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Fairy-tales, Cabbages & Potatoes

Here is here is young Sam Gamgee hearing tales of Elves, and Bilbo Baggins, trying to piece together the tale of the Silmarils for the first time. Plus, Frodo Baggins being a wild young mushroom-stealing tearaway that matures into an earnest scholar, and Merry Brandybuck and Sam Gamgee getting started on their great Conspiracy.
Fairy-tales, Cabbages & Potatoes
Gen, 12863 words

For many years I used to say that I really could not write Tolkien fanfic, unless maybe something very short and silly or mostly original characters. Then I decided I could if it was Silmarillion. Then I found that I really needed to work out how to write Bilbo and Frodo if I wanted to write about Elrond. Now basically I seem to have mostly abandoned the whole idea of bits being off-limits. I forget why I decided it anyway.

Years ago when the LOTR movies were being filmed, I remember seeing an interview with Ian McKellen saying that if he were young and playing a Hobbit, not Gandalf, he would have loved to make more examination of the class differences in the Shire and between Sam and the rest of the party, which can sometimes be quite uncomfortable for a modern reader. I thought that was an interesting idea, so I played it up a bit.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
r_blackcat
7th Sep, 2018 18:10 (UTC)
Crash course of Elvish History for hobbit-children! I like it. :P I'm afraid I have no damn idea why exactly or for what exactly I like it, I just like it, thank you for the fun. And I have quite forgotten that Sam was older than Merry, good thing you've reminded me.
A couple of noncense things I thought while reading: I don't know how you englishmen deal with elvish names, but if Sam were Russian, he would sure as Hell stumble over the name "Maedhros" hearing it the first time and wouldn't be able to pronounce it. The diftong "ae" and this "dh" baffle us, and russian translators have mistransliterated poor Maedhros as Mah-eh-dros (agrh, disgasting!). It was fun to laugh along with Frodo about postmen messing up Fingolfin and Finarfin - we Russians did it pretty much too reading The Silmarillion for the first time! We even have a joke story helping us to remember them: "There lived once Feanor and he was pretty much hot-tempered. And he had two brothers: FingAlfin and FOnarfin." The joke is that "fingal" means "black eye" in russian, and "fonar" literary means "lamp", but in figurative sense "black eye" too :D
"pause to scribble a quick note with the stub of a pencil that he always kept in a pocket" -ah yyyes! In russian it's called smth like the "effect of recognition" - I also keep a stub of a pencil in my pocket!
"would go obscure and Elvish" - yes, yes! So damn good, great phrase, so true!
I have an impression though that there is a slight er... tilt? to Feanorions in the story. Like you giving them more attention than to other elves. It feels not like Bilbo's preference, not like the preferences of elves who told him stories, but like the preference of the author of the fanfic. It's just a feeling, I can't say what exact phrases give me this feeling - like the story became more elaborative around them than it should be in Bilbo's mind from the tales picked up in Rivendell and from elves like Gildor. I hope I'm not upsetting you telling this, it's just an impression of a reader I would want to hear myself from my readers, even if I wouldn't necessarily agree with it. Is it ok?
bunn
9th Sep, 2018 00:30 (UTC)
Of course it's OK!

I don't know how Hobbits dealt with Elvish names either, but as I grew up in Wales, I tend to automatically assume 'Maedhros' is a normal sort of name: it does make sense if you pronounce it as Welsh...

Though, Welsh is supposed to be the language that Tolkien based a lot of Sindarin on, and Wales is just to the West of the area of England that is usually considered the inspiration for the Shire, so maybe the name wouldn't seem too hard to Sam, either.

(Sam's horror at there being TWO kinds of letters is me faced with Cyrillic script,I am so sorry :-D )

You're probably right that the story reflects my Feanorian preferences rather than Bilbo's (also, there is probably a bit more Finrod than there should be, and not so much Turgon, Glorfindel, Ecthelion). I did try not to, but it's hard not to let your own interests creep through a bit! Maybe I should add a bit more about Gondolin, and perhaps also Cirdan, who is after all almost a neighbour of the hobbits of the Shire, they probably know more about the Falathrim than most...

I didn't want to include stuff about Hurin and his children though, since I was focussing on 'tales of Elves' since that was what Sam liked particularly, and also Children of Hurin is SUCH a grim story, I felt Bilbo probably would not tell it to Sam till he was a bit older.
r_blackcat
9th Sep, 2018 20:11 (UTC)
Does Welsh have “ae” diphtong? How is it pronounced? I somehow figured out it should be like a mild “ai” in Elvish. What’s in Welsh?
Er... The Elven was based on Welsh, I remember reading about this; but it seems to me that there was no “ae” diphtong in the Common Speech (Aduni). It doesn’t matter much – probably even a name like “Maedhros” would be easier to catch hearing someone speaking it, than trying to read it properly in a book.
You know, I wouldn’t be bothered much about “too much Finrod”. He was much loved, after all, I wouldn’t be surprised if, say, Gildor would speak much of him, more, than of others. Feanorions though... Well, you get the idea :) Yes, it’s hard sometimes to keep your own interests from speeches of characters.
(I even have a feeling that Gildor was himself from the House of Finrod, don’t remember why, probably fanon. In that case everything he told Bilbo would have been very much Finrod-centered.)
Absolutly agree with “Hurin & company”. It’s definitely 18+
bunn
9th Sep, 2018 21:17 (UTC)
Yes - Welsh has the 'ae' sound. My Welsh is near nonexistent now (I only learned it for a few years as a kid), but I remember 'maen' = stone. Like 'my' with an n on the end. Welsh, I think doesn't quite have the 'dh', but it does have 'dd' which is pronounced the same, as a hard 'th'.

(you made me wonder if 'Maedhros' or 'Maeddros' was actually a word in Welsh, so I looked it up, and it's not quite, but 'maeddais' means 'defeated' 'beaten' or 'dead' apparently, which almost makes you wonder if that's deliberate... )

I am pretty sure Gildor announces himself as 'of the house of Finrod' to Frodo in LOTR. It was a little while ago now, but I think I was trying not to give too much detail to stories like Earendil & Beren & Luthien which are told in LOTR, which the hobbits don't seem to know much about. But I could have done more with Gondolin. I just never am that interested in Gondolin! :-D
bunn
9th Sep, 2018 21:30 (UTC)
I've just realised that the perfect answer to the 'why are there so many Feanorians in this?' question is that Bilbo has bumped into Maglor at some point, since Maglor is wandering around the shore probably not very far away, and Bilbo is clearly not an elf, so Maglor might reasonably not avoid him.

Damn, I should have thought of that before. That makes sense and is a near-perfect excuse! :-D
bunn
10th Sep, 2018 08:01 (UTC)
NO! I've worked it out. Bilbo has picked up his Feanorian interests from Gandalf, on the long journey home from Erebor.

They have a very very long walk, nothing much to worry about, Gandalf canonically feels that the single most interesting thing to look at in all of history if you had a palantir would be the hand and eye of Feanor at work. So they walk for weeks swapping stories, Bilbo tells Shire gossip and snarks about the Sackville-Bagginses, Gandalf tells Bilbo all about his favorite tragic elves.

OK, I'm happy now.
r_blackcat
10th Sep, 2018 12:14 (UTC)
Glad to help you stumble on the right idea! :D
'defeated' 'beaten' or 'dead' - I'd be da... er, better not to say such thing for a feanorian's fan. Sounds like it WAS deliberate. Though Tolkien wrote "Maidros" in the beguinning...
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