Derived from stem BER “valiant”.

Barahir: S. “fiery lord”, from Noldorin stem BARAS > Exilic Noldorin bara “fiery, eager” and KHER “govern, rule” > hîr “master, lord”.

Lúthien: Doriathrin name meaning “Enchantress” (original form Luktiênê), derived from stem LUK “magic, enchantment”.

but Lúthien was the daughter of Thingol, a King of Elves upon Middle-earth…

Thingol “Grey-mantle”, Doriathrin name derived from Thind (THIN) “pale, grey, evening” + gol (KOL) “cloak, matle”, although formerly its meaning was “Grey-wise”, Tolkien decided to change the origin of the second term of the compound – gôl - shifting it from ÑGOL “wise, magical” to KOL.

dwelt in Angband in the North,..

Angband: S. “iron hell, prison”

Kingdom of Thingol in the forest of Neldoreth. There he beheld Lúthien singing and dancing in a glade beside the enchanted river Esgalduin.

Neldoreth: Doriathrin name of a beech-wood. Derived from reconstructed form neldor “beech”, a compound formed by neled “three” + orn “tree”. In LR:376 Tolkien confirms this compound and its reference to "the great beech of Thingol with three trunks" = the Hirilorn where Lúthien was imprisoned.

Esgalduin: S.“river under veil”, from esgal (SKAL) “veil, screen” + duin (DUI) “water, river”

For of Beren and Lúthien was born Dior Thingol's heir;

Dior: Doriathrin name meaning “successor” from ndeuro, stem NDEW “follow, come behind” + agential ending -rô.

and of him Elwing the White whom Eärendil wedded,

Elwing: S. “star-spindrift, star-spume”. Tolkien changed the meaning of this name, originally el- derived from 3EL “sky”, quoting as examples the names Elwing and Elrond.


~I Elleth e-Noss Faenor~
User avatar
Breogan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2679
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 1:17 am
Location: Tol Dhaer
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:52 am

Don't think I am mistaken in suggesting that Sûl is from here:
THÛ-puff, blow Q. súya breathe; súle breath. Cf. Súlimo surnamw of Manwe (wind-god). N thuio breathe; thûl breath.

Hence Amon Sûl = "Hill of Wind," of which "Weathertop" would be a free translation.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Wed Dec 01, 2004 4:33 pm

"No!" said Strider, interrupting,"I do not think that tale should be told now with the servants of the Enemy at hand."

Aragorn did not “sing the song of Gil-galad”. Naturally: it was quite inappropriate, since it told of the defeat of the Elven-king by the Enemy


Letter 209

(JRRT discussing the Zimmerman script)
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Mon Dec 06, 2004 3:35 pm

In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light.

Sam does not “sink his blade into the Ringwraith’s thigh”, not does his thrust save Frodo’s life. (If he had, the result would have been the same as in III 117-20: the Wraith would have fallen down and the sword would have been destroyed.)


--------------------------------------------------------------

Even as he swooned he caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand.


Strider does not “Whip out a sword” in the book. Naturally not: his sword was broken. (its elvish light is another false anticipation of the reforged Anduril. Anticipation is one of Z’s chief faults.) Why then make him do so here, in a contest that was explicitly not fought with weapons?


Letter 209

(in both cases, JRRT is commenting on the Zimmerman script)
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:18 pm

How about adding this to the note on Luthien:

The Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos, is an inconspicuous thrush-like forest bird which has been famous from antiquity for its melodious song, often, though not exclusively, delivered at night. In England it is found only in the south, where it is at the northern limit of its range. Populations there have been declining for several decades. Here is a link to a website which includes a sound clip:
http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/nightingale.htm
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Breogan » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:54 am

Roaccarcsson,

Ok, more information Luscinia and its relation to Lúthien and Tinúviel.
It's obvious that Tolkien was inspired by both the morphology and etymology of the bird known as nightingale.

