There and Back Again

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"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
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The name There and Back Again refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see There and Back Again (disambiguation).

Bilbo was not assiduous, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little.

There and Back Again was a book written by Bilbo Baggins recounting his adventures with Thorin and Company and the quest to reclaim the Dwarf-realm of Erebor. Conceived as his memoirs, the book was begun by Bilbo upon his return to Bag End but not completed until his retirement in Rivendell.

The diary contained the story of Bilbo's finding of the One Ring as he originally told it: thus, Gollum willingly gives the Ring to Bilbo, and there is no trace of the Ring's hold over Gollum, something that he never corrected, even when the truth was known.[1]

Only to Frodo Baggins had he shown his journal, as much as he had written (and only he knew about his secret magic ring)[1] and also Merry Brandybuck who took a peek secretly.[2]

Bilbo kept the diary, along with a bundle of notes and papers wrapped in old cloths, in a strongbox in his study. He took these with him to Rivendell in T.A. 3001.[3] In T.A. 3019 Frodo brought it back to the Shire (along with three volumes bound in red leather, a parting gift from Bilbo). During T.A. 3020-3021 he nearly filled the diary's pages adding his own memoirs of the War: The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.[4]

The additional three large volumes containing the Translations from the Elvish and historical and cultural writings were annexed to the diary, and bound together in a red case with a fifth volume added later. The volumes became known as the Red Book of Westmarch, the primary source for the War of the Ring and other matters of the late Third Age. The first volume containing Bilbo's journals however was copied most by the record-keepers,[4] who avoided making corrections out of respect.[1]

Other versions of the Legendarium

In the Foreword of the first edition, J.R.R. Tolkien poses as the "translator", explaining that a version of There and Back Again (being the first chapters of the Red Book), was translated from its native language of Westron and was the basis for the modern novel published as The Hobbit. The quote above is an "explanation" from Tolkien for the difference in tone between the two books.

The Foreword, including the reference to Bilbo's journal, was removed for the 1965 American Ballantine Books edition, and the 1966 British second edition, replaced by a new Foreword ever since.[5] However the concept that the two books are "translations" persiste throughout, especially in Appendix F.

References