070 – If You Love Somebody, Cut Them Free

The second of three episodes on Chapter 8 of The Hobbit. As Mirkwood continues with no apparent end, our heroes get desperate and stray from the path when they see Elves feasting in a clearing nearby. They try three times to crash the party, but each time chaos ensues, and soon Bilbo finds himself alone in the dark with several Spiders of Unusual Size. We witness Bilbo’s most Tookish moment yet, learn about several games of the aiming and throwing sort, and rack up a number of reasons to apologize to Mr. Gordon Sumner.

Links to most of the works of art discussed at the end of the episode below.

By Roger Garland:

By Jenny Dolfen:

By John Howe:

By Elena Kukanova:

By Alan Lee:

By Ted Nasmith:

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 138-148, “Flies and Spiders”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Scull, Christina, and Wayne G. Hammond. J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Two Volume Box Set) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (translator) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (HarperCollins, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (Mariner Books, paperback)

069 – Be Still My Fleeting Hart

In the first episode of our trilogy on Chapter 8 of The Hobbit, Bilbo and the Dwarves enter Mirkwood and quickly learn the true meaning of the term “pitch-dark.” As the days drag on, their hunger and desperation grow, and there seems to be no end to the forest… but at least the spiders here are just small ones of Ordinary Size. We discuss Tolkien’s folklore inspirations for the dark wood on the edge of the world, the enchanted stream, and more, then lighten the mood with an imaginary photographic tour of Middle-earth.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 130-138, “Flies and Spiders”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Sauron Defeated (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 9) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Verlyn Flieger, ed.) The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (translator) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (Mariner Books, paperback)

068 – Exit, Pursued by a Bear

We resume Chapter 7 of The Hobbit. Bilbo and the Dwarves spend a few days as the guests of Beorn, comfortable despite the occasional late-night sounds of a hungry bear on the other side of the door. After verifying their story personally, Beorn agrees to help the party with food, advice, and more… but he still doesn’t trust the Dwarves completely. We go further into the nature of Beorn and his place in the overall legendarium, and a Tolkien Fun Fact gives us a much-needed reason to revisit our favorite ursine from the Father Christmas letters.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 118-129, “Queer Lodgings”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The War of the Jewels (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Baillie Tolkien, ed.) Letters from Father Christmas (Mariner Books, paperback)

067 – Forget About Your Worries and Your Strife

Chapter 7 of The Hobbit begins with a rude awakening in an Eagle’s eyrie. But our heroes are soon off on their way again, and find themselves at the home of Beorn the skin-changer. Is he a man that changes into a bear, or a bear that changes into a man? Find out as we explore the linguistic and mythical inspirations for one of Middle-earth’s most enigmatic characters. We also remember a poignant letter J.R.R. once received from a friend on This Week in Tolkien History, and ask you to bear with us as we discuss our favorite music inspired by the legendarium.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 105-118, “Queer Lodgings”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Shaping of Middle-earth (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 4) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Return of the Shadow (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 6) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (Mariner Books, hardcover)

065 – Lobbest Thou Thy Holy Pine Grenade

We pick up Chapter 6 of The Hobbit with our heroes literally up a tree. Gandalf keeps the wolves at bay by playing with fire, but when the goblins arrive, things quickly heat up for Bilbo and his friends. Just as the situation begins to go up in smoke, unexpected help comes from above. We talk about the Eagles, their role in the legendarium, and the dangers Tolkien saw in using them too much in his stories. We also do a quick background check on Gandalf and recite some more goblin poetry bad enough to make a Vogon (and your hosts) cringe.

