The Annotated LotR - Strider

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The Annotated LotR - Strider

Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:04 pm

Well, I don't have a lot to say about this chapter, but let's keep the ball rolling:

It was not until they had puffed up the embers into a blaze and thrown on a couple of faggots that they discovered Strider had come in with them.

"Faggots" were bundles, about three feet long and eight inches in circumference, of small woody stems produced in "coppices" (parcels of woodland regularly cut back to ground level to stimulate rapid new growth). Coppices produced much more wood per acre than ordinary forests; thus logs from full-grown trees were far too expensive for everyday use as fuel.

http://handbooks.btcv.org.uk/handbooks/content/section/3760

The use of the term as slang for a male homosexual appears to have originated in the U.S. in the 20th century. Here is a reference which cites LotR:

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mfaggot.html

The bassoon is called by some version of the word "faggot" in a number of European languages (fagot in French and Spanish, fagott in German).

'But I may say that I know all the lands between the Shire and the Misty Mountains, for I have wandered over them for many years. I am older than I look.'

Aragorn was born on March 1st 2931, which makes him 88 at this time.

The hobbits looked at him, and saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair. The room was very quiet and still, and the light seemed to have grown dim. For a while he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away.
'There!' he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. 'Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do.'


This scene goes back in the drafts to when the character of Strider (then the hobbit Trotter) had been previously captured and tortured by the Enemy, which makes his pain and knowledge of the enemy more explicable.

A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried.

"Lumber-room" is a British term for a space used for storage of disused articles. This confuses Americans, to whom "lumber" is milled timber and nothing else. Originally, however, "lumber" meant an encumbrance (compare the verb phrase "to lumber someone with something). The current meaning is a transference from this concept.

'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.'

Arathorn, Aragorn's father, was killed in battle with Orcs in 2943, when Aragorn was two years old. See "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen," in appendix A.

The meaning of Aragorn is uncertain, but in one rejected draft of the Appendices it is interpreted as "Kingly Valour". Arathorn apparently means something like "Eagle-lord":
The name contains an abbreviated form of þorono (thorono) 'eagle', seen in Thoron-dor, Thorongil

- Letter #347


All of Aragorn's ancestors, going back 24 generations to Argeleb I, the seventh king of Arthedain, had names beginning with "Ar-." Appendix A.I.ii. A footnote explains that this signified that they "claimed lordship over the whole of Arnor."

"Aragorn" first appears in the manuscripts, fleetingly, as one of many rejected alternative names for Gandalf's horse. HoME v. VI, p. 355. When Tolkien decided that Trotter/Strider was a Man and not a Hobbit, he gave the character this name. An "undated scrap" reprinted in HoME v. VII records these decisions:

Trotter is a man of Elrond's race descendant of [struck out at once: Túrin] the ancient men of the North, and one of Elrond's household. He was a hunter and wanderer. He became a friend of Bilbo. He knew Gandalf. He was intrigued by Bilbo's story, and found Gollum. When Gandalf went off on the last perilous quest - really to find out about Black Riders and whether the Dark Lord would attack the Shire - he [> Gandalf and Bilbo] arranged with Trotter (real name [other unfinished names struck out in the act of writing: Bara / Rho / Dam] Aragorn son of Aramir) to go towards the Shire and keep a lookout on the road from East (Gandalf was going South). . . .

Pp. 6-7.

We last met on the first of May: at Sarn Ford down on the Brandywine.

According to Christopher Tolkien's Index to Unfinished Tales, "Sarn Ford" is a partial translation of the Sindarin Sarn Athrad, "Ford of Stones." UT, p. 483 (1st US paperback). Sarn means "stone" and athrad, plural ethraid, "ford."

According to UT, Sarn Ford was the site of a battle in S.A. 1700. In that year a fleet sent by the Númenorean King Tar-Minastir came to the rescue of the Elves of Lindon under Gil-galad, who were defending the line of the river Lhûn against Sauron's armies. Apparently Sauron's retreating forces were caught by their pursuers at the Ford, and "Sauron was driven away south-east after great slaughter . . ." UT at 251.


They had words with Harry at West-gate on Monday.

