Dave Griffey's Conversion Thoughts and Crazier Things
I feel ashamed I'm still not getting this one. I mean I know hobbit is Tolkien, but I can't recall any time it was only 3 hobbits. It's either 1, a pair, or 4.
I'll tell you, but you're almost there.
I guess part of me is trying to figure out which direction the joke is going. Is it word play? Nerd reference/shout out? Hidden punchline? Which zip code of jokes am I supposed to look at.
It's from the Fellowship of the Ring, in the earliest parts where Tolkien was still going for 'Fairy tale sequel to The Hobbit.' The hobbits leaving the shire sleep one night under a tree. In a passage that is so out character from the rest of the book, a fox comes by, sniffs, comments on the strangeness of hobbits traveling and sleeping under a tree, and then moves on. Like Tom Bombadil, it's the early parts of the book before Tolkien changed tone and direction that he still chose to leave in the finished text.
So it is a story reference. I need to go get my copy and check again because I honestly do not remember that segment at all. Like I couldn't recall a fox ever being mentioned in the books. Though I think a fan could make a spirited defense that Tolkien changing the tone actually fits it all together and the start and end of the story is to convey how much the world has been changed by the war.Though I do remember John C Wright writing an excellent defense of Tom Bombadil belonging to the story. Ah here it is.http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/05/gene-wolfe-on-jrr-tolkien-the-best-introduction-to-the-mountains/#comment-2691576667The point of the Tom Bombadil section is that the wild woods near the boundary of the shire, are, in miniature, in brief, what the whole rest of the quest of the ring is going to be writ large. It is the baptism into the life of the adventurer for our comfortable, stay at home hobbits.The Quest consists of departing the comfort and safety of the little hole where we make our home, stumbling into things eviler, darker, and older, and then being rescued by something whose roots go even deeper and are even stronger than the evil. Every mythic quest ends with a descent into Hell and a eucatastrophe, a breaking in of the unexplected sunlight, joy beyond reckoning.Tom himself is a 'hobbit-sized' version of the various elves, eagles, reincarnate wise men and angelic starlight powers which will from time to time help the hobbits on their quest. He is homey and homely rather than beautiful and dignified as befits a hobbit sized angel. The Old Man Willow and the Barrow Wight are hobbit sized versions of Saruman and Sauron, or, if you prefer, nature gone wrong and supernature, the undead, gone wrong. The Barrow is a hobbit sized version of Mordor, a darkness of the soul, a despair without end.Tolkien is writing in the medieval tradition where holy hermits and other odd folk who seem not really to fit in anywhere in the scheme of things (what IS Tom after all?) step out of the leafy darkness of the wild world and lend a helping hand and disappear again. It is meant to show the world is a strange place, and not everything fits neatly into a category.And it is supposed to be fun. Tom is odd, Tom is fully of joy, and his lady is beautiful. What little he owns, is his.
Yeah, I read a review years ago that goes somewhat in that direction. The closer you get to Hobbiton, the more it's a world of fairy stories in good old Victorian England's countryside. The farther away you get, on the other hand, the more you move into the world of high and epic heroic fantasy and mythology. And then when that's over, it's back to fairy story land in Victorian England. The idea of plucking out unusual characters like those Medieval Hermits could have been on his mind in the development.
Brilliant, and I'm sure all puzzled foxes would agree!
Let me know your thoughts