Episode 47
February 13, 2023

He’s Just A Gross Little Guy!

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: Gollum. For all the high adventure, heroics great and small and world-shattering consequences and much more that exists in Tolkien’s legendarium, arguably the most fascinating character he created in the end is his most racked, ruined and miserable, first encountered as a mysterious slimy creature living and lurking in a subterranean lake with only one thing of particular value to his name. Tolkien’s introduction of both Gollum and a magic ring into this world was, to borrow a phrase from the narrator of The Hobbit, a turning point in his career, the more when as he embarked on the writing that would result in The Lord of the Rings he realized he needed to rethink and redo the original, much more comically grotesque version of Gollum into a being living out any number of emotional and physical extremities at once. Arguably both this transformation and then the incorporation of this version of Gollum into his grand story became something he never quite got over, based on his various reactions over time as seen most clearly in his published letters on the subject. Why might the strongest scene for the entire Lord of the Rings be the simple gesture of Gollum tentatively reaching out to touch a sleeping Frodo on the way to Cirith Ungol? What is it about Tolkien’s self retcon of what Gollum is at heart that is fascinating still? Does the unspoken backstory of Sméagol and Déagol’s relationship suggest deep waters indeed, and how did Tolkien regard them both? And did Gollum really eat babies in the end or was that just something dreamed up by dirtbag elves?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle – just waiting on some fish as the endless, timeless years stretch on…

Was there rain? There was rain.

The HarperCollins Union strike looks to be over! Here’s a press announcement.

Like we said, rumors, no more, about Embracer and Warner Bros. Who knows.

The BBC Repair Shop story is a treat.

Just hanging around Tolkien and Gandalf in Warsaw.

Lord of the Bins! Well, good luck.

Gollum’s touching of Frodo’s knee should be portrayed more in fan art, but maybe we’re not looking hard enough. But there is this at least.

All letters quoted taken from the standard Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien collection. The letter to Eileen Elgar quoted later in the episode can be read in full here.

Our episodes on Sam Gamgee and the Red Book of Westmarch.

Andy Serkis’s retelling on how he first considered the Gollum casting can be found in both the movie documentaries and his own book on the role.

Admittedly that Cat in the Hat fish is a punk.

Grendel? Fascinating and monstrous character…but not Gollum.

John D. Rateliff’s The History Of The Hobbit breaks down the history of the book from manuscript through its later editions, including the abandoned early 1960s rewrite.

The Third Man is a great, great film.

Were the elves spreading stories of atrocity propaganda? Well…

Serkis himself sees Gollum through the lens of addiction, but the evidence that Tolkien himself had that in mind is scanty at best.

The David Foster Wallace piece in question – one of several on tennis, his favorite sport – is “The String Theory.” (The exact quote: “It’s the sort of love whose measure is what it’s cost, what one’s given up for it.”)

Déagol, shadowy and still crucial.

Yeah sure, Midsomer Murders, but really it’s about Rosemary & Thyme as we say. And we do want that TV series we dream up.

Goofus and Gallant forever. If you like.

How associated is the phrase ‘unstuck in time’ with Kurt Vonnegut? Quite a bit.

And go go go Everything Everywhere All At Once! Surely it can win everything.

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