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Week 1 - The Ring Sets Out - Prologue

Discussion in 'Bookclub' started by TheWiseTomato, Nov 22, 2021.

  1. TheWiseTomato

    TheWiseTomato Prestigious Tomato ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Morder where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Morder where the Shadows lie.

    Let's get this party started. Below is the schedule, helpfully created by @lopeck. All told this will take us about six months if things go well. @Otters get in here. @Irene if he doesn't get in here, say something cutting. Everyone else, you know who you are. It's time to get our geek on.

    [​IMG]


    To start things off: I'd forgotten how much content there was before the story proper started. In my edition at least, there's 'Note On The Text' and 'Foreword To The Second Edition' before the Prologue even starts, and while dry, there's some genuinely interesting tidbits in there, such as the American editions that were published unauthorised and did not pay royalties to Tolkien. You can see how his focus on the technical details held things up with his focus on the appendices. It is amusing to read about his quiet and polite rage at the editors who would change dwarves to dwarfs and elven to elfin.

    The Prologue specifically was interesting in its form, in that it is framed as being from the perspective of a historian from a later Era looking back. I knew that The Hobbit and LotR are supposed to be Bilbo's and Frodo's accounts of their adventures, but this was more explicit that I recalled. It has been a long time since I've read the books, however.

    I almost feel like the Prologue is aimed at an audience that doesn't exist any more - people with limited knowledge of the setting/series. There's some parts in there conveying niche knowledge, such as on the origins of the Hobbits, but I can't think of anyone who isn't familiar with the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum.

    On a final note, I do like the little note about how Hobbits are not to be fucked with should they have a bow on hand, or if they should stoop to take up a rock to throw.
     
  2. Nazgoose

    Nazgoose The Honky-tonk ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter DLP Gold Supporter

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    Yeah I bought the single volume fiftieth anniversary edition for this, and the foreword and notes were extensive. Found it way more fun than I would've thought to read through the publishing history and then the logic they continue to apply to further corrections now that the author isn't around to say what he thinks.

    The prologue itself was an interesting read, because you end up finding out that a number of the characters end up surviving and/or having children, which could be considered a spoiler. But it continues to sell the idea that you're reading history book, and so I can't really disagree with the choice. I honestly loved the little glimpses we get into the lives of Merry and Pippin after the story ends.
     
  3. Shouldabeenadog

    Shouldabeenadog Order Member

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    I'll echo the notes as well.
    In the prologue I noticed three things.
    I'm the opening poem, dwarves have lords, elves have kings, and the dark Lord is a lord as well. But the 9 rings are for mortal men. I can't tell if this is Elvish disdain for Men, or Sauron's or if the rings weren't intended to go to leaders of men.

    We get the foreknowledge that of the hobbits, 3 are safe and prosperous, but our main lead Frodo gets nothing. To me that adds some interesting tension as we go forward.

    I also love the first word we learn in a foreign language is hobbitish, the Mathom. An object that you have no immediate use for, but could not throw away. I see the Ring, to Bilbo, as a perfect Mathom, and I'm going to read this looking for more of them.
     
  4. lopeck

    lopeck Seventh Year

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    Mea culpa. I used the website I've linked before for the word count and they didn't list those. Same thing goes for the appendices. But I think that's a topic for when we are actually done with the main body of the text. So there shouldn't be any more surprises until we reach the end of book six.


    But on that note, I too, found the publishing history strangely fascinating. It is strange to see the (unintended) parallels of tracking names and dates both within the book and the meta level surrounding it. But I don't think I will buy the book of changes mentioned.
    Most of the forward to 'Foreword To The Second Edition' is stuff I've come upon before. The different spelling still comes up when dealing with differing races in D&D for example. The thing that stood out to me was Tolkien talking about critics:
    That's a much more polite way of dealing with it then anything I've read online.
    There is also a line about being his own worst critic. And that despite the many revision, he still dislike a lot of thing about his own work. As someone who struggles with the same thing, it's encouraging to hear Tolkien talk about it.


    :D

    A group of stealth-archer hobbits is responsible for the fall of Angmar, got it.
     
  5. dudeler

    dudeler Seventh Year

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    I am listening to the audiobook, because my physical copy of the book is probably somewhere at my parents place.

    I forgot how much I loved the description of the shire and the dialogues between random hobbits. You get such a deep connection with the world in just the part before the party.
     
  6. TheWiseTomato

    TheWiseTomato Prestigious Tomato ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I can't help but notice that a lot of people who were keen in the interest gauging thread have yet to post their thoughts, chief amongst them @Otters. I'd sic @Irene on you, but she has also neglected her responsibilities.

