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following the Fellowship, TWO TOWERS begins post 281 - Page 7

post #121 of 318
Thread Starter 
Mercyn- you know, I never associated the dislike of water with the different dreams of water. It never occured to me! Hmmmm.... I wonder if it's because Frodo is a Brandybuck (at least on one side) and so more comfortable with the water? There are a lot of water dreams, and later water prophecy, and water keeps cropping up symbolically as well as in reality. I mystery!

I also miss having a more "gender balanced" Fellowship. I try to console myself with the women in the non-FoTR books and songs, but I was always putting myself into the story as a kid. I could never decide if I was an elf or a human, but I was almost always a "ranger". Which is extra silly since I'm really not fond of tramping through the wilds, getting all mucky and not having immediate access to hot showers and hot meals.

Outside the framewprk of the stories, I think it really came down to how Tolkien was raised... he lost his father when he was young, his mother worked very hard as a solo parent but was also very ill and passed when he was still young, and he was raised by a (celibate) Catholic priest, attended all male schools, and when he did fall in love his guardian made him swear not to have any contact with her till he graduated from school. Add to that his combat experience, his academic focus, the culture he lived within, and you find that his exposure to women was, for the most part, very specific/constrained/at once removed.

So I'm guessing he just didn't have the sort of lived experience necessary to write convincing female characters in the nitty gritty framework of a story like FoTR. He did write strong female characters into other stories, but those were more.... hmmmm... stylized? Like the Lay of Beren and Luthien. Luthien is a serious character, and there is the same basic arc of "defiance of the dark" but it's a very different sort of story in terms of style and tone. I feel like Tolkien just couldn't "place" women in the day to day world that is the backbone of FoTR.

While I wish there were female characters, I'm actually a bit relieved that there aren't... because if there were, and they were badly written, I don't think I would have been able to accept the saga. It's a problem I have with the Narnia books... they have female characters but those characters are always constrained in a way I find annoying and I just can't "buy into" the story enough to overlook it. So in a way it's better (for me) to have a lack instead of a hurdle?

Oh yeah... starting next week we're leaving the Shire for a loooooooong time so take a last fond look at full bathtubs and beer mugs, and the earthy, comfortable, feet by the fire, life of the Hobbit folk.
post #122 of 318
For some reason, I can't quote or multiquote in this thread tonight...

Re: identifying with rangers..

lol! I find it interesting that so many readers in this thread are so identified with hobbits...I had an extremely hot dream after starting this reading of LOTR that I was Samantha Gamgee, on the road with the rest of the fellowship, making love with Aragorn (the character, not as played by Viggo, though that'd be ok, too..). Multiple times. And the Ring was reforged as our wedding ring..so there's my way in to the tale, I guess!

(My actual wedding ring is a plain gold band with potent Words of Power inscribed inside...the names of my children.)

Yeah, Tolkien came from a very male milieu. And he was writing to models in his academic specialties of Old English and Old Norse lit, too, and those genres are certainly not known for brilliant female characters.

Good point about Lewis and the female characters in Narnia (though I do like Lucy). I'll add that to my quiver of rationalizations about the absence of female characters. Better (almost) no female models at all, than ones that make me cringe every time they open their mouths
post #123 of 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
Mercyn- you know, I never associated the dislike of water with the different dreams of water. It never occured to me! Hmmmm.... I wonder if it's because Frodo is a Brandybuck (at least on one side) and so more comfortable with the water? There are a lot of water dreams, and later water prophecy, and water keeps cropping up symbolically as well as in reality. I mystery!
OOOOH! oooooh! i contributed something worthy! : and lowly me, i found something the venerable lord of the wombat didn't find first

just teasing you, sweetie.

that does make me feel all tickly inside, though; i feel important now
post #124 of 318
Thread Starter 
Week Six Chapter Six

The Old Forest


Things are finally getting interesting for our Hobbit friends! Well, if by interesting you mean seriously uncomfy.

We've left the Shire, entered a woods where "everything is very much more alive, more aware of what is going on" (which is a description I absolutely love), and met Tom Bombadil.

