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-   -   Contradictions between the hobbit and LOTR? (http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=19293)

R.R.J Tolkien 02-01-2019 07:11 PM

Contradictions between the hobbit and LOTR?
 
I am engaged in a discussion on supposed contradictions between the hobbit and the rest of Tolkien writings and I was looking for other posters opinions. I hold Tolkien's views like he said In letters 214 of supposed contradictions “Facts that may appear in my record, I believe, in no case due to errors, but omissions, and incompleteness of information.” He went to great lengths to resolve supposed contradictions. So given that, how would you respond to the following.



1-The uuse of the Ring by Bilbo is clearly inconsistent with the way it is described in LOTR


2- Gandalf is very much a different character than the angelic being that he would become.


3- the story of how the Elves and Dwarves became estranged. In the Silmarillion tradition, it goes back to the conflict between Thingol and the Dwarves over the Nauglamír. In The Hobbit, a similar story is told, but the Elf in question is the Woodland King. As Rateliff notes, when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the Woodland King was either meant to be Thingol himself or a character closely based on him. But when he wrote the sequel, he clarified that the Woodland King was Thranduil, a completely different character. Thus, two completely different and incompatible stories are told about the conflict between the two races.

Ivriniel 02-01-2019 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien (Post 713449)
I am engaged in a discussion on supposed contradictions between the hobbit and the rest of Tolkien writings and I was looking for other posters opinions. I hold Tolkien's views like he said In letters 214 of supposed contradictions “Facts that may appear in my record, I believe, in no case due to errors, but omissions, and incompleteness of information.” He went to great lengths to resolve supposed contradictions. So given that, how would you respond to the following.



1-The uuse of the Ring by Bilbo is clearly inconsistent with the way it is described in LOTR


2- Gandalf is very much a different character than the angelic being that he would become.


3- the story of how the Elves and Dwarves became estranged. In the Silmarillion tradition, it goes back to the conflict between Thingol and the Dwarves over the Nauglamír. In The Hobbit, a similar story is told, but the Elf in question is the Woodland King. As Rateliff notes, when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the Woodland King was either meant to be Thingol himself or a character closely based on him. But when he wrote the sequel, he clarified that the Woodland King was Thranduil, a completely different character. Thus, two completely different and incompatible stories are told about the conflict between the two races.

We had a very animated discussion about this, some years back. "Originally written as a children's book", without continuity, in its inception with the materials we find in Shadow of the Past, then ringwraiths, and until the first appearance, I think it was on Weathertop, about Gil Galad being an Elven King of Him the Minstrels....and a reflection on Luthien and Beren, by Strider.

Although, we did have much, didn't we, in terms of First Age notes by 1927? In any case, it was also pointed out that there were magical variations in the Hobbit, like a Coffee Table that wandered off, and Cuff Links that were magically operated.

Nonetheless, Orcrest and Glamdring. I can't recall if there was mention of Mount Gundabad in the Hobbit?

My basic position on the Ring in the Hobbit (not a "R"ing yet, just a ring) was that invisibility messed with Bilbo's character, and Stealth implicit in its function was basically creepy, and immoral. Likewise, Sméagol/Gollum, slayed goblin by catching food whilst invisible. Likewise, Bilbo had his moral dilemma about jumping over Sméagol, not slaying him. Thus, I don't see discontinuity with LotR and I recall chastising myself in Shadow of the Past, because "I knew better at the time" (he found the ring) and "I tricked myself into the lure of the invisibility". That is, "I wanted one" of those kinds of rings with its advantages. All made me viscerally unbothered knowing The Hobbit had an amended copy by the 60's. However, despite the amendments, the invisibility is implicitly immoral, IMO, which is my 'goto' about the children's book, that does not have discontinuity with a notion that despite that, somewhere rattling around in Professor Tolkien's head must have been weaving his children's story into his primary passion and mythology in-the-make.

Does anyone recall which Letter has more to say about all this?

Ivriniel 02-01-2019 10:19 PM

The Arkenstone is a Silmaril……?

Galadriel55 02-01-2019 10:21 PM

#3. We hear yet another story about how Elves and Dwarves became estranged in Moria and Lorien. Elves and Dwarves had a rocky relationship since before the Thingol incident, and there have been friendships and squabbles since then. Mirkwood Elves may care more about local recent events than about far-away ancient arguments and attribute more of the present situation to the former events. How's that for resolving the contradiction?

R.R.J Tolkien 02-02-2019 07:06 AM

Agreed
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Galadriel55 (Post 713452)
#3. We hear yet another story about how Elves and Dwarves became estranged in Moria and Lorien. Elves and Dwarves had a rocky relationship since before the Thingol incident, and there have been friendships and squabbles since then. Mirkwood Elves may care more about local recent events than about far-away ancient arguments and attribute more of the present situation to the former events. How's that for resolving the contradiction?

That was my original response and idea. Two separate accounts of flitting of smaller dwarves and elves. But without the text quoted [yet] I cant be sure what is going on.

