Fieldnotes: On Staying Clam & Reading in 2020 ☽ Part I ☾
This is a continuation of the topic Fieldnotes: On Staying Clam & Reading in 2019 ☽ Part II ☾.
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I'm with the Fellowship just outside Moria right now. Very appropriate as today is the 128th anniversary of JRR Tolkien's birth.
My only goal for this year is to stop forking* around so much on Facebook & the like and to spend more time reading. (And, as a result, probably more time forking* around in here.)
* This substitution brought to you by The Good Place.
Here you are! Yay! Except for the part where you're about to discover Balin's tomb.
I need to watch The Good Place, especially since it's clear 2020 is going to continue to be The Bad Place.
>4 libraryperilous: And perhaps you'll find your missing forks in the process of watching it!
I've read this book more than 20 times, and yet I'm nervous about entering the mines...
It's a dangerous business, clam, going into the mines.
I like to reread LotR around the holidays. I think I'll make it my next read.
So many people have recommended that forking show to me. I'll start it as soon as I've finished my Blackadder binge.
I am just realising that those people who are not familiar with The Good Place will not have a forking clue what the shirt we are talking about.
>11 pgmcc: Um, it’s not hard to work out what’s going on ...
I was in another W H Smith a while ago and in one of the displays counted 10 books that had “f**k” or variants thereof, or “sh*t” or variants thereof, on the covers. I bought Harry Frankfurt’s book On Bullshit earlier this year, but the title of that sees no need for euphemism.
Loving this thread so far. Hope your year only has benches you enjoy being around. ;)
Noticed the new dragon, but it's taken me this long to actually get here to thank you. I appreciate your efforts to keep the pub fresh. :)
>22 clamairy: Happy birthday! Maybe, to make today special, you could use a birthday candle to set fire to one of your still-packed boxes. ;)
Sorry I haven't been posting about my reading but I haven't really been doing enough of it. My kids were here for Christmas, but my son was sick for most of the time he was here and he left on the 28th. My daughter stayed until the 30th, then went back to the city leaving one of her cats with me. He's a beauty, but extremely rambunctious. I was constantly chasing him off my shelves, mantle and china cabinet, and then retrieving things he had swiped. Also my cat doesn't like him much, even with three of those cat pheromone plug-ins at work. =^. .^= My daughter came back with her other cat, and was here for another two weeks. We were supposed to be working on reshuffling things in the basement, but not much of that happened. I'm okay with that. We had a lot of fun, and had plenty of good food and wine. Also gin.
But I did finally finish The Fellowship of the Ring. Despite the fact that I'm reading the one volume Kindle version I am posting my favorite cover. It's from the edition I read when I was 13 and will always be nearest and dearest to my heart. I had forgotten some small parts since my last reread, but my enjoyment of it hasn't altered much over the almost half a century since I read it the first time. I do still dearly wish elves were real, but could live without orcs and necromancers. My only new-ish complaint would be about the lack of female characters. I did not notice this at 13 because in the 70s we females were so used to be left out of every book that it was unremarkable. As a 61 year old with a daughter it seems a glaring omission. At least there is Galadriel, who is the most powerful being we meet in FotR. (Which is one more prominent female than there was in The Hobbit.) Still, I enjoyed my reread, and have plowed onward. I'm almost at the halfway mark in TTT, and I'm hoping I don't get bogged down in the Dead Marshes. (Pun intended.)
>35 clamairy: I envy you your time with your daughter, but wouldn't want to take it from you. How lovely!
I am not bothered by the lack of female characters in a good story such as LotR because I find myself identifying completely with the characters who are in the tale. I want to do a reread of this, but then I want to reread my Dresden books and my mysteries also, yet all those unread books on my shelves are glaring at me. sigh
>36 MrsLee: You are much too orderly, it seems to me. You should leave those unreads on the floor so that you can just step over them.
>35 clamairy: That was the cover on the first paperback I read on FOTR. Thanks for the memories!
>38 littlegeek: Yes, I really love those three covers. I love them combined as a triptych, too. I am told it was a poster, but I only ever saw photos of it.
Not sure if it will show up, but I found this on imgur. It's supposed to be the original concept art for the covers.
And here are the covers:
>42 Narilka: Aren't they great? Just found the poster online. I like this better than the concept art.
