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                TOLKIEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST

                        Last Updated August 14, 1993


   Sections/questions marked:  *   have been revised since the last
                                   release.
                               **  are new since the last release.


                        Table of Contents


   I. Changes Since the Last Release (**)

  II. Acknowledgements  (**)

 III. Note on Page References and Conversion Table  (**)

  IV. Commonly Used Abbreviations  (*)


   V. Frequently Asked Questions

    A) Tolkien And His Work
  (*) 1) Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?

  (*) 2) Were the languages presented in _The Lord of the Rings_ real
        languages?
  (*) 3) What does it mean when people (or Tolkien himself) speak of him
        as having been the "editor" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?
  (*) 4) How thoroughly realized was Tolkien's fiction that he was the
        "translator" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?
  (*) 5) Why is Tolkien's work, _The Lord of the Rings_ in particular,
        so difficult to translate (into other languages of our world)?

  (*) 6) Did the events in _The Lord of the Rings_ take place on another
        planet or what?
  (*) 7) Was the northwest of Middle-earth, where the story takes place,
        meant to actually be Europe?
  (*) 8) Was the Shire meant to be England?

  (*) 9) What were the changes made to _The Hobbit_ after _The Lord of
        the Rings_ was written, and what motivated them?
     10) Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The
        Lord of the Rings_ ?
     11) Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the
        eighteen years which followed the publication of _The Lord of
        the Rings_ ?

    B) General History Of Middle-earth
     13) What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?
     14) In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at
        the Fall of Numenor?

    C) Hobbits
 (*) 15) Were Hobbits a sub-group of Humans?
     16) Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed
        over the Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?
 (*) 17) Did Hobbits have pointed ears?
 (*) 18) When was Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday?  To what date on our own
        calendar does it correspond?
 (*) 19) Was Gollum a hobbit?
 (*) 20) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob,
        Crazy Cob, and Old Tomnoddy.  What do the words mean?

     21) Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?
     22) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as
        Glorfindel of Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?
 (*) 23) Did Elves have pointed ears?
     24) How were Eldar in Valinor named?

    E) Humans
     25) What brought on the sinking of Numenor?
     26) How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron
        wielded the One Ring?
     27) What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
     28) Where did the Southrons come from?  Were they part of the Atani?

    F) Dwarves
     29) What were the origins of the Dwarves?
     30) If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were
        created, how did the race procreate?
     31) Did Dwarf women have beards?

    G) Istari (Wizards)
     32) Who were the Istari (Wizards)?
     33) Of the Five Wizards, only three came into the story.  Was
        anything known about the other two?
     34) What happened to Radagast?

    H) Enemies
     35) What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?
     36) What was the origin of the Orcs?
     37) What was the origin of Trolls?

    J) Miscellaneous
     38) Who or what was Tom Bombadil?
     39) Was there any definitive explanation given on what happened to
        the Entwives?
     40) Who was Queen Beruthiel (who was mentioned by Aragorn during
        the journey through Moria)?


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                   CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

      The changes indicated in the Contents were those needed to bring
various sections to their final form.  Unless otherwise noted, questions
marked as revised were changed by the addition of references and of
contributors (and stylistically: some were to some extent re-written)
but not in content.

      This section and the Acknowledgements section are new.

      In the Note on Page References the explanation of which editions
the page numbers refer to is new; it supplements the conversion table,
which was already included.

      A few additions were made to the Commonly Used Abbreviations.

      Question 1 was significantly expanded.
      Question 3: several illustrative examples were added.
      Question 5: further examples were added.
      Question 6 was significantly expanded by the addition of several
                 quoted excerpts.
      Question 7 also was.
      Question 8 had its conclusion slightly altered, an addtional point
                 was noted, and several quotes were added.
      Question 9 was extended to clarify a complicated situation.
      Question 12, on canonicity, has temporarily been removed.
      Question 15 was extended by the inclusion of the relevant quotes.
      Question 17 was slightly expanded.
      Question 19 was slightly expanded by more carful referencing.
      Question 23 was extended by the inclusion of the relevant quote.


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                          ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The following individuals made suggestions and contributions to this
Frequently Asked Questions list:


Wayne.G.Hammond@williams.edu  (Wayne Hammond Jr)
carl@class.gsfc.nasa.gov   (Carl F. Hostetter)
paul@ERC.MsState.Edu  (Paul Adams)
wft@math.canterbury.ac.nz   (Bill Taylor)
cpresson@jido.b30.ingr.com (Craig Presson)

simen.gaure@usit.uio.no     (Simen Gaure)
abalje47@uther.Calvin.EDU (Alan Baljeu)
sahdra@ecf.toronto.edu (SAHDRA KULDIP)


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                        NOTE ON PAGE REFERENCES

      Sources for quotations have been provided in the form of volume
and page numbers; which edition is referred to in each case is listed
below.  For those cases when the proper edition is not available (and
the conversion table below is not applicable) the page numbers have also
been roughly located according to chapter, sub-section, or appendix,
whichever is applicable.  For example,  RK, 57-59 (V, 2) refers to pages
57-59 of Return of the King and further locates the pages in chapter 2
of Book V.  PLEASE NOTE the distinction in the case of _Lord of the
Rings_ between *Volumes* and *Books*.  LotR is comprised of three
Volumes (FR, TT, and RK) and of six Books (I - VI), which are the more
natural divisions of the story into six roughly equal parts.  There are
two Books in each of the Volumes.  Other sample references are below.

      References to _The Hobbit_ are from the Ballantine paperback (the
pagination has been the same since the 60's.  All other references are
to the HM hardcovers.  Sample references follow:

      Hobbit, 83 (Ch V)  ==   Hobbit, chapter V

      RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits")  ==
                             p 408 in Part I of Appendix F, the sections
                                      entitled "Of Men" and "Of Hobbits"

      Silm, 57 (Ch V)  ==  Silmarillion, chapter V  (BoLT and _The
                              Annotated Hobbit_ treated similarly)

      UT, 351 (Three, IV, iii)  ==  Unfinished Tales, Part Three,
                                      Chapter IV, sub-section iii
                                    (the Biography treated similarly)

      Letters, 230 (#178)  ==  letter number 178.

      RtMe, 53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms")  ==
                                 The Road to Middle-earth, in Chapter 3,
                                     sub-section "Creative anachronisms"


CONVERSION TABLE

      In _The Atlas of Middle-earth_, Karen Wynn Fonstad provided a
Houghton-Mifflin-to-Ballantine conversion table, which is reproduced
below.  The "table" is actually a set of formulae by which HM page
numbers may be converted to Ballantine page numbers via arithmetic
involving some empirically determined constants.  Since these are
discrete rather than continuous functions the results may be off by
a page or so.

      HM Page            Subtract            Divide By            Add
   -------------         --------            ---------          -------
   FR 10 to 423             9                  .818                18
   TT 15 to 352            14                  .778                16
   RK 19 to 311            18                  .797                18
   RK 313 to 416          312                  .781               386
    H 9 to 317              8                 1.140                14
   Silm 15 to 365          14                  .773                 2

Reference:  Atlas, p. 191 (first edtion), p. 192 (revised edtion)


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                       COMMONLY USED ABBREVIATIONS

General:

      JRRT          J.R.R. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
      CT, CJRT      Christopher Tolkien (son; editor of most posthumous
                    works)

      A&U, AU       George Allen & Unwin (original British publisher)
      UH            Unwin Hyman (new name for A&U c. 1987(?))
      HC            HarperCollins (purchased UH c. 1992; current British
                                   publisher)
      HM            Houghton Mifflin (American publisher)

      M-e           Middle-earth
      SA            Second Age
      TA            Third Age
      SR            Shire Reckoning

Middle-earth Works:

      H             The Hobbit
      LR, LotR      The Lord of the Rings
      FR, FotR      The Fellowship of the Ring
      TT, TTT       The Two Towers
      RK, RotK      The Return of the King

      TB, ATB       The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
      RGEO          The Road Goes Ever On
      Silm          The Silmarillion
      UT            Unfinished Tales
      Letters       The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
      HoMe          History of Middle-earth
      BLT,BoLT      Book of Lost Tales
      Lays          The Lays of Beleriand
      Treason       The Treason of Isengard
      Guide         The Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings
                                      (published in _A Tolkien Compass_)

Other Works:

      FGH           Farmer Giles of Ham
      TL            Tree and Leaf
      OFS           On Fairy-Stories
      LbN           Leaf by Niggle
      HBBS          The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son
      SWM           Smith of Wootton Major
      SGPO          Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo
      FCL           The Father Christmas Letters

Reference Works:

      Biography     J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; by Humphrey Carpenter
                    (published in the US as Tolkien: A Biography)
      Inklings      The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles
                    Williams, and Their Friends;  by Humphrey Carpenter
      RtMe          The Road to Middle-earth;  by T.A. Shippey
      Scholar       J.R.R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in

                    Memoriam; edited by Mary Salu and Robert T. Farrell
      Atlas         The Atlas of Middle-earth;  by Karen Wynn Fonstad


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TOLKIEN AND HIS WORK

1) Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?