Frodo and his companions arrived at Bree on the 29th of September (Halimath). This was (always) a Thursday, so the previous Monday would have been the 26th. See the Shire calendar in Appendix D.

"And I made a nice imitation of your head with a brown woolen mat, Mr. Bag--Underhill, sir," he added with a grin.

Butterbur has just promised to "forget the name of Baggins," and yet Nob knows that it is Frodo's real name, though he was not present when Butterbur found out. On the other hand, it is suggested that he may have guessed:

'Against the Shadow in the East,' said Strider quietly. 'Not much, Barliman, but every little helps. You can let Mr. Underhill stay here tonight, as Mr. Underhill, and you can forget the name of Baggins, till he is far away.'
'I'll do that,' said Butterbur. 'But they'll find out he's here without help from me, I'm afraid. It's a pity Mr. Baggins drew attention to himself this evening, to say no more. The story of that Mr. Bilbo's going off has been heard before tonight in Bree. Even our Nob has been doing some guessing in his slow pate: and there are others in Bree quicker in the uptake than he is.'


Just nigh Bill Ferny's house I thought I could see something in the Road.

In the first draft, Ferny was a hobbit, like all the inhabitants of Bree, and lived in a hole rather than a house. HoME v. VI, p. 162.

“No, I think not,” said Strider. “They are not all here yet. And in any case, that is not their way. In dark and loneliness they are strongest; 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….”


Leaving the inn at night and running off into the dark is an impossible solution of the difficulties of presentation here (which I can see). It is the last thing that Aragorn would have done. It is based on a misconception of the Black Riders throughout, which I beg Z to reconsider. Their peril is almost entirely due to the unreasoning fear which they inspire (like ghosts). They have no great physical power against the fearless; but what they have, and the fear that they inspire, is enormously increased in darkness. The Witch-king, their leader, is more powerful in all ways that the others; but he must not yet be raised to the stature of Vol. III. There, put in command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force.


Letter 209

(JRRT's comments on the Zimmerman script. )
Last edited by roaccarcsson on Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:20 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:04 pm

Reserved.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:05 pm

And again.
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Postby Mahima » Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:10 pm

(he valued his reputation as a lettered man)

This seems to indicate that literacy was not common or, atleast not widespread in Bree.

--- Is there any information given on literacy in Shire and Bree?
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Postby Thewhitetree » Wed Oct 27, 2004 11:36 pm

Is there any information given on literacy in Shire and Bree?


The only thing I can think of offhand, without research is this:

FOTR - A long Expected Party:
Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters -meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.

Apparently 'learning letters' or literacy was something rather uncommon in the Shire. Obviously there WERE hobbits who could read and write perfectly.

FOTR - A long Expected Party:
For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor; on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and worse then usual at returning them.

There it speaks of a Hobbit that was an avid reader. It takes more then just literacy to be a reader of many books. Most people today are literate, but that does not mean that they enjoy reading. This Hugo character obviously had a formidable education.

Weather 'learning letters' was something that ebery Hobbit learned and Bilbo helped Sam with or weather it was uncommon and Bilbo learned Sam his letters anyway, the book does not say.
The books do tell us that the hobbits were in touch with nature which leads us to believe that literacy was not an issue among hobbits. Perhaps it was common, but it was not made a priority in life.

From what I can decern about Bree, It seems that the Breelanders have a greater literacy rate then the hobbits. Since Bree is a larger community then, say Hobbiton, they have more a need for being literate. The Hobbits havn't much need for literacy, but the Men of Bree are direct decendants of Gondor and have been literate for centuries. This does not mean that ALL Breelanders were literate; there were probably many who wern't.

FOTR - At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
The Bree-hobbits were, in fact, friendly and inquisitive, and Frodo soon found that some explanation of what he was doing would have to be given. He gave out that he was interested in history and geography (at which there was much wagging of heads, although neither of these words were much used in the Bree-dialect). He said that he was thinkin of writting a book (at which there was silent astonishment), and that he and his friends wanted to collect information about hobbits living outside the Shire, especially in the eastern lands.