I was really sad that Tom didn't make it into the film version (though I do understand the reasoning). He is such an interesting nature spirit sort... totally grounded and earthy while at the same time floating in the clouds and bouncing from thought to thought. I don't know who he reminds me of exactly... not really the trickster energy, but something very "real" and yet "other". Sort of like trying to describe a river... parts are rapids, parts are flood plains, parts are little trickles and parts are so wide you can't see the other side. But all the same river.

There is a short story by De Lint that focuses on Tom (though not by name). There is a homeless fellow in the story who has a blue jacket and yellow boots and who talks about how he wasn't paying attention one day and "his story went on without him". The main character (a struggling writer/poet) is encouraged by "Tom" to nurture a tree of tales... a beautiful old tree on campus has been cut down because it blocked the light to an admin office and "Tom" shows our hero a tiny sapling growing next to the stump. Our hero takes the sampling home and cares for it physically, but also be telling the tree every story and poem she can find. She gathers stories and poems and interesting words and tells them to the infant tree of tales. When the tree is bigger she plants it in a story garden (a public park dedicated to an author) so it's leaves can gather stories and whisper them back to the people walking by.

Anyone want to chime in on Tom? Or Old Man Willow?
post #125 of 318
i caught up!!! huzzah!:

i agree about merry. wow. as i was reading that bit, i developed a bit of a crush on him. actually, he reminds me a LOT of one of my best friends from my year in england. helpful, cheery, totally prepared, so knowledgeable.... i remember one time on a hike with said friend, he was able to point out all sorts of landmarks, even though we were literally in a cloud, and no one else had any clue where we were.... and he always had chocolate digestive biscuits and a bottle of wine.... lol. ok, and, now that i'm down memory lane... on pub crawls with the mountaineering club, he and i used to skip from one pub to the next.... (which got rather entertaining after a few pints of guinness...) sigh.

i love tom! i cant wait to read the next chaper at his house!

i love too, that it's his song that is magical.... sort of like how the elve's song chased off the black rider before. :
post #126 of 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aubergine68 View Post
For some reason, I can't quote or multiquote in this thread tonight...

Re: identifying with rangers..
Hehehe too funny.

Tom & Goldberry were very odd characters indeed. Rather handy friends to have though considering Tom popped up at the most convenient moments
Clay I think you described Tom *perfectly* somehow down to earth (I just typo'd hearth there and away in the clouds all at once.
post #127 of 318
Thread Starter 
Yeah... it reminds me of how Gandalf says Tom wouldn't make a good guardian for the ring since he'd never really understand what the big deal was. So Tom would probably just forget all about it and in another few generations they'd be facing the same problems all over again.
post #128 of 318
Short cuts make long delays...now I'm watching to see how long the trip to Rivendell actually is, and how much time is lost in delays, after reading the comparison between the length of this trip and the one in the Hobbit.

I loved getting lost in the Old Forest, and the way the woods have a will of their own.

I always put Tom in the mental category of "Green Men of English Lit", since he is such a forest spirit, but would a Green Man have a comfortable domestic life with a water spirit? Well, maybe, I guess....

I was reading a second hand Ruth Chew that my daughter picked up recently, called Magic in the Park, which has a very vivid character who is sometimes an ancient man feeding the pigeons, and sometimes an ancient hollow tree. I've got that character mixed up with this chapter somehow. I want to see Old Man Willow and Bombadil as alter-egos of each other. But I'm sure Tolkein wasn't writing it that way. I'm sure Ruth Chew read LOTR and was inspired by it, though.
post #129 of 318
Thread Starter 
So I went and flipped through my de Lint collection and the story I was thinking about was "The Conjoure Man" from the Dreams Underfoot anthology. It was originally published in 1992, in a collection (After the King) edited by Martin Greenberg.

The short story opens with two quotes... one from Tolkien's Tree and Leaf
Quote:
I do not think it had any friends, our mourners, except myself and a pair of owls.
and one from Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday
Quote:
You only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree.
Since the story deals in many regards with how De Lint imagines/interprets Tom Bombadil I thought I'd share those two quotes.

