Thread: Origins of Hobbits?
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So the question needs to be asked: From whence came The Hobbits?
Eldorion made this claim:
[quote:szod7p5x]Tolkien made it clear in the Prologue to LotR that hobbits were a variant branch of the race of men. Therefore I think it can be assumed that they were created at the same time as men.[/quote:szod7p5x]
It's not clear from his statement "Prologue to LotR" whether Eldo means The Hobbit or the actual published prologue of Fellowship of the Ring. Perhaps Hobbits and Man are in a sense related. But no more-so than the Elves whom Tolkien considered a "sibling" race to Man.
[quote:szod7p5x]"Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring..."
JRRT - Letters #153, September 1954
"The existence of Elves: that is of a race of beings closely akin to Men, so closely indeed that they must be regarded as physically (or biologically) simply branches of the same race."
JRRT - Morgoth's Ring, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth Commentary circa 1959[/quote:szod7p5x]
So one could see Hobbits as yet another "branch" of the race of Elves and Man. In any case, I think if there are to be "variants", a case can also be made for the Hobbits being a variant of Elves.
Tolkien himself says this:
[quote:szod7p5x]"I am afraid, if you will need drawings of hobbits in various attitudes, I must leave it in the hands of someone who can draw. ... I picture a fairly human figure ... fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; [u:szod7p5x]ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'[/u:szod7p5x]; hair short and curling (brown)."
JRRT - Letters #27, writing to Houghton Mifflin circa March-April 1938[/quote:szod7p5x]
And in the texts Tolkien says this:
[quote:szod7p5x]"It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. [...] But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered." The Fellowship of the Ring--prologue
“If you can’t distinguish between a Man and a Hobbit, your judgement is poorer than I imagined. They’re as different as peas and apples.” The Fellowship of the Ring--Many Meetings
Or perhaps, they are a separate creation altogether, much like the Dwarves. Maybe, Yavanna (as the "Giver of Fruits" not only requested the creation of the Ents, but the creation of a race of beings who shared her love of "all things green and growing". Somehow I doubt this, but it's worth considering
In the end though, my considered opinion is that Hobbits are indeed one of three branches linking Man, Elf, and Hobbit. Despite the prologue's proclamation that Hobbits are "nearer to us than Elves", some of the other statements seem to counter that a bit. Tolkien was clearly not settled on the subject, but of a relationship between all three "races" we can be assured.
The main question remaining then: When were Hobbits Awakened?
Your first two quotes support the "three races, one species" theory. Maybe we have [i:2pjy0m5u]homo sapiens faerie[/i:2pjy0m5u], [i:2pjy0m5u]homo sapiens sapiens[/i:2pjy0m5u], and [i:2pjy0m5u]homo sapiens holbytlan[/i:2pjy0m5u] (or something like that ). As to Hobbits being a variant of Elves, this could indeed be argued as well if one accepts that they are all part of the same species, though since the sub-species of Men and Hobbits are, as Tolkien stated, closer than either of the two are to Elves, I would say "variant of humans" more readily.
I don't see any contradiction in the last quote. It's not terribly uncommon for people in the real world to say "all [insert race you're not a member of] people look the same to me", and indeed I believe there is psychological evidence that this is true. To Elves, biologically and culturally more distinct from both mortal sub-species, I think it understandable that they might not see differences that Men and Hobbits themselves do.
As for when Hobbits were awakened, we obviously don't know for sure, but my best guess would be alongside humans, their closest relations.
But I don't think it really is all that clear that Hobbits are any more closely related to Men than Elves. I think on some level Tolkien saw them as "in-between". And if Elves and Men could interbreed, then there can be no doubt that Hobbits and Men could (or that Hobbits and Elves could also). Indeed I made this very case regarding the continuation of the Hobbit gene-pool into our Modern Age some time ago.
[quote="The Silmarillion, Of the Coming of Men into the West":1sqvmda5]In this way it came to pass that the Edain dwelt in the lands of the Eldar, some here, some there, some wandering, some settled in kindreds or small peoples... But after a time the Elf-kings, seeing that it was not good for Elves and Men to dwell mingled together without order, and that Men needed lords of their own kind, set regions apart where Men could live their own lives, and appointed chieftains to hold these lands freely.[/quote:1sqvmda5]
[quote="The Lord of the Rings, I, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony":1sqvmda5]The Big Folk and the Little Folk (as they called one another) were on friendly terms, minding their own affairs in their own ways, but both rightly regarding themselves as necessary parts of the Bree-folk. Nowhere else in the world was this peculiar (but excellent) arrangement to be found.[/quote:1sqvmda5]
The first quote establishes that Elves and Men, while they can be friends, function best when living in separate lands (with perhaps a few exceptions such as Beren). Men and Hobbits, on the other hand, while "minding their own affairs in their own ways", were able to mix, mingle, and dwell together in the same land; not only getting by, but getting along "excellently"! While the rarity of this is noted, it is probably more due to the scarcity of hobbits (and the relative dearth of humans in Eriador) than anything else.
