Many of my posts have dealt with the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil and the Wights. I’ve attempted to reveal their nature and reason in Middle Earth. They are a crucial part of the story. Yet there is more. Remember Tolkien was a philogist. He studied words and language, their permutations and origins. More than any other author, at least in the fantasy genre, he crafts the language. Each word is picked with care and specific intent.
And so I have a challenge for you. Granted chapters 6-8 seem out of place and hard…but that may be due to the way we as the reader aproach them. Think for a minute. Tolkien loved language. Like a painter, he used words, instead of brushes, tones and strokes. So pay attention to the WORDS, the LANGUAGE! This is the key to truly appreciating all Tolkien has to offer; and it is no where more clear than in the chapter “In the House of Tom Bombadil.”
Here’s what I’d like you to do. When Tom enters, he sings, he sings throughout his role in the book. Spend some time on his songs; get a feel for the rhythm of the words. Then read those chapters (6-8). Pay particular attention to the passages when Tom is present. It took me a while to notice, but the same rhythms apply to the entirety of Tolkien’s prose there. If you truly focus on the words and language, I’m sure you’ll find wonderous artistry.
The beauty of Tolkien’s prose is amazing. Often it can be difficult to appreciate. But you have to remember, the story comes from language. First, from Tolkien’s desire to make a mythology for England. Secondly, through his growing belief that language creates stories; ie The Silmarillion. So I challenge you to pay attention when you read. Appreciate it for more than story and adventure, but for the true artistry of a master-craftsman. The wonder and power of the work only grows as you delve deeper.