So I’ve now written the script for the sixth Hobbit video and with that drawn my research into The Hobbit to a close. The fourth video, almost finished, shows how The Hobbit draws on Ali Baba, the fifth reconstructs the original riddle game, which brings to light how different the original story was from The Hobbit that became the introduction to The Lord of the Rings, and the sixth episode shows how the original magic ring was imagined by drawing as a fairy-element the fantasy that Tolkien perceived in a couple of philosophical and linguistic theories of names and naming.
And with that my long research project draws to a close. A couple of years ago I finished a book-length manuscript on the making of The Lord of the Rings. But I put it on hold because I saw that my starting-points were still hazy. This led into two long detours, the first culminating in my ebook on Tolkien’s study of Beowulf, which was published nearly a year ago, the second into a study of The Hobbit as it was before it was eaten by its own offspring.
And now that I know what the magic ring is, or at least what it originally was, I could now finish off the book on The Lord of the Rings.
The trouble is I am now filled with a monstrous lethargy. What drives me are unanswered questions. When I do not know an answer I obsess night and day, writing this and writing that, and cannot rest until I have cleared things up. But now I have cleared things up. I see the whole story of how a queer Victorian theory of proper names inspired the imagination of the magic ring, how the magic ring became the One Ring as Tolkien turned to his religious faith in the face of the rise of Nazism, and how his study of Beowulf culminated in seven towers and seven seeing-stones. And I am not sure if I can be bothered to write it up.
The one thing that might induce me to make all this stuff public (and it is not as if more than a handful of people ever read what I write) is that my children have really enjoyed making The Hobbit videos, and so there is some motivation to carry on with the videos after we finish this Hobbit series, moving into the tale of Númenor and finally to the making of The Lord of the Rings. After all, the great and endless summer holiday from school is approaching and the choice seems to be either making videos or going crazy…