Monday, April 9, 2012

“Beginning” of the Week #9

Since this typically is a joyous time of year, I tried to find a happier “beginning” for this week – which should be a challenge given the desire to create tension in the opening passage of a novel. The beginning of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring comes close to fitting this bill, while still giving the impression that everything is not quite right:
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton. 
Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return. The riches he had brought back from his travels had now become a local legend, and it was popularly believed, whatever the old folk might say, that the Hill at Bag End was full of tunnels stuffed with treasure. And if that was not enough for fame, there was also his prolonged vigour to marvel at. Time wore on, but it seemed to have little effect on Mr. Baggins. At ninety he was much the same as at fifty. At ninety-nine they began to call him well-preserved; but unchanged would have been nearer the mark. There was some that shook their heads and thought this was too much of a good thing; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth. 
“It will have to be paid for,” they said. “It isn’t natural, and trouble will come of it!”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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