Radagast the Fool?

aiwendil
Posts: 9

Radagast the Fool?

Post#1 » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:45 pm

Is anyone puzzled by Radagast the Brown's inactivity in the War? The explanation given, that he became overly enamoured of the fauna of Middle-earth, doesn't really compute, as he was probably commissioned by Yavanna to do just that (a discrepancy noted by Christopher Tolkien in Unfinished Tales (I think; don't have my books at hand.) As presented, Radagast, an unfallen Maia, while remaining faithful to his specific mission, did nothing in the War beyond running an errand for Saruman! Can this be right? He must have cared about the outcome of the War--a Sauron victory would mean scorched earth, poisoned waters, noxious airs, unbridled Orkishness! Boo! Hiss! Every incarnate Maia that I can think of was pretty forceful: Melian, the Grey and White Wizards (the Blue ones, too, probably), the Balrogs, and Sauron, plus possibly the Eagles, Dragons, and Ents. Why is Radagast different? Remember that he has the imprimateur of Beorn ("Not a bad sort, as Wizards go," or words to that effect.) And mainly, if he really was as ineffective as he is shown, then it would be the only instance of Saruman ever getting anything right! "Radagast the Brown! Radagast the bird-tamer! Radagast the Fool! Yet he had just the wit to play the part I set for him!" Does anyone else find this all a little strange? Does anyone else think there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to the activities of the Brown Wizard? (BTW: Has anyone ever read the original Hobbit, the one where the story of Bilbo, Gollum, and the Ring is rather different? If so, can you remember if the reference to Radagast is in it? Tanx.)

turinturumart
Posts: 75

Radagast the Fool?

Post#2 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:31 pm

There's an "original Hobbit"? As opposed to J.R.R.T.'s [u]The Hobbit[/u]?

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galin
Posts: 1369

Radagast the Fool?

Post#3 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:05 pm

I think the first edition of The Hobbit is meant, as Tolkien did revise the book.

JRRT also started a 'new version' too, but abandoned it. There's a new book on Mr. Baggins which is revealing what Tolkien wrote with respect to this version.

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grondmaster
Posts: 25451

Radagast the Fool?

Post#4 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:00 pm

Is anyone puzzled by Radagast the Brown's inactivity in the War?
My theory is that Radagast was the spymaster, and coordinated his kelvar friends, the animals and birds, to transmit messages to and from the the good guys, with himself as the central hub. I don't really think Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf could really communicate with each other through Elven magic, but used the service of Radagast's network. Of course someone will find chapter and verse to prove me wrong, but until then, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. :wiggle:
'Share and enjoy'

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glorifindel
Posts: 210

Radagast the Fool?

Post#5 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:24 pm

My theory is that Radagast was the spymaster, and coordinated his kelvar friends, the animals and birds, to transmit messages to and from the the good guys, with himself as the central hub. I don't really think Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf could really communicate with each other through Elven magic, but used the service of Radagast's network. Of course someone will find chapter and verse to prove me wrong, but until then, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Yes, Radagast could be having a spy network of animals, I never realised it. But he has so much inactivity in The War of the Ring (WotR) it might be bacause of his spying or just sticking around with animals. :D

Namarie!

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Sian
Posts: 1300

Radagast the Fool?

Post#6 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:49 pm

Grond, that does make sense. I certainly hope he did something! I've been interested in him as sort of a Middle Earth St Francis. He must have been smart and not a fool as Saruman thought or he would have been unlikely as an Istari. Another thought, though, is that he was a bit like Bombadil and just not too interested in the goings-on.

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galin
Posts: 1369

Radagast the Fool?

Post#7 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:36 pm

(BTW: Has anyone ever read the original Hobbit, the one where the story of Bilbo, Gollum, and the Ring is rather different? If so, can you remember if the reference to Radagast is in it? Tanx.)


Yes Radagast is in the first edition according to The Annotated Hobbit (Douglas A. Anderson), which is great if first editions are hard to get hold of (and informative in general).

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virumor
Posts: 3567

Radagast the Fool?

Post#8 » Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:45 am

The only thing Radagast did, was alerting all his beasts and the Great Eagles to look out for evil-doers. This is eventually how Gwaihir saw Gandalf on top of Orthanc, as described by G. during the Council of Elrond.

Apart from this, Tolkien wrote in letters that only Gandalf succeeded in his mission as an Istari; Radagast forgot about his and hence failed.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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galin
Posts: 1369

Radagast the Fool?

Post#9 » Wed Jul 11, 2007 6:05 am

Hammond and Scull describe that late in life Tolkien looked again at the postcard of the Madlener painting Der Berggeist, and it inspired him to consider and compare his three Wizards (I edited this a bit).

'On a rock beneath a pine-tree is seated a small but broad old man with a wide brimmed round hat and a long cloak talking to a white fawn that is nuzzling his upturned hands. He has a humorous but at the same time compassionate expression – his mouth is visible and smiling, because he has a white beard but no hair on his upper lip. The scene is a wooded glade (pine, fir, and birch) beside a rivulet with a glimpse of mountain peaks in the distance. This (sic) an owl and four other smaller birds looking from branches of the trees. Gandalf or Radagast? Gandalf. He was the friend and confidant of all living creatures of good will (...) He differed from Radagast and Saruman in that he never turned aside from his appointed mission (‘I was the Enemy of Sauron’) and was unsparing of himself. Radagast was fond of beasts and birds and found them easier to deal with; he did not become proud and domineering, but neglectful and easygoing, and he had very little to do with Elves or Men although obviously resistance to Sauron had to be sought chiefly in their cooperation. But since he remained of good will (though he had not much courage), his work in fact helped Gandalf at crucial moments. (...)' JRRT

Interestingly, in a variant version of a part of this, Tolkien wrote that: ‘it is clear that Gandalf (with greater insight and compassion) had in fact more knowledge of birds and beasts than Radagast, and was regarded by them with more respect and affection’

At one point I typed Ragasat for some reason. If that means anything please tell me! ;)

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virumor
Posts: 3567

Radagast the Fool?

Post#10 » Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:02 am

Interestingly, in a variant version of a part of this, Tolkien wrote that: ‘it is clear that Gandalf (with greater insight and compassion) had in fact more knowledge of birds and beasts than Radagast, and was regarded by them with more respect and affection’

Indeed, since it is written in the Silmarillion that the Olorín, the wisest of Maiar, learnt from many Valar (travelling most to the House of Nienna), why wouldn’t Yavanna have been amongst that list of highly enlightened tutors?
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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