One of the things which gives The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings such rich “inner consistency of reality” is the thousands of years of fully realized history which readers at the first printings had no idea existed.  Casual references to a city with a history and artifacts in these scenes are part of the magic of high register – the current story is part of a history.

  • 03.035 in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars.
  • 03.035 in the ancient tongue of Gondolin;
  • 03.035 Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore.
  • 04.033 when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them
  • 05.006 in Gondolin for the goblin-wars
  • 05.021 a blade which came out of Gondolin!’

Tolkien, J. R. R., “On Faerie Stories.” The Tolkien Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966 (first Printing). Print.

Gollum (character)

How did Bilbo know this character’s nickname?  If Bilbo had named Gollum after the throat-sound, well and good.   We learn in [05.015] that Gollum got his name from the throat sound, and “That is how he got his name, though he always called himself ‘my precious’.”  It sounds as if folk other than Bilbo call him “Gollum”.  Who?  and how does Bilbo learn that name, if Gollum never introduces himself?  Is this a name given in Bilbo’s memoirs, correcting his first memory of Gollum as someone unnamed with information brought by Gandalf to the Council of Elrond?  If so, what did Balin really say in [08.127]?

For a deep reflection on the “inner consistency of reality” of the character of Gollum, please enjoy this examination by fellow scholar Sara Nielsen Legard.  Sara Legard’s Gollum Exam.

  • 05.012 lived old Gollum,
  • 05.012 He was Gollum –
  • 05.013 Actually Gollum lived on a slimy island of rock
  • 05.014 Gollum got into his boat
  • 05.014 Suddenly up came Gollum
  • 05.018 whispered Gollum
  • 05.020 said Gollum,
  • 05.022 Sssss’ said Gollum,
  • 05.022 and whether Gollum was really hungry.
  • 05.025 So Gollum hissed:
  • 05.031 and Gollum knew the answer as well as you do.
  • 05.036 Ss, ss, ss,’ said Gollum.
  • 05.036 Gollum brought up memories of ages
  • 05.039 Unfortunately for Gollum
  • 05.041 But it proved a nasty poser for Gollum.
  • 05.045 But suddenly Gollum remembered
  • 05.048 After a while Gollum began to hiss
  • 05.050 haste!’ said Gollum,
  • 05.052 Gollum was dreadfully disappointed;
  • 05.052 so that Gollum had to get back into his boat
  • 05.054 Gollum might have had some trouble guessing it,
  • 05.054 and Gollum soon gave it.
  • 05.056 Gollum began to get out of his boat.
  • 05.058 Gollum was disappointed once more;
  • 05.059 said Gollum.
  • 05.061 ask us!’ said Gollum.
  • 05.063 but Gollum thought it was a riddle,
  • 05.066 S-s-s-s-s,’ hissed Gollum.
  • 05.068 Handses!’ said Gollum.
  • 05.070 S-s-s-s-s,’ said Gollum
  • 05.073 Now Gollum was
  • 05.074 whether Gollum guessed right or not.
  • 05.076 shrieked Gollum,
  • 05.078 Gollum did not at once attack him.
  • 05.082 hissed Gollum.
  • 05.083 relieved to think of Gollum going away.
  • 05.083 What was Gollum talking about?
  • 05.083 Gollum did mean to come back.
  • 05.087 But who knows how Gollum came by that present,
  • 05.087 Gollum used to wear it at first,
  • 05.090 Gollum was cursing
  • 05.093 shrieked Gollum.
  • 05.094 Utterly miserable as Gollum sounded,
  • 05.094 and he had a feeling that anything Gollum wanted so much
  • 05.095 precious!’ Gollum answered.
  • 05.097 Never guessed!’ said Gollum.
  • 05.098 naturally, for Gollum had brooded for ages on this one thing,
  • 05.098 Gollum’s mind had jumped to a guess quicker than his;
  • 05.099 said Gollum.
  • 05.101 in Gollum’s mind,
  • 05.103 Gollum was
  • 05.103 in Gollum’s eyes had become a green fire,
  • 05.104 and that Gollum meant to murder him at any rate.
  • 05.105 and the splash as Gollum leapt from his boat.
  • 05.106 and saw Gollum’s eyes
  • 05.107 In a moment Gollum was on him.
  • 05.107 Gollum passed by,
  • 05.108 Gollum could see
  • 05.108 Gollum might lead him
  • 05.108 down to Gollum’s water.
  • 05.109 curse it!’ hissed Gollum.
  • 05.110 getting as close as he dared behind Gollum,
  • 05.112 Suddenly Gollum sat down
  • 05.112 After a while Gollum stopped weeping
  • 05.119 With a spring Gollum got up
  • 05.119 Gollum with his bright eyes had passed him by,
  • 05.120 Gollum flip-flapping ahead,
  • 05.120 Gollum began at once to count them.
  • 05.126 Gollum had brought Bilbo to the way out after all,
  • 05.126 There was Gollum sitting humped up right
  • 05.127 but Gollum stiffened at once,
  • 05.128 Gollum had no sword.
  • 05.128 Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him,
  • 05.129 Straight over Gollum’s head he jumped,
  • 05.130 Gollum threw himself backwards,
  • 05.130 He did not turn to see what Gollum was doing.
  • 05.130 Gollum was defeated.
  • 05.138 like an echo of Gollum’s misery,
  • 06.019 and shuddered most appreciatively at his description of Gollum.
  • 06.023 jumping over Gollum,
  • 08.125 in particular insisted on having the Gollum story,
  • 08.127 Gollum! Well I’m blest!


  • 13.035 in a coat of gold-plated rings,

Although the nouns “gold-plate” and “gold-plating” are in OED, this word is not.  That seems very strange to me, so I double-checked.  “Plated” is a perfectly good adjective, and it seems that various combinations with the metal which is doing the plating does not make compound words, according to the OED editors.

“gold, n.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/79763. Accessed 13 September 2017.

“plated, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/145355. Accessed 13 September 2017.