Barliman’s Chat Last weekend, the Hall of Fire crew examined the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. Belatedly, for those who couldn’t attend, here’s a log. (more…)Posted in Barlimans, Green Books, Hall of Fire, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Return of the King
Archive for the ‘Green Books’ Category
Most people think Frodo is the true hero of The Lord of the Rings. To put it another way: It is accepted by nearly all readers that the novel is about Frodo. It’s his quest, his burden, he’s the focus. The little blurbs in magazines that are designed for the non-initiate read like this: “The story of a hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who is sent to destroy an evil Ring of power…” Sound like a good pitch? Not quite.
The main character is really Samwise Gamgee, though you may not know it. I’m telling you now, it’s all about Sam.
You can safely argue Frodo Baggins should be the centerpoint of the tale. In The Hobbit Bilbo had the limelight for an entire book, and no one came close to grandstanding him (except maybe Smaug). Seems like Tolkien intended to chronicle the history of the Baggins family; first through Bilbo’s adventures–then with Frodo inheriting more adventures than he bargained for.Posted in Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Out on a Limb, Sean Astin, Tolkien
So it is a real pleasure to help publicize events like the 3rd Conference on Middle-earth and its Part 2 scheduled for 2014 in Westford, MA. The word is getting out now to declare that the conference is currently accepting papers. Below is the full press release with links, some of which show how many decades back the event reaches:
The 3rd Conference On Middle-earth, Part 2, to be held March 28 – 30, 2014
in Westford, MA, USA, is currently soliciting papers, presentations, paper proposals, and panel proposals from persons with scholarly interest in any aspect of the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Suggested topics are: J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, influences on Tolkien, other works based on Tolkien’s writing, criticism, teaching Tolkien in the classroom, the books’ impact on oneself and/or the world, the films and the film industry, the music, the art, the fannish side of this universe and its impact, and anything you can imagine on topic. For examples of previous papers and panels, see the programming for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd conferences: 1st Conference, 2nd Conference, and 3rd Conference.
A few areas of interest are:
• The languages of Middle Earth: how Old English (including Anglo-Saxon riddles), the Eddas, etc. influenced TLOTR.
• Elements of northern European myths that appear in TLOTR.
• The impact of World War I on Tolkien and his writing.
• The impact of The Hobbit and TLOTR on 1960s and 1970s popular music.
• Artistic visions of Middle-earth.
• The astronomy of Middle-earth. [For example, when is Durin's Day?]
• The geography of Middle-earth.
• The geology of Middle-earth.
• The flora and fauna of Middle-earth.
• The clothing of Middle-earth both from the books and the films.
• The food of Middle-earth.
• The poetry and songs of Middle-earth.
Only members of the 3rd Conference On Middle Earth, Part 2, will be able to present and participate. Once papers and proposals have been accepted, the presenter/panelist will need to join the conference (the sooner the better, before rates go up), if they are not already members. If an author cannot be present, then arrangements can be made for a third party to read the paper. However, as indicated, the authors must be members of The 3rd Conference On Middle-earth, Part 2.
Paper Proposal: Please email a 250-word abstract including the presentation title, your name, e-mail address, your mailing address and phone number, or alternately a second e-mail address. The maximum reading time for the finished paper is 30 minutes, roughly 2000 words, though it may be less. We will confirm receipt of proposal by e-mail.
Panel Proposal: Please email the panel name and a 250-word abstract. Please include the panel title, the panel chair (who may be one of the presenters), e-mail address, the mailing address and phone number, or alternately a second e-mail address of each presenter. The receipt of proposal will be confirmed by e-mail.
Submit your proposal to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for Submissions: You may submit a proposal up through Tuesday, 31 December 2013. Participation is limited, so submissions may close early—so it’s best to get a proposal in sooner rather than later.
NOTE: Confirmation of receipt of submissions does not guarantee acceptance for presentation.