      John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Englishman, scholar, and storyteller
  was born of English parents at Bloemfontein, South Africa on Jan. 3,
  1892 and died in England on Sept. 2, 1973.  His entire childhood was
  spent in England, to which the family returned permenantly in 1896
  upon the death of his father.  He received his education at King
  Edward's School, St. Philip's Grammar School, and Oxford University.
  After graduating in 1915 he joined the British army and saw action in
  the Battle of the Somme.  He was eventually discharged after spending
  most of 1917 in the hospital suffering from "trench fever".  [It was
  during this time that he began The Book of Lost Tales.]

      Tolkien was a scholar by profession.  His academic positions were:
  staff member of the New English Dictionary (1918-20); Reader, later
  Professor of English Language at Leeds, 1920-25; Rawlinson and Bosworth
  Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (1925-45); and Merton Professor of
  English Language and Literature (1945-59).  His principal professional
  focus was the study of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and its relation to
  linguistically similar languages (Old Norse, Old German, and Gothic),
  with special emphasis on the dialects of Mercia, that part of England
  in which he grew up and lived, but he was also interested in Middle
  English, especially the dialect used in the _Ancrene Wisse_ (a twelfth
  century manuscript probably composed in western England).  Moreover,
  Tolkien was an expert in the surviving literature written in these
  languages.  Indeed, his unusual ability to simultaneously read the
  texts as linguistic sources and as literature gave him perspective
  into both aspects; this was once described as "his unique insight at
  once into the language of poetry and the poetry of language" (from
  the Obituary; Scholar, p. 13).

      From an early age he had been fascinated by language, particularly
  the languages of Northern Europe, both ancient and modern.  From this
  affinity for language came not only his profession but also his private
  hobby, the invention of languages.  He was more generally drawn to the
  entire "Northern tradition", which inspired him to wide reading of its
  myths and epics and of those modern authors who were equally drawn to
  it, such as William Morris and George MacDonald.  His broad knowledge
  inevitably led to the development of various opinions about Myth, its
  relation to language, and the importance of Stories, interests which
  were shared by his friend C.S. Lewis.  All these various perspectives:
  language, the heroic tradition, and Myth and Story (and a very real
  and deeply-held belief in and devotion to Catholic Christianity) came
  together with stunning effect in his stories: first the legends of the
  Elder Days which served as background to his invented languages, and
  later his most famous works, _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_.


References: Biography; Letters; RtMe (esp. ch 1, on philology);
            Inklings; Scholar.

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr

----------


2) Were the languages presented in _The Lord of the Rings_ real
  languages?

      Most certainly they were, especially the Elven languages Sindarin
  and Quenya.  "[These were] no arbitrary gibberish but really possible
  tongues with consistent roots, sound laws, and inflexions, into which
  he poured all his imaginative and philological powers..." (Obituary,
  in Scholar, p. 12).  Furthermore, they were both derived from a
  "proto-Elvish" language, again in a linguistically realistic manner.
  [Sindarin was the "everyday" elvish language while Quenya was a kind
  of "elf-latin"; therefore, most Elvish words in LotR were Sindarin.
  Examples: most "non-English" (see Ques 4) place-names on the map
  (e.g. Minas Tirith, Emyn Beriad) were Sindarin, as was the song to
  Elbereth sung in Rivendell; Galadriel's lament was in Quenya.]

      The language of the Rohirrim *was* a real language: Anglo-Saxon
  (Old English), just as their culture (except for the horses) was that
  of the Anglo-Saxons.  (It was, however, not the "standard" West Saxon
  Old English but rather the Mercian equivalent (RtMe, 94).)  Most of
  the other languages in LotR were much less fully developed: Entish,
  Khudzul (Dwarvish) and the Black Speech (the language of Mordor, e.g.
  the Ring inscription).  Adunaic, the language of Numenor, developed in
  1946 while he was finishing up LotR, was said to be his fifteenth
  invented language.


References: Biography, 35-37 (II,3), 93-95 (III,1), 195 (V,2);
            Letters, 175-176 (#144), 219 (footnote) (#165), 380 (#297);
            RtMe, 93 (4, "The horses of the Mark");
            Scholar, 12 (Obituary).

Contributor: WDBL

----------


3) What does it mean when people (or Tolkien himself) speak of him as
  having been the "editor" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

      The fiction Tolkien sought to maintain was that _The Lord of the
  Rings_ (and _The Hobbit_ and the Silmarillion) were actually ancient
  manuscripts (written by Frodo and Bilbo, respectively) of which he was
  merely the editor and translator (a situation identical to much of his
  scholarly work).  He never stated this directly but it is implicit in
  the way in which many sections of LoTR outside the story are written.
  Thus, the Prologue is plainly written as though by a modern editor
  describing an ancient time.  Other examples are the introductory note
  to the revised edition of _The Hobbit_, the Preface to _The Adventures
  of Tom Bombadil_, and parts of the Appendices, especially the intro-
  ductory note to Appendix A, Appendix D, and Appendix F.  Most inter-
  esting of all is the Note on the Shire Records, where Tolkien further
  simulates a real situation by inventing a manuscript tradition (the
  suggestion was that Frodo's original manuscript didn't survive but
  that a series of copies had been made, one of which had come into
  Tolkien's hands).

      This entire notion was by no means a new idea: many authors have
  pretended that their fantasies were "true" stories of some ancient
  time.  Few, however, have done so as thoroughly and successfully as
  did Tolkien.  The most effective component of his pretense was the
  linguistic aspects of Middle-earth, for he was uniquely qualified to
  pose as the "translator" of the manuscripts (on which see Ques 4).


References: introductory note to _The Hobbit_ (precedes Ch I);
            FR, Prologue, Note on the Shire Records;
            RK, Appendix A, Appendix D, Appendix F;
            ATB, Preface.

Contributor: WDBL

----------


4) How thoroughly realized was Tolkien's fiction that he was the
  "translator" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

      Very thoroughly indeed.  The scenario was that "of course" hobbits
  couldn't have spoken English (the story took place far in the past --
  see Ques 6); rather, they spoke their own language, called Westron
  (but often referred to as the Common Speech).  Tolkien "translated"
  this language into English, which included "rendering" all the Common
  Speech place-names into the equivalent English place-names.  The
  object of the exercise was to produce the following effect: names in
  the Common Speech (which were familiar to the hobbits) were "rendered"
  into English (in which form they would be familiar to us, the English-
  speaking readers); names in other languages (usually Sindarin) were
  "left alone", and thus were equally unfamiliar to the hobbits and to
  us.  Since the story was told largely from the hobbits' point of view,
  that we should share their linguistic experience is a desirable result
  (especially for Tolkien, who was unusually sensitive to such matters).

      In portraying the linguistic landscape of Middle-earth he carried
  this procedure much further.  The main example was his "substitution"
  of Anglo-Saxon for Rohirric.  The "rationale" was that the hobbits'
  dialect of Westron was distantly related to Rohirric; therefore, when
  hobbits heard Rohirric they recognized many words but the language
  nevertheless remained just beyond understanding (RK, 65 (V,3)).  Thus,
  Tolkien attempted to further "duplicate" hobbit linguistic perceptions
  by "substituting" that language of our world (Anglo-Saxon) which has
  (more-or-less) the same relation to English that Rohirric had to the
  hobbit version of Westron.

      There were many other nuances in the intricate and subtle linguis-
  tic web he devised (always, he carefully explained, in the interests
  of "reproducing" the linguistic map of Middle-earth in a way that
  could be easily assimilated by modern English-speaking readers). Thus:

    a) Archaic English roots were used in those Common Speech place-
      names which were given long before the time of the story (e.g.
      Tindrock, Derndingle; see Guide).

    b) Some of the Stoors (who later settled in Buckland and the Marish)
      dwelt in Dunland at one time (Tale of Years, entries for TA 1150
      and 1630 (RK, App B)); the men of Bree also came from that region
      originally (RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits")).  "Since
      the survival of traces of the older language of the Stoors and the
      Bree-men resembled the survival of Celtic elements in England"
      (RK, 414 (App F, II)), the place-names in Bree were Celtic in
      origin (Bree, Archet, Chetwood) (see also Guide).  Similarly, the
      names of the Buckland hobbits were Welsh (e.g. Madoc, Berilac).

    c) Among hobbits some of the older Fallohide families liked to give
      themselves high-sounding names from the legendary past (an example
      of hobbit humor).  Tolkien "represented" such names by names of
      Frankish or Gothic origin (Isengrim, Rudigar, Fredegar, Peregrin).