From that passage it is quite clear that the hobbits of Bree were not the brightest of hobbits. Weather this can be said or not of the Bree-men I cannot tell.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Oct 29, 2004 8:03 pm

"And I made a nice imitation of your head with a brown woolen mat, Mr. Bag--Underhill, sir," he added with a grin.

Either Butterbur has seen fit to let Nob in on the secret of Frodo's real name, despite having just promised to "forget the name of Baggins" -- or Tolkien has slipped up.
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Postby Mahima » Sat Oct 30, 2004 2:19 am

roaccarcsson wrote:"And I made a nice imitation of your head with a brown woolen mat, Mr. Bag--Underhill, sir," he added with a grin.

Either Butterbur has seen fit to let Nob in on the secret of Frodo's real name, despite having just promised to "forget the name of Baggins" -- or Tolkien has slipped up.


:woah:
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Postby Thewhitetree » Sat Oct 30, 2004 6:40 am

In my expierience, it is not in Tolkien's nature to 'slip up'. The only other possibility for Nob to have found out Frodo's real name was if Strider told him, seeing as they went together to fix the Hobbit's room. And I don't find that theory very plausible... I think it must have been Butterbur seeing that the innkeeper was not as prudent in such situations as he believed humself to be.
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Postby pippinsqueak » Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:58 pm

"And I made a nice imitation of your head with a brown woolen mat, Mr. Bag--Underhill, sir," he added with a grin.

Either Butterbur has seen fit to let Nob in on the secret of Frodo's real name, despite having just promised to "forget the name of Baggins" -- or Tolkien has slipped up.


Or Nob guessed. Don't forget this exchange between Strider and Butterbur:

'Against the Shadow in the East,' said Strider quietly. 'Not much, Barliman, but every little helps. You can let Mr. Underhill stay here tonight, as Mr. Underhill, and you can forget the name of Baggins, till he is far away.'
'I'll do that,' said Butterbur. 'But they'll find out he's here without help from me, I'm afraid. It's a pity Mr. Baggins drew attention to himself this evening, to say no more. The story of that Mr. Bilbo's going off has been heard before tonight in Bree. Even our Nob has been doing some guessing in his slow pate: and there are others in Bree quicker in the uptake than he is.'
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Postby Thewhitetree » Sat Oct 30, 2004 8:04 pm

Didn't think of that, and its one of my favourite lines in the chapter. Very nice Pip. :)
Nob no doubt guessed it. THere were probaby rumors flying around Bree and Nob is everywhere and hears everything. Nob was also the one who went looking for Merry, and perhaps he heard Merry say Frodo's name.
Purely hypothetical of course. :)
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:32 am

What will happen?" said Merry. "Will they attack the inn?" "No, I think not," said Strider.

It is never stated who actually attacks the inn, This is from the "Fourth Phase" of writing, when Aragorn is still Trotter:

Trotter says: 'They may after all try some attack before we leave Bree. But it will be dark. In the light they need their horses.'


In a later version:

D,E (Letters which JRRT used to identify individual Ringwraiths) get in touch with Bill Ferney, 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 and get more news, especially of the Ring. (They are puzzled by two Bagginses.) The burglary fails; but they drive off all the ponies.



I will provide references later.[/quote]
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:54 pm

In the earliest versions, of course, Strider was a hobbit called Trotter with wooden feet. The description in the published version is not greatly changed, although the character has now become a Man, and a King in exile:

Suddenly Bingo noticed that a queer-looking, brown-faced hobbit, sitting in the shadows behind the others was also listening intently. He had an enormous mug (more like a jug) in front of him, and was smoking a broken-stemmed pipe right under his rather long nose. He was dressed in dark rough brown cloth, and had a hood on, in spite of the warmth, - and, very remarkably, he had wooden shoes!


Frodo is still Bingo at this stage.

Moreover, Trotter actually hands Gandalf's letter over to the hobbits.

The Return of the Shadow, Chapter IX: Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop
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Postby Mahima » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:37 pm

Queen_B, we covered the Trotter-Strider description, the quote added, and the change in the last chapter.

