Reading the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings revealed much about the author. First and foremost, the text portrayed the outstandingly extensive breadth in all relations regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s thought, study, and imagination. It also portrayed some of his likings and enjoyments in life.
“Concerning Hobbits” Section One in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Prologue contains a long, detailed script regarding all things in relation to Hobbits. Much detail was given on subgroups among the Hobbits, what they look like, where they dwell, how they work the land, who remains prominent among them, how they relate to other Middle-Earth folk, and more. There seemed no end to the history, allegory, or factual tidbits.
Words failed me when I tried to describe to my father the imaginative depth and shocking detail included in this first section, “Concerning Hobbits.” However, my father, who has read The Lord of the Rings several times throughout his life, knew the perfect phrase: Obsessive detail.
Obsessive is exactly what I would call J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. Do some Tolkien fans take offense at this terminology? I hope not, for I mean no offense at this term. In fact, I have the proclivity and bias to believe deep people, obsessive and philosophical (and many times theological), lean toward genius in their arts and crafts.
The writing in this section layered detail upon detail, upon detail, and so on. J.R.R. Tolkien set the foundation for an imaginative people, then provided them with an imaginative history, then educated them with a language grounded in linguistic theory, and then added imaginative folklore for the imaginative Hobbits. In other words, Hobbits and the Shire could be real folk, in a real land, in a real world. Where could have J.R.R. Tolkien received his genius?
“Concerning Pipe-weed” Section Two in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
“Concerning Pipe-weed” in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings provided the perfect laughing magic after much education regarding Hobbits. For within the very first paragraph to this second section, Tolkien wrote a word very similar to an English word called nicotine. This “Nicotiana” was what Hobbits stuffed into their pipes, clay or wooden, and smoked.
J.R.R. Tolkien proceeded to provide imaginative detail regarding where the weed first came from. Did it come from the Hobbit village named Bree? Or does the weed grow native in the man-ruled city called Gondor? Again, Tolkien proved his imagination’s depth in creating Middle-Earth history similar to our world’s history, which means every culture is flummoxed about actual historical deeds and actions.
What this section blatantly shows is the time in which J.R.R. Tolkien lived. Cigarettes and cigars dominated most Englishmen pastimes, especially during World War II (WWII). With this in mind, and the knowledge about how this nicotine helped our WWII men to relax and rest, I can see why Tolkien included the Nicotiana weed into his literature. For every creature needs some means to rest, bodily and mentally.
“Of the Ordering of the Shire” Section Three in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
“Of the Ordering of the Shire” in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings detailed the government type that every conservative wishes for: minimal to nonexistent government. Based on how Tolkien described the governing society within the Shire, it resembled the United States government very much. The main similarity being free will, the other democracy.
Where the U.S. law enforcement writes speeding tickets and handles domestic disputes, the Shire’s law enforcement deals more with folk outside the gated borders. Hobbits called them the “Bounders,” strange folk on suspicious business. Such Bounders had appeared in Hobbit towns before. But those days were long ago, and the Hobbits had forgotten the danger these strange faces carried with them. Could this compare to the danger which German strangers presented to the English children in the early 1900’s?
“Of the Finding of the Ring” Section Four in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
Here Bilbo Baggins took stage. His story, summarized in “Of the Finding of the Ring” in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, revealed the dark story concerning a black heart and its “precious.”
Gollum would strike fear in anyone’s heart, let alone a simple, earth-loving Hobbit. For a ring to have so much power in prolonging a creature’s life, corrupting the creature to solely desire its power, made known the evil behind it. And to have the honest and adventurous Bilbo Baggins lie about how he found the one ring only made certain its terrible power.
This fourth section seemed put-in merely to set the stage for The Lord of the Rings. It informed the reader as to why poor Frodo Baggins had to carry his heavy burden, and consequently why all the connecting events occurred. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to draw people into Middle-Earth. As did his son, Christopher Tolkien, when he wrote on the history surrounding Middle-Earth. But that’s a different matter entirely.
“NOTE ON THE SHIRE RECORDS” Final Section in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
Not much need be said on the final section in the Prologue for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The author again showed his obsessive brilliance on imaginative history and folklore, connecting his work to how his readers would perceive it, as written accounts from Middle-Earth Men and Hobbits. To this fictional world there seems no end, and nor do we want there to be.
I hope anyone who reads this post will join me as we continue to read and review J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings! Continuing on with the series, we will compare and contrast how the story’s events relate to his personal life.
After all, Tolkien had mentioned this as a possible occurrence in his Foreword. Two biographies, one concerning the Inklings, the other concerning Tolkien himself, now exist on my bookshelf for this purpose. Let the fight between good and evil begin!