And now, the firs — the illustration The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate by J.R.R. Tolkien: (artwork below copyright of The Tolkien Estate Limited or The Tolkien Trust)

And the version that was colored — not by Tolkien, but by H.E. Riddett — for The J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar 1976:

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 94-104, “Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Morgoth’s Ring (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Judd, Walter S., and Graham A. Judd. Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

Scull, Christina, and Wayne G. Hammond. The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

064 – And Now, the Larch

As Chapter 6 of The Hobbit opens, Bilbo emerges from the mountains and soon hears the familiar voices of Gandalf and the Dwarves. He sneaks up on them with the help of his new ring, and finally wins some respect with his stealth and the tale of his escape. But the happy reunion proves short-lived; the company move on, coming to a clearing in the woods… and find themselves surrounded by howling wolves. We revisit the nature of wargs, showcase our limited botanical knowledge, and enjoy yet another philological joke from Professor Tolkien.

To learn how to recognize a larch from quite a long way away, watch the classic Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch here: https://www.youtube.com/Tzmp8T2xX2A

The long-anticipated return of our Venn diagram on wolves, wargs and werewolves: (see also Episode 032 – Lady and the Tramp)

The original painting Taur-na-Fuin by J.R.R. Tolkien, which was later redrawn in ink as Mirkwood for The Hobbit: (see also Episode 041 – Make It So, artwork below copyright of The Tolkien Estate Limited or The Tolkien Trust)taur-na-fuin

Looking for the firs from the illustration The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate by J.R.R. Tolkien? See Episode 065 – Lobbest Thou Thy Holy Pine Grenade.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 85-94, “Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire”

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Scull, Christina, and Wayne G. Hammond. J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Two Volume Box Set) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Judd, Walter S., and Graham A. Judd. Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

New Outtakes for the Holidays!

It’s been a long time since we’ve given you a chance to laugh at our misfortune, but Alan and I are happy to announce that we have some new outtakes posted to keep you entertained while you wait for our next episode on January 7!

The latest outtakes start on page 5 of the Outtakes section. Or view all of them starting here, and check back regularly for more silly mistakes and self-mockery from your hosts!

063 – How Not to Be Seen

Concluding our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Gollum begins to realize that Bilbo has his ring, and Bilbo begins to realize what it does. He uses its power of invisibility to escape from Gollum, but stops short of killing the wretched creature: an act of pity that will have great implications for Bilbo and for Middle-earth. We turn again to the first edition to see how Tolkien’s minor edits changed the ring from a magical trinket into an artifact of power with a will of its own, and your hosts thankfully retire their Gollum voices until The Lord of the Rings.

For the online article “Bag End – A Very English Place” referenced in our Tolkien Fun Fact about Jane Neave, please see the Tolkien Library website: http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/1065-Bag-End-A-Very-English-Place.php (hat tip to listener Trotter)

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 78-84, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

062 – …Ere the Other Side He See

Our second episode on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Tension mounts as the riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum continues, with Bilbo’s life at stake. His luck saves him in the final round, but when Gollum accuses him of not playing fair, he’s still very much in danger. We compare the current text to the first edition to see how Tolkien transformed Gollum from a hungry, but honest, monster into a “miserable wicked creature” corrupted by the One Ring. And we welcome a listener to the North Wing of the Prancing Pony in a new segment!

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 71-78, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

061 – Answer Me These Questions Five…

The first of three episodes on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Bilbo wakes up in the darkness below the mountains, and soon finds himself in a life-or-death riddle-game with one of Tolkien’s most infamous creations: Gollum. We begin to discuss the changes made to this chapter during the composition of The Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien’s understanding of Gollum and the ring changed. Also, we look to the Professor’s own words for context about the newly announced Amazon series in a new segment: The Tolkien Quote of the Day.

(EDIT: In this episode, we mentioned an illustration in a 1947 Swedish edition of The Hobbit depicting Gollum as four times the size of Bilbo. Our listener Trotter located an image of the illustration by artist Torbjön Zetterholm, which we’ve included below:

As well as this other unsettling depiction of Gollum by illustrator Tove Jansson from a 1950s edition of The Hobbit:

Our thanks to Trotter for these spectacular finds!)

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 65-71, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

Drout, Michael D. C., ed. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (Routledge, paperback)

Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)