R.R.J Tolkien 02-03-2019 08:39 AM

I had stated this


Perhaps it was referring to different groups of dwarves and elves. Maybe the Hobbit a more recent separation of the woodland elves or Mirkwood and the local dwarves of erebor? Also to count his unpublished sillmarillion that he was not working on vs his published hobbit, I think gets it backwards. Tolkien was a perfectionist in his writings, nothing hit the press unless revised, reconsidered and then finally published. Given that I think it safe to assume if Tolkien thought it a contradiction, he would have edited his yet to be published Sillm


I was just reading at the council of Elrond Gandalf says "If all the grievances that stand between elves and dwarves are to be brought up here, we may as well abandon the council." I think that supports what I had said, these very well could be two separate but similar accounts over the span of many generations of fighting between the two. The hobbit local and recent, the sillmarillion major and the first.

Morsul the Dark 08-22-2019 01:50 PM

Gandalf was always working to fortify the West and North from Mordor. That’s a big reason he moved to put Thorin and company back into the lonely mountain. The biggest reason I can think of about the difference is Gandalf before Bilbo is working against a hypothetical threat. In LoTR it’s no longer hypothetical and a full blown crisis

Inziladun 08-26-2019 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morsul the Dark (Post 719904)
Gandalf was always working to fortify the West and North from Mordor. That’s a big reason he moved to put Thorin and company back into the lonely mountain. The biggest reason I can think of about the difference is Gandalf before Bilbo is working against a hypothetical threat. In LoTR it’s no longer hypothetical and a full blown crisis

At the time of the The Hobbit, Gandalf had known for nearly a hundred years that the Necromancer was Sauron. It took the latter reoccupying Mordor, and, even more so, the knowledge that the ring Bilbo had found was the One, to convince him that the last throw was almost at hand.

Legolas 09-11-2019 10:09 PM

When looking at the style and character development change across The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it may go without saying that you should keep in mind that they were not originally devised as direct volumes in series. The Hobbit was a child’s tale that included allusions to a wider world only intended to emphasize one of the themes of the book, embodied best in Gandalf’s famous closing line: “You are a very fine fellow, Mr Baggins, and I am very fond of you. But you are really just a little fellow, in a wide world.” Tolkien never thought he would have to explain the Necromancer and was not sure he would have the chance to publish the story of Gondolin. Enough people asked about the Necromancer to change his mind; indeed, he did not have the chance to publish the Gondolin story in his lifetime in the way he might have liked.

What might be less considered is that, within the story, these smaller stories are written by characters from said stories to be included in the Red Book of Westmarch. They are written by different people - Bilbo and Frodo/Sam - at different times and with different levels of understanding of what was actually going on. I find that to be consistent with Tolkien’s suggestion of “incomplete information.”

Though it was not the original intention at time of writing, the full mythology - what I think of as the story - frames The Hobbit as Bilbo’s own account of his adventure, so we are only hearing his version of the story. It is not a historical account from a omniscient narrator. We only learn of Gandalf what Bilbo remembers of him, which is also limited to what Gandalf chose to reveal of himself at the time. Likewise, there is an obvious necessity as Frodo’s story progresses for Gandalf to put aside his jolly fireworks-and-smoke-rings persona to fulfill his true purpose - to rally the peoples of Middle-earth against the evil threatening them. The immediacy of the Ring situation intensifies Gandalf’s demeanor and behavior, but if we could have seen him away from Bilbo and Frodo, we would have known that he was always like this when he needed to be. There is also the clear unharnessing of Gandalf’s strength when he is rembodied as the White.

As for the elves and dwarves, I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that there were multiple instances of grievance, annoyance, and distrust. Disagreements would not only come historically from grudges, but also perpetually from an inherent difference in nature and values. Again, Bilbo is writing from what he knows; he encountered Thranduil’s wood elves and their obvious distaste for dwarves. Thranduil would have carried the pain of Thingol and his kin’s troubles with the dwarves, but is also presently annoyed by the dwarves’ meddling in his kingdom as Bilbo is looking on.

Mithalwen 09-12-2019 04:45 AM

Yes, I have always thought of The Lord of the Ringss being “ history”, The Hobbit as a fairy story and the Silmarillion as myth /legend at least from the perspective of its supposed translator, Bilbo.

Huinesoron 09-12-2019 05:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mithalwen (Post 720384)
Yes, I have always thought of The Lord of the Ringss being “ history”, The Hobbit as a fairy story and the Silmarillion as myth /legend at least from the perspective of its supposed translator, Bilbo.

I'd generally agree. I think that Tolkien saw the stories similarly to this: LotR was "true", but Hobbit was coloured by Bilbo's perspective. Taking that position meant he could entirely change chunks of The Hobbit, and even contemplate a full rewrite; I can't imagine him doing the same thing for LotR.

As for the Silmarillion... my impression is that Tolkien wanted the Annals and their associated documents to be "true" accounts. When the Grey Annals say under the year 471 that "In this year Huor wedded Rian daughter of Belegund", that wasn't intended to be "out of the mists of time has come the legend of a wedding in the year four hundred and seventy, yea, and one more year added thereunto"; it was supposed to be "this just happened, and we wrote it down".