  These matters and much else is explained in detail in Appendix F.


References: RK, Appendix F;
            Guide;
            Letters, 174-176 (#144), 380-381 (#297);
            RtMe, 88-89 (4, "Stars, shadows, cellar-doors: patterns
                  of language and of history").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


5) Why is Tolkien's work, _The Lord of the Rings_ in particular, so
  difficult to translate (into other languages of our world)?

      Because his interest in, skill with, and love of language are man-
  ifest at every level and indeed in almost every word of LotR, thereby
  producing a result difficult if not impossible to duplicate.

      Question 4 describes how Common Speech names were "rendered" into
  English.  The Guide to the Names in _The Lord of the Rings_, Tolkien's
  instructions for translators, does attempt to address this.  In it he
  goes down the list of names in the index and specifies which should be
  translated (being Common Speech) and which should be left alone.  It
  would require skillful translation to get even this far, but that
  would only be the beginning.  Reproducing the other linguistic intri-
  cacies described in Question 4 would be well-nigh impossible; for
  example, Rohirric would have to be replaced with some ancient language
  whose relation to the language of translation was the same as that of
  Anglo-Saxon to modern English.

      On another level, there is the diction and style of everything
  said and told.  The language used has a strong archaic flavor; it is
  not an exact recreation of how Anglo-Saxon or medieval people actually
  spoke but rather is as close an approximation as he could achieve and
  still remain intelligible to modern readers.  This was not accidental
  but rather was deliberately and carefully devised.  (See Letters,
  225-226 (#171)).

      There were, moreover, variations in the style in which characters
  of different backgrounds spoke the Common Speech ("represented" as
  English) (e.g. at the Council of Elrond, FR, II, 2; see also RtMe
  90-93).  There were variations in the style of individual characters
  at different times (RK, 412 (App F, II)).  There was even an attempt
  to indicate a distinction between familiar and deferential forms of

  pronouns (which doesn't exist in modern English) by use of the archaic
  words "thee" and "thou" (RK, 411 (App F, II); for an example, see the
  scene with Aragorn and Eowyn at Dunharrow, RK, 57-59 (V, 2)).

      Finally, there was Tolkien's poetry, which was often far more
  complicated than it appeared, and which in many cases is very probably
  untranslatable.  (The extreme case is Bilbo's Song of Earendil, FR,
  246-249 (II,1); T.A. Shippey has identified five separate metrical
  devices in this poem: RtMe, 145-146).


References: RK, Appendix F, 57-59 (V, 2);
            FR, "The Council of Elrond" (II, 2), 246-249 (II,1);
            Guide;
            Letters, 225-226 (#171), 250-251 (#190) [on the Dutch
                  translation], 263 (#204) [on the Swedish translation];
            RtMe, 90-93 (4, "'The Council of Elrond'"),
                  145-146 (6, "the elvish tradition").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


6) Did the events in _The Lord of the Rings_ take place on another
  planet or what?

      No.  Tolkien's intention was that was that Middle-earth was our
  own world, though his way of stating this idea was somewhat unusual:
  he spoke of having created events which took place in an *imaginary
  time* of a real place.  He made this fully explicit only in Letters,
  but there were two very strong indications in the published _Lord of
  the Rings_, though both were outside the narrative.

      The first was in the Prologue.  It is there stated: "Those days,
  the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past, and the shape of all
  lands has been changed; but the regions in which Hobbits then lived
  were doubtless the same as those in which they still linger: the
  North-West of the Old World, east of the Sea." (FR, 11).  Since no
  other reference is made to this matter either in the Prologue or in
  the main narrative, it makes little impression on most readers, but
  is clear enough once pointed out.

      The second was in Appendix D, which presents lore on calendars in
  Middle-earth.  The discussion begins as follows:

       The Calendar in the Shire differed in several features from ours.
    The year no doubt was of the same length (*), for long ago as those
    times are now reckoned in years and lives of men, they were not very
    remote according to the memory of the Earth.

       (*) 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds.
                                                       (RK, 385 (App D))

  The quote is clear enough in and of itself, but that the year length
  specified in the footnote is the precise length of our own year must
  surely remove all doubt.

  There follow excerpts from three letters wherein the matter is
  further discussed.

        'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land
    without relation to the world we live in ....  And though I have not
    attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to
    what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imagina-
    tively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the
    actual Old World of this planet.
                                                     Letters, 220 (#165)

        I am historically minded.  Middle-earth is not an imaginary
    world. ...  The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which
    we now live, but the historical period is imaginary.  The essentials
    of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of
    N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little
    glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.
                                                     Letters, 239 (#183)

    ... I hope the, evidently long but undefined, gap(*) in time between
    the Fall of Barad-dur and our Days is sufficient for 'literary cred-
    ibility', even for readers acquainted with what is known or surmised
    of 'pre-history'.

        I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary *time*, but kept my
    feet on my own mother-earth for *place*.  I prefer that to the con-
    temporary mode of seeking remote globes in 'space'. However curious,
    they are alien, and not lovable with the love of blood-kin.  Middle-
    earth is ... not my own invention.  It is a modernization or
    alteration ... of an old word for the inhabited world of Men, the
    _oikoumene_ : middle because thought of vaguely as set amidst the
    encircling Seas and (in the northern-imagination) between ice of the
    North and the fire of the South.  O. English  _middan-geard_ ,
    mediaeval E.  _midden-erd_, _middle-erd_ .  Many reviewers seem to
    assume that Middle-earth is another planet!
                                                     Letters, 283 (#211)

  The footnote in the first sentence of the last-quoted excerpt offers
  a fascinating insight:

        (*) I imagine the gap to be about 6000 years: that is we are now
            at the end of the Fifth Age, if the Ages were of about the
            same length as S.A. and T.A.  But they have, I think,
            quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the
            Sixth Age, or in the Seventh.
                                                     Letters, 283 (#211)

  A final note is that not only is the place our own world but also the
  people inhabiting it are ourselves, morally as well as physically:

    ... I have not made any of the peoples on the 'right' side, Hobbits,
    Rohirrim, Men of Dale or of Gondor, any better than men have been or
    are, or can be.  Mine is not an 'imaginary' world, but an imaginary
    historical moment on 'Middle-earth' -- which is our habitaion.
                                                     Letters, 244 (#183)


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
            RK, 385 (Appendix D);
            Letters, 220 (#165), 239, 244 (#183), 283 (#211).

Contributors: WDBL, Carl F. Hostetter, Bill Taylor

----------


7) Was the northwest of Middle-earth, where the story took place, meant
  to actually be Europe?

      Yes, but a qualified yes.  There is no question that Tolkien had
  northwestern Europe in mind when he described the terrain, weather,
  flora, and landscapes of Middle-earth.  This was no doubt partially
  because NW Europe was his home and therefore most familiar to him and
  partially because of his love for the "Northern tradition".  As he
  said himself: "The North-west of Europe, where I (and most of my
  ancestors) have lived, has my affection, as a man's home should.  I
  love its atmosphere, and know more of its histories and languages than
  I do of other parts; ..." (Letters 376 (#294)).  Thus, the environment
  of Middle-earth will seem familiar to dwellers of that region of
  Europe (see the second letter excerpted in Question 6 (#183)).

      However, the geographies simply don't match.  This was the result
  not so much of a deliberate decision on Tolkien's part to have things
  so but rather a side-effect of the history of the composition: the
  question did not occur to him until the story was too far advanced and
  the map too fixed to allow much alteration:

    ... if it were 'history', it would be difficult to fit the lands and
    events (or 'cultures') into such evidence as we possess, archaeo-
    logical or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what
    is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly
    stated to have been in this region [FR, 11].  I could have fitted
    things in with greater versimilitude, if the story had not become
    too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me.  I doubt
    if there would have been much gain; ...
                                                     Letters, 283 (#211)

    ... As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that
    was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleonto-
    logically.  I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agree-
    ment between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my
    map a little more possible.  But that would only have made more
    trouble with human history.
                                                     Letters, 224 (#169)

      The remark that there probably would not "have been much gain" is
  characteristic and perhaps indicates Tolkien's own approach, which
  would seem to have been to focus on the environmental familiarity at
  the "local" level (in the sense that any particular scene might have
  come from somewhere in Europe) and to simply overlook the lack of
  "global" identity.  On the other hand, he made some attempt to address
  the difficulty in the quote from the Prologue (FR, 11), where it was
  said: "Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past,
  and the shape of all lands has been changed...".  The conclusion is
  that it is a matter for each individual reader as to how important is
  the lack of geographical fit and where one comes down on the continuum
  between "Middle-earth was northwestern Europe" and "Middle-earth might
  as well have been northwestern Europe" (or, as Tolkien might have
  said, "Middle-earth 'imaginatively' was northwestern Europe").  [Thus,
  recent attempts to force the M-e map to fit the map of the Eurasian
  land mass, such as in _Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia_ by David
  Day, should be discounted.]