Lt. luscĭnĭa <†luscĭnus seems to be the morphological source of inspiration for “Lúthien”. But, IMO, it also seems like Tolkien was playing with words, and introducing and repeating concepts such as twilight, to sing, voice, song… related to the name he was coining.
In Lt. luscĭnĭa the cluster -cinia can be identified and linked to < Lt. -clueo < Gr. klûo “to be famous, glorious”. But having a look at the first element of the term, two different meanings can be found depending on the two sources they have hypothetically derived from, and both related in some way or another to the name Lúthien Tinúviel:
~ Latin Luscus “light”< PIE *leuk- "light, brightness". In several Romance languages we find the term luscus-fuscus for “twilight” (“light-dark “)
~ Hebrew “tongue, voice”, whose radicals are L-S-H-N, that happens to be generally represented as LuSHeN

Also, going back to En. nightingale, it’s possible to identify where the element of “magic” in Lúthien Tinúviel came from since O.E. galan "to sing," derived in galdor "song," but also "spell, enchantment”.

My apologies of all this results too...linguisty... I just got carried away. :wink:
Btw, need list of references? They all come from Spanish books, but I can post 'em if you reckon this information is relevant and should be part of the Annotated Project.



~I Elleth e-Noss Faenor~
User avatar
Breogan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2679
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 1:17 am
Location: Tol Dhaer
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Dec 07, 2004 4:21 pm

Breogan, I feel pretty stuprid, I hadn't even noticed the resemblance between "Luthien" and "luscinia." This isn't my thread (it belongs to Queen B.) , but I think it is certainly worth a mention.

Incidentally, I see the Spanish is ruiseñor - do you know what the etymology of that word is? Looks like it is possibly cognate with Fr. rossignol.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Dec 07, 2004 4:23 pm

The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering


In Letter 165, to his American publishers, Tolkien wrote:
The kernel of the mythology, the matter of Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren, arose from a small woodland glade filled with "hemlocks" (or other white umbellifers) near Roos on the Holderness peninsula - to which I occasionally went when free from regimental duties while in the Humber Garrison in 1918.

Houghton Mifflin must have been puzzled by this, if they paid attention to it at all, but the very late Letter 340 to Christopher Tolkien makes clear that Tolkien's wife Edith sang and danced for him in the glade, as Lúthien did for Beren. (This letter gives the date as 1917.)

The Holderness Peninsula, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, lies between the southward-flowing Humber River and the North Sea. The village of Roos is directly to the east of Hull. The peninsula is rapidly being eroded, and can be expected to disappear completely into the sea quite soon on the geological time scale.

An "umbellifer" is a flowering plant of the family Umbelliferae. (Once again, Tolkien demonstrates here that he was quite well versed in botany.) The name "umbellifer" means "one who bears little shades," and refers to the fact that the flowers of plants in this family grow in flat clusters, shaped like parasols, called umbels. Many plants used as food by humans are umbellifers, including the carrot, parsnip, celery, parsley, and many whose seeds are used for flavoring (e.g., dill, anise, coriander, cumin, and caraway).

http://www.arcadian-archives.com/umbellif.htm

The Poison Hemlock, which is probably the species to which Tolkien refers, has previously appeared in LotR, in the Bonfire Glade (Bk. I, ch. 6).

http://montana.plant-life.org/species/conium_mac.htm
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Breogan » Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:46 pm

Roaccarcsson

I hadn't even noticed the resemblance between "Luthien" and "luscinia

IMO, the resemblance is, phonologically speaking, even more remarkable, as the "s" preceeding "c" (to be pronounced as th in thick) would dim and strengthen the th sound, resulting in Luthin-ia.

Spanish ruiseñor, same as Fr. rossignol, Ga. rouxinol, It. usignolo... they all derive from Lt. luscĭnĭŏla (dim.) "a little nightingale".

This isn't my thread (it belongs to Queen B.)

My apologies, Queen Beruthiel, since I'm not familiar with this project I didnt realised.


