"brilliant piece of retcon"


Active Member
In Ep.38, Prof CO, while discussing adjustments made in the Peter Jackson films, calls the "fixing" of the Gollum problem of Chap V "Riddles" in The Hobbit one of the most brilliant pieces of retcon ever.

Interesting that, in Letter 128: 1 Aug 1950: Letters of JRR Tolkien, it is made clear that Tolkien had sent in three years earlier in 1947 some quickly tossed off text as to how Gollum's behavior might be fixed for the sequel he was drafting, and asked if maybe some sort of change could be made as various errors and typos were being fixed. And then to his enormous surprise that text got included as-is in new editions of the Hobbit starting in 1950, him having long since forgotten that he ever submitted the question about a possible change (and having said he guessed it would be impossible to change).

He was overall pleased with the result.


Even better is the retcon that is in the Council of Elrond, Bilbo excuses himself that that the story with Gollum was not as he told before (which is the first edition of the Hobbit).

Which makes the early editions of the Hobbit (before the retcon) part of the story and not strange or redundant, but fits right in .Tolkien even mentions that Sam and Frodo were reluctant to change Bilbos text.

Brilliant. I just love how Tolkien manages to write himself out of things like this.