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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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:

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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:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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  • Comment on this blog post
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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)

Down the Hobbit Hole

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

It’s incredible how much ten short words can do, isn’t it? These were the first ten words I ever read by J.R.R. Tolkien, and they changed my life in several ways: by introducing me to my favorite author, by rekindling a dormant love for linguistics, and by starting me on a road that would eventually lead me (many years down the road) to a makeshift recording booth in my closet, where I have the pleasure of co-hosting a podcast that has brought me in touch with similarly minded Tolkien lovers all over the world.

I suspect many of you reading this had your first entry into Tolkien’s world through these ten words as well.  Continue reading

050 – You Have Kept Your Honor: The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy

Put aside the books and join us at the movies! In this episode, Alan and Shawn discuss Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. We watch clips of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) changes and go back to Tolkien’s own words about film adaptation to understand why some worked and others didn’t. Blazing beacons, tragic deaths, Elves where Elves have no business being… they’re all here in this action-packed, star-studded, Oscar-winner-watching episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Video version available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

For streaming audio and a transcript of the Tom Shippey lecture “Tolkien Book to Jackson Script: The Medium and the Message”, see the Swarthmore College website at http://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/tolkien-book-to-jackson-script-medium-and-message. (Audio highly recommended!)

The essay “Another Road to Middle-earth: Jackson’s Movie Trilogy”, is published as Appendix C in the 2005 edition of Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth, and is also available in other collections.

We’d love it if you would spend 30 seconds filling out this survey for our podcast host, Libsyn. No one will get your personalized data; only Alan and Shawn will get your email addresses, and if we get 250 responses, we will enter all email addresses into a drawing. Click here to complete the survey, and thank you!

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King Extended Editions) [Blu-ray]

Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology (Mariner Books, paperback)

Shippey, Tom. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (Mariner Books, paperback)

Doom, doom, doom.

If you’ve listened to the podcast enough, you’ve probably heard Alan and I make the bold claim that J. R. R. Tolkien never, ever made an accidental word choice in his writing.  Every single word was chosen quite deliberately, we like to believe, and so there’s no shame in delving deep into every single word choice to determine exactly what was in the Professor’s head at the moment of writing.  Of course, while we can’t know for sure, this is likely an exaggeration — surely even Tolkien occasionally chose words “just because” — but we’ll never know for sure, and we’ll keep on saying it. One thing that we do know for sure is that Tolkien understood words, and the history of words, well enough to know which one was right for his intended purpose; and that if he wanted to, he could use their histories and multiple shades of meaning to great effect.

One of our favorite words to delve into is doom.  Continue reading

006 – Tolkien Reading Day Special

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!  On March 25 every year – the date of the fall of Barad-dûr – Tolkien lovers worldwide celebrate by reading and promoting the Professor’s life and work. For this special, Alan and Shawn read and discuss favorite passages related to this year’s theme of Life, Death, and Immortality, and indulge in a little inter-fandom rivalry.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag?

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  • Or email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.  Don’t forget to replace the words in parentheses with the usual symbols!

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback), pp. 495-513, “The King of the Golden Hall”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback), pp. 812-820, “The Ride of the Rohirrim”; pp. 832-839, “The Pyre of Denethor”; pp. 1032-1038, Appendix A.v. – “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”

 

004 – The Great War

This time, Alan flies solo over the battlefields of World War I and discusses both the explicit and the implied influences that the Great War had on Tolkien’s writings, while Shawn is safely away in the officers’ club in Edoras with a refreshing drink.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag?

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Or email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.  Don’t forget to replace the words in parentheses with the usual symbols!

Recommended Reading:

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

Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin, paperback)

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

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

003 – The Origins of Quenya and Sindarin

Shawn takes a solo look at the real-world linguistic inspirations that shaped Tolkien’s invented Elvish languages, Quenya and Sindarin, while Alan is away doing whatever a Man of the West does on his day off.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag?

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Or email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.  Don’t forget to replace the words in parentheses with the usual symbols!

Recommended Reading:

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

Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin, paperback)

 

002 – The Myth-lover

We continue our introduction to J. R. R. Tolkien’s ideas on fantasy and myth with a look at his short poem dedicated to C. S. Lewis, “Mythopoeia” – a thematic companion piece to “On Fairy-Stories”. Also, polar bears.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or our RSS Feed

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag?

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Or email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.  Don’t forget to replace the words in parentheses with the usual symbols!

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. Tree and Leaf: Including “Mythopoeia” (Harper Collins, paperback)

Adams, Doug. The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore’s Scores (Book and Rarities CD) (Alfred Music, hardcover)