The First The Lord of the Rings Discussion

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c. March 2000 - July 2001

 

 

 

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AND YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO READ: The First Bored of the Rings Discussion!

The Fellowship of the Ring - Book I

The Lord of the Rings opens on the same scene as The Hobbit: some sixty years later. It begins with a chapter, somewhat similar in style, that in title (A Long-expected Party) and content is a deliberate parallel to the first chapter of the earlier book.

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(repr. in Hammond and Scull, LotR: A Reader's Companion, 743.).

 

 

The Fellowship of the Ring - Book II

The Second Book -- which must, as explained before, begin with a pause, before a complete change of direction, after healing and refreshment and the gaining of wisdom -- begins with the healing of Frodo, the meeting of Frodo and Bilbo again, the council of the Wise, and the making of the plan for the final Quest: the unmaking of the Ring.

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(ibid., 744.).

         

The Two Towers - Book III

The Third Book deals with the fate and adventures of all the Companions save Frodo and Sam, who have passed beyond knowledge and aid. It treats of the adventures of the two young hobbits captured by Orcs, and their rise to heroism; and of the desperate effort of Aragorn and the Elf and Dwarf to overtake them and rescue them.

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(ibid., 745.)

 

The Two Towers - Book IV

The Fourth Book deals with the perils and labours of Frodo and Sam. Gollum reappears, and is 'tamed' by Frodo: that is by the power of the Ring he is cowed to a Caliban-like servitude at first, but slowly Frodo awakes his long-buried better self: he begins to love Frodo as a good and kind master.

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(ibid., 746.).

         

The Return of the King - Book V

The Fifth Book returns to the precise point at which Book Three ended. Gandalf on his great horse (with the hobbit Peregrin Took) passing along the great 'north-road', South to Gondor. Now we come to the half-ruinous Byzantine City of Minas Tirith, and meet its grim lord, the old proud wizard-like Steward, Denethor.

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(ibid., 746.).

 

 

The Return of the King - Book VI

The Sixth and Last Book begins where the Fourth left off. We now have the αριστεια (prowess) of Sam, his supreme plain dogged common-sensible heroism in aid of his master. I cannot 'pot' these chapters in which I have told (and, I think, even made credible in their mode) how he rescued his master, how he guided and aided him through the horrors and deadly perils of Mordor, until at the the very edge of death (by hunger, thirst, and fear and the growing burden of the Ring), they reach the Mountain of Doom...

JRRT, From a letter to Milton Waldman, late 1951
(ibid., 747.).

         
 

The Appendices

I now wish that no appendices had been promised! For I think their appearance in truncated and compressed form will satisfy nobody: certainly not me; clearly from the (appalling mass of) letters I receive not those people who like that kind of thing astonishingly many; while those who enjoy the book as an 'heroic romance' only, and find 'unexplained vistas' part of the literary effect, will neglect the appendices, very properly. I am not now at all sure that the tendency to treat the whole thing as a kind of vast game is really good cert. not for me, who find that kind of thing only too fatally attractive.

JRRT, From a letter to Rayner Unwin 6 March 1955