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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reading Group meeting 23/1/10

The Fellowship return having been dismayed by the snow on the 9th of January.

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Blogger Dr. Lynn Forest-Hill said...

23 1.10

We were looking at ‘The Departure of Boromir’ and ‘The Riders of Rohan’.
We began with a chat about the One Man LotR event, and other good reasons in the year to get together.
Ian got us into the main topic with his observation that Boromir, like Sir Gawain, is given a belt of green and gold, and neither gift gives protection or special benefit. The gift given to Boromir is unlike most other gifts that are given to the Company, which have symbolic meaning or actual benefits. Ian also noted that after leaving Lothlorien, Boromir gets more of a craving for the Ring.

Tim suggested this was because the Company were getting closer to Mordor and the Ring was becoming more potent. Tim also thought the ‘Departure’ chapter had a more sensory start than many others. Listening and hearing are especially prominent.

Angela remarked that Aragorn is experiencing many conflicting emotions at the start of the chapter, and she wondered if this was why he cannot see from Amon Hen. Laura observed that Frodo has been forced into decisiveness, and Tim considered that Boromir has been the catalyst for this.

Chris wondered about the symbolism of Boromir’s sword breaking. Angela noted the breaking of his heirloom horn, and Chris saw this destruction as a symbolic loss of power.

Julie noticed Tolkien use of many compound words in the chapter, remarking especially on ‘nightshade’ and ‘watervale’. We remarked on the fact that nightshade is used as a description of time and light, not as the name of a plant. Having checked in the OE dictionary we find that OE had nihtscada – nightshade – the name of a plant, but nihtscua – shades of night. Tolkien is playing his etymological games again! ‘Watervale’ does not appear in an easily identifiable form.

Angela went on to remark that Eomer is very knowledgeable about some things that he has taken as history or myth, until the 3 Hunters appear. (Tim addressed the infelicitous ‘let’s hunt some orc’ that we had done our best to ignore. Incidentally, it has been mentioned on the TS committee list that the general atmosphere of disapproval of the films at Oxonmoot may have been putting off younger fans. I note this only as information.) Tim did note approvingly the way the riding circle was performed in the film.

Ian referred to the TT text to remind us that the Rohirric society is dependent on memory, having no written form, therefore memory is highly developed among them.

Julie took up the point of the 3 Hunters and asked Ian and Tim if they thought such a long run was actually possible. They thought it was.

Chris noted that Eomer sees Boromir as being more like one of the Rohirrim – a warrior devoted to warfare. Laura contrasted this to the book learning that is largely associated with Gondor, and to Faramir’s attitude to war.

Angela noted how mixed the races of this area of Middle-earth seem to be. And Chris noted the repetition of ‘News from the North’ both in the dirge for Boromir and in the encounter with the Rohirrim. Laura thought it was a good tactic to let them pass by.

Laura also remarked on the way elves sleep with their eyes open. It was noted that people can sleep like this, but elvish eyes are obviously very special as Legolas’s throwaway comment on how far he can see seems to show.

Angela noted that Aragorn seems to be promising to do lots of different things for lots of different people in this chapter. Tim observed that this is the role of the king.

I was interested in the identity of the tree with long dry ‘fingers’ and its pleasure in the warmth of the fire. This seemed odd since fire is a danger to trees. Looking forward a little, we went on to consider Tom and Treebeard because of their claims to be ‘Oldest’ and Ian wondered if Tom was simply more ‘mannish’ than entish.

We briefly addressed the problem of the identity of the Old Man, again coming to no conclusion, and assuming this is Tolkien’s intention – to mirror for us the uncertainty felt by the characters.

Our reading for next time will be ‘The Uruk Hai’ and ‘Treebeard’.

12:12 PM  

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