Check out http://www.3rdcome.org for more information on the conference.Posted in Events, Fans, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lectures & Education, Tolkien
Last weekend, the Hall of Fire crew delved into the Two Towers chapter the White Rider. Belatedly, for those who couldn’t attend, here’s a log. (more…)Posted in Barlimans, Green Books, Hall of Fire, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, The Two Towers, Tolkien
Well, we also saw Smaug’s head buried in that selfsame pile. So the size of the coins gives us a basis for comparison. (more…)Posted in Green Books, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, Tolkien
It is one of the first things you learn in the craft of writing. Mediocre dialogue is instantly forgotten–but brilliant dialogue lives forever in the mouth of your audience.
You know those finely crafted little moments you always remember from a movie or play? Even if you don’t see the performers again the brightest or funniest quips will linger on. The best movie dialogue has a way of becoming oft-heard bon mots relished among water cooler conversation.
The same goes for literature but often in broader measure. The most impressive wordplay remains within your psyche long after you put the book down. When the rubber meets the road, it’s how a great writer is elevated above the ordinary herds.
Indeed one of the first things you learn about J.R.R. Tolkien is that his work is ripe with just such powerful language. His wonderful ability to play with tone, color, and emotion made it easy for me to select the following from The Lord of the Rings. These are my favorite one-liners (or two-liners), that stand out as having a striking impact. Consider this collection a literary sampler akin to “Tolkien’s Greatest Hits.”
Lord knows that the Professor himself would frown upon the idea, yet I present them playfully and respectfully. Whenever I read and encounter these moments I am forever impressed with intensity, humor, or remembrance.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Most bittersweet line:
“I have quite finished, Sam,” said Frodo. “The last pages are for you.”
Best exclamation of joy:
“Ass! Fool! Thrice worthy and beloved Barliman!”
Most perfect description of beauty:
Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring.
Most poetic description of the weather:
The weather was grey and overcast, with wind from the East, but as evening drew into night the sky away westward cleared, and pools of faint light, yellow and pale green, opened under the grey shores of cloud. There the white rind of the new Moon could be seen glimmering in the remote lakes.
Most shocking moment:
But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss.
Most gruesome encounter:
Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out.
Most colorful analogy:
“Troubles follow you like crows, and ever the oftener the worse.”
Best example of friendly competition:
“Forty-two, Master Legolas!” he cried.
Most powerful moment of rage:
Then he charged. No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.
Best invitation to dinner:
“You shall come home with me! The table is all laden with yellow cream, honeycomb, and white bread and butter.”
Saruman- ”For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colors!”
Gandalf- ”I liked white better.”
Farmer Cotton found Frodo lying on his bed; he was clutching a white gem that hung on a chain about his neck and he seemed half in a dream. “It is gone forever,” he said, “and now all is dark and empty.”
Most gothic description of evil:
Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing.
Most shrewd political advice:
“He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling.”
Single best piece of advice:
“Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
Single funniest line:
“…What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?”
Funniest exchange between two characters:
Éomer- ”…For there are certain rash words concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I have seen her with my eyes.”
Gimli- “Well, lord, and what say you now?”
Éomer- ”Alas! I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.”
Gimli- ”Then I must go for my axe.”
Most beautiful dream sequence:
As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
Most enigmatic historical allusion:
“Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!”
Strongest statement of gender equality:
“In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.”
Most romantic kiss:
And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.
Most exciting call of alarm:
AWAKE! FEAR! FIRE! FOES! AWAKE!
Most intimidating description of geography:
Ever and anon the furnaces far below its ashen cone would grow hot and with a great surging and throbbing pour forth rivers of molten rock from chasms in its sides. Some would flow blazing towards Barad-dûr down great channels; some would wind their way into the stony plain, until they cooled and lay like twisted dragon-shapes vomited from the tormented earth.
Most beautiful sunset:
But in front a thin veil of water was hung, so near that Frodo could have put an outstretched arm into it. It faced westward. The level shafts of the setting sun behind beat upon it, and the red light was broken into many flickering beams of ever-changing colour. It was as if they stood at the window of some elven-tower, curtained with threaded jewels of silver and gold, and ruby, sapphire and amethyst, all kindled with an unconsuming fire.
