In case you haven't seen this yet: Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn recorded an audio commentary for the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings. For some reason, it wasn't included on any of the releases, however McSweeney's got hold of a copy of it, and here's the transcript, Part I and Part II.
They certainly have some insights on LotR we haven't seen before...
Zinn: Ah, and this is also where we first see Gollum. I stick to my view of Gollum as a rebel who transgresses boundaries. In many ways he is the heroic, empathetic conscience of this story. He's the only one who cares about bridging the gaps between these many cultures.
Chomsky: Well, what we see here, in Hobbiton, farmers tilling crops. The thing to remember is that the crop they are tilling is, in fact, pipe-weed, an addictive drug transported and sold throughout Middle Earth for great profit...I think the Hobbits are criminals, essentially.
|Left radical is 'thread', (糸), right is 'winter' (冬). This character was originally a pictograph of ropes with knotted ends, leading to meanings of 'tying off' and 'finishing'. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Hold hands at temple.'|