~I Elleth e-Noss Faenor~
User avatar
Breogan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2679
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 1:17 am
Location: Tol Dhaer
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:23 pm

Thanks very much, Breogan! And please don't apologize, to me or to Queen Beruthiel - I was just explaining why I wasn't acting on your contribution. (We have spread the workload by having different people responsible for editing the various chapter threads.) We are more than delighted to have you participating in our project. Please keep your learned language info coming! We need it!
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Luinnenion » Wed Dec 08, 2004 12:40 am

roaccarcsson wrote:[There is an apparent puzzle here; if the squint-eyed Southerner had been traveling with a mounted party, he must have had a horse himself, so why would he need to steal another? The answer may be that the party was traveling on foot, and the horses were packing the baggage (like Bill the Pony later in the story).


Or, the answer is that horses are valuable, especially in a society with horse-based transportation. Steal horses, lead them on a line behind the one you're riding, sell them at the next town.
User avatar
Luinnenion
Ranger of the North
 
Posts: 1553
Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2002 1:12 am
Top

Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Wed Dec 08, 2004 2:11 pm

Everything is cool. :)


Along the crest of the ridge the hobbits could see what looked to be the remains of green-grown walls and dikes, and in the clefts there still stood the ruins of old works of stone.


Later, Strider refers to the walls and the forts.

Argeleb therefore fortified the Weather Hills, but he was slain in battle with Rhudaur and Angmar.
Arveleg, son of Argeleb, with the help of Cardolan and Lindon, drove back his enemies from the Hills, and for many years Arthedain and Cardolan held in force a frontier along the Weather Hills, the Great Road, and the lower Hoarwell. It is said that at this time Rivendell was besieged.
A great host came out of Angmar in 1409, and crossing the river entered Cardolan and surrounded Weathertop. The Dunedain were defeated and Arveleg was slain. The Tower of Amon Sul was burned and razed; but the palantir was saved …


LOTR. Appendix A (iii): Eriador, Arnor and the Heirs of Isildur
User avatar
Queen_Beruthiel
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 2921
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2002 12:28 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:35 pm

This may be something non-native speakers will be grateful for:

we have at least a fortnight's journey ahead of us

"Fortnight" is a contraction of "fourteen nights," that is, a period of two weeks. This is paralleled by the archaic "sennight" = "seven nights" = a week.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:45 pm

The Brandybucks were blowing the Horn-call of Buckland, that had not been sounded for a hundred years, not since the white wolves came in the Fell Winter, when the Brandywine was frozen over.

See the Prologue:
Even the weathers had grown milder, and the wolves that had once come ravening out of the North in bitter white winters were now only a grandfather's tale.

Appendix B dates the Fell Winter to TA 2911, 107 years before this time (or 108 years, if the winter of 2910-11 is meant). "Had not been sounded" must mean "had not been sounded in earnest": The call and its meaning would have been forgotten if it had not been regularly played for instruction.

But when news of the events at Bree came to Tom's ears, he sent them to Mr. Butterbur, who thus got five good beasts at a very fair price.

In the original draft, Bombadil paid Butterbur for the ponies and kept them. HoME v. VI, p. 164 note.

And I would like to add this to my note on "fortnight" - it's a stretch as far as relevance goes, but I think this is fascinating:

As the OED notes, the word "fortnight" appears to be a vestige of the customs of the remote German ancestors of the English. The Roman historian Tacitus, writing in the first century A.D., noted of the Germans: "Neither in reckoning of time do they count, like us, the number of days but that of nights." (Nec dierum numerum, ut nos, sed noctium computant.) Germania ch. 11; full Latin text and translation available here:
http://www.northvegr.org/lore/tacitus/index.php
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby MithLuin » Sat Dec 11, 2004 11:07 am

I have a question - do we know when and how Tom got "news of the events at Bree?" I ask, because Butterbur doesn't mention the ponies to Merry when he returns. The silence may not be significant, but since they do go to the trouble of pointing out the presence of Bill, it seems a bit odd. Since the very next thing that happens is that Gandalf visits Bombadil, I am wondering if that is when - and how - Tom gets the news. It seems a bit slow, though, and Tom seems well informed, so it is a question, certainly not an annotation!
User avatar
MithLuin
Mariner

 
Posts: 8527
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 1999 12:00 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:52 pm

As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire.

