The Corner

Gollum

Okay, okay. Here is the official storyon where Gollum’s name comes from. I confess to not remembering that his name comes from the clicking – gollumy— sound he makes with his throat. But that’s not my point. I knew there had to be a reason in the text for his name. What I’m looking for is the sub-textual reason Tolkien used the name “Gollum,” if there is one. For example, John Miller recently wrote about how the “secret fire” (of which Gandalf is the keeper) was actually in Tolkien’s mind the (Christian) Holy Spirit. There’s little or nothing in the actual book which can prove that, but Tolkien apparently said it was so. What I’m curious about is whether Tolkien – who most certainly must have known of the Golem myths (which inspired Frankenstein) – was making something of a metaphorical statement about the nature of Man, or in this case, Hobbits. Gollum was originally a hobbit who was turned into a pitiable creature through the power of the ring. The Golem was a living creature made from clay. I’m just wondering if maybe Tolkien was saying something about what happens to man when he loses God’s grace, or some such, and is therefore reduced to something less than man, a creature made from the same stuff as man, but contemptible nonetheless. Just something I was pondering.

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