Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring Prologue 5

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Prologue 5

Note on the Shire Records

  • The Shire has a lot of written records kept by the different great Hobbit families.
  • In particular, the records that deal with the particular adventures in this book begin with the Red Book of Westmarch, a four-volume set bound in leather and written by Bilbo Baggins; Bilbo then gave these books to Frodo.
  • To these four volumes, other Hobbit members of the Fellowship have added commentaries and genealogies. (Not the most thrilling stuff.)
  • These volumes were copied for the descendants of Samwise Gamgee. The most important copy of the Red Book was done by a scribe in Gondor; it became known as the "Thain's Book."
  • It is an exact copy of the book Peregrin Took – a.k.a. Pippin – brought with him to Gondor when he retired during the Fourth Age.
  • This book contains "much that was later omitted or lost. In Minas Tirith [the capital city of Gondor] it received much annotation, and many corrections, especially of names, words, and quotations in the Elvish languages; and there was added to it an abbreviated version of those parts of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen which lie outside the account of the War" (prologue.4.4). Translation: it's pretty comprehensive.
  • Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took (remember them, they'll be back) each became heads of their great families.
  • Thus, they maintained huge libraries connecting the Hobbits to the lands of Rohan and Gondor.
  • Meriadoc has tried to keep records of the Elder Days, the first days of the Elves in Middle-earth.
  • But when Celeborn, the consort of Galadrial, passed to the Gray Havens, there with him "went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth" (prologue.4.6).

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