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A Long-expected Party (chapter in The Return of the Shadow)

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This article is about Chapter I of The Return of the Shadow. For the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings, see A Long-expected Party.
The Return of the Shadow chapters

The First Phase

  1. A Long-expected Party
  2. From Hobbiton to the Woody End
  3. Of Gollum and the Ring
  4. To Maggot's Farm and Buckland
  5. The Old Forest and the Withywindle
  6. Tom Bombadil
  7. The Barrow-wight
  8. Arrival at Bree
  9. Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop
  10. The Attack on Weathertop
  11. From Weathertop to the Ford
  12. At Rivendell
  13. 'Queries and Alterations'

The Second Phase

  1. Return to Hobbiton
  2. Ancient History
  3. Delays Are Dangerous
  4. A Short Cut to Mushrooms
  5. Again from Buckland to the Withywindle

The Third Phase

  1. The Journey to Bree
  2. At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
  3. To Weathertop and Rivendell
  4. New Uncertainties and New Projections

The Story Continued

  1. In the House of Elrond
  2. The Ring Goes South
  3. The Mines of Moria

A Long-expected Party is the title of the opening chapter of The Return of the Shadow, the sixth book of The History of Middle-earth series by Christopher Tolkien. It is also the title of the first chapter in The Lord of the Rings, but in this volume Christopher provides the history of how that first chapter was written.

As explained in the Forward, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the early chapters of The Lord ofthe Rings in successive phases.[1] In the First Phase the professor wrote four different versions of A Long-expected Party, which are published in this chapter (later in the Second Phase a fifth version is provided[2]). For each of the four versions a short introduction is given, followed by the text (as far as it went), with notes and commentary thereafter. At the end of the chapter Christopher highlights the differences between the versions (and the story as eventually published),[3] Tolkien's musings on the further direction of the story,[4] and details of communications with Allen and Unwin.[5]

The fascinating parts of this chapter for readers are the surprising differences between the four versions and the final result. Below is a short listing of some of the differences:

  • Version I: Bilbo gives the party and he is 70 years old. There is no sign of Gandalf or any heir and Bilbo does not use the One Ring to disappear. The final words of his speech announce that he plans to get married. A narrator frankly explains that the story of the party was just to explain what Bilbo had been doing before going on to the real story, the tale of one of his descendants. The reason for Bilbo's departure is a flare-up of his Tookish side and the expiration of his wealth, with no mention of his Ring.[6]
  • Version II: Bilbo gives the party and he is 71 years old. Elves, Dwarves, and even Men from Dale arrive at Bag End with goods for the party. Gandalf appears with his fireworks. Bilbo uses his Ring to disappear but only after stepping down so that no one noticed his going.[7]
  • Version III: Bingo Baggins, the son of Bilbo and Primula Brandybuck, gives the party at age 72. Bilbo and Primula disappeared when Bilbo was 111 years old and Bingo was but 39. Gaffer Gamgee makes his appearance. It is Bingo whose Tookish side has flared up and his disappearance is just a joke before he goes off on a lark rather than as part of a grim adventure.[8]
  • Version IV: Bilbo is not married and adopts his cousin Bingo Bolger. Bilbo disappears from the Shire at age 111 and Bingo Bolger-Baggins gives the party when he is 72 years old.[3]

After the text of the four versions there is a section containing Tolkien's notes about the brewing story. The impetus for Bilbo's departure is lingering lust for dragon gold, with nothing about the ring except for a few questions in Tolkien's mind.[4] Throughout the four versions and in the subsequent notes the names of the characters are in a state of flux.

[edit] References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "Foreword"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Second Phase: XIV. Return to Hobbiton"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: I. A Long-expected Party, (iv) The Fourth Version"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: I. A Long-expected Party, (v) 'The Tale that is Brewing'"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: II. A Long-expected Party, [Untitled section: Notes on letters"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: I. A Long-expected Party, (i) The First Version"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: I. A Long-expected Party, (ii) The Second Version"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: I. A Long-expected Party, (iii) The Third Version"