      In one letter he provided indications to help in visualizing the
  circumstances of various locales, but this does not help in resolving
  the above matter, since again northwestern Europe was used for
  comparison rather than equation:

       The action of the story takes place in the North-west of 'Middle-
    earth', equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the
    north shores of the Mediterranean. ...  If Hobbiton and Rivendell
    are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then
    Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence.
    The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about
    the latitude of ancient Troy.
                                                 Letters, 375-376 (#294)


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
            Letters, 376 (#294), 239 (#183), 283 (#211), 224 (#169).

Contributors: WDBL, Carl F. Hostetter

----------


8) Was the Shire meant to be England?

      In this case, the balance between "actually *was*" and "was based
  upon" is entirely tipped towards the former.  There is no hint that
  the Shire was in any sense supposed the be the country now called
  England in an ancient state.  On the other hand, there is plainly a
  very strong resemblance between the Shire and the rural England of
  about a century ago.

      More precisely, the Shire plainly could not *be* England in any
  literal sense: England is an island, and even changes in "the shape of
  all lands" (FR, 11) is insufficient to explain such a discrepancy
  (especially since even the westernmost part of the Shire was some 200
  miles from the Sea).  Nevertheless, the Shire was more exactly based
  on England than any other part of Middle-earth was based on any part
  of our world: the climate, place-names, flora and fauna, terrain,
  food, customs, and the inhabitants themselves, were all English.  In
  effect the Shire was an idealized version of the rural England of
  Tolkien's childhood.  Some of his comments on the matter were:

    [The Shire] is in fact more or less a Warwickshire village of about
    the period of the Diamond Jubilee ...
                                                     Letters, 230 (#178)

    But, of course, if we drop the 'fiction' of long ago, 'The Shire' is
    based on rural England and not any other country in the world...
    [Later in the same letter he implied that the Shire was "an imag-
    inary mirror" of England.]
                                                     Letters, 250 (#190)

       There is no special reference to England in the 'Shire' -- except
    of course that as an Englishman brought up in an 'almost rural'
    village of Warwickshire on the edge of the prosperous bourgeoisie of
    Birmingham (about the time of the Diamond Jubilee!) I take my models
    like anyone else -- from such 'life' as I know.
                                                     Letters, 235 (#181)

  See also RtMe 31-33 for a fascinating suggestion that certain compo-
  nents of Tolkien's early philological studies may have contributed to
  his later conception of the Shire.  Shippey has also suggested that
  Tolkien's motivation in changing Gandalf's supper request in ch 1 of
  _The Hobbit_ from "cold chicken and tomatoes" in the first edition to
  "cold chicken and pickles" in the revised edition was linguistic: that
  to Tolkien's extraordinarily sensitive ear "tomato" sounded out of
  place in a country that was a mirror of English, since tomato only
  entered the language in the sixteenth century and moreover originally
  came from some Caribbean language.  Likewise, tobacco, used in _The
  Hobbit_, was changed to "pipeweed", and "potatos" were usually spoken
  of only by Sam, who called them "taters" (RtMe, 53-54; Annotated
  Hobbit, 19).
                    *            *            *

      Finally, great care must be taken not to confound the idea of the
  Shire's having been based on England with a concept found in Tolkien's
  earliest writings, that Tol Eressea (Elvenhome) eventually *became*
  England.  This appeared during his early work on the Book of Lost
  Tales (which eventually evolved into the Silm).  Very probably it had
  been supplanted even before he stopped work on the Lost Tales (1920)
  (BoLT I, 22-27).  In any case, it had long since been abandoned by the
  time LoTR was begun in 1937, and plays no part in the 'history' of
  Middle-earth as presented in LotR, Silm, _The Hobbit_, etc.


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
            Letters, 230 (#178), 235 (#181), 250 (#190);
            RtMe, 31-33 (2, "Survivals in the West"),
                  53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms");
            BoLT I, 22-27 (I, "Commentary on _The Cottage of
                  Lost Play_");
            Annotated Hobbit, 19 (ch 1, note 7).

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr, Bill Taylor

----------


9) What were the changes made to _The Hobbit_ after _The Lord of the
  Rings_ was written, and what motivated them?  [This question refers to
  the major revisions made to the Gollum chapter, "Riddles in the Dark",
  not to the multitude of minor changes made elsewhere.]


      In the original 1937 edition of _The Hobbit_ Gollum was genuinely
  willing to bet his ring on the riddle game, the deal being that Bilbo
  would receive a "present" if he won.  Gollum in fact was dismayed when
  he couldn't keep his promise because the ring was missing.  He showed
  Bilbo the way out as an alternative, and they parted courteously.

      As the writing of LotR progressed the nature of the Ring changed.
  No longer a "convenient magical device", it had become an irresistable
  power object, and Gollum's behavior now seemed inexplicable, indeed,
  impossible.  In the rough drafts of the "Shadow of the Past" chapter
  Gandalf was made to perform much squirming in an attempt to make it
  appear credible, not wholly successfully.

      Tolkien resolved the difficulty by re-writing the chapter into its
  present form, in which Gollum had no intention whatsoever of giving up
  the Ring but rather would show Bilbo the way out if he lost.  Also,
  Gollum was made far more wretched, as befitted one enslaved and tor-
  mented by the Ruling Ring.  At the same time, however, Bilbo's claim
  to the Ring was seriously undercut.

  [   Care must be taken in examining this last point.  There are two
  issues involved, well sumarized in the Prologue: "The Authorities, it
  is true, differ whether this last question was a mere 'question' and
  not a 'riddle' ... but all agree that, after accepting it and trying
  to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise" (FR, 21).  Thus,
  it was Bilbo's winning of the game that was questionable.  Given that
  he had, albeit on a technicality, he was fully entitled to the prize,
  which, in the old version, was the ring.  In the new version, however,
  he had no claim to the Ring at all, whether he had won or not, because
  the Ring was not the stake of the game. ]

      The textual situation thus reached was that there now existed two
  versions of the episode.  Tolkien deftly made this circumstance part
  of the story by suggesting that the first time around **Bilbo was
  lying** (under the influence of the Ring) to strengthen his claim.
  (Bilbo had written this version in his diary, which was "translated"
  by Tolkien and published as "The Hobbit"; hence the error in the early
  editions, later "corrected".)  This new sequence of events inside the
  story is laid out clearly in "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue)
  and is taken for granted thereafter for the rest of the story (e.g. in
  "The Shadow of the Past" and at the Council of Elrond).

      _The Hobbit_ as now presented fits the new scenario remarkably
  well, even though Tolkien, for quite sound literary reasons, left this
  entire matter of Bilbo's dishonesty out (it was an entirely irrelevant
  complication which would have thrown everything out of balance).  The
  present attempt to step back and view the entire picture is made more
  involved by the fact that there were two separate pieces of dishonesty
  perpetrated by Bilbo.

      The first, made explicit, was that when he initially told his
  story to Gandalf and the Dwarves he left the ring out entirely -- this
  no doubt was what inspired Gandalf to give Bilbo the "queer look from
  under his bushy eyebrows" (H, 99).  Later, (after the spider episode)
  he revealed that he had the Ring, and it must have been at this point
  that he invented the rigamarole about "winning a present" (an incred-
  ible action, given the circumstances).  There is, however, no hint in
  the text of this second piece of dishonesty (as noted above, it would
  have been a grave literary mistake).  Readers are therefore given no
  indication that when "Balin ... insisted on having the Gollum story
  ... told all over again, with the ring in its proper place" (H, 163)
  that Bilbo didn't respond with the "true" story, exactly as described
  in Ch V.  In this regard, "Of the Finding of the Ring" in the Prologue
  is a necessary prelude to LotR.


References: Hobbit, 99 (Ch VI), 163 (Ch VIII),
                    "Riddles in the Dark" (Ch V);
            Annotated Hobbit, 104 (Ch VI, note 2), 176 (Ch VIII,
                    note 11), 325-367 (Appendix A: the original
                    version is given here);
            FR, "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue);
            Biography, 203 (V, 2);
            RtMe, 59-60 (3, "The Ring as 'Equalizer'");
            The Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 75, 79-81, 84-87
                    (First Phase, III), 261-265 (Second Phase, XV).

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr




10) Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The Lord of
   the Rings_ ?