>43 clamairy: I agree. I should also add that this is one cover design set that I had never seen before.
This is the image from my much-loved first copy:
Oh, those covers are gorgeous!
re: the lack of female characters: I both notice it and also, as MrsLee writes, overlook it because I'm identifying with other characters.
I don't suppose, with Christopher Tolkien's recent death, that we'll ever get a sequel about Legolas and Gimli's post-war travels. Alas. Their friendship is my very favorite part of the book, and I dream of being an elf such as Legolas who finds a friend such as Gimli.
re lack of female characters, might it have something to do with what he was actually writing about, the Great War, where women were few and far between? Or just the usual lets ignore half of the planets populationn?
>46 cindydavid4: Tolkien spent his life in environments with limited encounters with women. First in his own education (Brompton Oratory School, private tutor, Oxford), then as a soldier, and as an Oxford don at a time when female students and academics were very much n the minority.
So when writing a book that was set in what, in his experience, was a male-dominated affair - an all-encompassing war - it is only natural that the majority of his characters would be male.
The fact that he didn't approve of that status quo is evident in real life in his insistence that the expertise and contribution of women in traditionally "male" fields should be recognised and appropriately rewarded.
And he makes the point in fiction through the character of Eowyn: if she had obeyed her father, and stuck to the "feminine" role that he had assigned her, then the Witch-King could not have been slain, and the outcome of that battle would have been very different.
That seems to be a pretty clear statement that women can be just as heroic as men, who ignore their contribution at their peril.
As to the repeated point that there are no women in The Hobbit, this overlooks its intended audience. It was not originally written as a "children's book" for publication; it was written in a sequence of letters to his SONS. Although hopefully this is something that may have changed, certainly when I was young, prepubertal boys were uncomfortable with adult female characters, often going "yuck" and skipping over pages involving them, in case there were any "lovey-dovey" scenes imminent. So, assuming that Tolkien's three boys were typical products of their era, they would not have been interested in female characters, so why would their father include them? His purpose was not to write a classic of children's literature; he was writing to cheer up three boys separated from, and presumably scared about the safety of, their father, by entertaining them as much as possible.
Tolkien only revised The Hobbit for publication at the insistence of his publisher. He tried to make it consistent with his Middle Earth concept (which it has not originally been conceived as part of), but introducing new episodes and characters is something he is hardly likely to do for an old work that he did not consider an important part of his creation.
His main focus was always on the arc of stories that were compressed into the publication called The Silmarillion - and there you find plenty of strong, well-characterised female characters, demonstrating Tolkien's respect for women (as individual people, not simply icons).
ETA: why I said "the publication called The Silmarillion" is that what Tolkien meant by"the Silmarillion" and the version published under that name are not exactly the same thing. Tolkien is referring to a sprawling arc of stories that he was continuously revising, Christopher Tolkien published an edited edition of those he thought still current in his father's flight.
>47 -pilgrim-: His main focus was always on the arc of stories that were compressed into the publication called The Silmarillion - and there you find plenty of strong, well-characterised female characters, demonstrating Tolkien's respect for women (as individual people, not simply icons).
Thanks, that is good to know!
btw "And he makes the point in fiction through the character of Eowyn: if she had obeyed her father, and stuck to the "feminine" role that he had assigned her, then the Witch-King could not have been slain, and the outcome of that battle would have been very different." reminded me of another much later story - In Games of Thrones, GRRM often used Tolkiens work as a model Wonder if Arya equaled Eowyn, since she was similar, and of course killed the NK.
I agree with what you're all saying, and understand about his upbringing, etc. I wasn't complaining at all. What I found remarkable was the fact that I never noticed the lack of females the first 20+ times I read it. In fact I don't think I noticed it until Peter Jackson gave a few character much bigger roles than they had in the books. So on this reread I couldn't miss it.
>44 -pilgrim-: That cover is lovely. Did the covers for the rest of the trilogy match in some way?
Finished off The Two Towers the other night and jumped right into the FotR. I don't have much to say except I didn't have as much trouble with the second half as I used to as a hasty youth.
Just wanted to add that Barbara Remington (the woman who's artwork graced these covers and that poster) passed away on January 23rd.
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