Tuesday, May 24, 2011
A Column On Gollum: Portraits Of A Fallen Hobbit
While the way that Gollum (the tormented fallen hobbit in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien) is imagined will probably be influenced for some time to come by his portrayal by Andy Serkis (and CGI) in Peter Jacksons' movies, it was not always so. When The Hobbit was first published in 1937, details of his size, shape, and even species were so mysteriously ominous that various forms of monstrous size and shape were presented as representations of him. Even when much more was known about Gollum with the publication of The Lord of the Rings, descriptions of his aquatic nature and webby hands would have him appearing like "a rotten evil swamp frog," and his skin has been every imaginable shade from green to grey to corpse-like. The pictures above are tagged with the artists last names, when known, and are in no particular order.
Labels: gollum, hobbit, illustration, lord of the rings
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The Janssen graphic looks completely wrong, like he's some kind of aquatic ent.
I've always thought the Sweet interpretation was okay for Gollum, but made Bilbo look far too human.
To be fair the Jannsen (that's Tove Jannsen, the author and illustrator of the Moomin books) came pretty early, I think 1947.
I know what you mean about the Sweet Bilbo; I think it's because he's so lanky and long-legged.
A nice collection of images. I was interested to note the different takes not only on Gollum's physical appearance, but on his apparel as well, from nekked to not too badly worn pants, to the most common, a sort of loin cloth, probably all that is left of his hobbit pants. did Tolkien ever specify anything regarding Gollum's clothes, or the lack of them?
Oh, yes indeedy. Even in The Hobbit, Gollum thinks of what he keeps in his own pockets, and in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien mentions that an Eagle seeing Gollum from above would think him an emaciated child of Men, covered in rag.
Someone comments somewhere that Gollum would have plenty of opportunity to steal new clothes from his victims (whether goblins or children) and that during his captivity in Mirkwood the Elves would almost certainly have clothed him (perhaps in less potently Elvish cloth than that of Lorien; maybe got from the Men of Lake Town).
It struck me that Gollum is probably the most unique of Tolkien's creations: after all, wizards, halflings, etc. have long populated imaginative tales. But Smeagol-his voice, character and characteristics-so instantly recognizable, so universally embraced by culture, is quite singular. Any literary precursors that you know of?
It was Tolkien himself who said Gollum was never naked, that he could steal his clothes, and that the Elves would clothe him.
A wonderful collection. I have enjoyed looking through the various interpretations, pre-movies. Thank you.
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