      Yes.  Originally, the world of the Hobbit was not the same as the world
  of the Silmarillion (Tolkien threw in a few names from it, like Gondolin and
  Elrond, for effect, but there was no explicit connection).  Thus, when he
  began LotR, he thought he was writing a sequel to _The Hobbit, and the tone
  of the early chapters, especially Ch 1, reflect this (it has the same
  "children's story" ambience as _The Hobbit_).  With the coming of the Black
  Riders and Gandalf's discussion of Middle-earth history and the Ring a change
  began towards a loftier tone and a darker mood, though much less serious
  elements remained (e.g. Tom Bombadil).  After the Council of Elrond LotR
  was overtly a sequel to the Silmarillion.

      Oddly, Tolkien added new details but never changed the overall tone of
  Book I.  He later claimed that the change in tone was intentional, that it
  was meant to reflect the changing perceptions of the hobbits as they became
  educated about the Wide World.  This was certainly not his intention as he
  was writing.  On the other hand, the tone of "The Scouring of the Shire" is
  very different from that of "A Long-expected Party", possibly indicating the
  altered perspective of the observers.

----------


11) Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the eighteen
   years which followed the publication of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

      No definitive answer is possible, but a several serious obstacles can be
  listed.  They included:

      a) Technical difficulties.  Tolkien's unmethodical habits of revision had
        made the manuscripts chaotic; it seemed impossible to make everything
        consistent.  Characters introduced in LotR had to be worked in.  Beyond
        these detailed questions, he contemplated many alterations, even to
        fundamental features of his mythology.

      b) The problem of depth.  In LotR, his references to the older legends
        of the First Age helped produce the strong sense of historical reality.
        In the Silmarillion, which told the legends themselves, this method
        wouldn't be available.

      c) The problem of presentation.  LotR had been basically novelistic,
        presenting the story sequentially from one character or another's
        point of view.  But the Silmarillion was and was meant to be a bundle
        of tales which had more in common with the ancient legends he studied
        than with LotR.  He feared that if he presented it as an annotated
        study of ancient manuscripts that probably many readers would have
        difficulty enjoying the tales as stories.

      d) No Hobbits.  He feared (correctly) that many people expected another
        _Lord of the Rings_, which the Silmarillion could never be.

----------


GENERAL HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH

13) What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?

      The Noldorin Elves had made war on Morgoth (referred to as "the Great
  Enemy" by Aragorn in "A Knife in the Dark") to recover the three Silmarils,
  which he had stolen, and had been totally defeated.  The Valar then used
  their full power against Morgoth.  In the resulting cataclysm Beleriand,
  the land in which the tales of the Silmarillion took place, was destroyed
  and sank under the Sea.  There are thus various references to "lands under
  the waves".

      On the LotR map, Beleriand would have been far to the west, beyond the
  Blue Mountains (Ered Luin), which also appear at the far right of the Silm
  map.  It is difficult to make an exact correlation because the mountain
  range was much altered, having been split when the Gulf of Lune created.
  Nogrod and Belegost, the ancient dwarf-cities, are located on the Silm map,
  and existed as ruins in the Third Age, but where they fall on the LotR map
  is not known (they were said to be "near Nenuail", which is only slightly
  helpful).  Lindon was definitely the same land as Ossiriand, where Beren
  and Luthien once dwelt.  [_The Atlas of Middle-earth_ includes a map showing
  how Eriador and Beleriand lay relative to each other.]

----------


14) In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at the Fall
   of Numenor?

      The world was changed from a flat medieval world to the round world of
  today.  Middle-earth was meant to be our own world (Ques. 6), and Tolkien's
  overall conception was of a progression, with "Mythological Time" changing
  into "Historical Time".  The events accompanying the Fall of Numenor were a
  major step in the process.

      Originally, the "fashion" of Middle-earth was the flat world of the
  medieval universe.  Valinor (the equivalent of Heaven in that the "gods"
  dwelt there) was physically connected to the rest of the world and could be
  reached by ship.  When Numenor sank (see Ques 25) "the fashion of the world
  was changed": the flat world was bent into a round one, with new lands also
  being created; and Valinor was removed "from the circles of the World", and
  could no longer be reached by ordinary physical means.  The Elves alone were
  still allowed to make a one-way journey to Valinor along "the Straight Road".
  (An elven ship on such a journey would grow smaller and smaller with distance
  until if vanished rather than sinking over the horizon as a human ships do.)

      References to "bent seas", "bent skies", "the straight road", "straight
  sight", "the World Made Round", and the like all refer to the change in the
  world's "fashion".  (The palantir at Emyn Beriad "looked only to the Sea.
  Elendil set it there so that he could look back with 'straight sight' and
  see Eressea in the vanished West; but the bent seas below covered Numenor
  for ever." (RK, p. 322)

----------


HOBBITS

15) Were Hobbits a sub-group of Humans?

      Yes, beyond question.  There were three statements to this effect.
  The first, from the Prologue, is probably less definite because it was
  intended to be the editor speaking.

        It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits
    are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than
    Dwarves.  Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own
    fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did.
    But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered.
    The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in the Elder Days that are
    now lost and forgotten.
                                                       FR, 11 (Prologue)

    The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the
    specifically *human* race (not Elves or Dwarves) -- hence the two
    kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and are called just the Big
    Folk and Little Folk.  They are entirely without non-human powers,
    but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature' (the soil
    and other living things, plants and animals), and abnormally, for
    humans, free from ambition or greed of wealth.
                                          Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131)

    Firstborn, The.  Title of the Elves.  Translate.  ('Firstborn',
        since the Elves appeared in the world before all other 'speaking
        peoples', not only Men, but also Dwarves, of independent origin.
        Hobbits are of course meant to be a special variety of the human
        race).
                                        Guide, entry for "The Firstborn"


References: FR, 11 (Prologue, "On Hobbits");
            Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131);
            Guide, entry for "The Firstborn".

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams

----------


16) Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed over the
   Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?

      They remained mortal.  Tolkien's conception was that a creature's natural
  lifespan was intrinsic to its spiritual and biological nature, and that this
  could not be altered save by a direct intervention of the Creator.  There
  were three occasions when this did happen (Luthien, Tuor, Arwen), but it did
  not in the cases of Frodo & Co.  Tolkien stated explicitly in more than one
  letter that Frodo's journey over the Sea was only a *temporary* healing, and
  that when the time came he and the others would die of their own free will.

----------


17) Did Hobbits have pointed ears?

      Only slightly.  Tolkien described Bilbo thusly for purposes of
  illustration in a letter to Houghton Mifflin (c. 1938):

        I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as
    some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach,
    shortish in the leg.  A round, jovial face; ears only slightly
    pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown).  The feet
    from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur.  Clothing: green
    velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket;
    gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to
    a dwarf).
                                                      Letters, 35 (#27)

  The Annotated Hobbit cites this letter and includes a reasonable
  illustration based upon it.  [Note that Tolkien's use of the word
  "elvish" here refers to the elfs of popular folklore, who were often
  pictured with pointed ears.  The Elves of Middle-earth (except for
  the Silvan Elves in The Hobbit) were at the time of this letter known
  to only a few people.]


References: Letters, 35 (#27);
            Annotated Hobbit, 10 (Ch I, note 2).

Contributor: WDBL

----------


18) When was Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday?  To what date on our own
   calendar does it correspond?

      The date on the Shire calendar was September 22 (FR, 29).  Both
  the different definitions of the months and the different correlation
  of their calendar with the seasons (the summer solstice fell on Mid-
  year's Day, the day between June and July, not on June 21 as on our
  calendar (RK, 388 -- Appendix D)) must be Taken into account.  The
  discrepancy in September is found to be 10 days, giving September 12
  on our calendar as the equivalent date.  (This result has some signi-
  ficance for the story.  Events occur ten days earlier in terms of the
  seasons than the dates would suggest to us: when sleeping outdoors in
  autumn, ten days can make a large difference.)

      [In Appendix D Tolkien gives detailed information about long-term
  inaccuracies in the Shire Reckoning, which they dealt with differently
  than we do.  Based on this, it is possible to conclude that the SR at
  the time of the story had accumulated either two days or four days of
  error, depending on how careful the Hobbits were about making long-
  term corrections, which we aren't told.  This result would make the
  equivalent date either September 14 or September 16, but other consi-
  derations raise questions about the accuracy of such calculations, so
  September 12 is probably the most straightforward choice.]


References: FR, 29 (I,1);
            RK, Appendix D.

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams

----------


19) Was Gollum a hobbit?

      Yes, beyond all doubt.  Gandalf's opinion alone: "I guess they
  were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors"
  (FR, 62) should be sufficient to settle this, but it is confirmed in
  several other places.  The Tale of Years (RK, Appendix B) has the
  following entry for the year TA 2463: "About this time Deagol the
  Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol." (RK, p. 368).
  Since it was explained in the Prologue that Stoors were one of the
  three branches of hobbits (FR, 12), it is clear that the compiler of
  this entry, evidently either Merry and/or Pippin's heirs (FR, 24-25),
  accepted this conclusion.