    For shame.
     
  7. draykfyre

    draykfyre Second Year DLP Supporter

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    I picked up the 60th anniversary edition, as I wanted a copy with the pages from the book of Mazarbul. I quite liked hearing about Tolkien's art, and how he wasn't not at all confident in it. Apparently the publisher just didn't have the budget for doing more than the maps and text Tolkien had in Lord of the Rings, so we didn't get his artwork in it.

    Edit: Actually apparently I got the new illustrated edition, I preordered it months ago and forgot which it was. It has some illustrations that Tolkien probably never intended to be included in the published work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  8. Irene

    Irene Seventh Year Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Everyone has brought up good points about the foreword so I'm going to focus on the parts of the prologue that jumps out at me.

    Note: my edition of the prologue did not have the poem regarding the rings at all.

    "Only the elves still preserve any records of that vanished time, and their traditions are concerned almost entirely with their own history" Friendly reminder that elves are self absorbed dicks thank you very much

    "They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt or to kill, and they were perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least because they could, when put to it, do without them, and could survive rough handling grief, foe, or weather in a way that astonished those who did not know them well" A nice bit of foreshadowing for all the beating Frodo and Sam endured, and how they survived through all of it.

    And another good reminder of how sinister the ring was when the story of Bilbo getting it from Gollum was twisted by Bilbo himself almost subconsciously to be a present rather than something he stole... I had forgotten how Bilbo appeared really gross to young me after the new trilogy got Martin Freeman to play him. ROFL.

    @Otters your turn.
     
  9. TheWiseTomato

    TheWiseTomato Prestigious Tomato ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Nor did mine; I only included it because I love it. It was placed before the contents page.
     
  10. lopeck

    lopeck Seventh Year

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    I was wondering about that. The 50th was the one I got gifted years ago. And with it being almost 20 years old itself, will there soon be a 70th? Also, is there a different or additional foreword in the 60th edition?
     
  11. Kobolum

    Kobolum Muggle

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    This is going to be my first time reading Lord of the Rings, and my first time experiencing the story in full.

    I'll try to think of something to say with each segment of the week's reading, but I don't know how much I'll have to say, like with the prologue. It's very informative and tells me that there's a lot of work and care put into the world, the history, and everything else that everyone gushes about the Lord of the Rings over. That also makes it kind of boring to read. I don't have any prior investment into Middle-earth. This is my own problem though, I'm used to prologues in books being somewhat disconnected first chapters.

    I feel that the biggest problem with the prologue is all of the mentions of historical figures and events that the prologue itself says outright have nothing to do with the story. Why should I care about how the hobbits migrated to the Shire or about the first hobbits who smoked pipe-weed when they're long dead by the time the story begins? But this may be my modern reader problem.

    All in all an excellent prologue to what will hopefully be a good story.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  12. Otters

    Otters Seventh Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    The prologue is BORING AS SHIT and I resented being obliged to read it.

    But I did.

    It's not that the material is uninteresting, it's just that at this point I want to be reading the story, not just the book. I've previously gone back to read the prologue as a separate thing afterwards, and that's where it feels best imo - in the appendix. When you already have buy-in, when you've consumed the story and are hungry for additional content.
     
  13. draykfyre

    draykfyre Second Year DLP Supporter

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    I was mistaken, I thought I got the 60th edition, but I actually got this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0358653037

    Fortunately mine doesn't seem to have the print issues some of the reviews talk about, and was only minorly dinged up in shipping.

    There is an additional brief foreword that talks about the illustrations, that was not written by Tolkien.
     
  14. Paladin

    Paladin Defender of the Faith

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    So this is the first time I'm actually reading the books, and the ebook I'm reading appears to have been published in the mid-2000s. All the bits about the history of the versions and revisions to the text was interesting, and I guess actually relevant since Tolkien was a professor of linguistics. What really stuck out is he categorically says in the forward that he's not a fan of allegory, which is cool, in my opinion.


    I think probably the first thing that stands out once I'm into the prologue is Bullroarer as a nickname. That's just fucking sick, honestly. I think I might be reading too much into it but the division between types of Hobbits seems very much like the traditional division of Britain into "Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Norse" people's.

    One thing I want to highlight is that the Hobbits routed a force of orcs earlier in history, which is interesting, given that they typically don't seem to like to fight.

    Overall, however, I have to echo that the prologue is kind of a grind to get through, although I suppose some of the historical background to the hobbit-folk might be important? This is the first time I'm reading these books, actually.
     
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