In a total OT aside, this anthology was the first one by de lint that I read. I'd read one of his novels a few years before and hated it. Could hardly finish it. But the cover art on the anthology was sooooo nice, and when I flipped through it wasn't screaming "ick" at me. And now de lint is one of my top five authors and was instrumental in pulling me through a major depression (and I've checked... I still hate that first book! Though DH thought it wasn't bad despite the fact that he really isn't fond of de lint... so there you go! )
post #130 of 318
Those are great quotes, Wombatclay, thanks for the story recommendation.

So what other texts by Tolkein refer to Bombadil? I vaguely remember there being a song in Farmer Giles of Ham, but no longer own that book.

re OT : I don't think discussions of related authors and novels in the same genre can be off-topic in a book club thread, can they? Anyway, I had a similar experience with de Lint -- wanted to like his work -- I mean, Canadian author, urban fantasy -- but picked up a book of his about a decade ago and couldn't get into it. Can't even remember the book title. So what do you think de Lint's most readable novel is? I had a similar experience with Guy Gavriel Kay, didn't like his older stuff, love his recent novels.
post #131 of 318
Thread Starter 
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil has two poems about Tom (though the bulk of the book is about other stuff).

One interesting thing, considering the previous discussion about Farmer Maggot is that in one poem Tom is described as a friend of Farmer Maggot's... Tom even visits the farm to celebrate with Maggot's family. It sort of points even more towards Maggot being a guardian/power of the land.

De Lint- hmmmm... he has written more than 60 volumes at this point (according to wiki ) and I haven't read many of his more recent books (they haven't shown up in our used book store yet). But my favorites are Someplace to be Flying and Forests of the Heart . Flying walked me through my first major depression so it has a lot of significane for me. Forests looks at the melding/conflict of native and immigrant spirits and deals with the Green Man in a very interesting (to me as an irish pagan) way. Both are pretty much stand alone novels.

I guess I'd probably suggest one of the short story anthologies as a way to see if any of his various stories will be of interest. He has some pretty common themes though so if any of them are "triggers" for you then I'd probably avoid his writing. Basically, almost every book deals with one or more of the following- social injustice, sexual abuse (some physical/psychological abuse as well depending on the story, and frequently this abuse is focused on a woman or child), the existance of true evil and the need for an active response to evil, the existance of shared reality (the idea that people don't "see" things outside what they expect to see and that these expectations are socially constructed), the importance of acceptacnce/open minded response to people with different beliefs/traditions, the importance of artistic and musical gifts and the responsibility to acknowledge/nurture artistic ability.

I really enjoy books that twist the norm/assumptions a little to create a more mythic/fantasy feel so my bookcase has a lot of Terry Windling, Raymond Feist (specifically Faerie Tale), Patricia McKillip, Sherri Tepper, HP Lovecraft, Mydori Snyder, Matt Ruff, Brian Froud (his Faerieland books which are, interestingly enough, collaborated with de Lint, McKillip, Snyder, and Windling ). The way de lint highlights the magic of urban areas fascinates me... it's become a bit cliched, but when he started out he was one of the few authors affirming the idea that magic/the wilds/mystery could happen in a rush hour business district urban setting as well as in the moonlite ruins of a castle on the mist filled moors.
post #132 of 318
I hope I am not too late to join! I have not been on the site in a LONG time and was really glad to see you all were reading and discussing LOTR. I tried to participate last time and like everyone else...got really busy. I guess I have an excuse now to dust off my copy and start reading again!
post #133 of 318
Thread Starter 
Join join!

We're going really slow... one chapter a week... so even when life get's (stays?) insanely hectic there is still hopefully time to cover the 20 or so pages.

Welcome!
post #134 of 318
Welcome, Mom_enjoying_life!

wombatclay, I think I had the Bombadil poems in an anthology called "Farmer Giles of Ham and Other Poems", but no mention of Bombadil in the Giles poem.

I think Maggot, Tom Bombadil, Elrond, and Galadriel -- and Treebeard -- are all different degrees of the same kind of character, wise and helpful to members of the Fellowship.

I didn't remember the relationship between Maggot and Tom. Have to look that up sometime. The Bombadil poems are in the same meter as his singing in the LOTR, aren't they? I honestly found that poetry annoying to read, much as I like the character of Tom. I couldn't "hear" it in my head the way I can the rest of the verse in LOTR.

Thanks for the thorough description of de Lint's themes. I think I'll definitely have to look his work up.

