Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Darwins Take Ohio, Books, The Dark Ages

20+ hours (counting stops) in the car yesterday starting at 4am, but Darwins are now safely in Ohio and even more or less awake. (As of 1pm.)

As usual on long car trips, we brought a bunch of books on tape to keep the troops from getting too restless. The small fry rejected Mary Poppins after a few chapters, but we got through about 1/3 of The Hobbit with their approval -- leaving the dwarves off at a rather sticky place in Mirkwood when they fell asleep.

One of the things that was striking me on this run through of The Hobbit was that for all the hints of a 'dark age' world of migrations and shifting populations that come up in the background and off-hand bits of history. I'd been reading In Search of the Trojan War right before leaving, which deals a lot with the 'dark age' at the end of the Minoan/Mycenean bronze age, and also a bit about the collapse of Roman Britain and the mass migrations of those 'dark ages'.

The brief mentions of the distant king, whom many peoples have not even heard of (is that the steward in Gondor, I suppose -- or perhaps an unrevised anachronism from before Tolkein had fully integrated The Hobbit into the history of Middle Earth?) and of various peoples migrating (such as the woodmen whom the goblins and wargs want to raid against the night that they come upon the dwarves in their meeting glade) while much older and strange people remain as well (such as Beorn).

In LotR you meet even earlier peoples such as Gan Buri Gan and his people. There must be a good 4-5 distinct layers of migrations you could easily lay out. It does give very much the feel of a dark age type world stretched out over an even longer period of time.


Tom Simon said...

It appears that the king referred to in The Hobbit was the long-lost King of Arnor, who granted the Shire to the hobbits under the authority of the Thain. The Prologue of LOTR says more:

There remained, of course, the ancient tradition concerning the high king at Fornost. . . . But there had been no king for nearly a thousand years, and even the ruins of Kings' Norbury werer covered with grass. Yet the Hobbits still said of wild folk and wicked things (such as trolls) that they had not heard of the king.

It may have been an anachronism when Tolkien first mentioned a king in The Hobbit, but he retconned it very neatly. It ends up contributing its bit to that wonderful air of layered migrations and ancient history you speak of.

By the way, glad to hear you arrived safely. Last summer I drove from Chicago to Calgary in two days, 1600 miles, solo. I don't recommend it.

bearing said...

Are you free to say where you are in Ohio? I'm from Cincinnati (in Minneapolis now.)

Darwin said...

Tom Simon,

That would make a lot of sense. It's so unusual to catch Tolkien letting anything like that slip by (as opposed to Lewis, who regularly slipped up on various details between books) that it always makes me wonder.


We are indeed in the Cinci, home of MrsDarwin's family -- at least for the last 20 years or so.

CMinor said...

We have a tape version of Mary Poppins here, too--I was surprised the first time we heard it through how obnoxious Mary was. Not at all like the Julie Andrews version. Other than the magic stuff going on about her, I couldn't see why she would appeal to a kid at all!