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Discussing: Modern Middle-Earth

Modern Middle-Earth

Hey there, silly question here. Ive been wondering, what sort of modern tools/implements and recreational sports and things did people of Middle Earth have? More specific examples being: is it plausible to believe that people in Middle Earth had eye glasses, played golf and used heated stoves and things of that nature, or played badminton in their spare time? Were there horse drawn carriages? How about grandfather clocks? I think I recall golf being mentioned in The Hobbit (I dont feel like checking the book, but will do tomorrow) when its roughly stated that the as the Old Took (?) took off the Goblin King's head with a club, the game of golf was also invented, or something like that. And furthermore, would these things be common or even available to the seemingly more rustic elves? What I mean is this, approximately which age/era/whatever is post-Ring war (or a recent pre-war) in relation to our world? How far might technology have/will advance(d)? Thanks lots. ~VG

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

In this section there are no silly questions Vanima, and if there were, we'd enjoy them anyway. I can't answer all of this, but Tolkien modeled The Shire on England in the late 1800's. Tom Shippey's book places the time after 1837 based on the existence of a postal service. The technology available then would have been able to produce eyeglasses. Horse drawn carriages are a much earlier convenience, present in the real world for centuries. I don't think Elves or dwarves would use them, but Gondor probably would. The Rohirrim might think that anyone who needed one was a wuss, though. Given that Gandalf told Bilbo he was supposed to meet the dwarves at a specific time, there had to be clocks of some type. Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Cell phones. They definitely had cell phones.

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Ah! Thanks so much Lyllyn. That helps lots. Gypsum, lol oh yes, mini-palintiri Im sure. ~VG

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

In terms of entertainment & recreation, if you check the bio for Bilbo Baggins, you'll find a few specific games that Tolkien mentioned explicitly... - Barbara

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Hey there ~ Just some thoughts from me. Golf I'm unsure of, as I can't recall the reference and I don't see it listed in Bilbo's bio linked above, but if you find it, then golf there is. Eye glasses I would *not* expect, (whether or not we suppose the technology could exist) simply because Tolkien does not give spectacles to any of his characters - does he? Clocks however he does mention: Bilbo has a clock on the mantle of his fireplace. (Smaller than a grandfather clock, but still a clock.) I don't see badminton mentioned among the games listed in the Bilbo bio, either, so perhaps Tolkien did not envision that as played in M-e. As for the games that are mentioned, quoits, ninepins, bowls and shooting at the wand, if the Hobbits play them, I'd say it's a safe bet the same games are played, at least in some variation, in Gondor and in the northern Kingdom. Not sure if I could imagine Rohan employing such sports: I think of them as far more horse-games and warlike-skills-games oriented. But among the folk of Gondor and the North I'd expect the same games could easily be common. And ... who knows, maybe the elves borrowed some, too. ;-) We know there are horse-drawn wagons and carts, but I'm unsure about carriages. Tolkien does not mention them, so perhaps the idea of nobles and gentry riding around in fancy wagons had not occured to anybody. If someone wanted to display themselves in pomp and ceremony, I'd expect they got on a horse. ;-) Heated stoves - not sure. Tolkien pretty much mentions only hearths and perhaps ovens, both of which were presumably made of stone, rather than cast iron. When Bilbo fed the umpteen dwarves in his home, Tolkien mentions him putting the coffee pot on the hearth, not the stove. So an actual cast iron stove I'd really not look for in Middle Earth, but instead stone hearths and baking ovens. Which is not to say that none of the things you mention could not exist: I just tend to shrink away from imposing many noticable anachronisms on Middle Earth beyond what Tolkien gave us. (Such as coffee, clocks and potatos.) Anywho, that's my tuppence! Your mileage may vary. Cheers ~ Erin

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Golf I'm unsure of, as I can't recall the reference and I don't see it listed in Bilbo's bio linked above, but if you find it, then golf there is. 'Excitable little fellow,' said Gandalf [about Bilbo], as they sat down again. 'Gets funny queer fits, but he is one of the best, one of the best - as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.' If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's great-granduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment. The Hobbit, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party That's the quote, and given the somewhat sly, tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink-nod-nod character of that passage, I do not personally interpret it to mean literally that golf was played in the Shire. I think Tolkien was pulling our legs there... - Barbara

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Tolkien pretty much mentions only hearths and perhaps ovens, both of which were presumably made of stone, rather than cast iron. Or possibly also brick... But now Sam noticed that the Old Mill had vanished, and a large red-brick building was being put up where it had stood. Lots of folk were busily at work. There was a tall red chimney nearby. Black smoke seemed to cloud the surface of the Mirror. The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel - Barbara

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

I've read people mention in several places that the Shire is roughly mid-19th-century in terms of culture and/or technology. By contrast, places like Rohan and Gondor are definitely Medieval and thus at least a few centuries behind (someone please correct me if I'm wrong!). Out of sheer curiosity, if such a "time warp" does indeed exist, how might it affect our understanding of the journeys taken by many of the characters, and Middle-earth in general? Or is it not a big deal, because of the presence of so many truly "fantastical" elements? Cheers, Aliana

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

HI, Aliana Offhand I don't recall who commented on this (probably Tom Shippey - I'd have to get out his books to make sure), but the suggestion was that the "time warp" was meant to be illustrative of the Hobbits (and therefore the reader) being taken from the safe and familiar into places and events that were unfamiliar and dangerous. By the time they return to the Shire they've all changed, even Sam. There's the comment the Gaffer makes - '...What's come of his weskit? I don't hold with wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.' - which is one of the ways we see that they've returned to the familiar, while illustrating that the four Hobbits are not the same innocents that they were when they left on the Ring quest. If I can locate the quote I'll post it for you. ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

Thanks, Nessime! Don't look too hard on my behalf, though, for your post explains the idea quite well. It's a very interesting concept, like abandoning the more cozy and modern "present" for a brutal, more uncertain past.

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

One more question sorta on this topic, is Mithrandir the only one with fireworks? Or do other people have them? lol Sounds kinda silly but I dont recall ever seeing anyone else have fireworks...Thanks lots. ~VG

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

You could consider the explosives that Saruman created to destroy the wall in the Battle of Helm's Deep to be fireworks writ large... but I don't think that Saruman was much into using them for entertainment. - Barbara

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

I had a dream in which the Rangers used cell phones. Very handy when Aragorn needed help! ;) Elemmíre

 

 

Re: Modern Middle-Earth

I've read people mention in several places that the Shire is roughly mid-19th-century in terms of culture and/or technology. By contrast, places like Rohan and Gondor are definitely Medieval and thus at least a few centuries behind (someone please correct me if I'm wrong!). Hi Aliana, I wrote some days ago some lenghty author's notes with many links to bolster my argumentation how I perceive the time-line of Gondor and Rohan in Denethor - mementos. So if anybody is interested in my argumentation why I do _not_ perceive it as Middle Ages but as late antiquity please visit the author's notes via the direct link given above. At the end I describe also why I think the shire was written anachronistically by Tolkien. Best wishes Elanor who uses this reply as a SSP to invite further discussion ;-)

 

 

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