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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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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