This clearly isn't definitive, but it is an indication that Men and Hobbits at least are more compatible than Men and Elves. I'm not sure what sort of evidence would convince you though. Tolkien stated in TLotR that they were more closely related, something I read as a biological statement with potential cultural implications, and I don't believe there is anything that suggests otherwise.
So even though Tolkien himself says "nearer" in the prologue, I don't think he was entirely certain.
In any case, it's a bit like arguing whether Obama is more white or more black. If we are going to take a modern scientific approach to this, then we have to concede that individual genetic variations are greater then ethnic genetic differences. In other words, Race does not exist as a meaningful term. Environment seems to shape regional adaptations of humankind.
The Elves and the Men of Lake-town certainly got along, but they didn't live together. I think that is the crucial difference.
I'm not really clear on why you think that Tolkien was uncertain if Hobbits were closer "relatives" of humans than Elves were. He said in the Prologue that it was plain.
So It's not that I see the Hobbits as more Elf or more Man. Genetically speaking Tolkien clearly intended some sort of equivalence. In many Cultural habits though, I do concede that they were more Man than Elf.
One makes our universe God-made and the other makes it the result of trial and error (or something similar, let's not split hairs here), but in Middle-earth there [i:38s4m6ku]IS[/i:38s4m6ku] a God who created everything.
So does [i:38s4m6ku]evolution [/i:38s4m6ku] actually exist in Middle-earth?
Or is [i:38s4m6ku]Myth [/i:38s4m6ku], even within the confines of Tolkien's great conceit, still [i:38s4m6ku]Myth[/i:38s4m6ku] and not Divine History i.e. [i:38s4m6ku]'True'[/i:38s4m6ku] History?
If we can answer these questions, perhaps we can at least decide between God and Darwin on the Origin of Hobbits?
Tolkien consistently expressed that he was writing Myth. But he also tried to be Realistic, and make it plausibly fit into our own History. His world starts out Flat and becomes a Globe. I do think that he saw Middle Earth's beings strictly as Created. Though, perhaps he saw them as eventually evolving.
I'm really not absolutely certain what his views regarding evolution are. But my guess is that he, like Lewis, believed in Theistic Evolution. Which essentially sees no incompatibility between Creation and Evolution. I myself, have no problem with the concept of some sort of Guided Evolution.
If anyone has some evidence one way or the other, please post it and the source.
The Hobbits were thought to have originally come under notice when they lived somewhere on the banks of the Anduin, didn't they? But in what way were they linked with men? It's a puzzle.
(I'd ask Wise Odo - but I'm a bit reluctant to do so - he can be rather forthright by all accounts, and he's surely no respecter of persons. Before taking that perilous route, perhaps I should give you guys another go to come up with a[i:w79yrooo] definitive[/i:w79yrooo] answer. So, GB, dig deep into your texts. Or you, Mr Loremaster - show us your stuff! Or perhaps I should get really serious and ask the Scot? (Please don't make me face Wiso Odo - his Wisdom is just too Wise for most of us!)
Come on guys, have a fair dinkum go!
It really is only educated guesses and speculation beyond that (sounds perfect for the Odo thread ).
Of course, if anyone finds anything further that Eldo and I might have missed, please post it so we can put more of the puzzle together.
And by the way, in regards to the "Real" world, I'm firmly in the Evolution Camp. But as an Agnostic, I'm willing to consider the possibility that some sort of Conscious or Sentient force(s) might be either driving this train or adapting to dynamic change (or both to some degree).
[i:1ll3dkha]"...firmly in the Evolution Camp." [/i:1ll3dkha]I thought being an Agnostic would put your firmly in [i:1ll3dkha]No[/i:1ll3dkha] Camp!
On another point about Hobbits I'm sure somewhere it is mentioned that there are more hobbits wandering about the place than even Hobbits generally know- although it is implied most of these hobbits are little more than tramps and seem to be a sort of more primitive hobbit (ready to dig a hole in any bank they find and stay for short period of time- sort of gypsy hobbit!).
