Mittwoch, 24. Mai 2017

Wednesday, 24 May: Straining Elrond's hospitality

Arrival in Rivendell. Illustration by Horus Weber for
the first German edition of "The Hobbit", 1957.
After a journey of 27 days, the Company arrives in Rivendell on this day in 2941 T.A., according to Tolkien's 1960 timetable. He notes that the progress across the final 12 miles was slow and difficult and it was already near nightfall when at last they reached the path that leads to Rivendell. The night was moonless and starry, as might be expected, since we are close to new moon.

I think you will agree that the 1960 timetable is a solid concept, both with regard to internal consistency and, though unintentionally, with the phases of the moon as derived from data in the published "Hobbit" (set down in detail in my "The Moon in 'The Hobbit'"). If criticism ought to be applied, it is this that Tolkien was straining Elrond's hospitality beyond all measure because the familiar fortnight that the Dwarves would spend in Rivendell has here expanded into two and a half fortnights: Tolkien was adamant that the departure from Rivendell on Midsummer's Day should be retained. Also, for some reason, the obvious solution to postpone the Unexpected Party by a month was never an option in spite of Bilbo's aberrant reference to "that May morning long ago" in "The Hobbit", chap. VIII.

We may wonder what the 1960 Rivendell chapter would have looked like if Tolkien had continued it: Was the stay so long because Gandalf went away on a different mission and no one wanted to leave before his return? Would other Elves have been introduced: Elladan and Elrohir, Glorfindel or Erestor? Would Bilbo in this version have first met young Estel/Aragorn? Alas, at this point, both the timetable and the entire project of retconning the "Hobbit" into the "Lord of the Rings" came to an abrupt halt. The reason, according to John Rateliff, was that an unidentified beta-reader had seen the revisions and turned them down, which caused Tolkien to immediately abandon them. Rateliff does not speculate who this reader might have been, but I suspect without evidence that he was at least a close acquaintance of Rayner Unwin who may have been horrified by the prospect of taking up these revisions - that was long before preprints could be digitally uploaded with little effort, remember. This happened just a few years before the infamous copyright issue with Ace came up, which required a revision of the "Hobbit", anyway. But by that time, the 1960 material had apparently been misplaced and, pity, nothing of it entered the final version of 1966 that we all know.

That's why, from today on, we will have to switch to a different timetable to follow the 1966 "Hobbit" in which Bilbo, Gandalf and the Company are still traveling somewhere in western Rhudaur today, for whatever reason their progress might have been so slow. The encounter with the trolls is going to take place at the end of May - and two weeks before they will arrive in Rivendell, otherwise a mere five day trips away from the Trollshaws. 

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”.