I also like Feist, and Sherri Tepper is one of my all-time most-reread favorite authors. I'm not as familiar with the others on your list, wombatclay, but I'll put them on my list to check out. Thanks!

Other fantasy authors that I love include Robin Hobb and Lois McMaster Bujold (just finished her Sharing Knife series, which I love for its portrayal of a good love relationship and marriage in the context of fantasy.)

After I finish this reading of LOTR, I'm DEFINITELY going to reread Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody series. I think she'd be a good one to read while Tolkein is fresh in the mind.
post #135 of 318
Thread Starter 
As far as I know the Maggot/Tom relationship is the basis of one of the poems in the anthology, but it does't appear in the FoTR saga.

It's funny... my dad was a big fan of the first trilogy by McKillip and so he read those books to my brother and I at the same time (either just before or just after) he read us the FoTR "trilogy" for the first time. So the RiddleMaster of Hed books are sort of linked in my mind to the Fellowship books.

(though the RiddleMaster books are, from the distance of age/experience, a fantasy series that is pretty heavily influenced by the experience of not getting a PhD since the "ultimate hero" is eventually revealed as "the guy who dropped out of school to brew beer and farm and never got his degree but geeeeee...he's the one who knows the important stuff that the guys in the college of riddle-mastery don't have a clue about". Her later books are much more "fantastical" but in general I adore McKillip for her use of language. DH has a lot of trouble with it, and a steady diet might rot your teeth, but oooooooh.... her stories are good but the language is glorious. Alphabet of Thorn is my current favorite, and pretty "readable" though more or less impossible to explain in 100 words or less )
post #136 of 318
Thread Starter 
Week Seven Chapter Seven

In The House of Tom Bombadil


More about our merry trickster, and a glimpse of why he really wouldn't make a good ring guardian. Has anyone else noticed that no one ever comes out and tells Frodo what to do? The elves, Tom, Gandalf... they all just suggest or give information or offer options. But even though Frodo sometimes asks straight out, no body "gives" him solutions.

I feel like I need to re-work some of the camp ideas using the energy of this chapter! Can you imagine Goldberry in the kitchen or Tom in the game room threads?
post #137 of 318
I want to go to Tom and Goldberry's Bed and Breakfast.....
post #138 of 318
Ohhhh can I join????? I will read to Chapter 7 this week. I was actually just about to start a thread for a Tolkien Book Club
post #139 of 318
awesome idea clay!

i just had to pop on and see where we are... i'm afraid i've read a bit ahead..... cant help it. strider called to me, and well.....

the funny thing i'm finding is that there are passages i seem to remember totally crystal clear... and whole sections i just dont remember at all! makes for a really interesting time!

:
post #140 of 318
Welcome,Magstphil, thanks for joining! I was feeling like a threadkiller for a bit there. Too bad such a rich chapter comes the week of the incredibly absorbing American election.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post

(though the RiddleMaster books are, from the distance of age/experience, a fantasy series that is pretty heavily influenced by the experience of not getting a PhD since the "ultimate hero" is eventually revealed as "the guy who dropped out of school to brew beer and farm and never got his degree but geeeeee...he's the one who knows the important stuff that the guys in the college of riddle-mastery don't have a clue about".
Oh that would totally be right up my alley then Found a one-volume set of the Riddlemaster books at the library in the discards bin and bought it to share with dd -- thanks for the recommendation. Great coincidence to find that after reading your discussion of the books, but then I do believe that there are no coincidences. I also borrowed a couple of deLints but there is no reading those books fast. I keep finding passages I want to copy down and keep.

So please tell more about the potential influence of Tom in the game room and Goldberry in the kitchen!

I guess Tom must have connections in the Shire and maybe in Bree to get that butter and cream for his table. Or maybe he keeps a few cows in the woods?

I love that Goldberry has work to do out in/with the rain and Tom clatters around the kitchen in her absence. They have an egalitarian relationship. :

Does anyone make anything of the dreams the hobbits have? I think those dreams beg for some attention! Is Tom educating them in their sleep to face the horrors that are coming?

The relationship between host and guest is very powerful in Old English/Norse lit and legend, if I remember correctly. The host provides a feast, a place to rest and protection in many senses in LOTR....
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