But we do need to include here, that the Letter was given by Trotter...
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Nov 04, 2004 7:04 am

A good point by Pippinsqueak about Nob's guessing - I should have picked that up. I have edited my post accordingly.

I think there needs to be an extended discussion of literacy in the Shire in the Long-Expected Party chapter, with a reference back in this one. I don't feel competent to address the subject adequately, though. Clearly there was no compulsory education in the Shire and literacy was unusual in the lower classes. Was this really true of "a Warwickshire village" as late as 1897 (the date of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee IIRC)? If not, I would have to say that tis is symptomatic of Tolkien's deep social conservatism.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Fri Nov 05, 2004 4:08 pm

Sorry for the repetition. :(

roac, there would be free universal education in England in the late 1890's.

Renewed shall be blade that was broken

The broken/reforged sword motif comes from the Volsunga Saga. The hero Sigmund’s sword, forged by Wayland the Smith, is shattered in two in battle against Odin. The dying Sigmund tells his wife to take the shards so that their unborn son can have the sword reforged and avenge him. This son is Sigurd the Dragonslayer. The reforged sword is known as Gram.
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Postby wilko185 » Sat Nov 06, 2004 4:32 pm

Queen_Beruthiel wrote:What will happen?" said Merry. "Will they attack the inn?" "No, I think not," said Strider.

It is never stated who actually attacks the inn, This is from the "Fourth Phase" of writing, when Aragorn is still Trotter:

Trotter says: 'They may after all try some attack before we leave Bree. But it will be dark. In the light they need their horses.'


In a later version:

D,E (Letters which JRRT used to identify individual Ringwraiths) get in touch with Bill Ferney, 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 and get more news, especially of the Ring. (They are puzzled by two Bagginses.) The burglary fails; but they drive off all the ponies.



I will provide references later.

Strider goes on in his answer to Merry's question "Will they attack the inn?" :
'... 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'

Despite the common belief that the Riders attacked the Inn, I take this to indicate otherwise. However, this is probably not conclusive, so I'll leave it up to you how to annotate this contentious point :)
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Postby wilko185 » Sat Nov 06, 2004 8:06 pm

'But I may say that I know all the lands between the Shire and the Misty Mountains, for I have wandered over them for many years. I am older than I look.'

Aragorn was born on March 1st 2931, which makes him 88 at this time.



The hobbits looked at him, and saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair. The room was very quiet and still, and the light seemed to have grown dim. For a while he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away.
'There!' he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. 'Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do.'


This scene goes back in the drafts to when the character of Strider (then the hobbit Trotter) had been previously captured and tortured by the Enemy, which makes his pain and knowledge of the enemy more explicable.



All that is gold does not glitter,

[This has been annotated for the Council of Elrond chapter, maybe that should be moved here]



In any case, I did not intend to tell you all about myself at once. I had to study you first, and make sure of you. The Enemy has set traps for me before now.

We later learn that Sauron did not specifically know that an heir of Isildur still lived, but we may speculate that Sauron set traps for the Rangers in general, or "the chief Ranger", for example.



'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.'

The meaning of Aragorn is uncertain, but in one rejected draft of the Appendices it is interpreted as "Kingly Valour". Arathorn apparently means something like "Eagle-lord":
The name contains an abbreviated form of þorono (thorono) 'eagle', seen in Thoron-dor, Thorongil

- Letter #347




Peering out, Frodo saw that the night was still clear. The Sickle was swinging bright above the shoulders of Bree-hill.

From the Sil:
And high in the north as a challenge to Melkor she [Varda] set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom.


The Sickle, also known as the Burning Briar, or the Wain, or the Crown of Durin, etc, is our constellation of Ursa Major (not to be confused with the group of stars in the constellation of Leo known to us as the Sickle).
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Postby Parkingtigers » Wed Nov 10, 2004 7:37 am

Oops, sorry. Wrong thread. Keep up the good work.
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Postby Almatolmen » Sun Nov 14, 2004 1:32 am

Aragorn was born on 1 Rethe = 1 Sulime. The Gregorian date is 22 February (George Washington's birthday). He also died on this date.

