Sunday, September 18, 2011
I suspect that I wouldn't have anything more to say about the plot and themes, for you, because if you're reading this, you've read the books or seen the movies already. I could go into a few changes from one to the other, but I won't put such disclaimers here. Instead, I was interested in Tolkien's writing choices, as I was in the review for the FOTR. Here, Tolkien basically splits the book in half: the first half to Aragorn and Gandalf; the second half to Frodo and Sam and Gollum. I know that Tolkien wrote the "trilogy" all at once, not intending for breaks, and that his publishers took that volume of about 1,000 pages and split it into threes. This leads to what sometimes look to be odd writing choices, but considering the big 1,000 book, really isn't. In other words, it looks like Tolkien wasn't going back and forth with his narration between the two groups of heroes--most other authors would have. It looks like he split the second book between the two groups and did not go back and forth between them. But it only looks that way, since it's 398 pages. But if you think of the three books all as one, he does, in fact, go back and forth--just for several hundred pages at a time between the groups. So, as in Elf-land and Middle Earth in general, that which seems to be is not.
Also of note was a comment from Sam on page 325. Boromir's brother has been chastising Frodo and questioning him hard; Sam gets slowly angry at this and finally responds--but mentions they have the ring. He realizes his verbal goof and says to Faramir that he has spoken and behaved handsomely so far, and he should continue to do so after Sam's gaffe. Part of that retort was, "But handsome is as handsome does, we say." Substitute "handsome" for "stupid," and you've got Forrest Gump. Tolkien's work stretches far.
The last thing I'll note is the very obvious bearing Beowulf had on Tolkein. The swords and such, the fighting, the horns on everything, the righteous in battle stuff, the putting of the dead on water, and so much more there isn't room to mention. But if anyone knows LOTR: TTT and Beowulf, you can't miss the fact that Shelob is a direct descendent of the She-hag in Beowulf (and maybe a tiny bit of Grendel, too).
One work, one deed, leads to another. Such as it is in Middle-Earth; such as it is here.