Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum...
January 7, 2020 12:59 PM   Subscribe

In 1952, having first exorcized the apparatus by reciting the Lord's Prayer in Gothic, J.R.R. Tolkien made a ten-minute recording of the riddle scene in The Hobbit on a portable tape recorder.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark (29 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Riddle me this: How many Hobbits possessed the One Ring?
posted by fairmettle at 1:17 PM on January 7


Five? Deagol, Smeagol, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam?

I think the real question is how many of them were lovers...
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:20 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Five - if you classify Smeagol and Deagol as hobbits. The other three would be Bilbo, Frodo and Sam.
posted by bwvol at 1:21 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


None! It possessed them!
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:29 PM on January 7 [41 favorites]


"Deep down here by the dark water..."
posted by brundlefly at 1:44 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


This is very cool!
posted by ChuraChura at 1:44 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Smeagol and Deagol were Stoorish Hobbits, one of the three original hobbit-kinds that all blended together, eventually, in the Shire. So I think they count as Hobbits.

It possessed them!

I think it's clear that the Ring possessed Smeagol and probably also Deagol (though Deagol had it for only minutes, his refusal to give it up probably indicates that the Ring was working on both poor hobbits when they found it). I would argue that Sam and Bilbo possessed the Ring, rather than the other way around - both bore it for a period of time, and were able to surrender it (though not without difficulty). Frodo succumbed at the last moment, so I'm not sure how to judge him - if I say it possessed Deagol, I guess I should say it also possessed Frodo; at the same time Frodo carried it for a long time and the Ring influenced others during that time, while he resisted it. He also voluntarily offers the Ring to both Gandalf and Galadriel.
posted by nubs at 1:48 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The correct answer is, of course, six, including those mentioned above plus Sauron.
Did no-one else read the bombshell revelation at the end of volume nine of the Collected Laundry Lists?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:01 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Smeagol and Deagol were Stoorish Hobbits, one of the three original hobbit-kinds that all blended together, eventually, in the Shire. So I think they count as Hobbits.

Arguably it's a bit more ambiguous that Déagol and Sméagol were properly hobbits. Gandalf says:
Long after, but still very long ago, there lived by the banks of the Great River on the edge of Wilderland a clever-handed and quiet-footed little people. I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made little boats of reeds."
Then later:
'I can't believe that Gollum was connected with hobbits, however distantly,' said Frodo with some heat. 'What an abominable notion!'

'It is true all the same,' replied Gandalf. 'About their origins, at any rate, I know more than hobbits due themselves. And even Bilbo's story suggests the kinship.'
So, I think it's clear that the people of Déagol and Sméagol were ancestors of the hobbits, the Stoors in particular. Whether they are hobbits per se, is a little more gray.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:07 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


At his death, according to Google, Gollum was 589 years old. I don't think that animals speciate in that short a time. There just simply weren't that many generations between his people and the people of the Shire.

He was a Hobbit.
posted by MythMaker at 2:11 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The correct answer is, of course, six, including those mentioned above plus Sauron.

Sauron wasn't a hobbit, of course. Neither was Tom Bombadil, who held the Ring once but could not be possessed by it.

Men, of course, were always prey to the Ring. Isildur was doomed the moment he held it.
posted by SPrintF at 2:19 PM on January 7


I had that recording on LP in college! I found it at Tower Records. My god, I am old.
posted by holborne at 2:22 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


I don't think that animals speciate in that short a time.

I would propose that Middle-earth doesn't particularly adhere to standard genetic models.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:36 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


Middle Earth is Earth! Tolkien was writing about the prehistory of Europe. Speciation works the same.
posted by MythMaker at 2:43 PM on January 7


Men, of course, were always prey to the Ring. Isildur was doomed the moment he held it.

Faramir (in the books) is resistant to the Ring ('I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.').

The books place a great deal of emphasis on the intent (especially around selfishness) of the Ringbearers in terms of their corruptibility; Bilbo suffers less harm from it because his ownership began with pity for Gollum ('Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity'.) Frodo carries the Ring with the intent to destroy it, not to wield it; and Sam takes it up in order to carry on that quest (and the Ring's temptation of him - a garden the size of a realm, is laughable to a hobbit who just wants his own garden).

is there anything finer than arguing the minutiae of Lord of the Rings on Metafilter?
posted by nubs at 2:50 PM on January 7 [18 favorites]


I didn't expect him to sound so much like John Houseman.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:19 PM on January 7


MythMaker: "Middle Earth is Earth! Tolkien was writing about the prehistory of Europe. Speciation works the same."

Yes, of course it is. Now explain plate tectonics in this context.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:24 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Now explain plate tectonics in this context.

Caused when Melkor brought down Illuin and Ormal, of course.
posted by nubs at 3:38 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


His Gollum voice!
posted by sleeping bear at 4:00 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Magnified earthquake spell with time delay triggers permanent gate from which monster summoning VIII pours forth 400 kobolds and platoon of Xorn.
posted by clavdivs at 5:04 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I wanted to hear the Gothic prayer, dammit!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 6:50 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


I have read both The Hobbit and The Lord or the Rings out loud to my wife. I’m happy to hear that my rendition of Gollum is fairly close to Tolkien's. Creeped my wife completely out.
posted by grimjeer at 7:22 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I don't think that animals speciate in that short a time.

We know of at least two methods in Middle Earth for sapient species to change faster than they would through evolution. The children of elves and humans differ from both groups. Sauron's magic turned elves into orcs. There may be other ways. So I think it's reasonable to believe Gandalf could be right about Gollum's people changing significantly in the 500 years between them and the hobbits we know. Especially since we don't really know what hobbits are or where they came from.
posted by straight at 11:43 PM on January 7


wonderful! Thank you.
posted by mwhybark at 1:17 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Also, I lobes youns nerds. Genji, I may never stop chortling.
posted by mwhybark at 1:18 AM on January 8


I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made little boats of reeds.

I doubt Tolkien was thinking of biological development rather than cultural. Just like there are different “ethnicities” of Elves, Dwarves, and Men, there is no reason to assume that there weren’t different cultural groups of “halflings” that eventually migrated to the area of the Shire and developed a sufficiently unified culture to be essentially one ethnicity. You think that those Hobbit genealogies would make that clear, since it’s only been about a dozen Hobbit generations between the finding of the Ring and Frodo, but, maybe a) Frodo hadn’t studied enough or b) genealogies contain lies, mistakes, and dissembling.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:19 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Creeped my wife completely out.

The only voice I do that really creeps my wife out is the Peter Sellers recording of She Loves You (Beatles) in his Dr. Strangelove voice.

I may have to use that one for Gollum, too.
posted by notsnot at 5:25 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


At Monash University you could go to the student library, the John Medley Library, and ask to listen to a record. The librarian would tell you which seat to go to- a comfy armchair with large over ear headphones, and put it on for you.

I listened to this recording there, I don't remember but I think it was pure serendipity that I found it.
posted by freethefeet at 4:05 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


Yesssssss LOTR discourse

Delicious, precious
posted by Kitchen Witch at 11:10 PM on January 13


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