I don't have my notebook with me, but once I checked the birth and death ages for all Aragorn's ancestors. With one other exception, he was the only one of his line who were placed in the sponsorship of Elrond who didn't have his grandfather alive for his majority (21 years) and to lack a father through his childhood. Truly, Elrond was responsible for his upbringing to a degree that no other of his lineage experienced. He knew no other father, which made his relationship to Arwen all the more awkward for both Elrond and Aragorn and didn't make it easy for Arwen, though she was apparently rarely in Rivendell in Aragorn's youth.

The Gregorian equivilent of 26 Halimath is 18 September.

There is a tendency to believe that education came to England with the 1870 Education Act. In fact, the state had been involved since at least the 1830s and the debate over education for the the poor had been going for many many years prior to that. In Scotland every parish had had a school since the seventeenth century and as early as 1807 a bill was introduced in England's Parliament which would have replicated that system. The bill was passed in the Commons but defeated in the House of Lords where it was argued that the interests of the Established Church were not protected.

Less than a decade later, a parliamentary committee to inquire into education in London for the "lower orders" was established at the instigation of Lord Brougham. Despite his encouragement of education (which would have been controlled by the Church of England but limited in religious teaching to the bible and a non- denominational catechism)no progress of note was made until 1833 when parliament made its first limited grant to education. The grant itself was small and went to religious bodies which used it to build schools. Its significance was that it was the first acceptance by the government of any financial responsibility for the education of the poor.

It is difficult to know what percentage of the labouring classes' children attended school. Estimates suggest that it ranged from about one-third to one-half in the first few years of Victoria's reign. The most common schools were Sunday Schools where children could go if they were not working and could learn to "read" the bible. What schooling there was was sporadic and its primary function was to fit people for their place in the social order. To say that schools in the early Victorian years were simply instruments of social control is simplistic, but that they filled this role more clearly than others is unquestionable. Even a cursory glance at the reports of the Central Society of Education (1837-39) bring this into clear focus.

Of greater interest to Victorianists would be the many and varied philanthropic movements concerned with education. Among the most important were the National and the British and Foreign Schools Societies. These were founded on the Monitorial Principles of Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell and were proclaimed the STEAM ENGINE OF THE MORAL WORLD. In fact, by using older children to teach the younger, and by carrying on education in one large room, it was possible to justify fewer teachers and lower building costs. In the words of G D H Cole and Raymond Postgate (The Common People, 308), "It is a notable example of the gullibility of the historian that this probably retrograde step is still frequently referred to as an advance."

The years of Victoria's reign were years of educational ferment. In perspective, however, it should be noted that it was not until 1899 and the establishment of the National Board of Education that free public education was available to all children in England. And it was not until 1902, after Victoria's death, that public secondary education was available. In that same year, the school boards were abolished and the responsibility for education was placed in the hands of local government. But that's another story, and one that falls outside our time frame.


I think any unease that JRRT felt about public education would have had less to do with social conservatism and more to do with the intrusion of the Established Church into the educational system. As a Catholic he may have been very sensitive about such matters. Perhaps someone with access to Letters might check to see if any opinions on the matter can be found there,
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:41 pm

“No, I think not,” said Strider. “They are not all here yet. And in any case, that is not their way. In dark and loneliness they are strongest; 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….”


Leaving the inn at night and running off into the dark is an impossible solution of the difficulties of presentation here (which I can see). It is the last thing that Aragorn would have done. It is based on a misconception of the Black Riders throughout, which I beg Z to reconsider. Their peril is almost entirely due to the unreasoning fear which they inspire (like ghosts). They have no great physical power against the fearless; but what they have, and the fear that they inspire, is enormously increased in darkness. The Witch-king, their leader, is more powerful in all ways that the others; but he must not yet be raised to the stature of Vol. III. There, put in command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force.


Letter 209

(JRRT's comments on the Zimmerman script. )
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Postby MithLuin » Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:30 pm

Literacy in Middle Earth (this can be included in a different place if desired). [-***-Work in Progress-***-]

Literacy was by no means widespread in Middle Earth. However, literacy was not terribly uncommon either. Our information is, perforce, incomplete, and perhaps inadequate to paint the picture clearly. However, here is what we do know, collected into one place.