I always thought of the Creation of Middle-earth as something that happened in actual (invented) history. The sailings to and fro from Valinor I thought real (within the quality of [i:1uz4oi5u]realness[/i:1uz4oi5u] of Tolkien's conceit, I mean).
If Middle-earth (as invented world) is [i:1uz4oi5u]real[/i:1uz4oi5u], we might still find the [i:1uz4oi5u]real[/i:1uz4oi5u] Origin of the Hobbits. I don't see Evolution as that useful here though, unless it's Quick-form Evolution.
NB I'm thinking above of 'invented' history as Tolkien's 'invented' version of [i:1uz4oi5u]our[/i:1uz4oi5u] world history.
It's abundantly clear that Tolkien was a creationist. But he was also finely attuned to the natural world and from many examples of breeding, etc he had to accept the base tenets of evolution. As others have suggested he likely saw guided evolution as the predominant force for biological change.
Anyone who truly observes nature and thinks enough about it must accept unguided evolution - I think the trick is to allow oneself to slip into murkiness before following the argument to its natural conclusion, and in the midst of the murkiness the religious framework can take up the slack. This allows you to have practical evolution for day by day observations and breeding, yet keep the religious viewpoint for moral and cosmological reasoning.
My guess is that Tolkien would see hobbits as a 'created' race, while the Stoors, Fallohides, and dang it, what was the last one...would be evolutionary branches of the created race. Being mortal they would have the same cosmological significance as man.
Too much thinking disallows me from thinking of our own world as created, but I do enjoy having a fictional world upon which a meaningful creation story can be pursued without intellectual guilt.
In terms of his cosmology though, that's a humdinger of a question, Odo. Judging from LoTR they clearly had an important role to play in the way history unfolds. I guess they wouldn't be mentioned in Elven histories because they didn't do much of significance during the first age. The Druidain weren't mentioned either, but they seem to be almost as different from other men as hobbits are. I'd go along with the other feelings on this thread that they are sort of a division of men, despite the semi elven ears. (parallel evolution? What function do pointed ears serve anyway?)
Are you referring specifically to Tolkien's fiction or to his attitudes about the real world? If the former, I agree with you; though there's nothing to stop creatures from evolving after being created. If the latter, would you mind sharing what makes it so abundantly clear?
Stoors were Hobbits. There were three varieties of Hobbits: Stoors, Harfoots, and Fallohides. All found their way into Eriador, and some of each eventually made their way to the Shire. Fallohides were less numerous than Stoors and Harfoots though, and somewhat merged with them. By the late Third Age though, the differences between each variety were less important, probably as a result of interbreeding.
[quote:1v5kbnsa]And if, as some have suggested Tolkien does not allow enough time for evolution, how does that distinction within Hobbits (Stoors) happen? If memory serves me right there are physical differences as well as cultural ones between the different types[/quote:1v5kbnsa]
It's fully possible that all three varieties of Hobbits were present from the creation of the race. I can't say for sure though.
[quote:1v5kbnsa]On another point about Hobbits I'm sure somewhere it is mentioned that there are more hobbits wandering about the place than even Hobbits generally know- although it is implied most of these hobbits are little more than tramps and seem to be a sort of more primitive hobbit (ready to dig a hole in any bank they find and stay for short period of time- sort of gypsy hobbit!).[/quote:1v5kbnsa]
I actually re-read that part of the book recently; it was something I had forgotten. I'm unsure if these Hobbits, part of neither the Shire nor Bree, had any settlements of their own or if they were all tramps of a sort. A fascinating question and look at the depth of Eriador, and Middle-earth in general.
[quote:1v5kbnsa]on the point of myth v real world. Should we take the myths of the FA especially as literal? Did for example Earendil really sail into the sky and was his Silmaril really made a star or is this a myth of the TA? Should the Creation story of Middle-earth be treated on the same factual basis as say the description of Bilbo's birthday party?[/quote:1v5kbnsa]
Tolkien struggled with this question himself. He wrote a series of notes and short essays (published as Myths Transformed in the tenth volume of [i:1v5kbnsa]The History of Middle-earth[/i:1v5kbnsa]: [i:1v5kbnsa]Morgoth's Ring[/i:1v5kbnsa]. He considered treating the Silmarillion myths as mannish legends, passed down to the Third Age by Numenor, but based on hearsay and traditional legends more than historical "fact". In this conception the Sun and the Moon were more in line with our modern understanding of them, the timeline was extended to allow more time for human civilizations to develop, and a number of other changes were considered. In the end, Tolkien realized that this would require a full re-writing of his First Age tales, and he never followed through on it.
