from
The Lord of the Rings
by
J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

These pages: The Lord of the Rings

vol. 1 (here): The Fellowship of the Ring
vol. 2: The Two Towers
vol. 3: The Return of the King

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Fantasy
the Inklings
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authors
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The Lord of the Rings, volume 1:
The Fellowship of the Ring

Copyright © 1954, 1965, 1966 by J.R.R. Tolkien
1954 edition copyright © renewed 1982 by Christopher Tolkien, Michael H. R. Tolkien, John F. R. Tolkien and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien
1965/1966 edition copyright © renewed 1993, 1994 by Christopher Tolkien, John F. R. Tolkien and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien

Foreword to the Second Edition

But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous. It is also false, though naturally attractive, when the lives of an author and critic have overlapped, to suppose that the movements of thought or the events of times common to both were necessarily the most powerful influences. One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years.

Topics:

Authors

Critics

Prologue
1
Concerning Hobbits
The genealogical trees at the end of the Red Book of Westmarch are a small book in themselves, and all but Hobbits would find them exceedingly dull. Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate: they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.
Book One
Chapter I
A Long-expected Party
Many young hobbits were included, and present by parental permission; for hobbits were easy-going with their children in the matter of sitting up late, especially when there was a chance of getting them a free meal. Bringing up young hobbits took a lot of provender.

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.

Topic:

Compliments

Chapter II
The Shadow of the Past

‘Your Hal’s always saying he’s seen things; and maybe he sees things that ain’t there.’

‘But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking – walking seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.’

‘Then I bet it wasn’t an inch. What he saw was an elm tree, as like as not.’

‘But this one was walking, I tell you; and there ain’t no elm tree on the North Moors.’

‘Then Hal can’t have seen one,’ said Ted. There was some laughing and clapping: the audience seemed to think that Ted had scored a point.

Topic:

Logic (examples)

‘Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.’

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

Topic:

Time

‘That is a chapter of ancient history which it might be good to recall; for there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark, but great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain.’

‘What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’

‘Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.’

Topic:

Pity

‘He deserves death.’

‘Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.’

Topic:

Capital punishment

‘Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?’

‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’

Chapter III
Three is Company
‘He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?” He used to say that on the path outside the front door at Bag End, especially after he had been out for a long walk.’

‘But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait.’

‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.

‘Is it indeed?’ laughed Gildor. ‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.’

Topic:

Advice

Chapter IV
A Short Cut to Mushrooms

Short cuts make long delays,’ argued Pippin.

‘The best beer in the Eastfarthing, or used to be: it is a long time since I tasted it.’

‘That settles it!’ said Frodo. ‘Short cuts make delays, but inns make longer ones. At all costs we must keep you away from the Golden Perch.’

Chapter V
A Conspiracy Unmasked

‘But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,’ said Frodo.

Sam looked at him unhappily. ‘It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. ‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.’

Topic:

Friendship

Chapter VII
In the House of Tom Bombadil

‘He is the Master of wood, water, and hill.’

‘Then all this strange land belongs to him?’

‘No indeed!’ she answered, and her smile faded. ‘That would indeed be a burden,’ she added in a low voice, as if to herself. ‘The trees and the grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves. Tom Bombadil is the Master. No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill-tops under light and shadow. He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master.’

Chapter VIII
Fog on the Barrow-downs
He thought he had come to the end of his adventure, and a terrible end, but the thought hardened him. He found himself stiffening, as if for a final spring; he no longer felt limp like a helpless prey.

Topic:

Courage

Chapter IX
At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
‘There was too much of that Mr. Underhill to go vanishing into thin air, or into thick air, as is more likely in this room.’
Chapter X
Strider

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried.

‘You have frightened me several times tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would – well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.’

‘I see,’ laughed Strider. ‘I look foul and feel fair. Is that it?’

Chapter XI
A Knife in the Dark

Already they were getting used to much walking on short commons – shorter at any rate than what in the Shire they would have thought barely enough to keep them on their legs. Pippin declared that Frodo was looking twice the hobbit that he had been.