The Shire

Not all hobbits can read and write. There are many who never learned. However, there are enough hobbits who do write to keep a post office busy, and to make written communications a natural part of business in the Shire. Books are prevalent enough that there are several large libraries in the Shire. These libraries are private collections of wealthy families, and most of the works (before the events of the War of the Ring) dealt with geneology, records and local history. Overall, the Shire is one of the more literate places in Middle Earth.
Some examples of widespread literacy in the Shire:
Bilbo, Merry and Frodo all wrote books. Bilbo sent out written invitations to his party, received hundreds of written responses, and put a sign on his gate. The young children of Hobbiton recognized the letter "G" on Gandalf's fireworks. The Shire has legal customs involving written, signed wills. Bilbo taught Sam to read and write (though this, perhaps, is unusual). Bilbo's gifts all have written tags.
Hobbits who do read and write use Westron, their daily language, and Tengwar, the elvish letters, both adopted from the Dunedain before they moved into the Shire.

Sources:
It was in those days, doubtless [before the founding of the Shire], that the Hobbits learned their letters and began to write after the manner of the Dunedain, who had in their turn long before learned the art from the Elves. The Prologue

By no means all Hobbits were lettered, but those who were wrote constantly to all their friends (and a selection of their relations) who lived further off than an afternoon's walk. The Prologue

For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large waste-paper basket. Dora was Drogo's sister and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century. A Long-Expected Party

All hobbits, of course, can cook, for they begin to learn the art before their letters (which many never reach). 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit'

For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor; on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and worse then usual at returning them. 'A Long-Expected Party'

A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves and Men. The Prologue

[Hobbits] liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions. The Prologue

At the end of the Third Age the part played by the Hobbits in the great events that led to the inclusion of the Shire in the Reunited Kingdom awakened among them a more widespread interest in the own history; and many of their traditions, up to that time still mainly oral, were collected and written down. ... By the end of the first century of the Fourth Age, there were already to be found in the Shire several libraries that contained many historical books and records. The Prologue


Bree

We have very little information about literacy in Bree. We do know that the hobbits in Bree were quite surprised by the news that Mr. Underhill was writing a book. We also know that Barliman Butterbur was proud of his skill at reading, even though he read slowly. Therefore, it is quite likely that many Breelanders were unable to read, and those who could had little occasion to. On the other hand, the door of the Prancing Pony Inn had the name written above it, as well as Mr. Butterbur's name. The Inn itself was ancient, but Barliman must have made certain that his own name was painted above the door. Therefore, he must have thought that some people would be able to read the sign. Since the Inn is frequented by both locals and travelers, this does not shed too much light on the literacy of the Breelanders. More telling is the fact that Gandalf was able to procure the necessary materials to write a letter on short notice while in Bree. If paper and ink are readily available, they must be used with some frequency. So, the Bree-land is not fully illiterate, even if the literacy rate, or use of literacy, seem to be low.
The Breelanders speak Westron, the Common Tongue, and the sign of the Prancing Pony is written in this language, presumably with Elvish letters (Tengwar).

Sources:
It was in these early days, doubtless [about the time that Hobbits entered Bree], that the Hobbits learned their letters and began to write after the manner of the Dunedain, who had in their turn long before learned the art from the Elves. The Prologue

It's addressed plain enough,' said Mr. Butterbur, producing a letter from his pocket, and reading out the address slowly and proudly (he valued his reputation as a lettered man) 'Strider'

Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: THE PRANCING PONY by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. 'At the Sign of the Prancing Pony'

THE PRANCING PONY, BREE. Midyear's Day, Shire Year, 1418. ... Yours in haste GANDALF 'Strider'

He gave out that he was interested in history and geography (at which there was much wagging of heads, although neither of these words were much used in the Bree-dialect). He said that he was thinking of writting a book (at which there was silent astonishment), and that he and his friends wanted to collect information about hobbits living outside the Shire, especially in the eastern lands. 'At the Sign of the Prancing Pony'


Rangers

The Rangers are the Dunedain of the North. The Dunedain are the descendants of the Kings of the North, and of those men who came to Middle Earth at the destruction of Numenor. Though we have little infomation about them, the Dunedain are most likely fully literate, or at least once were. The Dunedain of the North are closely related to the Dunedain of the South, though they are mostly estranged at this time.
They speak the Common Tongue, as well as Sindarin (an Elvish language). They definately use the runes, but probably also write with Elvish letters (Tengwar).

