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Re: [mythsoc] a question on The Lord of the Rings

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  • Vincent Ferré
    Thanks a lot for your messages, in fact, mine was not clear, and I do apologize (I read English every day but never speak it). of course I was aware of the
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 8, 2002
      Thanks a lot for your messages,

      in fact, mine was not clear, and I do apologize (I read English every day but never speak it). of course I was aware of the poetic context, but I was quite surprised by this word and was wondering if it was an old meaning of the verb (but the OED didn't help me).

      anyway, thanks very much

      Vincent


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David S. Bratman
      Vincent - The OED definition of fail that appears most appropriate to Tolkien s meaning is the verb definition number 2b: To become extinct; to die out,
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 9, 2002
        Vincent -

        The OED definition of "fail" that appears most appropriate to Tolkien's
        meaning is the verb definition number 2b: "To become extinct; to die out,
        lose vitality, pass away." But the hobbit song refers to the failing in
        space, not in time. The word "end", which someone offered as a synonym,
        likewise usually refers to time ("the end of his life"), but can also be
        applied to space ("the end of the pathway"), and "end" is more commonly
        applied to space than "fail" is. It is the unusualness of applying "fail"
        to space that puzzled you, I think.

        David Bratman


        At 07:43 AM 12/7/2002 , you wrote:
        >Good evening,
        >
        >In Book I, chapter 6, I am quite puzzled by the meaning of a verb, in the
        >hobbit's song :
        >
        >O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
        >despari not ! For though dark they stand,
        >all woods there be must end at last,
        >...
        >For east or west all woods must fail...
        >
        >I understand fail here, but doesn't it sound strange in English ? wouldn't
        >you expect clear or thin out ?
        >I am quite embarrassed to translate it in French.
        >
        >Thanks for your help,
        >
        >Vincent
      • Vincent Ferré
        thank you David (once again !) absolutely. Vincent ... From: David S. Bratman To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 6:05 PM Subject: Re:
        Message 3 of 8 , Dec 10, 2002
          thank you David (once again !)
          absolutely.

          Vincent

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David S. Bratman
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 6:05 PM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] a question on The Lord of the Rings


          Vincent -

          The OED definition of "fail" that appears most appropriate to Tolkien's
          meaning is the verb definition number 2b: "To become extinct; to die out,
          lose vitality, pass away." But the hobbit song refers to the failing in
          space, not in time. The word "end", which someone offered as a synonym,
          likewise usually refers to time ("the end of his life"), but can also be
          applied to space ("the end of the pathway"), and "end" is more commonly
          applied to space than "fail" is. It is the unusualness of applying "fail"
          to space that puzzled you, I think.

          David Bratman


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Michael Martinez <michael@xenite.org>
          Tolkien used many words in new ways throughout THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He was inventing new contexts all the time, adding new shades of meaning. Quite a few of
          Message 4 of 8 , Dec 10, 2002
            Tolkien used many words in new ways throughout THE LORD OF THE
            RINGS. He was inventing new contexts all the time, adding new shades
            of meaning.

            Quite a few of his uses of words have puzzled people through the
            years, sending legions of fans to the dictionaries looking for just
            the right archaic meanings, only to find no clear matches.

            He was very subtle, but quite prolific and consistent in this
            reinvention of the written word. I suppose there may have been some
            professional aspect to that practice I cannot discern, but once
            people see what he was doing with so many words, their eyes light up
            and they appreciate the beauty of Tolkien's English prose even more.

            :)
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