25 Sep 2009

A little old man called Gandalf

Member of the order of the Istari, Gandalf, Wizard of Middle-earth. Humphrey Carpenter recalls that Tolkien's inspiration for Gandalf can be traced to a postcard called Der Berggeist (German: "the mountain spirit"),bought in Switzerland during a holiday. The postcard reproduce a painting of a man with a white beard sitting under a tree in the mountains. On the back of the postcard Tolkien wrote "The origin of Gandalf".

The original name of Gandalf was Bladorthin, this name was later given to an ancient king by Tolkien. The inspiration for the name came from the Old Norse name Gandalfr. The meaning of the name Gandalfr/Gandalf is "magic elf/begin" and this is why Tolkien probably decided the name was more appropriate.

Although often portray as a very tall man, Gandalf is not. In the very first edition of The Hobbit he is a "little old man" , taller then a dwarf but not as tall as a human, even in The Lord of the Rings there are references about him been shorter then Elrond or other wizards. (Gandalf Wiki)

"All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which is long white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots."
(J.R.R.Tolkien - The Hobbit)

(Gandalf by Ted Nasmith)

In the year 2941 Gandalf will be the one to start the Quest of the Lonely Mountains by involving Bilbo Baggins and setting up with him and the dwarves to slay Smanug the Dragon, it is about this time that he acquires the sword Glamdring, while Bilbo finds the One Ring in Gollum's cave. Gandalf will discover the misery behind the One Ring. The Ring must be destroyed in the very place where it was created, Mount Doom. Finally in 3018, Gandalf will come back to the Shire to see Frodo Baggins and set him up on the Quest of the Ring.

(Gandalf by Roger Garland)

Once they meet again in Rivendell, Gandalf will become part of the Fellowship of the Ring. He will lead the Fellowship into the Mines of Moria but then on the bridge of Khazad-dum, Gandalf will encounter the Barlog of Moria and will be defeated.Gandalf's spirit however will be back in a new form, as Gandalf the White, radiant and pure, no weapon able to harm him anymore, with his horse Shadowfax, he will inspire King Theoden in Rohan, defeat Sauraman in Isengard and will hold back the Witch-King at the gates of Minas Tirith. When the Army of the West will engage in the last battle at the Black Gates of Mordor, Gandalf the White is there and will witness the fall or Sauron when the One Ring is finally destroyed. After the war is over, Gandalf will join the Last Sailing of the Keepers of the Rings to the Undying Lands in 3021.
"The old man was too quick for him. He sprang to his feet and leaped to the top of a large rock. There he stood, grown suddenly tall, towering above them. His hood and his grey rags were flung away. His white garments shone. He lifted his staff, and Gimli's axe leaped from his grasp and fell ringing on the ground. The sword of Aragorn, stiff in his motionless hand, blazed with a sudden fire. Legolas gave a great shout and shot an arrow high into the air: it vanished in a flash of flame.
'Mithrandir!' he cried. 'Mithrandir!'
'Well met, I say to you again, Legolas!' said the old man.
They all gazed at him. His hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand. Between wonder, joy, and fear they stood and found no words to say." (J.R.R.Tolkien -The Two Towers)

a poem by Frodo and Sam

When evening in the Shire was grey,
His footsteps on the Hill were heard,
Before dawn he went away,
On journey long without a word.

From Wilderland to Western Shore,
From northern waste to southern hill,
Through dragon-lair and hidden door,
And darkling woods he walked at will.

With dwarf and Hobbit, Elves and Men,
With mortal and immortal folk,
With bird on bough and beast in den,
In their own secret tongue he spoke.

A deadly sword, a healing hand,
A back that bent beneath its load,
A trumpet-voice, a burning brand,
A weary pilgrim on the road.

A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
Swift in anger, quick to laugh,
An old man in a battered hat,
Who leaned upon a thorny staff.

He stood upon the bridge alone,
And Fire and Shadow both defied,
His staff was broken on the stone,
In Khazad-dǔm his wisdom died.

The finest rockets ever seen,
They burst in stars of blue and green,
Or after thunder golden showers,
Cam falling like a rain of flowers.