Tags: reading lotr

cower or choose

reading FotR

I want to say here again that what I want to explore about meaning of various symbolic motifs I am likely to blither about is what they mean to me. It's not that I don't care about what these things mean to the critics (though I don't) or the Professor (I do, but that's not what I am reading for this time.)

I am falling behind even the slow pace I chose, as tonight I decided to make my personal notes in my electronic copy as I go. I screwed with the formatting some years ago, and of course I found myself rereading the small amount I had already read as I fixed spelling and paragraph returns, and stopped to underline places for notes.

Because of this, I found that I was partially wrong about Bilbo and the stars - they do appear in conjunction with his leaving, but not until after his strength of heart decision to leave the ring, so I lose points for still going too fast, but Bilbo keeps his for spiritual fortitude.

The line comes when Bilbo steps outside with the dwarves:
It was a fine night, and the black sky was dotted with stars.

he laughs, and grasps for his heart's desire.

In my readings, it seemed to me that the stars are mentioned two ways - a simple descriptive natural way, and at times when the professor/great narrator wants me to see that the powers are watching, if not perhaps actively taking a hand in this event. (Perhaps they are passively taking a hand? That fits with my own spirituality, so I'm considering that)

But reading with The Inklings (an experience I will always be grateful for, reading with people involved as I was, reaching the Shadow of the past just as I turned 50, and feeling a sense of connection through that symbolism as well. Boy, that was quite the tangent, ne?) ... anyway, reading with the inklings, I decided to try and apply the meanings I had grown close to in all the places that they appear - after all, unrepentant panthiest that I am, why should I dismiss some of them as nature?)

So, Bilbo gets to make his own decision, then, and after it is made Eru/Valar/Narrator (and myself as observer) make their very first appearance. Gandalf has just promised that he will keep two eyes on Frodo - perhaps he is not the only one?

Also - Gates, which signify transition to me, as well as endings and beginnigs, crossroad moments --
A new gate is built for the party field, and it serves me as a symbol of who you let inside you, and who you exclude (even though Bilbo is at a moment where he is including everyone). But when Bilbo is leaving, he jumps over the hedge, avoiding the issue entirely.

Bilbo vanishes like a rustle of wind in the grass, and I fall completely into Arda, with a rustle of pages turning.

chapter one

It's not my intention to talk about the book in depth, though I might blither in spots. I am, however, hoping to put down things that have struck me differently

right away in this first chapter, I found myself obsessing on the use of water and gates, knowing how frequently we will encounter them. I was surprised not to encounter stars, since my theory is that the professor mentions them at pivotal moments when people are being "watched" over by the powers - Bilbo's leaving certainly qualifies as one of those pivotal moments. This strengthens the old guy's spirit for me even more - the powers don't seem the least bit worried he will not be up to the task.

As I start to think about the rivers (we are approaching one of my favorite lines, eeee, but not yet....) and how they teem with the essence of life for me I was struck in the prologue by the professor saying that the sea had become a symbol of death to the hobbits. I either never noticed that before, or never took it in properly.

And I don't believe I ever consciously caught the Gaffer's dislike of Sandyman, the miller. It's true, I am so anxious to get to Bree I have not been giving these early chapters the attention I can't help but give the rest of the book. Even when I was reading with The Inklings, by serendipity I came in on chapter 10 with Strider.

tolkien: prologue

I read just the intro and the prologue to LotR last night (while Jim, who had slept on the couch for about three hours suddenly became wide awake as I dragged him off to bed at 5 and began reading the Angel Sanctuary mangas which he was still doing up to about an hour ago when he ran out of volumes we have)

It has been so long I can't remember reading the prolog for the first time, but I was startled by the post ring war and fourth age information and how abundant it is. I can remember worrying over the fate of everyone as I read the first time - yet here in the prologue, the professor talks amiably about Frodo writing the books, Sam's children and grandchildren, Pippin moving south and his grandchildren having a copy of the redbook corrected in Gondor for things like elvish, and it not coming back to the shire until after the death of the king, Merry's books and Faramir's grandson writing the Aragorn and Arwen bits, etc...

Did I tear through it so fast that first time that this all missed the brain? Or was it simply that I didn't know these people yet, and was only nodding politely to their chatter on a warm evening. Did I convince myself that I didn't want to know, or did I enter so fully into the moment as I read that it didn't matter that I knew, because like the fourth age, that was just things that would come, but could not aid us here?

I am: off to meet Chris for Flight Plan