The rise to prominence of one Bilbo Baggins has thrust genealogy and the recording of life stories into the limelight. First, it was Lord of the Rings – now on video – and then came (and continues to come) The Hobbit (itself now out on video). Because Bilbo is, right down to the soles of his hairy, oversized feet, a family man and a personal historian.
True, Bilbo has no wife or children of his own (that history records) but Bilbo adopts a son (Frodo) and is as devoted to his kith and kin as ever a person was. No one knows their lineage better, or throws better parties for the relatives, or struggles to get right the dictates of etiquette, or gives better presents to nieces and nephews than Mr. Bilbo Baggins.
Speaking to his assembled cousins on one famous occasion (his Eleventy First birthday in point of fact) he says, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Which, if you can tease it out, is a statement of regret that Bilbo doesn’t know his relatives as well as he should—and has judged them a little too harshly in the past. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »