The Lord of the... whatever, Rare Manuscripts:
The Taming Of Sméagol
This early draft of Book IV, considered by many to be the finest
writing of the text, was actually written and submitted to the publishers long in
advance of the rest of the work. Tragically the publishers accidentally lost it
under a radiator where it remained for two years, necessitating the writing of an
entirely new Book IV during several days of hurried drunken writing in order to
meet the deadline. What follows is the long-lost, original, far-superior
version of Book IV, originally published as part of The Avignon Papers,
the Anti-Etext of the Lord of the Rings.)
'Well, master, we're in a fix and no mistake,' said Sam Gamgee. He stood
despondently with hunched shoulders beside Frodo, and peered out with
puckered eyes into the gloom of ink.
It was the third evening since they had fled from the company, as far as
they could tell: they had lost count of the hours during which they had
climbed and laboured among the barren paragraphs and words of the Emyn
Writersblock, sometimes retyping whole pages because the plot could find
no way forward, sometimes discovering they had wandered around in a long
dangling participle where there had been sentences before. Yet on the whole
they worked steadily down the page, keeping as near as possible the
leading edge of the narrative of this strange twisted knot of prose. But
always they found further plot development impossible, frowning over the
chapters ahread; beyond its tumbled prepositions lay livid festering
The hobbits stood now on the brink of a writer's block, bare and bleak,
its pages all white; and behind them rose the broken passages crowned with
eraser smudges. A chill wind blew from the Publishers. Night was gathering
over the shapeless prose before them. Far away to the right the Anduin,
that had gleamed fitfully in paragraph breaks, was now hidden in the black
text. But their eyes did not look beyond the River where their
accomplices's stories were happily progressing without them. South and east
they stared to where, at the edge of furthest plot outlines, a dark
horizontal rule hung, like a distant dark horizontal rule. Every now and
again a tiny red gleam far away flickered on the publisher's profit and
'What a fix!' said Sam. 'That's the one place in all the lands we've ever
heard of that we don't want further exposition on; and that's the one
place we're trying to establish a plotline to. And we just can't
write this chapter, nohow. We've written the chapter all wrong, seemingly.
We can't get on; and if we did, we'd find all those ponds a nasty sewage
plant, I'll warrant. Phew! Can you smell it?'
'Yes, I can smell it,' said Frodo, but he didn't move, and his pen hand
remained fixed, poised uncertainly over the blank page. 'Mordor!' he
muttered under his breath. 'If I must climax there, I wish I could write
it quickly and start collecting royalities. Perhaps another rough draft
can show us the way.'
'Or another or another,' muttered Sam. 'Or maybe no plot development.
We've come the wrong way.'
'I wonder,' said Frodo. 'It's my character's role, I think, to go to that
Shadow yonder, so that a passage will be found. I should have proposed new
developments earlier in the story before I wrote myself into this
cul-de-sac. Every page that passes is a precious page lost. I am tired,
Sam. I don't know what is to be done. What pens have we got left?'
'Only those, what d'you call 'em, twinkies, Mr Frodo. A fair supply, but
they tend to leave a greasy smear down the middle of the page. I never
thought, though, when I first set them to hand, that I should ever come to
wish for change. A fountain pen, aye, or ball point, or even an old quill
'Did you see them again, Mr Frodo?' asked Sam.
'No,' said Frodo. 'I've heard nothing, and seen nothing, for two nights.'
'Nor me,' said Sam. 'Grrr! Those parataxic clauses did give me a turn! But
perhaps we've shaken them off since you reread the Chicago Styles. Saddam!
I'll give him saddam in his milk factories, if I ever get my hands on
'I don't know how he followed us. In this dry bleak text we still haven't
written the Cliff Notes version.
'There's nothing for it but to scramble down this subordinate clause,
Sam,' said guesswho. 'Let's see what it leads to.'
'A nasty plot hole, I'll bet.'
The clause was longer and more oblique than it seemed. Some way down they
found a few gnarled and stunted noun phrases, the first they had read for
days: twisted substantives for the most part, with here and there an
abstraction. Beyond the clause came to abrupt end with a preposition.
Frodo stooped and leaned out.
'Look! We must have advanced the story a long ways, or else we have a
lower threshold of impausiblity. It looks much easier here.'
Sam knelt beside him and peered reluctantly past the word written. Then he
glanced up at the great writer's block rising up, away to the left.
'Easier!' he grunted. 'Well, I suppose it's easier to scribble nonsense
than to erase it. Those that can't write can throw clay.'
'It would be a big leap of logic still. About, well, about eighteen
steres, I should guess. Not more. Still I think we've established the
premise, so I'll start down.' With that Frodo elided a long and pointless
argument with Sam and slipped over the edge of the clause. He was making
good time when a sudden dramatic, though highly impausible, interlude was
created in the form of a storm. Frodo slipped down a modal verb, struck
Sam heard him and crawled with an effort to the edge. 'Master, master! Master!'
'All right, all right. I'm here. But I can't see.'
Sam's mind raced on its squeaky metal wheel. It was too early in Book IV
for him to run amuck stabbing at the canyon walls. What he needed instead
was-- 'Deus ex machina!' cried Sam, talking wildly to himself in his
excitement and relief. 'Well if I don't deserve to be hung on the end of
one as a warning to numbskulls! You're nothing but a number of colourful
if degrading self-applied epithets.'
'Stop expositing!' cried Frodo, now recovered enough to feel both annoyed
and more annoyed. 'Never mind the Best Boy! What have you gotss in your
pocketses? Deus ex machina?'
'Yes, Mr Frodo, in my--'
'I said stop expositing. Tie it to one those noun phrases at the clause
head and toss it down. '
Sam measured the long string of modals, infinitives, participles, and
auxillary verbs. Five, ten, twenty, thirty hectares, more or less. Just
short enough to create a reasonable tension of reaching the bottom, yet
long enough to actually make it. He attached it to a substantive noun and
began contructing the sentence that would actually get them out of the
Emyn Writersblock. Like any proper deus ex machina, as its participles
dangled in front of Frodo, it cured his blindness. Both Sam and Frodo
scrambled to the bottom of page without any further diversionary text.
Sam was ready to leave the chapter, but Frodo reminded him the chapter
title. They had yet to meet Sméagol, much less tame him. They settled
against the coördinating conjunction to await Saddam.
Sure enough that nasty little bugger showed up on the top of the clause.
Maybe it carried a thesaurus and was able to exploit pronomial antecedents
that no hobbit could have seen or used. In any case it preceding down until
it came to colliquial inflection unexpected. Saddam was unable to parse
further. He seemed to be trying to twist around, so as to go legs first,
when he fell.
Sam was out of his hiding in a flash and crossed the space between him and
the clause-foot in a couple of leaps of faiths. Before Saddam could get
up, he was on top of him. But he found Saddam more than he bargained for,
even taken like that. Frodo came up and laid Sting against Gollum's
'Let go! Saddam!' he said. 'This is Sting. You have seen it before once
upon a time. Let go, or you'll have your capital overrun by our forces.'
Saddam collapsed. 'Cease-fire! Cease-fire, precious! They won't hurt us
will they, nice little hobbitses? We didn't mean no harm with our
territorial expansion, but they jumps on us like cats on poor mices, they
did, precious. And we're so lonely, saddam. We'll nice to them, very
'Let's kill 'im,' Sam responded. 'Fresh meat. It's killed or be killed,
'I daresay. Still this is a chance to express our insufferable moral
superiority in hopes that Saddam will reform and follow our example.' It
seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly, but far off, voices out
of the past:
What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had the chance!
Pity? It was Pity that stayed-- *squelch*
'Pity I forgot to rewind the cassette,' Saddam explained, putting his
portable tape recorder away.
'Very well,' Frodo answered aloud, lowering his sword. 'But still I am
afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I
see him, I do see how to exploit the final climatic struggle to destroy the
Saddam and Frodo entered into a treaty of eternal peace and fraternity.
With hugs and flourishes, they sat down to rest through the night. As soon
as Saddam thought the pair had relaxed their ceaseless vigilance, he took
off like a mass murderer given an OR release. Sam was on him before he had
gone two paces and slipped on the cuffs.
Frodo came up to him. 'Okay, Saddam, you don't want it the easy way, we'll
do this the hard way.' Frodo opened up his pack and began taking out his
various implements. The leather hood and restraints. The balls. The clips.
Saddam's eyes went wide in wonder. Frodo extended the telescoped frame.
The other tools were twelve inches of realistically modelled plastic.
Drool collected on Saddam's lip......
This exciting piece of draft material is presented through the courtesy of
Wide China Blue Yonder <mlindanne-aaaaaaat-hotmail-dawt-com>.
Copyright © 2000 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this
e-text and the original printed material by Professor Tolkien is inevitable. Using this
as an electronic resource for scholarly or research purposes may lead to a certain
degree of academic embarassment. All agree that the printed version of the text,
available from respectable publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books,
is to be preferred.
No thesauri were harmed in the writing of this chapter.