Mittwoch, 19. Juli 2017

Tuesday, 17 July 2941 T.A.: The moon that wasn't there


Something was out of touch with reality near Mirkwood
(Joseph Wrght: Dovedale by Moonlight)
On this day, in 2941 T. A., the Company was out on the third day after leaving Beorn, still heading north while drawing nearer to the edge of Mirkwood. And for the first time, Bilbo noticed that they were followed, not by goblins but by a huge bear. Something strange happened then: "That third evening they were so eager to press on ...that they rode still forward after dusk and into the night beneath the moon."

Since the moon of 2941 T.A. is in sync with that of 2017 A.D., I suggest you go out tonight, if your local weather permits, and look for the moon. Tell me what you saw.

Yes, you are right: there was no moon. Tolkien confessed later that he had not purposefully tried to get the lunar phases in "The Hobbit" straight in the earlier revisions, yet by chance he got them almost right. This is one of the few cases when he did not. For we will have a new moon soon, inevtiably so, with that broad silver crescent seen at Midsummer's Eve, and Bilbo would have seen nothing tonight unless he woke early enough to perceive the thin crescent rising before the sun in the east.

Those three words "beneath the moon" should have been deleted in the 1966 revision.