‘Very odd,’ said Frodo, tightening his belt, ‘considering that there is actually a good deal less of me.’

Chapter XII
Flight to the Ford

‘I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey. First he was a conspirator, now he’s a jester. He’ll end up by becoming a wizard – or a warrior!’

‘I hope not,’ said Sam. ‘I don’t want to be neither!’

Book Two
Chapter I
Many Meetings
‘Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.’
Chapter II
The Council of Elrond

‘What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dúnedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?

‘And yet less thanks have we than you. Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. “Strider” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.’

‘ “White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.”

‘ “In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.” ’

‘ “We may join with that Power. It would be wise, Gandalf. There is hope that way. Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it. As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.”

‘ “Saruman,” I said, “I have heard speeches of this kind before, but only in the mouths of emissaries sent from Mordor to deceive the ignorant.” ’

Topic:

Rationalizing

‘Despair, or folly?’ said Gandalf. ‘It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts.’

‘I had thought of putting: and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days. It is a good ending, and none the worse for having been used before.’
Chapter III
The Ring Goes South

‘Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?

‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.

Topic:

Books (general)

‘We don’t want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo.’

‘That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,’ said Elrond.

‘Neither does Frodo,’ said Gandalf, unexpectedly supporting Pippin. ‘Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom.’

‘The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.’

‘Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,’ said Gimli.

‘Maybe,’ said Elrond, ‘but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.’

‘Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,’ said Gimli.

‘Or break it,’ said Elrond. ‘Look not too far ahead!’

Topic:

Oaths

Chapter VI
Lothlórien

‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’

‘The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

‘Some there are among us who sing that the Shadow will draw back, and peace shall come again. Yet I do not believe that the world about us will ever again be as it was of old, or the light of the Sun as it was aforetime.’

[...] Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. [...] In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien there was no stain.

He turned and saw that Sam was now standing beside him, looking round with a puzzled expression, and rubbing his eyes as if he was not sure that he was awake. ‘It’s sunlight and bright day, right enough,’ he said. ‘I thought that Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more elvish than anything I ever heard tell of. I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.’

Chapter VII
The Mirror of Galadriel
‘I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, not in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be. But this I will say to you: your Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while all the Company is true.’

‘It’s wonderfully quiet here. Nothing seems to be going on, and nobody seems to want it to. If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.’

‘You can see and feel it everywhere,’ said Frodo.

‘Well,’ said Sam, ‘you can’t see nobody working it. No fireworks like poor Gandalf used to show.’

‘It’s like being at home and on a holiday at the same time, if you understand me. I don’t want to leave. All the same, I’m beginning to feel that if we’ve got to go on, then we’d best get it over.

It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish, as my old gaffer used to say.’

‘For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy.’

‘Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them. The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.’

Sam sat on the ground and put his head in his hands. ‘I wish I had never come here, and I don’t want to see no more magic,’ he said and fell silent. After a moment he spoke again thickly, as if struggling with tears. ‘No, I’ll go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo, or not at all,’ he said. ‘But I hope I do get back some day. If what I’ve seen turns out true, somebody’s going to catch it hot!’

‘I wish you’d take his Ring. You’d put things to rights. You’d stop them digging up the gaffer and turning him adrift. You’d make some folk pay for their dirty work.’

‘I would,’ she said. ‘That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!’

Chapter VIII
Farewell to Lórien
‘But do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.’

‘Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord. Alas for Gimli son of Glóin!’

‘Nay!’ said Legolas. ‘Alas for us all! And for all that walk the world in these after-days. For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream. But I count you blessed, Gimli son of Glóin: for your loss you suffer of your own free will, and you might have chosen otherwise. But you have not forsaken your companions, and the least reward that you shall have is that the memory of Lothlórien shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart, and shall neither fade nor grow stale.’

‘Maybe,’ said Gimli; ‘and I thank you for your words. True words doubtless; yet all such comfort is cold. Memory is not what the heart desires.’

text checked (see note) Mar 2005

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