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HISTORY TODAY article on Tolkien, the Ring, British archaeology, etc.

Extollager

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I haven't listened to it yet. I thought that, given Lynn Forest-Hill of the Tolkien Society was involved, there was a decent chance it was responsible speculation.
 

Corbier

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Silvianus curses by name the person he suspects. Similarly, when Gollum works out that Bilbo has found and kept his ring, he cries out in rage: ‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!
This is very funny as it's simply incorrect as Shippey mentions in The Road to Middle-earth. In the first edition of The Hobbit this part wasn't even present.

"We are ssorry; we didn't mean to cheat, we meant to give it our only present, if it won the competition."
The Hobbit, p. 92.

Isn't it poorly researched?
 

Extollager

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Articles like this do a lot less damage than movie "adaptations," I suppose....
 

Corbier

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I disagree with that because this is supposedly a well-researched paper. No one expects Hollywood to do any of the kind.

Do you agree with what I said in the previous post? Isn't it poorly researched because the "curse" wasn't in the original The Hobbit, which was closest published when Tolkien was supposedly at the excavation?
 

Extollager

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I actually haven't read the article yet! I thought it was of note as being spotlighted by the Tolkien Society itself (where I learned of it)

Home Page - The Tolkien Society

and as drawing people's attention to the books.

I'm afraid that people who might have read the books are content with the movies. I wish the movies had not been made, though I think they could have been a lot worse than they are. But here isn't the place to get into a discussion of the movies, nor am I interested in doing so -- meaning no offense to anyone who does like to discuss them.
 

Corbier

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One thing though. I have to applaud you for all the links you're posting, Extollager. Whether you agree or not with the article, it was interesting to read, as was the tape recorder blog you posted earlier. Thanks for that and keep it up, please!
 

Corbier

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I have contacted the writers of the article:

In “The Inspiration for Tolkien’s Ring” (History Today, January 2014) you wrote about the cursing of the thieves Bilbo Baggins and Senicianus as one of the “significant patterns of resemblance” between the two rings. It is interesting to note that in The Hobbit, as published in 1937, the curse ‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!’ – also quoted in your article – is not present. The scene was originally a game of riddles in which Gollum promises Bilbo the ring if he was to lose. When Gollum in fact loses the game, he does not want to give it up anymore and his last words are not a curse but: “We are ssorry; we didn’t mean to cheat, we meant to give it our only present, if it won the competition.” The claim that Tolkien’s presence at the excavation in 1928 is significant because “The Hobbit was taking its final shape” cannot be true because the cursing of the thief was added in after the original version of 1937. The reason for the altering of the scene, more than a decade later, as published in 1952, must be that Tolkien had now come to realise that the magic ring Bilbo had found was in fact the One Ring of Sauron and Gollum could never have offered his Precious as a prize in a silly game of riddles. It is highly unlikely that Tolkien re-wrote the scene because he suddenly remembered the excavations with Collingwood and Silvianus’ cursing of Senicianus, but the claim that the professor used his visits to the excavations during the original conceiving as proposed in the article, must be incorrect.
And received this as the reply:

Thank you for your email, which Professor Horton has passed on to me as I am responsible for the textual matters while he wrote the archaeological material. You are of course quite right that in the original version the riddle game ended with an honourable Gollum, and maybe the text in the article should have been more precise.

It is also certainly true that Tolkien did not rewrite because he 'suddenly remembered' the excavation, but once he agreed to write his new 'Hobbit' story and found the need to 'upgrade' Gollum from a creature suitable for children to one better suited to the themes of LotR.

However, it does not follow that Tolkien did not visit the excavations while writing the original Hobbit, even though evidence of such a visit does not emerge in that version. He may well have visited with or without Collingwood, out of interest, but his visit(s) or otherwise are immaterial to this textual matter since he certainly knew of the curse (and did not need to visit Lydney to know of it), and it is this that affects the later text.
Any thoughts?
 

Bick

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This ring was found near the National Trust site, The Vyne, in 1785. I visited there a few weeks ago and juts came across this story. The family who owned The Vyne claimed the ring, and put it on display there in April 2013.

The archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, digging in the area in 1929 found a tablet which gave the details of the curse, and its seems to be true that he spoke to his friend Tolkien about it.

While the specific language used by Gollum may or may not have been inspired by the archaeology, it seems highly likely to me that the gold ring motif, the writing on it, and its central theme in a fantastic plot developed from Tolkien's discussions with Wheeler. I only heard about this a few weeks ago, having visited The Vyne. Its near my old folks in the south of England.
 
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