      In "The Hunt for the Ring" (UT, Three, IV) it is told that Sauron
  concluded from his interrogation of Gollum that Bilbo must have been
  the same sort of creature (UT, 342) (indeed, Gandalf concluded the
  same thing from his talks with Bilbo (FR, 63)).  The following passing
  reference shows that the author of "The Hunt for the Ring" accepts
  Gollum's hobbit origin: "Ultimately indomitable [Gollum] was, except
  by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from
  a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend ..." (UT, 337).

      Perhaps Gandalf's archaic diction contributed to the uncertainty.
  When a reader suggested that perhaps '(1) Smeagol's people were *not*
  "of hobbit-kind" as suggested by Gandalf', Tolkien dismissed the
  suggestion.  He added:

    With regard to (1) Gandalf certainly says at first 'I guess'
    (FR, 62); but that is in accordance with his character and wisdom.
    In more modern language he would have said 'I deduce', referring to
    matters that had not come under his direct observation, but on which
    he had formed a conclusion based on study. ...But he did not in fact
    doubt his conclusion: 'It is true all the same, etc.' (FR, 63).
                                                 Letters, 289-290 (#214)


References: FR, 12, (Prologue), 24-25 (Prologue, "Note on the Shire
                Records"), 62-63 (I,2);
            RK, Appendix B;
            UT, 337 (Three, IV, i), 342 (Three, IV, ii);
            Letters, 289-290 (#214).

Contributors: WDBL, Craig Presson

----------


20) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob, Crazy
   Cob, and Old Tomnoddy.  What do the words mean?

      Notes in _The Annotated Hobbit_ identify Attercop, Lob, and Cob as
  being taken from similar words in Old and Middle English for "spider"
  (indeed, the word for "spider" in modern Norwegian is "edderkopp").
  The Oxford English Dictionary definition of Tomnoddy is given as "a
  foolish or stupid person." (Annotated Hobbit, 170-171)

      As is well known, Tolkien used "Lob" again later.  During the
  writing of Book IV he wrote to Christopher: "Do you think Shelob is
  a good name for a monstrous spider creature?  It is of course only
  'she + lob' ( == 'spider' ), but written as one, it seems to be quite
   noisome...                                          Letters, 81 (#70)


References: Hobbit, Ch VIII;
            Annotated Hobbit, 170-171 (Ch VIII, notes 8,9,10);
            Letters, 81 (#70).

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Simen Gaure

----------


ELVES

21) Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?

      Yes.  In addition to a number of general statements to this effect at
  least two Elves are specifically said to have been "re-embodied" after being
  slain: Finrod Felagund and Glorfindel (see Ques. 22).  ("Re-embodied" is
  used rather than "reincarnated" because in the case of Elves (unlike what's
  usually meant in a human context) the spirit was reborn in a body resembling
  the original and furthermore all its former memories would be substantially
  intact).

----------


22) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as Glorfindel of
   Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?

      Yes.  This result was, however, unplanned.  Glorfindel entered LotR very
  early in its development, when Tolkien still thought he was writing a sequel
  to _The Hobbit_ (as opposed to the Silmarillion).  Thus, he felt free to
  casually borrow names from the Silmarillion for effect (he had also done so
  in _The Hobbit_ -- Elrond is the main example).  Even after the world of
  LotR (and _The Hobbit_) had been identifed as a later age of the Silmarillion
  world he retained the name, not noticing the questions raised by the death of
  a "Glorfindel" at the sack of Gondolin.  Later, however, he did address this
  matter.  Christopher reports that after much thought he decided that Glor-
  findel of Rivendell was indeed Glorfindel of Gondolin: he had been released
  from Mandos and returned to Middle-earth during the Second Age.

----------


23) Did Elves have pointed ears?

      They were evidently somewhat pointed; more so that human ears, at
  any rate.  The only place this matter is addressed directly is in The
  Etymologies, published in The Lost Road.  There, the following two
  entries for the element 'las' are given [Q == Quenya, N == Noldorin]:

    Las (1) *lasse  'leaf': Q lasse, N lhass;  Q lasselanta  'leaf-fall,
      autumn',  N lhasbelin (*lassekwelene),  cf. Q Narquelion [ KWEL ].
      Lhasgalen  'Greenleaf' (Gnome name of Laurelin).  (Some think this
      is related to the next and  *lasse  'ear'.  The Quendian ears were
      more pointed and leaf-shaped than [human].)

    Las (2)  'listen'.  N lhaw  'ears' (of one person), old dual  *lasu
      -- whence singular  lhewig.  Q lar, lasta-  'listen';  lasta
      'listening, hearing'  --  Lastalaika  'sharp-ears', a name,
      cf. N  Lhathleg.  N  lhathron  'hearer, listener, eavesdropper'
      ( < *la(n)sro-ndo ) ; lhathro  or  lhathrando  'listen in,
      eavesdrop'.
                                                    (The Lost Road, 367)

  Some have rejected the conclusion on the grounds that these entries
  were written before LotR was begun and therefore may not apply to it.
  It is thus significant that the element 'las' retained both its
  meanings, as is shown by examples in LotR itself, such as Legolas
  ('Green leaf') (TT, 106, 154), 'lassi' (== "leaves") in Galadriel's
  Lament (FR, 394), and Amon Lhaw (Hill of Hearing) (FR, 410).


References: FR, 394, (II, 8), 410 (II,9);
            TT, 106 (III,5), 154 (III,8);
            Letters, 282 (#211);
            The Lost Road (HoMe V), 367 ("The Etymologies").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


24) How were Eldar in Valinor named?

      They had two given names ('essi'), one bestowed at birth by the father,
  the other later by the mother.  The mother-names were said to have great
  significance, because "mothers of the Eldar had insight into the characters
  and abilities of their children", and foresight to boot.  Eldar might also
  acquire an 'epesse', or 'after-name', which could be given by anyone and
  which was usually "a title of admiration or honour".

      Some elves were best-known by their epesse.  The two most familiar were
  'Gil-galad'  ('Star of Radiance'), whose real name was  'Ereinion' ('Scion of
  Kings'); and  'Galadriel'  (the Sindarin form of the Telerin  'Alatariel' and
  the Quenya  'Altariel'  :  'maiden crowned with a radiant garland' ) -- her
  given father- and mother-names were, respectively, 'Artanis'  ('noble woman')
  and  'Nerwen'  ('man-maiden').

----------


HUMANS

25) What brought on the sinking of Numenor?

      The Numenor story was Tolkien's re-telling of the Atlantis legend (the
  tale publshed in _The Silmarillion_ was entitled "The Akalabeth", which may
  be translated as "Downfallen").  Numenor was an island far to the West, a
  "land apart" given to the heroic Edain (humans) of the First Age who had
  aided the Noldor in the wars against Morgoth (see Ques. 13).  [The Line of
  Kings of Numenor was descended from Elrond's brother Elros, who chose to
  be mortal; it led indirectly to Elendil the Tall, first King of Arnor and
  Gondor, and thus eventually to Aragorn son of Arathorn.]

      The theological situation was the "standard" one of a Ban and a Fall.
  The Numenoreans, despite having been granted a longer lifespan than other,
  humans, nevertheless had to remain mortal.  They had also been ordered not to
  sail West to the Undying Lands (Valinor).  After awhile (perhaps inevitably,
  as their power and wealth grew) the Numenoreans began to envy the Elves and
  to yearn for immortality themselves (so as to enjoy their situation longer).
  They managed to convince themselves that physical control of the Undying
  Lands would somehow produce this result (it would not have); however, they
  also retained sufficient wisdom not to attempt any such foolish action.
  Significantly, the more obsessed they became with death the more quickly it
  came as their lifespans steadily waned.

      Near the end of the Second Age King Ar-Pharazon the Golden pridefully
  challenged Sauron for the mastery of Middle-earth.  The Numenoreans won the
  confrontation (see Ques. 26) and took Sauron to Numenor as a prisoner.  Still
  wielding the One Ring, he swiftly gained control over most of the Numenoreans
  (except for the Faithful and their leaders, Amandil and his son Elendil).
  As King Ar-Pharazon's death approached ("he felt the waning of his days and
  was besotted by fear of death"; RK, p. 317) Sauron finally convinced him by
  deception to attack Valinor.  This was a mistake.  A great chasm opened in
  the Sea and Numenor toppled into the abyss.  (Tolkien had a recurrent dream
  about this event; in LotR he gave it to Faramir, who described it in "The
  Steward and the King".)  [See also Ques 14]

----------


26) How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron wielded the
   One Ring?

      He did not actually defeat Sauron himself.  The invasion fleet of the
  Numenoreans was so powerful that Sauron's *armies* deserted him.  Sauron
  merely pretended to humble himself; to be carried back to Numenor as a
  supposed hostage was exactly what he wanted.  His plan was to weaken Numenor
  as a war power by maneuvering them into sending a fleet to attack Valinor,
  where it would presumably be destroyed.

