Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

Things missed the first twenty times

Here’s a snippet from chapter four of book three of The Lord of the Rings:

“Yes,” said Pippin; “I’m afraid this is only a passing gleam, and it will all go grey again. What a pity! This shaggy old forest looked so different in the sunlight. I almost felt I liked the place.”

“Almost felt you liked the Forest! That’s good! That’s uncommonly kind of you,” said a strange voice. “Turn round and let me have a look at your faces. I almost feel that I dislike you both, but do not let us be hasty. Turn round!”

It wasn’t until last night that I realised what Treebeard is doing here, deliberately repeating Pippin’s phrasing but with the opposite emotion. A simple thing, and obvious, but at the same time setting up Treebeard’s character quite nicely — his humour, his motto, his... self-confidence is the wrong word, but I can’t think of a better.

It’s nice that I know parts of the book well enough that such things as the above can occur to me without having to be reading the text. Of course it’s always good to do so, since in looking at it and the surrounding passages today, I’ve noticed that the word “queer” gets used several times in the Treebeard chapter, describing the Ent’s eyes as well as Lothlórien, and the word “strange” of his voice and of the whole adventure the Hobbits are involved in. Why is this interesting? Tolkien uses “strange” an awful lot, but (from my less than thorough examination) almost solely when the subject is, roughly, Faërie, rather than anything unusual or unknown. And now it seems that “queer” may be used for a similar purpose, though I cannot recall other uses of it to support or disprove this theory. Oh for a decent (which is to say electronic) concordance!

Posted by jamie on May 14, 2005 10:55+12:00

Comments

strange = unfamiliar

queer = peculiar

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Posted by: stephen on May 16, 2005 10:39+12:00

As for the concordance, when does the whole kit and kaboodle fall out of copyright anyway? I’m sure you’ll get as many concordances then as you could possibly want.

Posted by: Michael on May 16, 2005 11:18+12:00

Michael, I don’t know much about copyright, but I’m guessing that it expires seventy years after the death of the author, which means I’ll be seventy myself by the time it happens. Stupid law.

Stephen, you’re funny. And incidentally I found other uses of the word “queer”, by reading my essay on the subject (oops, good memory there, Jamie).

Posted by: Jamie on May 16, 2005 18:58+12:00

Maybe this might help: http://flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/book/book.htm :)

Posted by: Shaun on May 17, 2005 09:54+12:00

Hee, thanks for the link Shaun!

I’ve actually done a little bit of transcription for private use, including adding TEI markup. It’s insane, though, not because there’s a lot of text to transcribe, but because of the amount of markup to be added, specifying sentences, quotations, names, etc.

Posted by: Jamie on May 17, 2005 10:15+12:00

Apparently there are e-Book publishers that do not have DRM schemes of much security. That might be one route to an electronic copy of the text. Until NZ adopts something like the US’s DMCA, it might even be legal.

Posted by: Michael on May 17, 2005 12:05+12:00