I tend to accept the more mythological Silmarillion (particularly as represented in the published version) as "canonical", though this does raise important questions as to realism in Middle-earth. Questions like this aren't particularly relevant to, say, LOTR; but they are definitely important for the Silmarillion. I don't have any definite answers, I'm afraid. One possible solution would be to suspend the imposition of realism (especially scientific ideas) when dealing with the Creation myths, but I'm not sure I'm satisfied with that.
I hadn't really thought about this before. I should sometime....
As to the real versus creation arguement to be honest I have far more questions about it than I do answers- even speculative ones. I was unaware of Tolkiens own dilemma with it (due to a cash flow crisis and having to cancel a book club membership many moons ago I only got as far as book 2 of the history of middle earth set) but its interesting he saw a problem there himself. Sadly the man needed the lifespan of at least the line of Isildur to finish his work- wish he'd got it. Maybe we should write to Christopher Tolkien and ask him to drop by the forum occasionally to help out on these sorts of matters! Its that or resorting to that tetchy Wise Odo.
As a general thought, I feel sad that Tolkien felt the need to bring The Hobbit and LotR forward, so to speak. LotRizing The Hobbit. Making LotR seem more Real by paying closer attention to the actual Real world, where evolution rules - not mythology-made-real. (I'm with Halfwise here btw. I like to let my Imagination run free in Middle-earth. I pretend it exists - but only while I'm there. In the Real World I believe the physicists; but not those that are intellectual cowards. The [i:eqqesltw]let's-pretend-God's-real-because-we-know-death-is-at-our-door- [/i:eqqesltw](the long sleep, not the short one before the Rapture) [i:eqqesltw]-and-we're-frightened[/i:eqqesltw] type. The [i:eqqesltw]okay-ever-lasting-life-can't-be-proven-scientifically-but-let's-lie-to-ourselves-that-we-can-prove-it-sort-of[/i:eqqesltw] type. [i:eqqesltw]"Hey! Our Faith answers any argument against us even if actual science refutes us" [/i:eqqesltw] I know the kind of physcists you're talking about, Halfwise! I feel sad for them. No one wants to die).
Hail, I argue from entirely [i:eqqesltw]within[/i:eqqesltw] the conceit (I, like you, realize Tolkien created Hobbits ).
Great catch on the material regarding the Stoors Petty Tyrant. And I love your follow up on that Eldo. I didn't know about the "Gypsy Hobbits" myself. Though I had long assumed that more Hobbits existed than the Shire folk knew, due to Smeagol and Deagol's existence. If I am not incorrect, weren't they essentially "River Hobbits" (aka Hillbilly Hobbits )?
To answer Odo's question regarding Eru and Jehovah/Yahweh: NO, they are not precise Analogues (at least not as Yahweh has long been considered by Literalists for thousands of years). Eru was a Godhead that certainly shares some similarities, but the Cosmology is quite different. Many people refer to the Ainur as Angels, but that misses the distinction that actually makes them "Sub" Gods. They were Co-Creationists with Eru, making them thus a Polytheist Pantheon, as in Pagan and Hindu thought. Only the more Esoteric Monotheists (such as Tolkien himself, and Lewis) might grant that Cosmology to the God of the Bible and His hosts. In the end it is a form of Monism--One in Many, and Many in One.
Tolkien and Lewis were enamoured of Medievalist and Ancient Syncretism, Lewis more-so than Tolkien (who had a more negative view of Pagan "echoes" of the "True" Myth as he called Christianity). In their Syncretic view, the Pagan Gods could still be part of the Imaginal Cosmos, as long as they were Consecrated, or Baptized, in Christianity. These views are anathema to most followers of the three Abrahamic religions. But there are a number of Esotericists within the mainline religions that harbour such views. It's worth remembering that Tolkien and Lewis were both neck-deep in an intellectual milieu that embodied a lot of Syncretic thought, including Theosophy, Ceremonial Magick, and the birth of Wicca and Neo-Paganism.
Back to Hobbits: Odo, your last post seems to indicate that you have already forgotten the evidence from Tolkien's own words Eldorion and I have posted that point to Elves, Men, and Hobbits as being three branches of one species (Hobbits supposedly being "closer" to Man than Elf. If Man and Elf could interbreed then it absolutely follows that Man and Hobbit could). However, it is also abundantly clear that most Humans and Hobbits considered [b:2un736ch][i:2un736ch]themselves[/i:2un736ch][/b:2un736ch] to be too different to intermingle. The fact that no mixing is recorded does not preclude it from ever happening.