Most insidious falsehood:
“Our friendship would profit us both alike. Much we could still accomplish together, to heal the disorders of the world.”
Most spectacular moment of destruction:
Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land.
Most moving speech on the battlefield:
“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.”
Most Shakespearean dialogue:
“Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,” said Denethor. “Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse lay yet in the dregs?”
Most wonderful hobbit irony:
Then there was Lobelia. …and there was such clapping and cheering when she appeared, leaning on Frodo’s arm but still clutching her umbrella, that she was quite touched, and drove away in tears. She had never in her life been popular before.
Two moments that surely inspired the 60’s hippie counter-culture:
1. “Cast off these cold rags! Run naked on the grass, while Tom goes a-hunting!” … The hobbits ran about for a while on the grass, as he told them.
2. All that day they walked about in the woods with him, singing, and laughing; for Quickbeam often laughed. … Whenever he saw a rowan-tree he halted a while with his arms stretched out, and sang, and swayed as he sang.
Passage of utmost triumphant rapture:
And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
Line that always, always makes me weep uncontrollably:
There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Many of you certainly have your own take on what qualifies as the “most humorous,” “most shocking,” etc., and that’s fine too. This pursuit is a matter of taste, perhaps, but you cannot deny the foundation: Professor Tolkien showed his passion on every page, with every turn of phrase. Of his labors he wrote in a 1950 letter to Milton Waldman:
… It was begun in 1936, and every part has been written many times. Hardly a word in its 600,000 or more has been unconsidered. And the placing, size, style, and contribution to the whole of all the features, incidents, and chapters has been laboriously pondered.
No better insight can be given towards understanding the perfection of his tastes in authorship. Here is the major facet that most assuredly elevates him and his body of work. We, his eager readership, are indeed blessed with his remarkable and thoroughly romantic word craft.
Much too hasty,
Follow Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
This article was first published on August 8th 2000 in Green Books. In an effort to introduce new Tolkien fans to our nearly 14 years of archived content, we will be publishing articles like this on a regular basis. We hope you enjoy it!Posted in Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Out on a Limb, The Hobbit, Tolkien
In his first of many articles for our worldwide community, Tedoras, long-time audience participant on our TORn TUESDAY webcast brings us an illuminating discussion on something that fascinates the inner-linguist in us all: taking the very Euro-centric names and words Tolkien invented and reforming them into other languages! How do foreign-language translators deal with Tolkien’s legendarium? Read on for some keen insights! Take it away, Tedoras….
By Tedoras — special to TheOneRing.net
In recent years, and especially following the release of the first installment of The Hobbit films, Latin America and China have both become major sources of Tolkien fandom. While we often associate the works of Tolkien with the English-speaking world, the international nature of modern Ringerdom cannot be ignored. The Spanish and Chinese-speaking markets have undeniably helped in making An Unexpected Journey the fourteenth highest grossing film of all time. An historical challenge with Tolkien’s works, however, is how best to translate them. Whether in film or literature, translators have struggled and debate for years on how translate the names of people and places without losing the original sound and meaning that the Professor clearly intended. The process of de-anglicizing these nouns is further complicated because not only must English-language etymology be considered, but also that of Middle-earth’s many distinct tongues.
In Middle-earth, we find a strong correlation between sound and meaning that is particularly evident in the context of “soft” or “hard/harsh” names. For example, the word “Shire” conjures up visions of a distinctly British pastoral community — in essence, one notes a favorable and pleasant sense simply from reading the word. In contrast, “Dol Guldur” is composed of hard consonants and more guttural vowels which denote a rather negative air. Another popular theme is the use of alliteration; it is no mere coincidence that Bilbo Baggins lives in Bag End. As you will see, the biggest problem in translating proper nouns is deciding whether to maintain the original sound or meaning intended by the author, when often both cannot be kept.
It just so happens that Chinese and Spanish are two languages I study, so, in homage to the large Latin American and Chinese Tolkien-fan base around the world, I have decided to present some translations of proper nouns from The Hobbit. While these translations certainly highlight the many different ways Tolkien’s works can be translated, they also provide some important insight into Middle-earth (and some unintended laughs along the way).