Sources:
It was in these early days, doubtless, that the Hobbits learned their letters and began to write after the manner of the Dunedain, who had in their turn long before learned the art from the Elves. The Prologue

Rangers use runes, and they come here sometimes. ~ Aragorn 'A Knife in the Dark'

They spoke together in soft voices, at first using the Common Speech, but after the manner of older days, and then changing to another language of their own. To his amaxement, as he listened Frodo became aware that it was the Elven-tongue that they spoke, or one but little different; and he looked at them with wonder, for he knew then that they must be Dunedain of the South, men of the line of the Lords of Westernesse. 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit'


Elves

It would be difficult to imagine an illiterate elf, though that does not mean that there weren't any. The elves are considered to be the source of literacy for all other creatures. The name 'Quendi' means 'those who speak'. The elves are credited with inventing the Cirth (runes) and the Tengwar (elvish letters). Other groups then adapted these writing systems to their own languages and uses. Angerthas Moria, the dwarf-runes, are based on the Cirth of the elf Daeron.
...
Sources:
* - To be continued... - *

'There!' he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. 'Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do.'

I know we already have the explanation of Trotter's capture. I merely wanted to add this:

Aragorn never tells us of his own encounters with the Nazgul, so we are not to understand exactly what he means here. However, at the Council of Elrond, he does say:
If a man must needs walk in sight of the Black Gate, or tread the deadly flowers of Morgul Vale, then perils he will have.

The Morgul Vale is the location of Minas Morgul (formerly Minas Ithil), the city of the Ringwraiths. Aragorn had occasion to go there while hunting for Gollum.
Last edited by MithLuin on Fri Dec 17, 2004 7:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:48 pm

Just nigh Bill Ferny's house I thought I could see something in the Road.

In the first draft, Ferny was a hobbit, like all the inhabitants of Bree, and lived in a hole rather than a house. HoME v. VI, p. 162.
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Postby wilko185 » Sat Dec 11, 2004 7:10 am

MithLuin wrote: On the other hand, the sign for the Prancing Pony Inn had the name written out, as well as Mr. Butterbur's name. The Inn itself was ancient, but Barliman must have made certain that his own name was added to the sign.

Though the name wasn't on the sign, which only had a picture. It was written above the door: THE PRANCING PONY by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. Does the "by" mean the entire name was painted there by Barliman himself (maybe the Pony's first literate innkeeper?)?

The only point I would add to MithLuin's excellent summary, is that there is a definite theme of a class divide in the literacy of hobbits, I think. Hobbits of Bilbo's class have shelves of books, hobbits of the Gaffer's class, or those in the common room of the Pony, are unlikely to be literate.
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Postby MithLuin » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:17 am

Yes, there is a class divide of some sort, and Sam seems to have crossed it. I don't know how typical or atypical that is, though. I find it more interesting that the women were not strictly illiterate. I know that in some cultures, only the men were taught to read and write, so the letters of Dora Baggins are perhaps useful, after all. ;)

I have always taken the "by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR" to mean that he was the Innkeeper, not necessarily the person who painted the sign. (Oh, good call on the actual sign and the sign above the door bit - I'll try to reword it so that that is more clear). But I don't know whether or not it would be typical to refer to an establishment (such as an Inn) as being "by" someone.
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Postby Tulkas_The_Valiant » Sat Dec 11, 2004 11:31 am

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not touched by the frost
From the ashes a fire shall be woken
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king.


This verse, although primarily referring to Strider, does in fact provide foreshadow/allusion to the journey of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin.

"Not all those who wander are lost" - Merry/Pippin and Frodo/Sam wander in the wilds of the world, but they have a specific purpose ('fated' for them?)