I still think Hobbits were different to Men. You might already have noticed what good memories the folk of Middle-earth have. If neither Hobbits (nor Men) remember their [i:18rz56tg]physical [/i:18rz56tg]relationship to Man, I'm tipping there never was one.
[quote:1ne3s46k]I believe Tolkien once said in a letter that the "fell beasts" might have been the last surviving descendants of pterosaurs or other flying dinosaurs.[/quote:1ne3s46k]
I think I remember something similar Eldo. But if you can find the reference that would be helpful. It certainly sheds some light on Tolkien's own "evolving" views on his creation. It would suggest that Tolkien did indeed consider his Cosmology on multiple levels, Mythic, Theological ("True" Mythic), and Empirical/Historical. Under these circumstances, we could indeed speculate about the Genetic (i.e. "Physical" Odo ) Evolutionary Past linking Hobbits, Humans, and Elves.
How could we fit in millions of years of Pre-Human (all three branches ) biology into Tolkien's Creation? Perhaps it would take place in the Mythic Twilight period.
Eldorion's a revelation (scienticically speaking) lately, what with his Eldorionics, and now his theory on the Evolution of Hobbits! He's leaving us in his dust, GB. The New generation is always wiser than the Old. Oh aint that the truth!
Eldorian was asking for the abundant clarity of Tolkien's creationism. It starts with his statement of Christianity as the "true myth", stuck together with references he made to the garden of eden and adam and eve as being part of this myth. I'm too lazy to dig them up, but I remember letters to his son containing several references to this material, as well as other interpretive comments he made to various people.
I might be able to accept that his thought processes are complex enough that he could subsume the garden of eden into an evolutionary framework, but to me the simplest argument is that he believed in something close to literal truth of the creation myth. Yeah, Vatican II (or some later writings from the RC church) accepted evolution, but Tolkien [i:3cj660n8]hated[/i:3cj660n8] Vatican II, and I doubt he felt compelled to follow the church down this particular path.
What Lewis and Tolkien disliked, was Materialist Reductionism as a Philosophy. But like most Christians who lead an intellectual life, they weren't prepared to abandon Science either. Rather, they took many Bible stories figuratively. Again, Theistic Creation does not preclude Evolution. I would be very surprised to find out Tolkien was a "Creationist" in the Modern sense that American Creationists push. Most European Christians did not (and do not today) take Genesis literally.
When Eldorion finds the letter regarding dinosaurs leading to the Nazgul's winged steeds, this will become even more clear.
[quote="[url=http://forum.barrowdowns.com/archive/index.php/index.php?t-11254.html:9ypaeuqr]Someone from the Barrow-downs forums[/url:9ypaeuqr]":9ypaeuqr]Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl', and often is drawn [...]. But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology [of the Prehistoric], and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.
(This is from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Letter #211)[/quote:9ypaeuqr]
This is more or less what I remember, but again, I am unable to verify the quote myself at the time.
The history of hobbits begins in the Vales of Anduin east of the Misty Mountains. All three varieties of Hobbits once lived there before migrating westward. The Prologue to TLotR discusses this (and much else about Hobbits) at greater length; it's really a fascinating read.
The sundering of Hobbits and Men probably occurred before Men reached Beleriand way back in the First Age. The Edain turned their back on their past after they allied with the Eldar, and the Men of Middle-earth had thousands of "Dark Years" to forget about their past. Hobbits, for their part, didn't keep records from that far back at all. I think it's entirely plausible that whatever connection there once was had just been forgotten.
Well, the Stoors of the Vales of Anduin were long gone (where to, I cannot say) by the time of TLotR. For the record though, here's the quote in which we learn about other Hobbits. I was thinking about starting a thread on this since I (re)discovered the quote about a week ago anyway.