I first present some Spanish translations of proper names.
These translations reflect an effort to keep the original meaning of a word, rather than its sound. However, because of its close relationship with English, Spanish allows for the pronunciation of many words in their original form.
This is of course our favorite hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Interesting here is the translation of the surname. In Spanish, “bolsón” is the augmentative form of “bolsa,” which literally means “bag.” A “bolsón” is simply a large bag or backpack, yet in translation it is used to convey the “bag” in Baggins.
Bardo el Arquero
Bard the Bowman is, in Spanish, literally Bard the Archer. In this case, we note a loss of alliteration in translation. It may seem trivial, but alliteration very much shapes how we view a character. The strong “b” sound in Bard’s English title provides him with a bold, confident aura. In a way, the Spanish version tries to make up for this loss by means of assonance and the repetition of the “o” in Bardo and “Arquero.”
Bill Huggins is one of our favorite trolls. His surname is of particular interest; in the translation, we find the Spanish word “estrujón,” literally “squeeze/press” or “bear hug.” There are two aspects to this translation: first, if we take the “bear hug” approach, then you will notice how “hug” is also present in his English surname (Huggins); and secondly, from the Spanish name one is immediately aware that this character must be strong and large.
Piedra del Arca
The Arkenstone can be interpreted many ways in Spanish. “Arca” can refer to a chest (as in of treasure) or to an ark (as in Noah’s). Either translation lends an antiquarian, more mystical nature to the stone.
In Spanish, the Shire is known rather literally as a “region” or “province”. This name was translated out of necessity, for in Spanish the “sh” sound does not typically exist. Personally, I find this name lacking of the novelty of “Shire.”
The Spanish name for “Bag End” is rather odd. We find Bilbo’s surname used to represent the “Bag” in his aforementioned smial, but where one expects to find “end” there is the Spanish “cerrado” (literally “closed”). I am at a loss as to how to properly account for his translation; I will note, however, that the name flows much better as translated than if any variant of “end” had been used instead.
I find the Spanish name for the Misty Mountains very descriptive. Of note here is “nubladas” (literally, “cloudy/overcast”, from “nube” cloud). While “misty” and “cloudy” both denote mystery, the Spanish name is particularly foreboding; the verb “nublar” means “to darken/to cloud” and has a negative and ominous connotation in Spanish. This is of course an apt warning of the Misty Mountains.
The Spanish version of the “Long Lake” is very evocative of its English translation. Both exhibit an alliterative nature and are composed of two one-syllable words. This is, perhaps, exemplary of an ideal translation, if ever there were such a thing, as neither an ounce of meaning nor sound is lost.
Next I present some Chinese translations of proper names.
Before continuing, however, I must note a few important characteristics of the Chinese language for those who have no experience with it. Unlike Spanish, Chinese is much more concerned with the preservation of sound. The Chinese have a long tradition of translating words such that they are phonetically similar to their native language-form. Here are two examples: first, the Chinese name for Germany is deguo (de, because of the German Deutschland, and guo meaning “country/nation”). While the character de has literal meaning (“virtues” or “ethics”), in this context it is used simply because it sounds like the “de” in Deutschland. Another example is the translation of the English name Michael; the Chinese form, maike, literally means something along the lines of “overcome wheat”. Yet, again, the Chinese in this instance forgo meaning in favor of sound. Thus, as you will see, the majority of translations involve preserving sound in Chinese. Yet looking at what potential literal translations of the names yield is a rather funny and interesting task.
This is the Chinese form of “hobbit.” It can literally be translated as “quickly compare special people.” This name, oddly enough, recognizes one truth: the unique and special nature of hobbits. Whether conveyance of this meaning was intended or not by the translator, I am not sure, though.
#2 (gu lu mu)
As you might have guessed, this is Gollum in Chinese. The literal meaning of this name is very odd: it can be translated as “nanny guru.” It does imply Gollum is old (which is true) and beholding of some secret knowledge, as a guru is (also, perhaps, true).
