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About Those Annoying Errors in Books You Read...

Do you ever read a book and marvel at the errors that you find? Poor spelling, bad grammar, horrific editing, misrepresented facts, outright falsehoods, conflicts, inconsistencies, and the sort? Well, I do. I'm currently going through J.R.R. Tolkien's works line-by-line and am amazed at how many errors, conflicts, inconsistencies, and the like are to be found therein, these in works that have been in print for 65-80 years now.

What to do? Glad that you asked! This site lets you catalog all that you find for all to see and for the author and publisher to rectify in the next edition. It's become a hobby of mine and at least the practice forces you to read every word and pay close attention. As a matter of record, Tolkien never successfully reconciled The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings, and, boy, does it ever become obvious.

Have a look through the Corrigenda List and see what all has been found wrong with some of your favorite reads.


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Well, kind of by definition fanboys are unreasonable and obnoxious. But when it comes to fandoms, or groups and circles in general, there seems to be a spectrum from, "Those are a bunch of cliquey assholes," to, "Those guys are open to fun debates all the time." Even in the latter end of the spectrum though, unfortunate wording and example choice can make someone sound disingenuous or caustic enough that no one wants to honestly engage.

Sorry, this just reminds me a tiny bit of some of the psuedoscientists I've engaged with before. They talk a lot about how scientists never want to discuss things or consider that an established idea is wrong, even when they actually have interesting ideas. Often their problem was a combination of bad luck and presentation instead (extreme cases were along the lines of opening a cold email with, "I know you're an idiot, but ..."). Opening with strong sounding claims and weak examples, or unfortunate wording, can lead to quick escalation of drama.

Just in my personal experience, this seems to conflict with the many times I've come across discussion of ambiguities and inconsistencies in Tolkeins, which, due to the demographics of the internet, is surprisingly common even as someone who read LotR only. There are a massive amount of detailed discussions, both among fans and fans answering outside questions, that amount to, "Tolkein was never clear, here are some letters where he discusses his intentions, but he contradicts himself." Although usually the discussions are about ambiguities much more substantial than a change of choice of wordings. It was one of the topics that just distinctly stood out to me, where I was impressed by the analysis and criticism enough that I found such writings interesting more so than the original source of the discussion

Best of luck, and I just hope Tolkien's work keep you busy enough that you don't have time to move on to finding inconsistencies between something like 2001 and 2010.
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Well, the title of what I am writing is:
Errors, Potential Errors, Conflicts, Inconsistencies, Anachronisms, and Mysteries in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The examples given were mainly conflicts and inconsistencies. For genuine errors, we have as an example, in The Hobbit:

Page 150 – it is stated, “…since they started their journey that May morning long ago”, but it is clear that prior to this passage the journey began at the end of April. For example, on page 25, Gandalf states, “….your father went away on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday”. Thus it could be no later than April 29 when the journey began the next day. Indeed, on page 12 of FOTR, Tolkien writes of Bilbo, “With them he set out, to his own lasting astonishment, on a morning in April”.

Page 299 – it is stated, “……Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards….”. As learned later when Tolkien fleshed out the mythos of Middle-earth for LOTR, there had only ever been five wizards in Middle-earth and only one of them (Saruman) was a white wizard. Thus there could not have been any council of white wizards. In LOTR, Gandalf states that this event was a Council of the Wise (which included elves). Further confusing the issue is the fact that the Council of the Wise was also known as the White Council.

For The Lord of the Rings, there are many errors but I am in the midst of cataloguing them. Also numerous are outright conflicts with The Hobbit. Here are some samples:

Dwarves in TH are armed with bows and arrows, mattocks, and swords but those in LOTR use axes exclusively.

Talking trolls with first and last names are unique to TH. Trolls in LOTR are mute and nameless.

Tolkien frequently refers to tobacco in TH, although in LOTR tobacco is mentioned only as pipe-weed. Pipe-weed as such is not mentioned in TH.

Tolkien did word some passages poorly such that their meaning is ambivalent. in FOTR, Frodo is said to be thinking about Balin's visit to the Shire long ago, giving the impression that he is remembering it from experience. But the timeline in the Appendices indicate that Balin's visit occurred about 20 years before Frodo was born. There are others and I will be collecting them as I go through the books again line by line.

Thanks,
WTM

P.S. Stay away from Entmoot.com if you don't wish to be disrespected and called names. Tolkien fanboys aren't always reasonable. But if you haven't seen it, The Encyclopedia of Area is a Tolkien scholar's dream. http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.asp
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Most of those just seem like loose wording and not out right errors... So I'm not really sure if there would be much point arguing how the wording could be interpreted one way or another.

On the other hand, there are some big things to discuss with possible problems with thematic components of Tolkein's work, and how things like the World Wars influenced Tolkein. I'm not the biggest fan of his work, but have participated in some rather interesting, level-headed discussions of these issues with much bigger fans, some taking a variety of positions and respecting those who disagreed.
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Edward:

Yes I have, on the site entmoot.com. It is pretty much as you have said. Here are a few tidbits from my ongoing review:

There still remain a number of canonical errors in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, original errors made by Tolkien that he never rectified and which publishers are now afraid to correct since they fear incurring the wrath of the Tolkien Estate, which holds practically his every written word to be sacrosanct. A good example of such is to be found on page 150 in The Two Towers, when Gimli saves Eomer’s life by beheading two orcs just prior to the battle of Helm’s Deep, stating afterwards that he had ‘hewn naught but wood since Moria’, completely ignoring the battle in which Boromir was killed and in which Gimli and Legolas had together slain dozens of marauding orcs.

From The Hobbit:
Page 51 – It is stated, “The master of the house was an elf-friend”. The housemaster in question was the 6,500 year-old Elrond Halfelven, one of the greatest elves in Middle-earth, and not just a mere elf-friend, as were Bilbo and later Frodo. The title of 'elf-friend' was traditionally granted by the Elves to their allies among mortals.

Pages 42-43 – the ‘pots full of gold coins’ are subsequently referred to as ‘pots of coins’ and ‘pots of gold’. On page 301, these pots are called ‘the gold of the trolls’.


From The Lord of the Rings:
Dwarves in TH are armed with bows and arrows, mattocks, and swords but those in LOTR use axes exclusively.

On page 49 of TH it is stated that elves tease and laugh at dwarves because of their beards. Yet, in ROTK, Cirdan, the oldest male elf remaining in Middle-earth, is described as having a grey beard himself. Tolkien does not say if Galadriel and Elrond were sniggering behind his back as they boarded ship at the Grey Havens.


And a LOT more to come.

Thanks,
WTM
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Thank you, WTM. Ever try talking to a Tolkien fan about problems with his work? Might as well just ask to be berated and skip the intellectual effort.
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