[quote="At the Sign of the Prancing Pony":xjpspyjo]The Shire-hobbits referred to those of Bree, and to any others that lived beyond the borders, as Outsiders, and took very little interest in them, considering them dull and uncouth. There were probably many more Outsiders scattered about in the West of the World in those days than the people of the Shire imagined. Some, doubtless, were no better than tramps, ready to dig a hole in any bank and stay only as long as it suited them. But in the Bree-land, at any rate, the hobbits were decent and prosperous, and no more rustic than most of their distant relatives Inside.[/quote:xjpspyjo]
Reading that quote was like getting splashed with a bucketful of ice-cold water, and it has made me start reconsidering a number of my assumptions about Hobbits. For one, I had thought (at least partially encouraged by Karen Wynn Fonstad's [i:xjpspyjo]The Atlas of Middle-earth[/i:xjpspyjo]) that the only hobbit settlements were in the Shire and in Bree-land. The above quote strongly suggests, however, that there were a number of wandering hobbits throughout Eriador (and perhaps other parts of Northwest Middle-earth). I wonder if they had any relations to "ruffians" or migrating "southerners" (probably Dunlendings) that we meet at the Prancing Pony.
More intriguingly though is the possibility that there were other non-"rustic" hobbits out there. I think the quote leaves open the possibility that there were other "decent and prosperous" hobbits living in settlements that were part of neither the Shire nor Bree-land. The aforementioned chapter states that the Bree-hobbits claimed to be the oldest settlement of hobbits in the world, and that may well have been the case, but I still wonder where and how the others might have lived.
Oh, the mysteries of the tragically unfinished Middle-earth, and the unending joy of discovering and puzzling over them.
"Their earliest tales seem to glimpse a time when they dwelt in the upper vales of Anduin, between the eaves of Greenwood the Great and the Misty Mountains."
Obviously this does not imply that's where hobbit existence began but merely as far back as their oldest tales go. On the subject of the hobbit branches the prologue has this to say;
"Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become divided into three somewhat different breeds."
This of course doesn't give much away as to how long before this occurred, or any idea has to whether all three branches emerged at once or if one branch appears then eventually another etc or what sort of hobbity thing the three branches started out as.
As to hobbits outside the Shire- maybe there are some still hiding out between Tharbad and Dunland where the Stoors once had settlements. Perhaps the reason the Stoors tend to turn up more by name in older histories- despite being less numerous than Harfoots say- was due solely to their adventurous natures and meant they turned up in more distant lands.
I'll admit I was probably judging too much based on the American "take no prisoners" style of Christianity. I'd like to find an actual quote by him regarding evolution. I doubt he had much reason to talk about it though.
I always assumed the nazgul beasts were pterodactyls, and am somewhat surprised to find Tolkien state they were not. Maybe the quote is incomplete and when put in full expresses the Professor's penchant for precision in the natural world: "I did not intend the nazgul beasts to be pterodactyls, but pteranodons."
[b:3glcjfp8]Yes and no.[/b:3glcjfp8] I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl', and often is drawn [...]. [b:3glcjfp8]But obviously it is pterodactylic[/b:3glcjfp8] and owes much to the new mythology [of the Prehistoric], [b:3glcjfp8]and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras[/b:3glcjfp8].[/quote:3glcjfp8]
The quote IS incomplete, though it doesn't appear to be altered (I haven't searched for a more complete quote as yet). But it still provides us with a lot more information than a cursory glance reveals. Tolkien doesn't dismiss Pterodactyls out of hand ("Yes and no". He does suggest it is much like a Pterodactyl, and that it owes its image to that provided by the illustrations of the day based on their fossilized skeletons (which he attempts to put on the same level as religion by referring to it as the "new mythology". And then he goes even further to suggest that it could be (no doubt in an "applicable" way ) a "last survivor" of a more ancient era (specifically "geological".
This tells us a lot indeed about Tolkien's views regarding the validity of Evolution. Paleontology clearly convinced Tolkien to concede that pre-human eras did exist. But at the same time (given his complex view of Myth and the Imagination), he wasn't willing to concede to the Reductionist Mind-set a superiority he felt it didn't deserve (and neither do I, by the way, despite, or perhaps because of, my Agnosticism). Hence he puts it on the same level as his religion, by calling it "the new mythology". No doubt, he believed that it was a "True Myth", much like he believed the story of Christ to be a "True Myth".
In other words, he was willing to believe in Evolution, but not completely in Natural Selection as the Agent of Evolution. For Tolkien, the True Agent of Evolution would be God (perhaps occasionally using Natural Selection as a tool of His Will).
Tolkien as [i:ewgw6usn]Creationist[/i:ewgw6usn]... nah, just don't like the sound of that...
Yes. The quote you give is indeed the one I was thinking of.
[quote:11z83n1o]"Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become divided into three somewhat different breeds."[/quote:11z83n1o]
I have to admit I didn't recall that quote. I think it means that the earliest Hobbits were all one 'breed', so to speak, and that the Harfoot/Fallohide/Stoor distinction came later.