Presumably Strider's face is "eager" because of his personal connection to the story of Beren and Luthien (not fully revealed to the reader until Appendix A) - his betrothal to Arwen, Luthien's descendant and likeness. Oddly, however, this sentence was much the same in the first draft: "They could see his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire." HoME v. VI, p. 184. The oddity is that the face originally belonged to "Trotter," the hobbit with wooden shoes, who could hardly have been in a similar position. It is as if the author's explicit image of Trotter had not yet caught up to his subconscious sense of the character's importance. As Letter 163 says: "Strider sitting in the corner was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than Frodo."
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby vison » Tue Jan 04, 2005 7:15 pm

I was hoping to see a solution to this puzzle: who slashed the bolsters?

Have I missed something?
User avatar
vison
Ringbearer


 
Posts: 12696
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 6:15 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Jan 04, 2005 8:31 pm

No. I keep meaning to tackle it. Presenting both views fairly is the hard part.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby Aravar » Thu Jan 13, 2005 1:55 pm

Mr Butterbur paid for it himself, and offered Merry another eighteen pence as some compensation for the lost animals

In compensating Merry for his lost ponies Butterbur is honouring the liabilities of English innkeepers. Since the 1360s they have, by the 'custom of the realm', been responsible for guests' chattels brought on their premises. That formula as to custom was approved by the King's council.

'Innkeepers were probably not regarded as bailees in respect of goods kept in guests' rooms, and any other action against them might well have failed on the ground that the loss was caused by unknown intruders.'

JH Baker An Introduction to English Legal History $th Ed pp 407-8
User avatar
Aravar
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3163
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2002 8:57 am
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Tue Jan 18, 2005 5:03 pm

Gil-galad was an Elven-king

According to the rules set out in Appendix E, the name "Gil-galad," if it were written without the hyphen, would be prononced with the accent on the first syllable. However, the meter of this verse (iambic tetrameter) calls for the second syllable to be accented. This is not conclusive as to Tolkien's intentions, as a certain amount of rhythmic variation is acceptable in poetry, and is indeed desirable to avoid monotony.

In the first draft, the name was written without the hyphen at its first appearance (HoME v. VI, p. 169) but acquired the hyphen a few pages further on (Id. at p. 179).
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:13 pm

Fatty Bolger had not been idle. As soon as he saw the dark shapes creep from the garden, he knew that he must run for it, or perish.

For some time, Tolkien entertained the idea that Fatty (called "Hamilcar Bolger" at this stage) was in fact captured by the Nazgûl, but was rescued by Gandalf and eventually taken by him to Rivendell. This conception is present throughout the opening chapters of HoME v. VII; it finally disappears, and the published story is reached, on pp. 75-76.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:16 pm

OK. It had to be done sometime. Have at it.

As soon as Strider had roused them all, he led the way to their bedrooms. When they saw him they were glad that they had taken his advice: the windows had been forced open and they were swinging, and the curtains were flapping; the beds were tossed about, and the bolsters slashed and flung upon the floor; the brown mat was torn to pieces.

After the question whether the Balrog of Moria had real wings or figurative ones, this is possibly the most debated incident in LotR. At issue is whether it was the Nazgûl themselves who broke into the rooms, or Bill Ferny and his associates acting on their orders.

Strider's remarks in the previous chapter certainly point to Ferny:
What will happen?" said Merry. "Will they attack the inn?"

"No, I think not," said Strider. "They are not all here yet. And in any case that is not their way. they will not openly attack a house where there are lights and many people - not until they are desperate, not while all the long leagues of Eriador still lie before us. But their power is in terror, and already some in Bree are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work: Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, the gatekeeper too."


The question, however, is: If Ferny and the others were set on by the Nazgûl to break into the Prancing Pony, what were their instructions? Even if all three were involved, could they have been expected to break into all the rooms in turn, kill each of the hobbits, and find the Ring and escape with it, without rousing the other occupants of the inn? The Southerner may be supposed to have been a practiced cutthroat, but Ferny, whatever his local reputation, could hardly have gone in for burglary and murder on any significant scale. Moreover, it seems unlikely that the Nazgûl would have trusted any of them with the Ring, or even with the knowledge of its existence.