"Deep roots are not touched by the frost" - In my mind, this can be taken also to allude to the deep friendship between the Hobbits. Their friendship stays strong through all the perils they are faced with (and I'd argue, gets them through some of them). Perhaps Tolkien even means to speak to his audience on the importance of true friendships...

"From the ashes a fire shall be woken" - This can be taken (loosely) to allude to Frodo's offer to take the ring to Mordor. Metaphorically, his heart is tired, and weary (from the Nazgul attack), yet a sudden courage fires up to do what he knows must be done

"A light from the shadows shall spring" - This, I think, can be taken to foreshadow Sam's actions with Frodo. In the council, he springs forth to be at Frodo's side, at Amon Hen, he springs forth to go with Frodo... and of greatest import, he springs forth with the Phial of Galadriel against Shelob, and the watchers.
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Postby vison » Sun Dec 12, 2004 1:02 pm

I've long been puzzled by the attack on the Inn at Bree. If it was indeed Black Riders, it would seem that they intended to KILL Frodo, does it not? The slashing of the bolsters, etc. Very unlike any other action the Riders undertake, very "physical", in a word.

Later on, at Weathertop, they could easily have killed him or captured him and they didn't, seeming content to let the Morgul blade do its work.

If the attack at Bree was NOT the Black Riders, was it Ferny and some friends in the pay of the Riders? Was the intent to kill Frodo? Simply steal the Ring?

Arrrggghhhh.....

An unsatisfactory passage. :(
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Dec 12, 2004 2:53 pm

Full discussion here: WhoslashedthebedsinBree?

Oh I do miss Nar. :(









edit: what have I done wrong? :( Anyway it's in the Best Threads thread.

mod note: link fixed.
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Postby vison » Sun Dec 12, 2004 3:05 pm

Queen_Beruthiel wrote:Full discussion here: [url]http://forums.tolkienonline.com/viewtopic.php?t=08446WhoslashedthebedsinBree?[/url]

Oh I do miss Nar. :(
edit: what have I done wrong? :( Anyway it's in the Best Threads thread.


Thanx, QueenB. I shall seek it out when RW affairs are not so pressing. How I wish I had been at Torc in the Glory Days!!!!!
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:08 pm

We last met on the first of May: at Sarn Ford down on the Brandywine.

According to Christopher Tolkien's Index to Unfinished Tales, "Sarn Ford" is a partial translation of the Sindarin Sarn Athrad, "Ford of Stones." UT, p. 483 (1st US paperback). Sarn means "stone" and athrad, plural ethraid, "ford."

According to UT, Sarn Ford was the site of a battle in S.A. 1700. In that year a fleet sent by the Númenorean King Tar-Minastir came to the rescue of the Elves of Lindon under Gil-galad, who were defending the line of the river Lhûn against Sauron's armies. Apparently Sauron's retreating forces were caught by their pursuers at the Ford, and "Sauron was driven away south-east after great slaughter . . ." UT at 251.

PPS. Make sure that it is the real Strider. There are many strange men on the roads. His true name is Aragorn.

"Aragorn" first appears in the manuscripts, fleetingly, as one of many rejected alternative names for Gandalf's horse. HoME v. VI, p. 355. When Tolkien decided that Trotter/Strider was a Man and not a Hobbit, he gave the character this name. An "undated scrap" reprinted in HoME v. VII records these decisions:

Trotter is a man of Elrond's race descendant of [struck out at once: Túrin] the ancient men of the North, and one of Elrond's household. He was a hunter and wanderer. He became a friend of Bilbo. He knew Gandalf. He was intrigued by Bilbo's story, and found Gollum. When Gandalf went off on the last perilous quest - really to find out about Black Riders and whether the Dark Lord would attack the Shire - he [> Gandalf and Bilbo] arranged with Trotter (real name [other unfinished names struck out in the act of writing: Bara / Rho / Dam] Aragorn son of Aramir) to go towards the Shire and keep a lookout on the road from East (Gandalf was going South). . . .

Pp. 6-7.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:24 pm

Bumping this up to mention that I have addressed the Who-slashed-the-bolsters issue a few days back, over on the Flight to the Ford thread, I expected lots of people to jump on it, but so far no reaction
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