September 01, 2005

One Blog To Rule Them All.

Get ready to update your blogrolls and bookmark lists, because our pal Gary the Ex-Donk has got his new blog Tolkien Geek up and running. Go on over and check out his post on the Introduction to The Fellowship of the Ring.

I hate to go all uber-geek about it, but Gary mentions that an encounter between Frodo and his friends and Ted Sandyman at The Green Dragon is included in the extended version of Peter Jackson's FOTR movie. But the warning of Sandyman that Gary quotes sounds to me much closer to that given Sam Gamgee by the Gaffer, and which the Gaffer relays to his friends in the first chapter of FOTR:

But my lad Sam will know more about that. He’s in and out of Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all Mr. Bilbo’s tales. Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters—meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.

‘Elves and Dragons! I says to him. Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you. Don’t go getting mixed up in the business of your betters, or you’ll land in trouble too big for you, I says to him. And I might say it to others,’ he added with a look at the stranger and the miller.

I think that this is an element of social stratification in this warning that the average American reader (or movie-goer) might miss. The idea that a hobbit of Sam's station is actually literate is, if not remarkable, at least unusual.

As for Ted Sandyman (the miller's son), he never meets Frodo at the beginning of the book. His tussle with Sam at The Green Dragon in Chapter 2 characterizes not only the average hobbit's lack of knowledge of the outside world, but also his refusal to accept that the outside world is starting to infiltrate the Shire itself:

Little of all this, of course, reached the ears of ordinary hobbits. But even the deafest and most stay-at-home began to hear queer tales; and those whose business took them to the borders saw strange things. The conversation in The Green Dragon at Bywater, one evening in the spring of Frodo's fiftieth year, showed that even in the comfortable heart of the Shire rumours had been heard, though most hobbits still laughed at them.

Sam Gamgee was sitting in one corner near the fire, and
opposite him was Ted Sandyman, the miller's son; and there were
various other rustic hobbits listening to their talk.

'Queer things you do hear these days, to be sure,' said Sam.

'Ah,' said Ted, 'you do, if you listen. But I can hear
fireside-tales and children's stories at home, if I want to.'

'No doubt you can,' retorted Sam, 'and I daresay there's more
truth in some of them than you reckon. Who invented the stories
anyway? Take dragons now.'

'No thank 'ee,' said Ted, 'I won't. I heard tell of them when
I was a youngster, but there's no call to believe in them now.
There's only one Dragon in Bywater, and that's Green,' he said,
getting a general laugh.

'All right,' said Sam, laughing with the rest. 'But what about
these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them? They dos ay that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the
North Moors not long back.'

'Who's they?'

'My cousin Hal for one. He works for Mr. Boffin at Overhill
and goes up to the Northfarthing for the hunting. He saw one.'

'Says he did, perhaps. Your Hal's always saying he's seen
things; and maybe he sees things that ain't there.'

'But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking - walking
seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.'

'Then I bet it wasn't an inch. What he saw was an elm tree, as
like as not.'

'But this one was walking, I tell you; and there ain't no elm
tree on the North Moors.'

'Then Hal can't have seen one,' said Ted. There was some
laughing and clapping: the audience seemed to think that Ted
had scored a point.

'All the same,' said Sam, 'you can't deny that others besides
our Halfast have seen queer folk crossing the Shire - crossing
it, mind you: there are more that are turned back at the
borders. The Bounders have never been so busy before.

'And I've heard tell that Elves are moving west. They do say
they are going to the harbours, out away beyond the White
Towers.' Sam waved his arm vaguely: neither he nor any of them
knew how far it was to the Sea, past the old towers beyond the
western borders of the Shire. But it was an old tradition that away over there stood the Grey Havens, from which at times
elven-ships set sail, never to return.

'They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, they are
going into the West and leaving us,' said Sam, half chanting
the words, shaking his head sadly and solemnly. But Ted laughed.

'Well, that isn't anything new, if you believe the old tales.
And I don't see what it matters to me or you. Let them sail!
But I warrant you haven't seen them doing it; nor any one else
in the Shire.'

'Well I don't know,' said Sam thoughtfully. He believed he had
once seen an Elf in the woods, and still hoped to see more one
day. Of all the legends that he had heard in his early years
such fragments of tales and half-remembered stories about the
Elves as the hobbits knew, had always moved him most deeply.
'There are some, even in these parts, as know the Fair Folk and
get news of them,' he said. 'There's Mr. Baggins now, that I
work for. He told me that they were sailing and he knows a bit
about Elves. And old Mr. Bilbo knew more: many's the talk I had
with him when I was a little lad.'

'Oh, they're both cracked,' said Ted. 'Leastways old Bilbo was
cracked, and Frodo's cracking. If that's where you get your
news from, you'll never want for moonshine. Well, friends, I'm
off home. Your good health!' He drained his mug and went out noisily.

Sam sat silent and said no more. He had a good deal to think
about. For one thing, there was a lot to do up in the Bag End
garden, and he would have a busy day tomorrow, if the weather
cleared. The grass was growing fast. But Sam had more on his
mind than gardening. After a while he sighed, and got up and
went out.

Of course, the passage also sets the stage for Sam's own awakening. And by the way, who else hasn't reread this part and wondered whether what Hal saw on the North Moor might not have been an Ent?

Sorry. Sorry. But I really love this stuff.

Posted by Robert at September 1, 2005 02:23 PM | TrackBack

No need to be sorry from my quarter -- I love that sort of stuff too :)

Posted by: Ith at September 1, 2005 03:24 PM

Yes, an Ent. I've always believed it anyway. Certainly the Old Forest had Huorns. I always hope that the Ents will someday find the Entwives near the Shire. Tolkien's world is beautiful partly because of some of these loose ends; it makes his world seem all the more real.

Posted by: The Colossus at September 1, 2005 06:00 PM

Thanks for the plug, Robert. I plan on getting Chapter One posted by Sat. morning, after that they should follow about every other day if I can get myself rolling.

BTW, I always held out hope that what Sam's cousin Hal really saw was one of the Entwives. Nice to think they haven't really disappeared and old Treebeard might find them one day. :-)

Posted by: Gary at September 2, 2005 01:22 PM
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