"Hail and well met!" and Welcome to this the Hobbit Forum of the Minas Tirith Bulletin Boards. Participation in or creation of any relevant thread here is strongly encouraged so long as you are registered; if you are not just click on the links at the top of each page.
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Within this forum especially there are several very interesting discussions both active and inactive and to help get you started I have included a choice sampling of both divided into rough and very general catagories:
OTHER FUNNEY CREATURES(Issues relating to Elves, Dwarves, Spiders, Were-worms and everything in between)
FUN AND GAMES(the rules are pretty much the same for all the games: ΉIf you submit a correct answer you must submit a new question/scramble/etc. and ²If noone answers or submits a new one for a rather length segment of time the floor becomes open and anyone can ask/submit a new question/scramble/etc.)
Trivia »» Can you answer the question? € Q. Who killed Smaug? » A. Bard the Bowman.
Scramble »» Can you rearrange the seemingly randomly combined letters into the name of something from The Hobbit? € Q. GABINGS » A. BAGGINS
Who said that... »» Given what is said can you identify who said it? € Q. "Hail, Thorin!" » A. Bard the Bowman
Odd Man Out »» Can you identify who/what in the given list doesn't fit with a unique characteristic of all the rest? € Q. Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Beorn » A. Beorn was the only one who did not get a special sword
Riddles in the Dark (The Game)»» Can find the answer to the Riddle? € Q. As long as six men, As strong as six men, One man can carry me, But six can't make me point to the sky... I'll help you get high » A. rope
Name Game »» Just, being given a word or phrase, come up with another word or phrase whose first letter is the same as the last letter of the word/phrase you were originally given. € Q. Gollum » A. Mirkwood
As with Christopher Tolkien's contribution to the Silmarillion the question of editions with regard to The Hobbit is often raised(given in some cases HUGE discrepancies between editions) and not often enough specifically addressed. In order to speak to this most fully and consisely then in the next two posts I will attempt to catalogue the history of the Tolkien's developent of The Hobbit from "flash-point" to Tolkien's last, 3rd edition, revisions using as my primary sources, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter, The J.R.R. Tolkien Descriptive Bibliography by Wayne Hammond, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited and compiled by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit by Douglass A. Anderson and A Film Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien by Helen Dickinson for the BBC 1992.
The Hobbit began, as Tolkien described in a 1968 BBC television program entitled: "Tolkien in Oxford" as follows:
quote:The actual flashpoint was - I can remember very clearly - I can still see the cornor of my house in 20 Northmoor Road where it happened. I'd got an enormous pile of examinations papers there, and marking school examinations in the summer time in an enormous task, very laborious and unfortunately also very boring. I remember picking up a paper and actually finding - I nearly gave an extra mark for it, and extra five marks - one page of a particular paper was left blank. Glorious. Nothing to Read, so I scribbled on it, I can't think why, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
CLICK ON THE SCREEN SHOT ABOVE FOR THAT SEGMENT OF THE INTERVEIW.
From that point work on "hobbits" seems to have taken a bit of a hiatus until probably around 1930-31 when Tolkien, as quoted in his biography, dates the first work on the first chapter. From there, according to Douglass A. Anderson who was given the opportunity to examine the first "manuscripts, typescripts and proofs"(Anderson 7) archived at Marquette University the writing progressed in five stages:
STAGE 1: The composition of a 6-page manuscript(<chapter 1) in which Smaug is called Pryftan Thorin, Gandalf; and Gandalf, Bladorthin.
STAGE 2: The composition of a manuscript/typescript numbering 167 pages(chapter 1-12, 14) in which Pryftan is changed to Smaug, Gandalf is changed to Thorin, Bladorthin is changed to Gandalf and Beorn is called Medwed and the key to Durin's Door is found in the Trolls' stash. The rest of the work is outlined til the end.
STAGE 3: The composition of a complete typescript of the previous work here Medwed is changed to Beorn; it was in this form that the work was originally shown to C.S. Lewis (1932 [Letter 9]) and Susan Dagnall.
STAGE 4: The composition of a manuscript for chapters 13 and 15-19 no doubt made at the prompting of Susan Dagnall who working for Allen and Unwin publishers urged Tolkien to finish the work.
StAGE 5: The composition of a typescript working in chapters 13 and 15-19 into the typescript of Stage 3 and thus the complete The Hobbit.(1936)
At around this point on October the third of 1936 Tolkien sent in the typescript to Allen and Unwin and it was accepted for publishing on the word of 10 year old Rayner Unwin (Stanely Unwin's Son):
Subsequently further typescripts and proofs where produced until finally the First Edition First Printing of The Hobbit was released.
