69

Tolkien said that Bombadil represented a sort of passive pacifism, which was important to represent in the story but couldn't play much of a role in the actual plot. From Tolkien's Letters, letter #144: Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'. I mean, I do not really write like that: he ...


63

You should read The Silmarillion after reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. To start off with an analogy: The Silmarillion starts on such a gigantic scale that if you begin with it everything else is going to seem confusing, petty, or irrelevant. If you want to understand the history of the American Civil War, you don't start with the Big Bang. What'...


38

Bombadil is indeed an anomaly, and does not appear to fit very well into Tolkien's overall narrative. He comes from nowhere (although he has been there all along, unobserved), and disappears equally abruptly from the story. Unless the author has given us some hints about the character's relevance, we are reduced to speculation, so let us just consider the ...


37

He's referring to Bilbo's retirement to Rivendell. Bilbo's plan was to relax, listen to the songs, translate some books, and work on his memoirs. As Gandalf put it in the next line: ‘He felt better at once'. I don't think Frodo had Bilbo's longer-term prospects in mind. He didn't know that a journey across the Sea was in the cards. All the rest Bilbo was ...


26

Yes. When leaving the Shire, the hobbits disturbed a fox: A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed. 'Hobbits!' he thought. 'Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There's something mighty ...


25

It was an allegory because, in spite of his dislike, Tolkien felt it was necessary and inevitable that it should be one. In several lesser-known quotes, the author freely admits that the tale is allegorical. Most clearly he states: "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power." The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #186 He also ...


23

Voronwë's answer is excellent, but I'm going to post the answer I was planning to anyway. LotR is a gripping tale; the Silmarillion is more like a textbook or encyclopedia. This is a slight exaggeration, but the Sil is definitely written in a much less engaging style; it describes the history of eons rather than the events of an exciting war. It focuses ...


16

For vowels the letters i, e, a, o, u are used, and (in Sindarin only) y. As far as can be determined the sounds represented by these letters (other than y) were of normal kind, though doubtless many local varieties escape detection. That is, the sounds were approximately those represented by i, e, a, o, u in English machine, were, farther, for, brute, ...


15

Another point that hasn't been mentioned. The Silmarillion has a summary of the Lord of the Rings as its final chapter, "Of the Rings of Power and The Third Age". It is a full summary of LoTR and would be a gigantic spoiler. Clearly the Silmarillion was meant to be read after LoTR. I realize you have already seen the movies, so a spoiler isn't that big ...


14

Metafiction is self-conscious about language, literary form, storytelling, and directly or indirectly draw attention to their status as artefacts (From Wikipedia's description of metafiction.) I'd say Lord of the Rings fulfills this. Self consciousness about language: Tolkien was a philologist. His thing was constructing languages. To begin with, each ...


14

I would agree with the posters saying: first LotR (to enjoy it fully, and it is an easier read, and the huge scale of the Silmarillion events will not "dwarf it down"). But not in your specific case. In your case: you already know about (most of) the LotR events, through Jackson's filter (which discards some things, and changes some others, to make it more ...


12

So...I'm going to say probably coincidence, though there is some evidence in your favor. Thus I'll present the evidence first and then my own conclusion; do with it what you will. Tolkien on Shakespeare The evidence here is mixed, but I'll give a brief summary. Tolkien referred to the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to ...


10

You are asking two different questions here, one in the title ("should I read the Silmarillion before or after LotR?") and one in the text ("what would be the upside to reading the Silmarillion before LotR?"). You have gotten very good answers to the first question, although there are some factual inaccuracies (e.g. if we're going for time-order, it turns ...


10

He might be addressing Frodo more as a generic hobbit than as himself. This is immediately after the following short speech from Frodo: "No, Sam!" said Frodo. "Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands ...


10

@Helmar is correct, but here it is from Gandalf's mouth in the Fellowship of the Ring Chapter 2: ‘But the Ring was lost. It fell into the Great River, Anduin, and vanished. For Isildur was marching north along the east banks of the River, and near the Gladden Fields he was waylaid by the Orcs of the Mountains, and almost all his folk were slain. He leaped ...


10

Tolkien never explained the choice to leave Sauron off-stage, or at least he did not do so in the published letters. But I can see three ways in which the decision makes sense. First, The Lord of the Rings is written largely from the down-to-earth point of view of the hobbit characters, a narrative strategy that Tolkien recognized was necessary to reach a ...


9

Yes From Appendix A, we get a description of dwarf-women from Gimli, also mentioning the rarity of them (only 1-in-3) and their unwillingness to go abroad. He also describes the with the following physical appearance (emphasis mine): They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ...


8

Tolkien himself reflected on the original prices of his works, which was twenty-one shillings (one Guinea) each. The price seems to have been high for the times but set because that was the lowest amount for expenses to be paid. Very many thanks for remembering the ageing Professor, and bracing him up with your letter. I know 21/- is a frightful ...


8

This is opinion: I have no way to back it up. I believe Tolkien introduced Tom Bombadil as a symbol of mankind before the fall, a sort of creature of pure, unadulterated nature. (Others have speculated this as well.) Think of him a bit like Adam, of the Adam and Eve in Genesis, before it all went south. He lives in harmony with nature and has some control ...


8

Bombadil is also part of the world-building. He's part of the world, and his whole purpose in it is something that nobody short of Eru fully understands. Tolkien mentions things like this in passing. Gandalf, after his returning from his trip Outside, mentions some creatures at the very nadir of his fall in Moria: Far, far below the deepest delving of ...


7

I think you're reading too much into it. Gollum has the One Ring because the One Ring "wants to be found." It was at the bottom of a lake for a long time and wanted to get back to Sauron. Fantine gave Cosette to the Thénardiers so they could care for her, and regularly sent money for her care. This is why she sells her hair — money for the ...


7

The website The Tolkien Bookshelf specialises in rare books by or about Tolkien. It has images of many older and original editions, for example: The Lord of the Rings, 1st UK Edition, 1st Impressions with Original Dustjackets (London: Allen & Unwin, 1954) and The Lord of the Rings, Comprised of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and the Return ...


7

She might, but she would not have used it. The spiders and spider-things we read about in Tolkien's work are all motivated primarily by the same thing: hunger. The spiders of Mirkwood capture Bilbo and the dwarves for food: the fact they're also foiling Gandalf's plan is merely a coincidence. So it is with Shelob. We read in the conversation between the ...


6

TL;DR: basically any language with strong etymological connections to English (plus Hebrew). There's a lot of information about languages in Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings (itself a condensed version of "The Appendix on Languages", Volume 12 Chapter 2 of The History of Middle-earth), in which Tolkien strictly maintained the conceit that LotR itself was ...


6

These colours are generally considered 'evil' and frequently are associated with evil characters. Black is easy to explain. Humans have an instinctive fear of the dark, and blackness inbuilt since the time of the cavemen. Death can be found in the dark, so black is considered evil. For instance 'the dark side' Red is associated with danger or poison. It is ...


5

Absolutely agree with #3! I just finished Les Mis (took me like 6 months!) and had the exact same impression about Thenardier/Gollum parallel. To me it seems likely that Thenardier was an inspiration to Tolkien in creating Gollum and the theme of "how do you explain 'evil' in a world good God created." I was only looking from the point of view that there ...


5

Consider what Gandalf told Frodo about the ring: A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until every minute is weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under ...


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