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Visibílium Ómnium et Invisibílium: Looking Out, On, and In Tolkien’s World

Visibílium Ómnium et Invisibílium: Looking Out, On, and In Tolkien’s World Visibílium Ómnium et Invisibílium: Looking Out, On, and In Tolkien’s World Michael A. Wodzak and Victoria Holtz Wodzak n The Hobbit, the bestowal of invisibility is the obvious and initially I the only, property of the Ring. Bilbo, who begins his possession of the Ring in ignorance of its history, finds the invisibility it confers use - ful, whether to escape goblins, survive the Battle of the Five Armies, or avoid “unpleasant callers” (H, xix, 361). Tolkien does not call those unpleasant callers “visitors” and, indeed, it would be impossible, both pragmatically and etymologically, if the Ring were being used, for those “callers” to be “visitors.” The invisible is precisely that, not seeable, un-visitable, unreachable, and as a consequence, it behooves us to exam- ine the nature of invisibility. Invisibility, of course, is something that can be understood liter- ally as well as metaphorically and symbolically, but that is precisely the point of any metaphor or symbol; if it had no literal dimension, it could have no use in those other dimensions. We have better hope of under- standing metaphors and symbols if we first examine the literal, and so we shall start by asking the literal question: what http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tolkien Studies West Virginia University Press

Visibílium Ómnium et Invisibílium: Looking Out, On, and In Tolkien’s World

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 West Virginia University Press.
ISSN
1547-3163

Abstract

Visibílium Ómnium et Invisibílium: Looking Out, On, and In Tolkien’s World Michael A. Wodzak and Victoria Holtz Wodzak n The Hobbit, the bestowal of invisibility is the obvious and initially I the only, property of the Ring. Bilbo, who begins his possession of the Ring in ignorance of its history, finds the invisibility it confers use - ful, whether to escape goblins, survive the Battle of the Five Armies, or avoid “unpleasant callers” (H, xix, 361). Tolkien does not call those unpleasant callers “visitors” and, indeed, it would be impossible, both pragmatically and etymologically, if the Ring were being used, for those “callers” to be “visitors.” The invisible is precisely that, not seeable, un-visitable, unreachable, and as a consequence, it behooves us to exam- ine the nature of invisibility. Invisibility, of course, is something that can be understood liter- ally as well as metaphorically and symbolically, but that is precisely the point of any metaphor or symbol; if it had no literal dimension, it could have no use in those other dimensions. We have better hope of under- standing metaphors and symbols if we first examine the literal, and so we shall start by asking the literal question: what

Journal

Tolkien StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Nov 27, 2014

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