The First Edition First Printing(1,500 copies) was released with several errors including in:
An Unexpected Party 1. "find morning" instead of "fine morning" 2. "What was what he was going to say'" instead of "That was what he was going to say" 3. "more fierce then fire"
A Short Rest 1. "Where the thrush knocks" instead of "when the thrush knocks" 2. "uncomfortable palpitating" for "uncomfortable, palpitating" 3. "their bruises their tempers and their hopes" for "their bruises, their tempers and their hopes"
Riddles in the Dark 1. "far under under the mountains" instead of "far under the mountains"
Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire 1. "back tops" instead of "black tops"
Flies and Spiders 1. "nor what you call" instead of "not what you call"
Barrels out of Bound 1. Double backwards quotation on Very
On the Doorstep 1. "above stream" instead of "above the stream" 2. "door step" instead of "doorstep" 3. "leas" instead of "least"
Inside Information 1. "you imagination" instead of "your imagination"
Not at Home 1. "nay breakfast" instead of "any breakfast"
The First Edition Second Printing (2,300 copies) was released in 1938 when the First Printing sold out.
The First Edition Third Printing (1,500+3,000 copies [LETTER 47]) was released in 1942 with 3 corrections:
Barrels out of Bound - double quotation marks reversed on Very
On the Doorstep - "leas" changed to "least"
Inside Information - "you imagination" changed to "your imagination"
The First Edition Fourth Printing (4,000 copies) was released in 1946 with corrections such as:
An Unexpected Party - "find morning" changed to "fine morning"
Riddles in the Dark - "far under under the mountains" changed to "far under the mountains"
Most of the rest of the errors seen in the first edition were corrected in the following editions(as opposed to printings above) which are examinded in the next post as the changes to the editions also involve substancial alterations to the story line such as in the case of Riddles in the Dark a chapter mostly rewritten such that the version you have read has probably little to do with the version originally written.
Here we will discuss the changes to the text Tolkien made to the UK and American editions of the Hobbit following the first and the reasons behind the changes. The editions covered, organized by the number of the edition and date of publication(left to right) are as follows:
1ST EDITION - Allen & Unwin (1937) and Houghton Mifflin Company (1938)
2ND EDITION - Houghton Mifflin Company (1951) and Allen & Unwin (1951)
2ND 1/2(sorta) - Penguin Books (1961)
3RD EDITION - Ballantine Books (1966), Longmans (1966), Allen and Unwin (1966) and Houghton Mifflin Company (1967)
There are later editions but they are not considered as they did not really involved changes made by the author himself.
THE 2ND EDITION (1951)
The changes to the first edition that defined the 2nd edition basically involved corrections of certain inaccuracies and inconsistancies as well as a reworking of Chapter 5: Riddles in the Dark (in the original version the setup of the Riddle-game was somewhat different as Gollum instead of offering to show Bilbo the way out if he won instead he offered to give him a present his "only pressent" the One Ring also Gollums motives and character were somewhat different being not wholly in-line with what you might expect based on the developing sequel: The Lord of the Rings). Tolkien in this edition explained to the reader through a prefatory note the reasons reasons behind these changes. He enclosed this with a letter to Sir Stanely Unwin(his publisher) saying:
quote:I have decided to accept the existence of both versions of Chapter 5, so far as a sequel goes - though I have no time at the moment to rewrite that that at the required points. I enclose therefore, a copy of the briefest form od the prefatory note: which is intended as a copy, if you should think it well to use it in the reprint.
quote:In this reprint several minor inaccuracies, most of them noted by readers, have been corrected. For example, the text on pages 30 and 64 now corresponds exactly with the runes on Thror's Map. More important is the matter of Chapter Five. There the true story of the ending of the Riddle Game, as it was eventually revealed (under pressure) by Bilbo to Gandalf, is now given according to the Red Book, in place of the version Bilbo first gave to his friends, and actually set down in his diary. This departure from truth on the part of a most honest hobbit was a portent of great significance. It does not, however, concern the present story, and those who in this edition make their first acquaintance with hobbit-lore need not troupe about it. Its explanation lies in the history of the Ring, as it is set out in the chronicles of the Red Book of Westmarch, and it must await their publication.
