A physicist loose among the liberal arts


I can’t believe I just noticed this: Hobbits don’t like boats, right? The Shire is a fictional version of the West Midlands, right?

regions of England

Administrative Regions of England

Of the nine regions of England, eight are on the coast. I’d expect that from a country that’s (a) an island and (b) a maritime power. One of the regions doesn’t touch the sea. It’s only natural that, compared to the others, West Midlanders would get a reputation as incompetent mariners.

So is this the origin of the sidelong remarks in The Lord of the Rings about how incompetent hobbits are on the water? Even if it’s not, I’m perfectly happy to find another reason that the Brandybucks belong in the “liminal” category.

Next question – is this why mariners are exotic heroes from far away in LotR and The Silmarillion?


What do I do for an encore?


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1 Comment

  1. Interesting points. I’m just putting together an essay on the Sea and thinking over similar ideas.
    While researching I came across the notion of the sea travel leading to an exchange of cultures. In this respect I always think about the Númenoreans who were like Gods to those in Middle-earth when they sailed from the West and brought knowledge and lore from over the sea. Thus the mariners seem to be perceived as wise, super knowledgeable, like teachers of sorts, and also, I guess, brave as they sailed the dangerous and unpredictable sea and managed not to die. And hence the attitude towards them as to someone possessing skills and knowledge that those living inland don’t.

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