Bilbo feels the excitement of the adventure and misses home at the same time. How do you picture The Shire as opposed to the scary Mountain path?
The Shire is such a comfy place where everybody knows everyone else and knows everything that's going on everywhere around. The Mountain path, however, is completely new territory for Bilbo. He has never been so high up before, he doesn't know the kind of landscape, he isn't with the people he used to know all his life, he doesn't know when he'll have his next meal. It's just all different, bigger, scarier and so much more dangerous!
"It turned out a good thing that night that they had brought little Bilbo with them, after all." Do you think Gandalf wouldn't have noticed the goblins if it wasn't for Bilbo?
I don't know. In the book it's portrayed as if he wouldn't, but that doesn't really fit into the picture of Gandalf I have, especially knowing his Maia-background. It would have been highly unfitting if he hadn't noticed them and hadn't been able to save them.
What did you think of the goblins? Scary or funny? Intelligent or dumb?
Scary. At least for me and my poor nerves.
In LotR, the Orcs that are shown are (if I remember that correctly) always serving someone, either Saruman or Sauron. These Orcs, however, (for goblins are Orcs, in a way) have another Orc as chief. To me, they seem to be more independent, and also in a way more brutal. The Orcs in LotR weren't allowed to harm the Hobbits, but these here never got any command like that.
"He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment." Do you think Tolkien "knew" what the ring was when he wrote this?
I think he had a faint idea. He probably did not fully know it, for, as far as I know, he only realised that the story he was writing on when he was asked to write a sequel to The Hobbit (which is now known to us as LotR) some time after he had begun writing it. (Sorry, awfully long sentece...)
Gollum is one of the most controversial characters in Tolkien's books. What's your oppinion of him, based on this chapter?
I think when I first read The Hobbit (prior to reading LotR), I did pity him a little bit. He knew all those riddles, so I guessed that he once must have been at least from a fairly decent people and not too different from those we now consider to be "good". But I was also scared of him, and that was probably stronger.
If you know Gollum from other works (LOTR books/films), do you consider this Gollum different? Perhaps, meaner or wilder?
In The Hobbit, Gollum is on his own territory. He knows his ways around, he knows how he can harm or even kill Bilbo, and that makes him absolutely dangerous. In LotR, he tried most of the time to do the will of the ringbearer.
Confess us! How many riddles did you answer properly? (for those reading the book for the second time, try remembering the first time you read it)
Even though I had read it all before, I didn't guess all this time.
(Just a note on one of the riddles, though. At last year's Ring*Con during a lecture about Old English and Old English riddles, the lecturer (probably was Dr. Rainer Nagel, but I'm not totally sure) told us that the English word "daisy" actually stems from "day's eye" - and that's another name for the Sun! That explains why the two "eyes" are the same. Found this pretty interesting.)
What did you like the most about these two chapters?
I loved the descriptions, especially of the thunderstorm coming up. When Tolkien describes everything and then says that the readers probably know what he's talking about anyway, I just loved that.
Seeing Bilbo totally on his own again is also pretty interesting, because he seems to handle this situation a lot better than with the trolls.
And meeting characters such as the goblins/Orcs and Gollum and comparing them to the way they are portrayed in LotR, that's interesting.
The thing I always had in mind when reading "Riddles in the Dark" was that the version we now have in our copies is, in most cases, not the version that was published first.
I'm not completely sure if I still remember this correctly, but in the first version Tolkien had Bilbo win the contest and Gollum then gave him the Ring as prize and lead him out. While writing LotR and realizing the role of the Ring and of Gollum, Tolkien saw that this didn't fit in - Gollum was at that stage totally addicted to the Ring and wouldn't just have given it away, that wouldn't have been correct to the nature of the Ring. So he then changed that, and now every copy of The Hobbit except for those of the very first edition has this changed chapter in it.
Tarma, I like your idea of Gollum being more or less a carricature.
Actually, when I reread that chapter now, I didn't picture him in my mind as the Gollum from the films, but more from illustrations by John Howe or even like the picture Alan Lee did of Grendel, the monster in "Beowulf". He's still different, and it's more difficult to picture him being, well, modelled after an actual person, if you know what I mean?
And I think you chose two very good points in the story - those two are both really important, you just made me realize that.