(p. 142, 442 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Letter #130/September 14, 1950)
Now as it happens the major changes, namely those to chapter 5, were not originally intended to be printed off but rather were more of a non-serious rhetorical work in consideration of the sequel as Tolkien recounts in a letter dated September 21, 1947 to his publishers:
quote:With it I send Rayner's comments; also some notes on The Hobbit; and (for the possible ammusement of yourself and Rayner) a specimen of the re-writing of Chapter V of that work, which would simplify, though not necessarily improve, my present task [i.e. the writing of The Lord of the Rings] (p. 124 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Letter #111)
In July 1950 Allen & Unwin sent Tolkien proofs for the new edition of The Hobbit incorporating several of his minor revisions aswell as the new version of Chapter 5 which the publishers had simply assumed Tolkien wished to include. Tolkien's response was as follows:
quote:The Hobbit: I return the proofs herewith. They did not require much correction, but did need some consideration. The thing took me much by surprise. It is now a long while since I sent in the proposed alteration of Chapter V, and tentively suggested the slight remodelling of the original Hobbit...I never hread any more about it; and I assumed that alteration of the original book was ruled out. The sequel now depends on the earlier version; and if the revision is really published, there must follow some considerable rewriting of the sequel...However, I have made up my mind to accept the change and its consequences...I did not mean for the suggested work to be printed off; but it seems to have come out pretty well in the wash. (p. 141 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Letter #128)
And thus the came the version most of us are now familiar with and the notes explaining the changes within the story aswell. Here is a full accounting of the changes made for the 2nd edition organized by chapter
(first the original passage is quoted followed by the rewritten version for the 2nd edition in bold):
An Unexpected Party
"Excitable little man(1937)" - "Excitable little fellow(1951)"
"Five feet high is the door and three abreast may enter it" - "Five feet high the three may walk abreast"
"And your father went away on the third of March" - "And your father went away on the 21st of April"
A Short Rest
"Stand by the grey stone where the thrush knocks" - "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks"
Riddles in the Dark
"before the goblins came, and he was cut off from his friends far under the mountains" - "before he lost all his friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, doen, into the dark under the mountain"
"and we doesn't answer, we gives it a present, gollum!" - "and we doesn't answer, then we does what it wants, eh? We shows it the way out, yes!"
"what about your present?" - "what about your guess?"
(major rewriting)"But funnily enough he need not have been alarmed...Then they yelled twice as loud as before, but not so delightedly."(see here ) - "He knew of course, that the Riddle-game was sacred and of emense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it...They yelled twice as loud as before but not so delightedly."
Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
"So I asked for my present, and he went to look for it, and couldn't find it. So I said, 'very well, help me get out of this nasty place!' and he showed me the passage to the door. 'Good-bye' I said, and went on down" - "So I said: 'what about your promise? Show me the way out!' But he came at me to kill me, and I ran, and he missed me in the dark. Then I followed him, because I heard him talking to himself. He thought I really knew the way out, and so he was making for it. And then he sat down in the entrance, and I could not get by. So I jumped over him and escaped, and ran down to the gate."
"dodging guards, and squeezing through" - "dodging guards, jumping over Gollum, and squeezing through"
"Gandalf knew all about the back-gate, as he called it, the lower door where Bilbo had lost his buttons." - "Gandalf knew all about the back-door, as the goblins called the lower gate, where Bilbo lost his buttons.""
The Return Journey
"If more men valued food and cheer and song abover hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." - "If more of us valued food and cheer and song abover hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
PUFFIN EDITION (1961)
This first paperback edition of the Hobbit was contriversial for several reasons not the least being the authors reluctance to embrace the paperback format and certain improper "corrections." Nevertheless included in it are several authorial emendations which deserve note.
Here is an excerpt from a December 10, 1960 letter of Tolkien's to his publisher regarding the Penguin/Puffin offer:
quote:Thank you for your news of the 'Puffin' offer, and your advice. I may safely leave the decision to your own wisdom. THe changes of profit or loss in cash or otherwise, are evidently neatly balanced. If you wish to know my personal feelings: I am not longer able to ignore cash-profit, even to the odd £100, but I do share your reluctance to cheapen the old Hobbit. Unless the profit or advantage is clear, I would much rather leave him to amble along, and he still shows a good walking-pace. And I am not fond of Puffins or Penguins or other soft-shelled fowl: they wat other bird's eggs, and are better left to vacated nests. (p.302 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien letter # 225
The corrections Tolkien made to this editions include, as organized again by chapter
(first the original passage is quoted followed by the rewritten version for the Puffin edition in bold):
An Unexpected Party
"here at last!' what was what he was going to say(1937)" - "here at last!' was what he was going to say(1961)"
Riddles in the Dark
"Bilbo was beginning to wonder what Gollum's present would be like"Ή - "Bilbo was beginning to hope he would not be able to answer"
ΉThis line was missed in Tolkien's original reworkings of Chapter 5
For more information on the Puffin Edition of the Hobbit and the improper "corrections" especially check out letter # 236 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
3RD EDITION (1966)
For the 3rd edition (and actually the first American Paperback Edition[BB]) the changes the author made for improvement of the work follow, organized by chapter
(first the original passage(s) is(are) quoted followed by the rewritten version for the 3rd edition in bold):
An Unexpected Party
"They are (or were) small people, smaller than dwarves (and they have no beards) but bery much larger than lilliputians. (1937)" - "They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. (1966)"
"It has always been said that long ago one or other of the Tooks had married into a fairy family(the less friendly said a goblin family); certainly there was" - "It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was."
