154 votes
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Why is the number of orcs thousands instead of millions in "The Lord of the Rings"?

"Amateurs think tactics, professionals think logistics" The above is a much-repeated quote because it is still relevant. Quite simply, in a pre-industrial setting it is not possible to ...
KerrAvon2055's user avatar
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102 votes
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Was Tolkien good at his day job?

"Influential"? No, probably not. He seems to have been a competent teacher (though apparently he was a terrible mumbler who was frequently hard to understand) and a competent scholar. Note: I'm not ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
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99 votes
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Did Tolkien ever state that The Hobbit was a children's book?

TL;DR: Yes. In fact, it wasn't just written for children in general - it was written for Tolkien's own children. Tolkien's own words: The generally different tone and style of The Hobbit is due, ...
Wad Cheber's user avatar
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91 votes
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Why are Hobbits so fond of mushrooms?

It's mentioned in his authorised biography that Tolkien had a personal liking of mushrooms, stretching as far back as his idyllic childhood days in Hall Green, Birmingham, the very same memories that ...
Valorum's user avatar
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76 votes
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Was J.R.R. Tolkien a fan of the original Star Trek series?

Probably not. Tolkien didn't own a television and wasn't really interested in modern culture, preferring to attend the opera, lectures on poetry, and listen to occasional programs on the wireless. He ...
Valorum's user avatar
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67 votes

In Tolkien's opinion, does Tom Bombadil (and the concept of pacifism) actually hold any power?

Tolkien felt that Bombadil represented an important concept in the story, but that he was essentially useless in defeating evil as represented by Sauron. Here you have it from the horse's mouth. I'm ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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65 votes
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How can these unlicensed books about Middle Earth get published legally?

Although these books do seem to fall somewhere in the crack between outright infringement and fair usage David Day seems to be relying on a number of legal figleaves to protect himself: The books ...
Valorum's user avatar
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65 votes
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In what context did Tolkien say "evil cannot create anything new"?

It doesn't appear to be anything that Tolkien ever said or wrote, but a paraphrase: "No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of ...
OrangeDog's user avatar
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62 votes

Why is the number of orcs thousands instead of millions in "The Lord of the Rings"?

The Battle of Hastings had thousands of men, under 25,000 total even at the largest estimates. The Battle of Tours had, estimated, about 50,000 at the most. The Battle of Crécy and Battle of ...
Mary's user avatar
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59 votes

In Tolkien's opinion, does Tom Bombadil (and the concept of pacifism) actually hold any power?

Tolkien probably disagreed with pure pacifism Judging the views of an author from their work is always a risky proposition. That said, I think this passage captures something of Tolkien’s views on war:...
Adamant's user avatar
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49 votes

How can the bear-man refer to a "Jack-in-the-box" in The Hobbit?

Clocks exist in Middle-earth. Sufficiently miniaturised clockwork would easily allow for the invention of the Jack-in-the-box, although in this case it's likely that Tolkien is idiomatically ...
Valorum's user avatar
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48 votes
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Were Bilbo, Frodo, or Samwise Tolkien's self-inserts?

There's nothing that would suggest Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam, but there are other characters who are to some degree self-inserts Faramir Tolkien has said that "as far as any character is like me it ...
ibid's user avatar
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47 votes

How can the bear-man refer to a "Jack-in-the-box" in The Hobbit?

Everything is translated. What you describe is actually a common problem in translation, especially when dealing with artificial or unspecified source languages. The original word cannot be exactly ...
Austin Hemmelgarn's user avatar
44 votes

Why is the number of orcs thousands instead of millions in "The Lord of the Rings"?

Both of those wars were fought on a scale far exceeding the War of the Ring: a world population of over two billion in WWII, just under two billion in WWI, with many countries supplying combatants (...
David Roberts's user avatar
42 votes
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Looking for a picture of the doll that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to invent Tom Bombadil

First of all to add to your references, there is an account reported from a conversation with Father John Tolkien in Mallorn 5, which confirms the story and says that doll was dressed the same way as ...
ibid's user avatar
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40 votes

Is there a longer audio clip than this where Tolkien discusses the Eagles?

The clip you linked is not an actual recording of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a person on YouTube doing an impression of Tolkien as a joke. I thought this was pretty obvious by both the voice (which sounds ...
ibid's user avatar
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33 votes

What did Christopher Tolkien mean by "Tolkien's fifteenth invented language"?

The original listing of these languages is so much more complicated than this, because Tolkien always changed or created new dialects. Tolkien's glossopoeia has two temporal dimensions: the internal (...
burcu's user avatar
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31 votes

In Tolkien's opinion, does Tom Bombadil (and the concept of pacifism) actually hold any power?

I find it revealing to look at Letter 153, one of the few pieces of Tolkien's writing on Bombadil that you haven't quoted (emphasis mine): I don't think Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not ...
Jason Baker's user avatar
30 votes
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Are Hobbits related (distant or no) to Elves?

They (like we) are cousins to the Elves. First, from Tolkien's Letters I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological - which worry me just ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
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28 votes

Is the term "Hobbit Village" ever used canonically by Tolkien?

Tolkien frequently refers to Hobbit settlements as "villages", but the phrase "Hobbit Village" has never been used by Tolkien The first usage would be The Hobbit, referring to ...
ibid's user avatar
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27 votes
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Was Tolkien a driver?

According to his biography, JRR Tolkien was indeed a driver, but not a good one. In 1932, Tolkien purchased an automobile: a Morris Crowley. The car was called "Jo" after the first two ...
Valorum's user avatar
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27 votes
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Tolkien's art - Lake Mithrim

According to Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull this is indeed Thangorodrim In J.R.R.Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, Tolkien scholars Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull discuss this image and they ...
ibid's user avatar
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23 votes
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Tolkien's reaction and knowledge of Led Zeppelin using references to LOTR

As suggested by a user on reddit, Tolkien had an interest in inspiring people to create illustrations or music from his work (as long as it consisted of a proper reading of the work). Tolkien had ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
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21 votes

Are there any specific examples in Lord of the Rings that are influenced by WWII?

No As stated very clearly by Tolkien himself in the Foreword to his epic, The Lord of the Rings there was none. As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
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21 votes

Why is the number of orcs thousands instead of millions in "The Lord of the Rings"?

Considering the setting, millions of combatants would have been highly unrealistic. And while Tolkien was writing fantasy, his depictions of warfare were very grounded. The millions deployed and ...
TenthJustice's user avatar
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20 votes
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Did Tolkien use Mont Saint-Michel as the inspiration for Minas Tirith

There is no evidence that Tolkien was inspired by Mont Saint-Michel It's hard to prove a negative, but there simply isn't any evidence of Tolkien ever referring to Mont Saint-Michel and there isn't ...
ibid's user avatar
  • 93.8k
19 votes

Were Bilbo, Frodo, or Samwise Tolkien's self-inserts?

Almost certainly not. There's nothing in any of Tolkien's letters or writings to indicate that he thought of himself as any of these characters, even in inspiration. He wasn't at all similar to any of ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
18 votes

Where does Tolkien discuss his bafflement at fans wearing One Ring replicas?

While not specifically about wearing one ring replicas, Tolkien expressed his distaste for fans using its inscription in Letter #343. 343. From a letter to Sterling Lanier 21 November 1972 I am glad ...
ibid's user avatar
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18 votes

Did Sam really plan to attack the orcs in Shelob's lair in the very end of The Two Towers?

Psychology - Sam had managed, with a lot of effort, to convince himself to carry on with the quest: 'No, it’s sit here till they come and kill me over master’s body, and gets It; or take It and go.’ ...
Michael's user avatar
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