I've started up a Tolkien bookclub, for anyone who might be interested.
I'm running it off Dreamwidth, because LJ has been somewhat flakey of late. The Introduction Post is Here
The way it's going to work is, between now and Wednesday the 9th, I've an open poll running to decide whether we'll be reading LotR or the Hobbit. Then, whichever we choose, a discussion post for the first two chapters will go up on Friday (Jan 11th).
We will then have the full week to have a discussion about the chapter as we read it, which can be anything from incoherent squeeing, posting favourite quotes, or deep thinky thoughts.
The following Friday I'll open a post to discuss the next two chapters.
If anyone on here is interested in joining, please feel free! Feel free to jump in and out as well if you've got a busy schedule, or just lurk if that's what takes your fancy. :) If you don't have a Dreamwidth account, that's totally OK. It should allow you to comment either anonymously or with OpenID, so you're welcome to use either to participate.
"For All Your Subtleties You Have Not Wisdom"
So, in celebration of the Hobbit coming out, there's going to be a small meta explosion around here. I'm sorry.
I wrote a bit about reading Thorin as a hero the other day, now I'd like to take a look at the flip side of the coin, and analyze him (and others) in the context of characters who fall, in a sense, from glory in Tolkien's stories.
Thorin's role in the Hobbit sets him up as the king and the hero of the tale – it is his
quest that they embark upon, and Bilbo is just along for the ride at the start. However, by the end, Thorin's role as the hero is subverted by his actions – and, most importantly, his lack of wisdom, and his greed, making room for Bilbo to emerge as the unlikely hero.
This is a pattern that we see again and again in Tolkien's work. There are several confrontations that echo Thorin and Bilbo's at the end of the Hobbit, where a character who has the appearance and potential for greatness, but lacks wisdom, goes up against someone who appears lesser than them, but has greater wisdom. I'm going to use Gandalf's interactions with Saruman and Denethor respectively to illustrate this.
When characters fall in Tolkien's work, it is usually because they fall upon their own sword. The manipulation and subversion of nature, and the love of things they themselves have created over love of nature is pretty much the warning sign that a Tolkien character is about to really go off the rails. What I think it boils down to, however, is these characters – Thorin, Denethor, Saruman and Fëanor, to name a few, – applying knowledge
Knowledge is simply facts. Wisdom is the synthesis of those facts into something you can actually act upon. As the old adage goes, Saruman is the kind of person who could tell you that a tomato is a fruit, Gandalf is the one who'd tell you not to put it in a fruit salad. ( Let's start with ThorinCollapse )
"The Crownless Again Shall Be King": Parallels in the Heroic Journeys of Thorin and Aragorn in Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit
I've been thinking about the parallels between Thorin and Aragorn's journeys after re-reading LotR
and watching the Hobbit
. There are quite a few obvious similarities – they both lose their fathers at a relatively young age under catastrophic circumstances, they are both kings without a kingdom, and both set out on a quest to reclaim their kingdom and attain their birthright. But Thorin, after the death of Smaug, almost becomes the villain of the piece, whereas Aragorn is uncompromisingly and unquestionably a bastion of nobility.
I don't think that's quite the case – I think both represent nobility, and often a very similar sort of nobility, just viewed through the perspective of their different races, and the different values therein.
There's a hierarchy to Tolkien's races. Among men, those with Elvish blood (i.e. Númenórean decent) are the more noble (Aragorn, Faramir and Imrahil are good examples of this), and the Elves are painted as the wisest – and remotest – of them all. We're not given as much information about Dwarfish culture as we are of that of men, Elves and Hobbits, but I think what we do have can provide some insight into Thorin's character.( Read more...Collapse )
: Ramses/Nefret (Unrequited)Warnings
: Some discussion of prostitution, nothing too heinous. Summary
: In the early days of Nefret's clinic none of the women of El Was'a are willing to come, so she sets out to have a little talk with el-Gharbi. Ramses is just trying to keep her out of trouble, and to ensure that his father won't murder him by the time they get home.Notes
: Written for yuletide
. This is set during Falcon at the Portal
, and is non-canon compliant given we're told about Nefret and el-Gharbi's first meeting during Thunder
and her clinic is already well up and running by that point. So, I've taken a bit of artistic license to write a conversation I wish had happened, during Ramses' epic pining years, and very shortly before The Night and then Sennia's arrival at the Emerson house. This draws inspiration from (and sort of loosely remixes) Ramses and Nefret's respective meetings with el-Gharbi in Thunder
.( BargainingCollapse )
In the DarkRating:
Just when Thorin had thought that he was going mad, in the cold, empty dark of Thranduil's dungeons, Bilbo finds him.Notes
: Just a note, TW for some not-so-nice views on mental illness at the beginning. Needless to say, they're not my own, but I imagine the Dwarves would be less understanding.
This was written as a fill for hobbit_kink
, for the following prompt: With Thorin in Thranduil's dungeon, Bilbo comforts him through the bars. Then he "comforts" him through the bars. Wink.( In the DarkCollapse )
: Thorin, BilboSummary
: When the messenger from Mordor arrives on his doorstep, and utters the name Bilbo Baggins, Thorin's heart all but stops. It's a name he hasn't heard spoken much of late, but it's one he'll never forget.Notes
: AU. Written as a fill on hobbit_kink
for the following prompt: if Thorin had survived, what would he have thought of [the events of LotR]? The Ring, the trouble it caused, what it did to Bilbo and his family?( RepercussionsCollapse )
I've had this on the backburner for ages, hoping I could sort of shape it into something more intelligent. That's clearly not going to happen, so I thought I'd post it and see if it generates any discussion.
Basically, I've been thinking about Joseph Campbell's concept of the "Monomyth", or the hero's journey. A quick summary for context for anyone who isn't familiar: basically, he posits that the most enduring and popular stories and myths from different periods and cultures around the world all share the same key features and structure (the 'monomyth'). Basically, the hero ventures from the mundane to the supernatural, encounters new and marvellous forces, defeats a foe, and returns empowered and gives gifts which can improve the mundane world he started in. Just as an example, and because I like it, the Hobbit
follows this pattern. Bilbo leaves the mundane and insular Shire through a call to action (Gandalf), encounters monsters (orcs, wolves, spiders, Smaug), which he defeats, and returns not only literally rich, but also emotionally rich for his adventures – which is passed on literally (the Ring) and figuratively to Frodo.
What's really fascinating about Thor
in this context, though, is most of Thor's adventure is sort-of backwards. ( Cutting Because I'm Long-WindedCollapse )
Or not. I'm not sure this makes sense. Please feel free to disagree. :)