"a little old man with a tall pointed blue hat" - "an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed hat."
"mad adventures, anything from climbing trees to stowing away aboard the ships that sail to the Other Side?" - "mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves - or sailing in ships, to other shores!"
"here at last!' what was what he was going to say(1937)" - "here at last!'was what he was going to say (1961 Puffin)" - "here at last!' That was what he was going to say"
"and to the pantry" - "and then to a pantry"
"Gandalf for sure this time" - "Gandalf for certain this time"
"Another one had come" - "Another Dwarf had come"
"cold chicken and tomatoes" - "cold chicken and pickles"
"the inside of my larder" - "the inside of my larders"
"Then Gandalf's smoke-ring would go green with the joke and come back" - "Then Gandalf's smoke-ring would go green and come back"
"He had quite a cloud of them about him already, and it made him look positively sorcerous" - "He had a cloud of them around him already, and in the dim light it made him look strange and sorcerous"
"The dragon's ire more fierce then fire" - "The dragon's ire more fierce than fire"
"made by your grandfather, Thorin" - "made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin"
"devouring so many of the maidens of the valley" - "devouring so many of the Dwarves and men of Dale"
"Long ago in my grandfather's time some dwarves were driver out of the far North, and came with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the map. There they mined and they tunnelled and they made huge halls and great workshops" - "Long ago in my granfather Thror's time our family was driven out of the far North, and came back with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the map. It had been discovered by my ancester Thrain the Old, but now they mined and they tunneled and they made huger halls and greater workshops"
"King under the Mountain" - "King under the Mountain again"
"full of wonderful jewels and carvings and cups, and the toyshops of Dale were a sight to behold" - "full of armor and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toymarket of Dale was the wonder of the North"
"Your grandfather was killed, you remember, in the Mines of Moria by a goblin" - "Your grandfather Thror was killed, you remember, in the Mines of Moria by Azog the Goblin"
"Curse the goblin, yes" - "Curse his name, yes"
"And your father went away on the third of March" (1937) - "And your father went away on the twenty-first of April" (1951)- "And Thrain your father went away on the twenty-first of April"
"said the wizard slowly and crossly" - "said the wizard slowly and grimly"
"That is a job quite beyond the powers" - "He is an enemy far beyond the powers"
"was for you to read the map" - "was for his son to read the map"
Another very common and very important question with regard to the Hobbit is in regard to its historiciy, or historical authenticity, within the Legendarium of all Tolkien's works. In essence it all breaks down to Can we trust The Hobbit?/Is The Hobbit really that important. I feel the answer to both is Yes and here's why:
Now first of all the primary reason so many people don't look at The Hobbit as an authorative work is because of the fact it is a "children's story" and that Tolkien regreted elements such as the "ridiculus, if brutal, Stone-trolls" (Letters # 151) as well as the mode employed as "children's story" (Letters #'s 131, 163, 165, 215, 234, 257, etc.). But then as will be shown these "regrets" have everything to do with method of presentation not so much the presentation itself. In response to a 1955 New York Times quiery Tolkien composed a response in which lies an excerpt which, I think well summarizes, the feeling of all the above cited letters:
quote:My work did not did not 'evolve' into a serious work. It started like that. The so-called 'children's story' [The Hobbit] was a fragment torn out of an already existing mythology. In so far as it was dressed up as 'for children', in style or manner, I regret it. (p. 218 The Letters of JRR Tolkien #165)
Indeed, it is true that The Hobbit was not originally conceived as a part of the greater mythology (see in addition letter 257) but rather was drawn into it and though this may seem to further undermine its credibility we must remember that Tolkien did not view this writing (that is, the writing for his mythology see here) as "invention" but rather more "discovery" of something pre-existing. Thus in the beginning its composition it was a part of the mythology though Tolkien may not have known it yet:
quote:The Hobbit, which has much more essential life in it, was quite independantly conceived: I did not know as I began that it belonged . But it proved to be the discovery of the completion of the whole, its mode of descent to earth, and merging into 'history'. (p.145 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #131)
quote:The Hobbit was after all not as simple as it seemed, and was rather torn rather at random out of a world in which it already existed... (p.122 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #109)
And thus with publishing Tolkien seems to have afforded both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit tremendous authority especially with regard to grounding the overall mythology (see letter #'s 313 and 163), as will be evidenced below and as such I think that we can't not but do the same.