The older, long-form stories that grew out of the Lost Tales, I think were more 'mythical'. Obviously originally they were, being explicitly tales told around the fire at suppertime (or, in some instances, by kids in the garden), and I don't feel like Tolkien ever drew away from that. So Ainulindale and Valaquenta, the Fall of Gondolin and the Lay of Leithian - these are all retellings, not records.

Which leaves the Quenta Silmarillion itself. A quick bit of poking around suggests that the Quenta was always meant to be a hybrid text - the 'earliest Silmarillion' verse in HoME IV is described as a history constructed from the Book of Lost Tales. I can imagine Tolkien imagining a scribe - maybe in the Havens of Sirion, maybe in Numenor, maybe even in Rivendell - sitting down with a copy of the Annals and a whole sheaf of random legends (including interview notes from that one time she was able to get Glorfindel to actually talk about his past), and attempting to cobble together a coherent narrative from it all.

(That scribe, though, is probably not Bilbo - compression isn't really one of his known skills, and besides, there's not nearly enough songs in the Silm for him to have put it together himself...)

hS

Mithalwen 09-12-2019 06:03 AM

Yes exactly. There were folk in Rivendell who knew stuff as fact or would at least have had contemporary reports of but as with real life even they can be contradictory or given a spin. Also they would have known things that even Tolkien didn’t. It is inconceivable that Elrond didn’t know who Gil-galad’s father was.

William Cloud Hicklin 09-13-2019 07:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huinesoron (Post 720388)
I'd generally agree. I think that Tolkien saw the stories similarly to this: LotR was "true", but Hobbit was coloured by Bilbo's perspective. Taking that position meant he could entirely change chunks of The Hobbit, and even contemplate a full rewrite; I can't imagine him doing the same thing for LotR.

As for the Silmarillion... my impression is that Tolkien wanted the Annals and their associated documents to be "true" accounts. When the Grey Annals say under the year 471 that "In this year Huor wedded Rian daughter of Belegund", that wasn't intended to be "out of the mists of time has come the legend of a wedding in the year four hundred and seventy, yea, and one more year added thereunto"; it was supposed to be "this just happened, and we wrote it down".

The older, long-form stories that grew out of the Lost Tales, I think were more 'mythical'. Obviously originally they were, being explicitly tales told around the fire at suppertime (or, in some instances, by kids in the garden), and I don't feel like Tolkien ever drew away from that. So Ainulindale and Valaquenta, the Fall of Gondolin and the Lay of Leithian - these are all retellings, not records.

Which leaves the Quenta Silmarillion itself. A quick bit of poking around suggests that the Quenta was always meant to be a hybrid text - the 'earliest Silmarillion' verse in HoME IV is described as a history constructed from the Book of Lost Tales. I can imagine Tolkien imagining a scribe - maybe in the Havens of Sirion, maybe in Numenor, maybe even in Rivendell - sitting down with a copy of the Annals and a whole sheaf of random legends (including interview notes from that one time she was able to get Glorfindel to actually talk about his past), and attempting to cobble together a coherent narrative from it all.

(That scribe, though, is probably not Bilbo - compression isn't really one of his known skills, and besides, there's not nearly enough songs in the Silm for him to have put it together himself...)

hS


I think that was his intention, but in execution it didn't really hold up. The earliest versions of the Annals clearly were aiming for something like the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;* but by the time he got to the Annals of Aman and the Grey Annals the stylistic distinction completely broke down and he was writing in full Quenta mode, resulting in parallel accounts of the same events at essentially the same focal length.

___

* (although, Tolkien probably knew that much of the Chronicle was written years and centuries after the events described)

Galadriel55 09-13-2019 08:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mithalwen (Post 720392)
Also they would have known things that even Tolkien didn’t. It is inconceivable that Elrond didn’t know who Gil-galad’s father was.

Well, it's a wise child who knows his own father, let alone Gil-galad's father. :D:p

(Sorry, couldn't resist :D)

Huinesoron 09-13-2019 08:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mithalwen (Post 720392)
It is inconceivable that Elrond didn’t know who Gil-galad’s father was.

But would he have told Bilbo?

Yes, yes, 'as kind as summer', but when a short, faintly-Sauron-possessed person shows up uninvited in your house, announces he lives there now, and promptly starts stinking the place up by smoking indoors, eating enough for half a dozen elves, and singing comic songs about your dad at the drop of a hat, would you be inclined to cooperate when he says he's 'going to write a history of the world next'? Nah - you'd just make sure the valuable stuff was on the top shelves and give him the key to the library.

And if he shows up asking questions about some of the wacky fairy tales Celebrian's mum used to read to her, just fob him off with the old 'they will say both no and yes' excuse. It works wonders. :D

What... you don't think?

hS, not being particularly serious

Mithalwen 09-14-2019 04:48 AM

Well quite, there is usually somebody in the family no one wants to talk about coughUncleCharliecough. And I know from investigation into my own family history that the truth can get distorted for many reasons.

I often wonder if Gil-galad’s name Ereinion was a private joke at his inability to settle on his lineage scion of kings - several simultaneously rather than sequentially father to son..


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