As I mentioned last post , I believe that adults can enjoy children’s literature as much as children. Along those lines, I’ve included references to at least two children’s books in my novel, Gabriel’s Inferno.
One of my favourite authors is J.R.R. Tolkien. He was a friend and colleague of C.S. Lewis and a member of the Inklings. The Inklings used to meet for drinks and discussions at The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, which is affectionately called The Bird and Baby by locals. If you’re ever in Oxford, order your pint and go straight to the back room. If you close your eyes while you sample your beer, you’ll feel the ghosts of the Inklings poking you in the shoulder. You might even hear them whispering. (I’ll save what they said to me for another post.)
In Gabriel’s Inferno, there is a scene in which the heroine, Julia Mitchell, refers to another character as Gollum. In Julia’s mind, she is caught in a struggle with Gollum for the Precious. Both references are taken from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This work, perhaps more so than The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is a children’s book.
For my purposes, there are at least two interesting things about the character of Gollum. First, he begins his life as something like a Hobbit. By the time we are introduced to him in the story, he’s a monster. Tolkien has some interesting ideas about the effects of evil on a creature’s character and physical appearance as evidenced by Gollum’s history. Second, Gollum has an inordinate attachment to the Ring, which he calls his Precious. The passages in which Tolkien gives the reader access to Gollum’s internal musings are truly frightening.
In a few pages, Tolkien contributes a fascinating account of single-minded obsession and it’s damaging effects. There are others in literature, such as the the shades that inhabit Dante’s Inferno, but Tolkien’s contribution is probably my favourite and certainly one of the clearest. (Parenthetically, it must be noted that there is a bit of sarcasm attached to my usage of these references in Gabriel’s Inferno. Readers will need to decide for themselves how precious The Precious actually is.)
All the best and thanks for reading,
Thank you for another post, SR. “The hobbit” is one of my favourite books and indeed, even though it was meant as a children book, it can be actually enjoyed by adults, as well.
One of my favourite scenes in the hobbit is the meeting between Bilbo and the Gollum when they start to struggle through riddles. Here we have a glimpse of what this strange creature can be capable of and it sure isn’t comforting. Your choice to associate one of Gabriel’s Inferno characters ( I won’t say here the name for fear of spoiling it for those who haven’t read it yet) to Gollum couldn’t be more appropriate. Gollum was a hobbit himself, but he became this awful creature(both inside and out) by indulging in the possession of “the precious”. The question is, can we consider the ring a metaphor for sin, thus should we consider Gollum’s metamorphosis as the condition one may end up reaching if he/she indulges in sin ( not necessary the ugliness of appearance) ?. Well, one thing is for sure: in Gabriel’s Inferno, Gabriel considers himself ugly in the inside and says so to Julia. Only when he recognizes her and falls in love with her, he rejects sin and tries to live a better life with the help of his beloved. A striking contraposition to the Gollum in GI who keeps on embracing sin without shame and tries to steal from Julia the Precious( for the record, I do think he is precious 😉 ). Here in Italy we have a saying that says: “ To make mistakes is human, but to dwell in them is diabolic”. Gabriel understands his mistakes and wants to change, while the GI’s Gollum doesn’t want to abandon her lifestyle. Even the original Gollum in “the Hobbit” doesn’t seem to be able to free himself from his obsession and he doesn’t seem to want to, either.
Another topic worth reflecting upon, in my opinion, is the effect that the ring( in the whole saga) has on the people who wear it . Gollum was completely changed by it, why Bilbo proves to have an extraordinary strength in resisting its seduction. He only uses it when he has to face a dangerous situation or to help the dwarves, without becoming possessive. On the other hand, in “The Lord of the rings” , Frodo is often on the verge of yielding to temptation, and that makes him a character that we all can relate to and maybe we could see him as a symbol of human condition. Good thing is that, in the end, he accomplishes his mission, after having walked down a path made of struggles not only with other creatures but also( and maybe more significantly) of struggles with himself. I always found that story really symbolic and fascinating.
Unfortunately ,I haven’t been to Oxford but I’d like to go there soon…I’ll make sure to sip my beer in the back room and to see if the Inklings will have anything to say to me ;). I’ll keep you posted 😉
Thank you for your lesson, SR! I seem not to get enough of those, so keep them coming!
I always felt sympathy for Gollum. I thought his character was a sad portrait of how evil overcame good. The results were not pretty.
In reading the Hobbitt you do get the feeling that Gollum was an ordinary person at one time, but who was too weak to overcome the evil of the ring. We all have our rings (maybe not to the extent of Gollum or Bilbo), the choice is always there to succumb or break free and rise above evil.
Thank you for this insight into Gabriel’s Inferno. I also enjoyed Elena’s comments and what her feelings were on your characters and The Hobbit.
Hello Miss Ann and Miss El,
Thanks for your comments. Lots of great things here and lots to discuss… All the best and thanks for reading,
Flor de Agua says
Thank you for your enlightening class, dear SiR. It was very important for my current script because literaly I used this amazingly character too.. and hope one day you will read it and laugh a litle with my Precious… lol