      He succeeded up to a point, but the result was disastrously more violent
  than he foresaw, and he was caught in the Fall of Numenor.  Only his physical
  body perished since by nature he was of the spiritual order.  Tolkien: "That
  Sauron was not himself destroyed in the anger of the One is not my fault: the
  problem of evil, and its apparent toleration, is a permanent one for all who
  concern themselves with our world.  The indestructibility of *spirits* with
  free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature, if
  one either believes in their existence, or feigns it in a story."
  (Letters, p. 280).

----------


27) What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?

      Nothing.  Sauron carried it back to Middle-earth, though there might be
  some question as to how he managed it.  Tolkien said he did, and Tolkien
  should know: "Though reduced to 'a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind', I
  do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon
  which his power of dominating minds now largely depended." (Letters, p. 280).
  In fact, as far as we know all the spiritual beings (Valar and Maia) were
  perfectly capable of manipulating physical objects.

----------


28) Where did the Southrons come from?  Were they part of the Atani?

      Yes.  All humans, East, West, North, or South, were.  Humans first
  appeared in the east and spread westwards, with some eventually crossing
  the Blue Mountains into Beleriand.  The entry for Atani in the Silmarillion
  index reads:

    Atani  'The Second People', Men (singular Atan).  Since in Beleriand for
      a long time the only Men known to the Noldor and Sindar were those of
      the Three Houses of the Elf-friends, this name (in the Sindarin form
      Adan, plural Edain) became specially associated with them, so that it
      was seldom applied to other Men who came later to Beleriand, or who
      were reported to be dwelling beyond the Mountains.  But in the speech
      of Iluvatar the meaning is 'Men (in general)'.

  [Humans were 'the second people' because Elves were the Firstborn.]

----------


DWARVES

29) What were the origins of the Dwarves?

      They were made by Aule, the smith and craftmaster of the Valar.  This was
  against Eru's Plan: Aule had neither the authority nor indeed the power to
  create other souls (the result of his efforts was a group of what amounted to
  puppets).  However, because he repented his folly at once and because his
  motives had been good (he desired children to teach, not slaves to command)
  Eru gave the Dwarves life and made them part of the Plan.  The Elves were
  still to be the "Firstborn", though, so the Dwarves had to sleep until after
  the Elves awoke.

----------


30) If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were created,
   how did the race procreate?

      In the _Silmarillion_ account of the making of the Dwarves, only the
  Seven Fathers are mentioned.  In Letter no. 212 (p 287), however, Tolkien
  speaks of thirteen dwarves being initially created: "One, the eldest, alone,
  and six more with six mates."  Thus, it seems that Durin really did "walk
  alone" as Gimli's song said.

----------


31) Did Dwarf women have beards?

      It seems they did.  In Appendix A it was said: "They are in voice and
  appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the
  dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart."
  Since beards were part of the appearence, not the garb, of dwarf-men, we
  must conclude that dwarf-women did in fact have beards.

----------


ISTARI (Wizards)


32) Who were the Istari (Wizards)?

      The Wizards were Maiar (spiritual beings of lower "rank" than the Valar)
  sent to Middle-earth by the Valar in human form as Messengers to help in the
  struggle against Sauron: the term "incarnate angel" is approximately correct.
  Being incarnated limited their power, and intentionally so, because their
  mission was to organize the resitance and to inspire the peoples of Middle-
  earth to help themselves, not to do the job for them.  Their main temptation,
  then, was to try to speed up the process by dominating other free wills -- a
  principle reason for their mission was to prevent such actions by Sauron.

      It was said that there were Five Wizards in the Order, but only three
  came into the story:

        -- Saruman ('Man of Skill') the White
                  [Sindarin: Curunir ('Man of Skill'); Quenya: Curumo]

        -- Gandalf ('Elf of the wand') the Grey (later the White)
                  [Sindarin: Mithrandir ('Grey Pilgrim'); Quenya: Olorin]

        -- Radagast the Brown    [Quenya: Aiwendel]

  Gandalf was the only one who remained true to his missison, and in the end
  succeeded in bringing about Sauron's defeat.  He was also the keeper of the
  Elven Ring Narya, the Red Ring (the Ring of Fire).

----------


33) Of the Five Wizards, only three came into the story.  Was anything known
   about the other two?

      Very little.  No names given them in Middle-earth are recorded, just the
  title Ithryn Luin, 'The Blue Wizards' (for they were clad in sea-blue) (their
  names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando).  When the Istari first arrived in
  Middle-earth, Saruman and the Blue Wizards journeyed into the east, but only
  Saruman returned.  The Essay on the Istari says: "whether they remained in
  the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished;
  or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not not
  known." (UT, p. 390)

      Tolkien speaking as himself was only barely more explicit.  In a letter
  he said that he knew "nothing clearly" about the other two: 'I think they
  went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Numenorean
  range: missionaries to enemy-occupied lands, as it were.  What success they
  had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though
  doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners
  of secret cults and "magic" traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.'
  (Letters, p. 280).

----------


34) What happened to Radagast?

      Radagast was said to also have failed his mission, but it's tempting to
  think that his "failure" was not as bad as that of the others.  The Essay on
  the Istari: "Indeed, of all the Istari, one only remained faithful, and he
  was the last-comer.  For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many
  beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and
  spent his days among the wild creatures." (UT, p. 390)

      Radagast certainly never became evil.  The above quote suggests, however,
  that his mission was not just to relate to wild creatures but also to build
  bridges between them and Elves and Men.  He did, in fact, have his friends
  the birds gather much information, but since they were reporting to Saruman
  as the head of the Council that wasn't altogether helpful.  On the other
  hand, it has often been suggested (though there is no direct textual evidence
  of any kind) that the way Eagles kept showing up at opportune times may have
  been partially his work.

      We know nothing of what happened to Radagast after the end of the Third
  Age.  It seems conceivable, though, given the more ambiguous nature of his
  failing, that he might have been allowed back to Valinor eventually.

----------


ENEMIES

35) What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

      They are different names for the same race of creatures.  Of the two,
  "Orc" is the correct one.  This has been a matter of widespread debate and
  misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in _The Hobbit_ (Tolkien
  had changed his mind about it by LotR but the confusion in the earlier book
  was made worse by inconsistant backwards modifications).  There are a couple
  of statements in _The Hobbit_ which, if taken literally, suggest that Orcs
  are a subset of goblins.  If we are to believe the indications from all other
  areas of Tolkien's writing, this is not correct.  These are: some fairly
  clear statements in letters, the evolution of his standard terminology (see
  next paragraph), and the actual usage in LotR, all of which suggest that
  "Orc" was the true name of the race.  (The pedigrees in  _Tolkien: The
  Illustrated Encyclopedia_ are thoroughly innaccurate and undependable.)

      What happened was this.  The creatures so referred to were invented along
  with the rest of Tolkien's subcreation during the writing of the Book of Lost
  Tales (the "pre-Silmarillion").  His usage in the early writing is somewhat
  varied but the movement is away from "goblin" and towards "orc".  It was part
  of a general trend away from the terminology of traditional folklore (he felt
  that the familiar words would call up the wrong associations in the readers'
  minds, since his creations were quite different in specific ways).  For the
  same general reasons he began calling the Deep Elves "Noldor" rather than
  "Gnomes", and avoided "Faerie" altogether.  (On the other hand, he was stuck
  with "Wizards", an "imperfect" translation of Istari ('the Wise'), "Elves",
  and "Dwarves"; he did say once that he would have preferred "dwarrow", which,
  so he said, was more historically and linguistically correct, if he'd thought
  of it in time ...)

      In _The Hobbit_, which originally was unconnected with the Silmarillion,
  he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers.  By the
  time of LotR, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do -- Orcs were
  not storybook goblins (see above).  (No doubt he also felt that "goblin",
  being Romance-derived, had no place in a work based so much on Anglo-Saxon
  and Northern traditions in general.)  Thus, in LotR, the proper name of the
  race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with
  Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all.  There are a
  handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it
  seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs.

      Tolkien's explanation inside the story was that the "true" name of the
  creatures was Orc (an anglicized version of Sindarin *Orch* , pl. *Yrch*).
  As the "translator" of the ancient manuscripts, he "substituted" "Goblin" for
  "Orch" when he translated Bilbo's diary, but for The Red Book he reverted to
  a form of the ancient word.

      [The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated
  as "death-corpses".  It has nothing to do with cetaceans.]

----------


36) What was the origin of the Orcs?