One of the best known examples of Tolkien himself affording The Hobbit a great deal of authority can be found based in a marginal discussion on Moon-runes in the 1969 essay entitled: 'Of Dwarves and Men' and published in The Peoples of Middle-earth(HoME XII). Against the paragraph: "The Longbeard Dwarves therefore adopted the Runes, and modified them for their own uses...it was generally supposed by the unlearned that they had been invented by the Dwarves, and they were widely known as 'dwarf-letters'." Tolkien noted:
quote:N.B. It is actually said by Elrond in The Hobbit that the Runes were invented by the Dwarves and written with silver pens. Elrond was half-elven and a master of lore and history. So either we must tolerate this discrepancy or modify the history of the Runes, making the actual Agerthas Moria largely an affair of Dwarvish invention. (p.319 The Peoples of Middle-earth 'Of Dwarves and Men'
In further notes on that same page Christopher Tolkien reccounts that his father further "pondered the latter course" until he "as length noted with relief(PoME 319-20):" that it was the 'moon-runes' that Elrond specifically described as being invented by the Dwarves not the Runes in alphabetic form. CT says further:
quote:I mention all this as an illustration of his intense concern to avoid discrepancy and inconsistancy, even though in this case his anxiety was unfounded. (p. 320 The Peoples of Middle-earth 'Of Dwarves and Men')
Further evidence for the viability of The Hobbit as one of our best sources of "accurate" information in regard to the mythology can be found in sections which actually lend to certain specific information not otherwise established until late in Tolkien's revisions of the Silmarillion which could not have been otherwise found out by Tolkien fans until the 1990's with the publication of the later History of Middle-earth series. A couple that I have gotten the most use out of in canonically establishing late ideas include:
quote: They gave him food and drink, plenty of both, if not very fine; for Wood-elves were not goblins, and were reasonably well-behaved even to their worst enemies [Orcs?], when they captured them. The giant spiders were the only living things that they had no mercy upon. (The Hobbit 'Flies and Spiders' ALL EDITIONS)
The above being markedly similar with a later note on treatment of captives especially Orcs who in both cases appear to be similarly concieved. Quite remarkable, I think, as this passage comes all the way from the first edition but this just serves as another example of Tolkien's intense meticulousness which should not go unheeded by summarily dismissing this mere "children's story". The later note written around 1960 can be found in Morgoth's Ring(HoME X) and follows:
quote:But even before this wickedness of Morgoth was suspected the Wise in the Elder Days taught always that the Orcs were not 'made' by Melkor, and therefore were not in their origin evil. They might have become irredeemable (at least by Elves and Men), but they remained within the Law. That is, that though of necessity, being the fingers of the hand of Morgoth, they must be fought with the utmost severity, they must not be dealt with in their own terms of cruelty and treachery. Captives must not be tormented, not even to discover information for the defence of the homes of Elves and Men. If any Orcs surrendered and asked for mercy, they must be granted it, even at a cost.* This was the teaching of the Wise, though in the horror of the War it was not always heeded. (p. 419 Morgoth's Ring 'Orcs')
Yet another example can be found in the very same chapter in the 3rd edition where it is reccounted that:
quote:In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the twilight of our Sun and Moon but loved best the stars; and they wandered in the great forests that grew tall in lands that are now lost. They dwelt most often by the edges of the woods... (The Hobbit 'Flies and Spiders')
This also lends to the apparently final solution to a question long drawn out and regarding the awakenings of the Elves and the cosmology of Tolkien's Universe only in one other place seemingly resolved after a tremendous amount of rewriting and discussion. (For further information on this see pp. 370-90 HoME 10 and pp. 420-4 HoME 11)
Therefore, to my mind, The Hobbit is one of our most important and valuable sources for information on Middle-earth as Tolkien considered it so generally "accurate"(as it was published) that he in several instances based entire revisions of the overall mythology specifically on it.
In a final note the fact that Tolkien made several changes to later editions may be taken by some as evidence that it can not be taken seriously as Tolkien himself simply threw out bits when it suited his fancy but this is in fact not the case. Even the changes between editions (for both LotR and The Hobbit) Tolkien draws into the mythology creating internal(within the story) explanations for differing accounts such that historicity is not only overall maintained but furthered. See Tolkien's prefatory note to the Second Edition Hobbit quoted in the 3rd post above for further info.
[ 03-19-2005, 05:52 PM: Message edited by: Fingolfin of the Noldor ]
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