Friends, you know that I have a wee obsession about chapter eight – the sudden nadir of uncommon words in the work. My theory is that Mirkwood is just so far out of Bilbo’s depth that he has no specialized words to describe it. Paragraph 08.016 – “Dori is the strongest” – is the bottommost point, so let’s do a little run of the words in that paragraph.

Dori is referred to 22 times by himself and not in combination with other dwarf names out of the 37 times he is named in the book – interesting –

I may be a coward, but I wish to leave “is” and “the” as an exercise for the student.

Strength, strength’s, strengths, strengths’, strong, stronger, strongest – here they are! And, my goodness! There are eleven uses of “strength” in Chapter eight – more than double any other chapter, even chapter twelve in describing Smaug!

• 01.123 strong and wicked worm called Smaug.
• 03.033 as strong as a warrior,
• 03.034 and strong
• 03.034 but strong to bring them over the mountain passes.
• 05.128 while he had any strength left.
• 05.128 as if lifted by a new strength
• 06.068 and strong
• 06.085 in strong sweeping circles.
• 06.092 He had just strength to wonder
• 07.014 which was now strong
• 07.020 He is very strong,
• 07.022 sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms
• 07.117 and strong beyond the rock for me to cross.
• 07.126 black and strong
• 08.008 and strong but not very wide right across the way,
• 08.016 Dori is the strongest,
• 08.018 I don’t suppose the magic is strong enough to hurt you,
• 08.019 This time he threw it with great strength.
• 08.022 and a good job that our rope was the stronger.’
• 08.038 from those parts with what strength they had left.
• 08.074 Something like a strong sticky string was against his left hand,
• 08.106 most of the strong sticky threads
• 08.131 Though their magic was strong,
• 08.132 and the strong place of his treasure,
• 08.144 in one of the inmost caves with strong wooden doors,
• 09.003 and strong beneath;
• 09.036 They will think we had a very strong magic
• 10.002 but still a strong water flowed on steadily through the midst.
• 10.038 and strong again.
• 10.039 grew stronger every day.
• 11.001 The stream was strong
• 12.032 and to gather new strength.
• 12.072 and strong, strong, strong,
• 12.072 and strong, strong, strong,
• 12.072 and strong, strong, strong,
• 12.096 and strength of triple steel.
• 15.021 and strong of wing,
• 15.037 The arrow swift, the Gate is strong;
• 16.012 of a strong drink
• 17.003 bore a strong casket of iron-bound wood.
• 17.025 so strong was the bewilderment of the treasure upon him,
• 17.031 The dwarves are exceedingly strong for their height,
• 17.031 but most of these were strong even for dwarves.
• 18.037 such as one strong pony could carry.
• 18.051 and strength.
• 18.054 and the Baggins was daily getting stronger.
• 19.002 With strength that men trusted

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