Random literary musings of little import


Every year, at least once a year, I read the The Hobbit and Tolkien's trilogy. I've been doing this for about ten years now and still get something new out of them when I'm reading. Sometimes it's a general realisation of patterns and concepts, but often I simply read more thoroughly or with greater attention a passage that I'd previously skimmed or read fleetingly. I also find that different aspects of the book are appealing or repugnant to me at different times.

Since the movie came out, I find myself less interested in the travels of Sam and Frodo with Gollum. While Andy Serkis was undoubtedly sensational and the CGI was amazing, I find that Gollum is now more tedious to me than he ever was before and Frodo seems, well, shallower. Elijah Wood just didn't carry it off for me and the scripting for the section approaching Cirith Ungol, in which Frodo breaks from Sam, was just wrong.

It's funny, though, how the movie coloured my reading of the books. For the most part, I found that the scenery fit beautifully with my vision of Middle Earth. I wasn't too upset by the fact that they cut certain bit here and there, like Bombadil and Farmer Maggot's mushroom meal. One of the things that I noticed last night, as I was finishing up the Return of the King and its appendices (yes, I read the appendices) was that I was taking great delight in the Scouring of the Shire and the appendices telling what happened to whom after all was said and done.

They left the scouring of the Shire out of the movie and this, to my mind, was perhaps the one unforgivable cut. The whole point of the four Hobbits going on the "Mission. Quest. Thing." (to quote Pippin in the movie) was to both give them a place in the wider world and to train them to reclaim the Shire for their people. Pippin and Merry just fizzle away at the end and Sam never gets to use Galadriel's gift. This was, in fact, the most important gift of them all, as it looked beyond the quest and danger into a hope of the future and what they were actually fighting for. I can cut Peter Jackson a lot of slack, but chopping out Sam's gift almost ruined the series for me.
I'm always a little sad when I finish up the series, not because of the ending of the book but because it's done for another little while and I have to find something else to read before bed. That's the one thing about nice long books; they eliminate the need to find other reading material for a period.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. rexton says:

    I usually read The Hobbit, LOTR, and the Silmarillion every Christmas Season. I’ve continued this practice since I was 12 (1974). I agree about the different focus each time you read; with such a large tome it is natural, and usually nice. I agree with you about the sequence after Frodo and Sam passed Minas Morgul; I thought that Minas Morgul itself was both well done and faithful to the book, and the green flash was really cool.

    The appendices( except for the alphabets and calendars, yawn) are really good, and fit well into the fall of Numenor in the Silmarillion. I also love the Lay of Leithien, concerning the love of Luthien Tinuviel and Beren Erchamion, and the first marriage of Elf and Man, which leads in a direct line to Arwen Undomiel and Elessar Elfstone.

    I agree about the Scouring; it was the major loss in the Third Book. I really agree about how the Gifts of Galadriel were severely curtailed in the First Book. In the Second Book, I was annoyed by Aragorn’s trip over a cliff and down the river; it was both non-canon and pointless. The battle in Osgiliath was the second major annoyance in the Second Book. In my opinion they needed some sort of climax and action in the Frodo/Sam thread to fit with the other threads concurrently happening in Helm’s Deep and Isengard, and just threw it in. Taking out major scenes is bad. Gratuitously adding major scenes while important scenes are neglected elsewhere really riled me.

    However, overall I loved the movie trilogy, and how for the most part they were able to maintain the key plot elements. Both costuming and scenery were a wonderful amalgamation of my imagination and my memories of Hildebrand and successor artists (Alan Lee, John Howe, etc) who informed my teenage years.

    Thanks, Vicky. This post brought back memories and put a smile on my face.

  2. cac says:

    Like youself, I too read the Hobbit ( couldn’t bring myself to see the movie because of the very thing that happened to you) and Alice every year. I’ve never missed an episode of Wizard of Oz and even canceled plans at the last moment to watch. All of this came to an abrupt halt when in the late ninties when I discovered” Wicked” by Gregory Mcquire. This is the Oz story through the eyes of “Elphaba”, Wicked Witch of the West. It is followed by “Son of” a delightful tale of what happens in Oz after the witch is dead & Dorothy goes home.
    I tend to be a very fast reader but this one made me work to savour each new bend in the Yellow Brick Road. I highly recommend it.
    I have seen the broadway play in both L.A. & London, which is great, but the book is a whole new ballgame

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