In the first draft of the preceding chapter, Merry's description his nighttime excursion runs as follows:
"I followed [a Black Rider]," said Merry. He went through the village, right to the east end, where the Road turns round the foot of the hill. Suddenly he stopped under a dark hedge; and I thought I heard him speaking, or whispering, to someone on the other side. I wasn't sure, though I crept as near as I dared. But I'm afraid I came over all queer and trembling suddenly, and bolted back."

"What's to be done?" said Bingo, turning to Trotter.

"Don't go to your rooms!" said Trotter at once. 'That must have been Bill Ferny - for his hole is at the east end of Bree; and it is more than likely that he will have found out which rooms you have got . . ."


HoME v. I, pp. 161-62. (Frodo was still called Bingo at this stage; Ferny was a hobbit, like all the inhabitants of Bree.)

The most natural interpretation of this passage is that Ferny was telling the Nazgûl where the hobbits would be sleeping, for the Nazgûl's guidance (though it is of course possible that the Nazgûl went on to instruct Ferny to carry out the attack). This is consistent the idea that Ferny's role was essentially that of a spy, which is present in the following passage in the published volume:
"And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted," [Strider] went on. "Bill Ferny, for example. He has an evil name in the Bree-land, and queer folk call at his house. You must have noticed him among the company: a swarthy sneering fellow. He was very close with one of the Southern strangers, and they slipped out together just after your "accident." Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement."

"What will Ferny sell, and what has my accident to do with him?" said Frodo, still determined not to understand Strider's hints.

"News of you, of course," answered Strider. "An account of your performance would be very interesting to certain people. After that they would hardly need to be told your real name. It seems to me only too likely that they will hear of it before this night is over. . . ."


In the second draft, Merry's encounter with the Black Rider is much the same, except that it is Harry the Gatekeeper who is involved. HoME v. VI, pp. 353-54.

Tolkien returned to this chapter in a sketch headed "New Plot. August 27-28 1940." HoME v. VII, p. 70 ff. In this document (which contains the first appearance of Saruman) Tolkien is attempting among other things to trace the movements of all nine of the Ringwraiths, whom he labels with the letters A through I. The important passage for the present question is as follows:
D E get in touch with Bill Ferney [sic], and hear of news at the Inn. [Struck out at once: they attack the Inn but fail (and get the idea that "Green" has gone off?)] they fear "Trotter," but get Bill Ferney and the Southerner to burgle the Inn and try to get more news, especially of the Ring. (They are puzzled by two Bagginses.) The burglary fails; but they drive off all the ponies.

Id. at p. 71. ("Green" was Frodo's traveling name at this time - replacing the original "Mr. Hill of Faraway," and later to be superseded by the "Underhill" of the published version. "They are puzzled by two Bagginses" is a reference to the impersonation of Frodo by "Hamilcar Bolger.")

It thus appears that Tolkien's original intention was for the Nazgûl themselves to break into the Pony, and that he changed his mind in the act of drafting this sketch. Questions remain, however. Clearly at this point Ferny and the Southerner were not seeking the Ring itself, but "more news" concerning it. But it is hard to imagine what useful information they could have obtained in this way, other than the exact location of Frodo's room; hard to envision how they could have done so without arousing him; and equally hard to see what use the news would have been to the Nazgûl in any event, unless they intended to follow up with an attack.

Nevertheless the conclusion, pending further evidence, must be that it was Ferny and the Southerner who broke into the Inn, but that they were not seeking to obtain the Ring or to harm the hobbits, and that the violence done to the bedclothes was perpetrated out of frustration.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:57 pm

Bump.

Can't believe I've said the last word on the bolstericide.
User avatar
roaccarcsson
Mariner

 
Posts: 5542
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:21 pm
Top

Next

Return to The Books (Tolkien)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests