Re: [mythsoc] a question on The Lord of the Rings
- thank you David (once again !)
----- Original Message -----
From: David S. Bratman
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 6:05 PM
Subject: Re: [mythsoc] a question on The Lord of the Rings
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.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Tolkien used many words in new ways throughout THE LORD OF THE
RINGS. He was inventing new contexts all the time, adding new shades
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.