Freitag, 19. Mai 2017

Friday, 19 May: Encounter with the Trolls

All previously published versions of "The Hobbit" had scheduled the encounter with the trolls on the last day of May, whether Gregorian or Shire Reckoning. (Bilbo was heard musing, 'Tomorrow will be June'.) But in the 1960 timetable, Tolkien dated the event forward to reduce the absurd travel times of the published book and achieve consistency with the LotR map.

This entry in the 1960 timetable is very detailed: Early rise in wind and rain. They find the Last Bridge broken (see yesterday's entry), and Gandalf (in the 1960 revision of chap. 2) considers that an evil sign which he will have to discuss with the Rangers. They ford the Mitheithel at 10.30, have foodless halts at 12.00 and 16.00, then continue till darkness.. The sun sets at about 20.00. 'Ponies become more and more reluctant to proceed, so that in spite of the improved road they are slow' and cover only 17 miles from the Last Bridge till dusk. The hiding place of the trolls is about 25 miles from the Mitheithel and 55 from the Fort of Bruinen.

In all published versions so far, and also in the 1960 revision, the moon is described both as waning and as rising above the hills. Remember that a full moon had been on 11 May, hence, we have now reached last quarter. While the phase is consistent with Tolkien's invariable key date, the crescent of Midsummer's Day, its early rise is an impossibility. Checking any astronomy app will show you that today, 19 May 2017, we will have the last quarter moon rising on about 2.40, long after midnight! The Company (minus Gandalf) would in fact have had to spend much of this night out in the open before they even saw the light of the fire between the trees.

After much of arguing back and forth that Rateliff has published in 'History' (which I further annotated in 'The Moon in 'The Hobbit"'), Tolkien merely camouflaged the problem by amending 'waning' into 'wandering' in the final 1966 revisions, and thus it has stayed ever since. This was a cheat that did not provide any physically plausible solution, however. We will further discuss that on 30 May.

(Bill, Bert, and Tom: Illustration by Horus Weber for the German "Hobbit", 1957)

Essays collected in printed or electronic books:


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Middle-earth seen by the barbarians: A compilation of Tolkien's references to the Middle Men of Eriador and Gondor: the pre-Númenóreans and the Dunlendings; the concealed history of Dorwinion, the fate of king Bladorthin and the origin of the Lossoth, the culture and history of the peoples in the east and far south of Middle-earth, with special consideration of the Wainriders, the Black Númenóreans and the Corsairs of Umbar. The appendix discusses the name Bladorthin and gives a new interpretation of this enigmatic king, shows how to apply a grid of latitudes and longitudes to the map of Middle-earth and in a previously unpublished essay discusses various comments by Tolkien on Pauline Baynes' recently recovered LotR map. This volume includes updated versions of “The Indigenous Peoples of Eriador and Gondor”, “The Lossoth and the Forodwaith”, “The Men of Darkness”, “The Third Realm in Exile”, “The mysterious King Bladorthin” and “A meridional grid on the map of Middle-earth” from these Science Pages.

The Moon in ‘The Hobbit’: A discussion and digital simulation of the lunar phases stated in ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The History of The Hobbit’ and their astronomical background, with special regard to the identification of Durin's Day and the threshold of winter; including an analysis of the various calendar systems in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Many hints are given on how to use the moon and the seasons as plot elements in your own stories. This book has updated versions of the essays “The Moon and Durin’s Day, 2941 TA”, “Midsummer’s eve and the Moon-letters“, “The Reckoning of Time”, “An ephemeris for Bilbo Baggins” and “(Flawed) Astronomy in the History of the Hobbit” from these Science Pages.

Words of Westernesse: A light-hearted introduction into the grammar of Adûnaic, based on Arthur Lowdham's spiritual research in HoMe IX, and (tentative) etymologies of Adûnaic and Westron as far as the corpus of vocabulary has been established. This volumes includes updated versions of the essays “Lalaith’s Guide to Adûnaic grammar” and “Etymologies of the Atani Languages” from these Science Pages.

Dynasties of Middle-earth: Genealogical tables and comments on the lines of the kings of Númenor, Arnor, Gondor, Rohan, Dale and the Princes of Dol Amroth. A shorter version of this volume had been previously presented here as “Genealogies of the noble Mannish houses”.