1. Bainespal says:

    Are you surprised at what Bilbo does? What doesn’t he mention finding the Ring?

    Maybe the Ring is already starting to corrupt him.

    Why does Gandalf continue to seem so grumpy? Can a “good guy” character be often angry at others or have some other “besetting sin” and yet be a hero we can admire?

    Well, I think Gandalf has a lot of excuses for being grumpy, including in this chapter his concern over Bilbo’s story, which the text implies that Gandalf sees through.
    But this proves that Tolkien does not use cookie-cutter good guys who get to murder a lot of stereotyped, uncomplicated bad guys, as liberal critics like to say.  Tolkien is a modern, “gritty” high fantasy writer, the first of that class.

    Again we have talking animals in the world of Middle-earth, but this time we don’t hear what they’re saying in another language. Does this seem more or less “realistic”? How is that different from talking animals in Narnia, who speak in English and can be understood?

    Obviously, the Narnians must have been using a prototype of the universal translator that was later adapted by Star Fleet. 😉
    Stories that don’t take a realistic approach to languages annoy me.  I have the way languages are explained away in Star Trek; if the universal translator really works that seamlessly, there should still be innumerable signs and indications of languages.  Even if the translator is somehow changing the alien’s words into English before they reach Captain Picard’s ears, we should still see the alien’s mouth move to foreign syllables.  And then, there are times when there will be a line of Klingon (or, for that matter, French), and there is no explanation as to why the universal translator left those foreign words alone.
    I didn’t notice the language thing as much in The Chronicles of Narnia.  I don’t feel surprised that the children can talk to the Narnians, but I do feel that the different cultures of Narnia should have had different languages, and that introduces the problem of how the English children are communicating with the Narnians.  Anyways, I prefer a realistic approach to language and all worldbuilding, and that makes me prefer The Hobbit over The Chronicles of Narnia, even though I do appreciate Narnia.

    Again, should stories not have deus ex machina endings? Does Tolkien get away with it?

    I think it depends how magnificent and awe-inspiring the deus element is.  The eagles are wonderful and come as a surprise to first-time readers.  I think they qualify, and I think it works well.

What do you think?