#3 (zhong tu shi jie)
The Chinese name for Middle-earth is an example where meaning is carried over sound. It literally means “middle earth/soil world”. However, another translation of “zhong1 tu3” is “Sino-Turkish,” though, of course, that is not the intended meaning.
#4 (bierbo bajinsi)
This is Bilbo Baggins—and a very difficult name to translate, too. The first name cannot really be translated at all. However, the surname is quite interesting; one translation could be “long for gold” which, although perhaps not applicable to Bilbo himself, is a rather pertinent note on the story as a whole.
#5 (gan dao fu)
As it sounds, this is Gandalf. The translation I like most for his name is “willing path man,” for, as we know, Gandalf is an instinctive wanderer; they do call him The Grey Pilgrim, after all.
#6 (si mao ge)
Smaug’s name is also very apt for his character. I translate this name as “careless spear,” which reflects his wantonly destructive nature.
#7 (you an mi lin)
The Chinese form of Mirkwood is another rare instance where meaning is favored over sound. This name literally means “gloomy jungle.” The dark and ominous connotation of the Chinese form is, in my opinion, much more powerfully negative than even the original English.
Lastly, I decided to include Tolkien’s Chinese name because it is oddly appropriate for the Professor. The name can be translated as “entrusting you with gold,” which I interpret in two ways: first, this can be seen as a reference to The One Ring, and, second, it can refer to Tolkien’s gift of his writings to us (his literary “gold,” if you will). Again, any intent on the part of the translator is impossible to know.
…. stay tuned for more from Tedoras ….
Join us every Tuesday for more engaging conversation with live chatters around the world who join our innovative broadcast TORn TUESDAY, featuring interviews with Tolkien/Fantasy luminaries, authors, and artists — many of whom are Ringer fans just like us! Every Tuesday at 5:00PM Pacific TimePosted in Characters, Fans, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Miscellaneous, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien, TORn TUESDAYS Live!
Last weekend, the Hall of Fire crew discussed the story of Earendil and Elwing, and their momentous voyage that obtained the help of the Valar against Morgoth. Belatedly, for those who couldn’t attend, here’s a log. (more…)Posted in Barlimans, Green Books, Hall of Fire, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion
Last weekend, the Hall of Fire crew delved into the Two Towers chapter Treebeard. Belatedly, for those who couldn’t attend, here’s a log. It’s a bit choppy to start but bear with it — my fault for still being half asleep when we kicked off.
Also, TORn regular Puma linked this excellent Youtube video of JRR Tolkien reading from the chapter when the Ents come from Entmoot to march on Isengard. (more…)Posted in Barlimans, Green Books, Hall of Fire, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, The Two Towers, Tolkien
The quest for Middle-earth canon. In some ways it always feels a bit of a Sisyphean endeavour.
You know the story of the mythological Greek king, Sisyphus, right?
For those who don’t recall, Sisyphus was just too crafty for his own good. So the Greek gods, never tolerant of being made to look foolish, designed for him the most frustrating of punishments: Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. Just before he could reach the top, it would roll back down, forcing him to begin all over again. (more…)Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien
Several strongholds of elves and men are besieged while Frodo and Sam are trudging laboriously through Mordor to Mount Doom. In particular, Lothlórien repels three such assaults before Galadriel and Celeborn finally lead a counter-offensive against Dol Guldur.
“…the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed.” Appendix B, Lord of the Rings.
That last sentence has often puzzled; people wonder exactly how Galadriel might have accomplished such a task. More, why is she doing now what ought to have been accomplished when the White Council drove Sauron from Dol Guldur years before? (more…)Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Two Towers, Tolkien
A little earlier, Hall of Fire regulars and guests concluded a lively discussion about the enigma of Idril and Tuor. For those who missed it, here’s a log to peruse. Next weekend, we’ll be returning to The Two Towers and chatting about the chapter “Treebeard”. (more…)Posted in Barlimans, Green Books, Hall of Fire, J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion