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The Marquis de Leech

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6 hours ago, Hereward said:

I disagree. Perhaps you are confusing gentry with aristocracy. 

I don't think so in the context of Bilbo is never part of the aristocracy. He's a rich landowner but not actually nobility, such as it exists in the Downton Abbey sense/Took sense.

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1 hour ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I don't think so in the context of Bilbo is never part of the aristocracy. He's a rich landowner but not actually nobility, such as it exists in the Downton Abbey sense/Took sense.

That's my point. He is gentry, he's not aristocracy.

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Bilbo's land consists of one very nice hobbit hole and a garden. He's a landowner, yes, but it's just "him" (and previously his parents, but that's it). The Tookland and Buckland - location of the Great Smials and Brandy Hall respectively - are ancestral family land of a different sort and scale. 

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I did always used to assume that Bilbo also owned the entire hill and Bagshot Row, making him a landlord as well, but I don't think that's mentioned or alluded to anywhere in canon. Looking on Google, a lot of Tolkien fans and scholars have assumed the same thing. There's also the suggestion that the Baggins family had a lot of fingers in a lot of pies as investors, and this result in both a steady income as well as other benefits (such as Bilbo's ludicrously well-stocked larder and his clocks), which is more plausible.

Tolkien clearly struggled with this a bit, since at one point when planning the sequel his idea was that Bilbo had spent all his money and needed to rush off on a new adventure to make more money, but that seemed incompatible with the many decades that Bilbo had lived previously both very comfortably and within his means.

In Letters, Tolkien did confirm that the Bagginses are one of the wealthiest families in the Shire, so that money had to come from somewhere:

Quote

Baggins, Boffin, Bolger, Bracegirdle, Brandybuck, Burrowes, Chubb, Grubb, Hornblower, Proudfoot, Sackville, and Took.

 

Edited by Werthead

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2017 at 1:41 PM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In Tolkien-related matters, has anyone seen the short fan-film The Hunt for Gollum? I've just seen it on youtube (it *is* a fan-film, not a commercial thing), and I think it's brilliant. Apparently done on a £3000 budget too.

(Apologies if this is old news. It is seven years old now, but I've only stumbled across it now).

I thought it was very good, and of very high quality for a fan-made film.  If I didn't know otherwise, I would have assumed that Peter Jackson had produced it.

I have one question though.  How did Gollum relieve himself, while he was being carried around in the sack?

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34 minutes ago, Werthead said:

In Letters, Tolkien did confirm that the Bagginses are one of the wealthiest families in the Shire, so that money had to come from somewhere:

We've got Mr Boffin as an employer of some description (he hires Sam's cousin). Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes are auctioneers, and Otho Sackville-Baggins in the drafts is a lawyer. Lobelia isn't the sort to marry down, so we can put the Bracegirdles on the level of the Sackvilles. The Hornblowers are wealthy from running the pipeweed industry - and presumably they own a fair amount of land in the Southfarthing.

The Bolgers are an interesting case - looking at the family trees, they marry with the Tooks and Brandybucks more than other families, and like them they have a habit of eccentric names. And they have a family seat at Budgeford. The Hornblowers married into them.

If I had to sub-divide Tolkien's list, here is my guess:

Upper class: Took, Brandybuck, Bolger, Hornblower

Middle-class:  Baggins, Boffin, Bracegirdle, Burrowes, Chubb, Grubb, Proudfoot, Sackville.

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45 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I did always used to assume that Bilbo also owned the entire hill and Bagshot Row, making him a landlord as well, but I don't think that's mentioned or alluded to anywhere in canon. Looking on Google, a lot of Tolkien fans and scholars have assumed the same thing. There's also the suggestion that the Baggins family had a lot of fingers in a lot of pies as investors, and this result in both a steady income as well as other benefits (such as Bilbo's ludicrously well-stocked larder and his clocks), which is more plausible.

Tolkien clearly struggled with this a bit, since at one point when planning the sequel his idea was that Bilbo had spent all his money and needed to rush off on a new adventure to make more money, but that seemed incompatible with the many decades that Bilbo had lived previously both very comfortably and within his means.

In Letters, Tolkien did confirm that the Bagginses are one of the wealthiest families in the Shire, so that money had to come from somewhere:

 

 

8 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

Bilbo's land consists of one very nice hobbit hole and a garden. He's a landowner, yes, but it's just "him" (and previously his parents, but that's it). The Tookland and Buckland - location of the Great Smials and Brandy Hall respectively - are ancestral family land of a different sort and scale. 

Bilbo has a fine house.  According to The Quest for Erebor, he also owns many items of gold, silver, and crystal, so he's plainly well-off.  But, none of this produces an income.  And, he can afford to live well, and pursue scholarship, without having to earn a living.

I always though of Bilbo as having similar social standing to Charles Ryder's father, or Soames Forsyte, the very wealthiest levels of the upper middle classes.  I don't know if he owns an estate, and I doubt if shares or 3% consols exist in the Shire, so I would have thought that urban property is the likeliest source of his income.  The idea that he owns the Hill and Bagshot Row, perhaps mills, inns, shops etc. seems plausible.

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If Bilbo (and Frodo) owned all this extra stuff, the problem is that it never gets mentioned in the plots of the Sackville-Bagginses. They're after spoons and a nice house, not mills, shops, and tenant properties.

On the other hand, we know from The Scouring that the Sackville-Bagginses had pipeweed land in the Southfarthing (which provided Lotho with the start of his property empire). Otho might have bought it himself, rather than inherited it from the Sackvilles or the Bagginses, but even so it is an example of middle-class bourgeois investment. So perhaps the Bagginses are also investors in the pipeweed industry - not as big as the Hornblowers, but still comfortable?

There's also the issue of Bilbo likely inheriting a comfortable sum from his Took mother.

Edited by Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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4 minutes ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

If Bilbo (and Frodo) owned all this extra stuff, the problem is that it never gets mentioned in the plots of the Sackville-Bagginses. They're after spoons and a nice house, not mills, shops, and tenant properties.

On the other hand, we know from The Scouring that the Sackville-Bagginses had pipeweed land in the Southfarthing (which provided Lotho with the start of his property empire). Otho might have bought it himself, rather than inherited it from the Sackvilles or the Bagginses, but even so it is an example of middle-class bourgeois investment. So perhaps the Bagginses are also investors in the pipeweed industry - not as big as the Hornblowers, but still comfortable?

There's also the issue of Bilbo likely inheriting a comfortable sum from his Took mother.

Investment in pipeweed is plausible.

But, I doubt if it would be safe, or sensible, just to keep his mother's money hanging round Bag End.  Maybe there are moneylenders or friendly societies in the Shire, that take deposits and pay interest, but I'd have thought that real property is the safest form of investment.

As to the Sackville-Bagginses, they've got plenty of money, but the house holds a special place in their hearts.

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Maybe one should not expect the details from a children's book but it seems obvious that Bilbo even before the Erebor quest belongs to the "leisure class" being able to live comfortably although not extravagantly without a real job. He is probably growing enough fruit and vegetables for himself but I doubt that he is selling enough fruit preserves or canned veggies to live on that ;) so we must assume some returns from investments of his inheritance or something like that. It would be more realistic to have income from real estate, or even better arable land but as this is never mentioned and the Shire is anachronistic in many other fashions there would be nothing wrong with having an income only from investments or interests.

There were/are people who could afford such a life of leisure without being outwardly rich. E.g. in The Magic Mountain, Hans Castorp can afford to live for seven years in the fairly luxurious Berghof without having to work for an income but it is mentioned that if he wanted to found and keep a family with a bourgeois lifestyle he would have to work (he has an engineering degree) because his income from inherited wealth/trust funds whatever whould not be sufficient for that.

Edited by Jo498

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

Maybe one should not expect the details from a children's book but it seems obvious that Bilbo even before the Erebor quest belongs to the "leisure class" being able to live comfortably although not extravagantly without a real job. He is probably growing enough fruit and vegetables for himself but I doubt that he is selling enough fruit preserves or canned veggies to live on that ;) so we must assume some returns from investments of his inheritance or something like that. It would be more realistic to have income from real estate, or even better arable land but as this is never mentioned and the Shire is anachronistic in many other fashions there would be nothing wrong with having an income only from investments or interests.

There were/are people who could afford such a life of leisure without being outwardly rich. E.g. in the magic mountain, Hans Castorp can afford to live for seven years in the fairly luxurious Berghof without having to work for an income but it is mentioned that if he wanted to found and keep a family with a bourgeois lifestyle he would have to work (he has an engineering degree) because his income from inherited wealth/trust funds whatever whould not be sufficient for that.

Yes, the Shire is obviously (and amusingly) anachronistic.  It's basically nineteenth century rural Warwickshire in a prehistoric world. 

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Another fantastic piece, though my hatred for the last two films clearly surpasses yours. It's always alarmed me somewhat that Eomer's last stand speech and Denethor's "“I would have things as they were in all the days of my life and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil. But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught: neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honour abated” are two of my favourite moments in the book.

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3 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

An essay contrasting Tolkien and Jackson's portrayal of war in LOTR:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/on-war-tolkien-vs-jackson/

A great essay.

Don't get me started on battle tactics in the films (which in general, I enjoyed, up until the second half of ROTK, which was a mess).

1. Eomer's cavalry charge over a cliff at the climax of the Battle of Helm's Deep, on top of armoured Uruk Hai wielding pikes.  Instead of impaling said cavalry, they inexplicably break and flee;

2. Denethor (in the books) very sensibly evacuates non-combatants from Minas Tirith. In the film, they remain in the city to be slaughtered when Sauron's forces break in.

3. In the books, the Rohirrim destroy half the besieging army by taking them in the rear, by surprise.  In the film, the besiegers have time to form up to receive the charge, but like their counterparts in Rohan, inexplicably break and flee.

4.  What do cavalry do when faced with elephants?  Use horse archers to shoot them down from a distance, according to Tolkien.  Of course not in the film.  They launch a suicidal charge against them.

5.  The Soap Bubbles of Death in any case make the Ride of the Rohirrim completely pointless.

6.  The Battle of the Morannon.  Everyone breaks formation to charge an army that greatly outnumbers them.

Tolkien understood battle tactics.  Peter Jackson doesn't.

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2 hours ago, Hereward said:

Another fantastic piece, though my hatred for the last two films clearly surpasses yours. It's always alarmed me somewhat that Eomer's last stand speech and Denethor's "“I would have things as they were in all the days of my life and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil. But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught: neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honour abated” are two of my favourite moments in the book.

Not to mention the wonderful, understated, response of Eowyn to the Witch King "Do what you will, I shall hinder you if I may, which was also omitted"

Edited by SeanF

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Also an interesting point about Eowyn in your essay.  She is a national heroine, but in another sense, she is a deserter.  Had she not killed the Witch King, things might have gone very hard for her.

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Reading the last bit on books vs. movies I am glad I never saw the third part...

But going back to the "races". While I agree that they do not match any real world (e.g. Nazi "Aryan") clichès (that obsession with the "snowwhite" look with dark hair, grey eyes and pale skin was apparently Edith's fault) I find it hard to deny that the elves and the Numenoreans are shown as superior. Not morally, but in abilities.

As far as I can see Tolkien does not use this to argue for their right to suppress "lesser people", on the contrary it is more like the Spiderman maxim With great power comes great responsibility and there is also the old idea that the fall of a hero is more impressive if he had been far up before his fall (this applies to Feanor and some others in the Silmarillion).

Still, I can understand that the very idea that some races/lineages are "better", i.e. have superhuman abilities like the "Firstborn" or are closer to them in ability than ordinary mortal men makes some readers uneasy. As a lot of fantasy has larger than life characters I have no problem with that. The special skills that make some characters similarly (or even more clearly) superior than e.g. Tolkien Elves or Men of Numenorean descent are often unexplained in other settings or it is an inborn magical ability or an even closer analogue to Elvish lineages.

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9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

I find it hard to deny that the elves and the Numenoreans are shown as superior. Not morally, but in abilities.

I'd accept that with the Elves. With Men it's more complicated - the Druedain are unique in having the ability to do actual magic. Whether that is taken as another example of different races having different abilities, or whether it's something more positive (the Druedain are always on the side of good, are short, and brown-skinned) is up to the reader.

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