      A fundamental concept for Tolkien (and the other Inklings) was that Evil
  cannot create, only corrupt (the Boethian, as opposed to the Manichean,
  concept of evil).  In Letter 153 he explained that to a first approximation,
  Treebeard was wrong ("Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the
  Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves." TT, p. 89) and
  Frodo was right ("The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make:
  not real new things of its own.  I don't think it gave life to Orcs, it only
  ruined them and twisted them ..." RK, p. 190).  (Tolkien: "Treebeard is a
  *character* in my story, not me; and though he has a great memory and some
  earthy wisdom, he is not one of the Wise, and there is quite a lot he does
  not know or understand." Letters, p. 190;  "Suffering and experience (and
  possibly the Ring itself) gave Frodo more insight ..." Letters, p. 191.)
  ("To the first approximation" [above] because in that same letter Tolkien
  made some subtle distinctions between "creating" and "making", which cannot
  be gone into here.)

      Tolkien stated explicitly in that letter (and several other places) that
  the Orcs are indeed "a race of rational incarnate creatures, though horribly
  corrupted".  Also that "In the legends of the Elder Days it is suggested that
  the Diabolus subjugated and corrupted some of the earliest Elves, before they
  had ever heard of the 'gods', let alone of God." (Letters, p. 191).  In fact,
  _The Silmarillion_ does state that Orcs were Avari (Dark Elves) captured by
  Morgoth (p. 50, 94), though strictly speaking, the idea is presented as the
  best guess of the Eldar, no more.  Some have rejected the statements on those
  grounds,  that the Elvish compilers of _The Silmarillion_ didn't actually
  *know* the truth but were merely speculating.  But since Tolkien himself,
  speaking as author and sub-creator, more-or-less verified this idea, it's
  probably safe to accept it, as far as it goes.

      It has been widely noted that this conception leaves several questions
  unresolved.  1) Re: procreation, _The Silmarillion_ says that "the Orcs had
  life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar" (p. 50),
  but nevertheless people continue to raise questions.  For one thing, there
  was never any hint that female Orcs exist (there were two apparent references
  to Orc children, but both were from _The Hobbit_ , and therefore may be
  considered suspect).  2) There is the question of why, if Orcs were corrupted
  Elves, their offspring would also be Orcs (rather than Elves -- a somewhat
  horrifying thought).  This question leads to discussions of brainwashing vs.
  genetics, which are not altogether appropriate to the world of Middle-earth.
  3) Finally there is the question of whether Orcs, being fundamentally Elves,
  go to the Halls of Mandos when they are slain, and whether, like Elves, they
  are reincarnated.  (This last would explain how they managed to replenish
  their numbers so quickly all the time.)  There is also some reason to think
  that Orcs, like Elves, are immortal.  (Gorbag and Shagrat, during the conver-
  sation which Sam overheard, mention the "Great Seige", which presumably
  refers to the Last Alliance; it is possible to interpret this reference to
  mean that they were there and actually remembered it themselves.)

----------


37) What was the origin of Trolls?

      No one seems to know.  Apparently, though, they were "made" (as opposed
  to "created" -- see Ques 36) by Melkor.  Said Tolkien: "I am not sure about
  Trolls.  I think they are mere 'counterfeits', and hence ... they return to
  mere stone images when not in the dark.  But there are other sorts of Trolls,
  beside these rather ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other
  origins are suggested." (Letters, p. 191)  "Counterfeits" here means more-or-
  less that the Trolls have no independant life of their own but are puppets
  animated in some way by an external Evil Will.  As for the other kind of
  Troll, the Olog-hai, no reference to their origin has been found, except for
  Appendix F: "That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock was
  not known."  However, they were definitely true Trolls, not large Orcs.

      The Troll adventure in _The Hobbit_ should probably not be taken too
  literally as a source of Troll-lore -- it seems clear that it was much
  modified by the translator's desire to create familiarity.  Thus, it seems
  unlikely that Trolls in Middle-earth spoke with Cockney accents, just as
  it seems unlikely that one of them would have been named "William".

----------


MISCELLANEOUS

38) Who or what was Tom Bombadil?

      This question has been a widely debated, sometimes far too vehemantly.
  Part of the difficulty is the complexity of Tom's literary history.  Tom was
  originally a doll (with blue jacket and yellow boots) owned by Tolkien's son
  Michael.  The doll inspired a story fragment, such as he often invented for
  his children's amusement.  That fragment was in turn the basis for the poem
  "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", published in 1933, which also introduced
  Goldberry, the barrow wights, and Old Man Willow (the poem was the source of
  the events in Chapters 6 through 8 of Book I).  In a contemporary letter
  (1937) Tolkien explained that Tom was meant to represent 'the spirit of the
  (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside'.  (Letters, no 19)

      Tolkien introduced Tom into LotR at a very early stage, when he still
  thought of it as a sequel to _The Hobbit_, as opposed to _The Silmarillion_
  (see Ques 10).  Tom fit the original (slightly childish) tone of the early
  chapters (which resembled that of _The Hobbit_), but as the story progressed
  it became higher in tone and darker in nature.  Tolkien later claimed that
  he left Tom in he decided that however portrayed Tom provided a necessary
  ingredient (see last paragraph).  Some very cogent reasons are produced in
  a couple of wonderful letters  (Letters, nos 144 & 153).

  As to Tom's nature, there are several schools of thought.

    a) He was a Maia (the most common notion).  The reasoning here is plain:
      given the Middle-earth cast of characters as we know it, this is the most
      convenient pigeonhole in which to place him (and Goldberry as well) (most
      of the other individuals in LotR with "mysterious" origins: Gandalf,
      Sauron, Wizards, and Balrogs did in fact turn out to be Maiar).

    b) He was Iluvatar.  The only support for this notion is on theological
      grounds: some have interpreted Goldberry's statement to Frodo (F: "Who is
      Tom Bombadil?"  G: "He is.") as a form of the Christian "I am that am",
      which really could suggest the Creator.  Tolkien rejected this inter-
      pretation quite firmly.

    c) T.A. Shippey (in _The Road to Middle-earth_) and others have suggested
      that Tom is a one-of-a-kind type.  This notion received indirect support
      from Tolkien himself: "As a story, I think it is good that there should
      be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually
      exists); ... And even in a mythical Age there amust be some enigmas, as
      there always are.  Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."  (Letters,
      p. 174)  There are scattered references to other entites which seem to
      fall outside the usual picture.

  Whichever of these is correct, Tom's function inside the story was evidently
  to demonstrate a particular attitude towards control and power.  "The story
  is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless
  ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom against compulsion that
  has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some
  degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control.  But if you
  have, as it were taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take delight
  in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing,
  and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of
  power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of
  power quite valueless." (_Letters_, p. 178).  Tom represented "Botany and
  Zoology (as sciences) and Poetry as opposed to Cattle-breeding and Agriculture
  and practicality." (Letters, p. 179).

----------


39) Was there any definitive explanation given on what happened to the
   Entwives?

      No.  At least, there was nothing within _The Lord of the Rings_.  In a
  couple of letters Tolkien denied having any "definite" knowledge but his
  tentative suggestions were on the whole pessemistic.  For one thing, he
  made the destruction of the Entwives' land seem more deliberate than had
  Treebeard, who merely said that "war had passed over it" (TT, p. 79).

      "I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being
   destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age
  3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their
  land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin ... Some, of course,
  may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales
  must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and
  metal-workers.  If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from
  the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult -- unless experience of
  industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a little more
  anarchic.  I hope so.  I don't know."  (Letter no 144)

----------


40) Who was Queen Beruthiel?  (Aragorn mentioned her during the journey
   through Moria.)

      The reference is to Book II, Ch 4 "A Journey in the Dark": " 'Do not be
  afraid!' said Aragorn.  There was a pause longer than usual, and Gandalf and
  Gimli were whispering together; ... 'Do not be afraid!  I have been with him
  on many a journey, if never on one so dark; ... He is surer of finding the
  way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen Beruthiel.' " (FR p. 325).

      This is a striking case of Tolkien's creative process.  It seems that
  the name meant nothing when it first appeared: it just "came" as he was
  writing the first draft of the chapter.  Later, however, he "found out" whom
  she "actually" was, his conclusions being reported in UT.

      She was the wife of King Tarannon of Gondor (Third Age 830-913), and was
  described as "nefarious, solitary, and loveless" (Tarannon's childlessness
  was mentioned without explanation in the annals).  "She had nine black cats
  and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories,
  setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor,... setting the white
  cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them.  No man in Gondor dared touch
  them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass."  Her
  eventual fate was to be set adrift in a boat with her cats: "The ship was
  last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead
  and another as a figure-head on the prow."  It is also told that "her name
  was erased from the Book of the Kings (`but the memory of men is not wholly
  shut in books, and the cats of Queen Beruthiel never passed wholly out of
  men's speech')." (UT, pp 401-402)

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