Donnerstag, 18. Mai 2017

Thursday, 18 May: Camp near Mitheithel

On this day, in 2941 T.A., the 1960 timetable records that Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves have crossed 106 miles from Weathertop and camp 3 miles west of the banks of Mitheithel (Greyflood). Since the river runs in a deep narrow valley, they cannot yet see the Last Bridge ahead of them, and they are not aware that it is broken; but they see the Trollshaws beyond. In the night, the weather becomes very unpleasant.
The Last Bridge is broken (19th century illustration, unknown artist)

The episode was fleshed out in the abandoned 1960 revisions of "The Hobbit" but did not make it into the final, 1966 revision and is thus found only in Rateliff's "History". The 1960 timetable is by now ten days ahead of Fonstad's computations: Based on the 1966 Hobbit, she assumed the camp west of the Last Bridge to have occurred on 28 May.

Coincidentally, shifting the scene forward to 18 May had brought the lunar phases given in the first three chapters of "The Hobbit" in accordance with each other. The moon is now actually waning, as all published editions before 1966 described it, which is consisted with the lunar phase of 1 Lithe, when Elrond reads the moon-runes. In 1966, the reference was quite needlessly changed to "wandering" and has stayed that way. At this point, Tolkien went at length to argue with himself about an incoherence that he had already solved, without noticing, and he would catch himself in an arithmetic trap, ignoring all available solutions (see Rateliff, "History", and my own "The Moon in 'The Hobbit'"). More about that on 30 May.