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The Gaffer: Between Cabbages and Potatoes

Luna's sixth Call for Papers, Not the Fellowship. Dragons Welcome! is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday 14th of June. Artwork, by Jay Johnstone. Here is a chance to discover the 11 brilliant papers you will find in the book, in reverse order of appearance.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Enrico Spadaro and Mauro Toninelli, presenting the paper: "The Gaffer: Between Cabbages and Potatoes"


Cabbages and potatoes, when placed in relation to Elves and Dragons, offer a hermeneutic approach in reading The Lord of the Rings. Nonetheless, Sam will deal with Elves, Dragons and more. The Gaffer, after the events described in the last chapters, keeps repeating, to whoever he is talking to, “And All’s well as ends Better!” The Gaffer is a character who enters the story on tiptoe, he remains in a corner, but he draws affection from each reader for his bond with Sam.

Cabbages and potatoes indicate the everyday condition of the Gaffer and of Sam. They indicate the ordinariness of life, its routine, its merits, all its limitations, its joys and sorrows, its successes and failures. Elves and Dragons, on the other hand, are all that is out of the ordinary, out of the ordinary of Hobbit life. In other words, it is the extraordinary, which seems unattainable. The beginning and the end of the novel. Everything in between is a journey, a story involving everyone’s cabbages and potatoes, everyday life, the ordinariness of an existence.

This paper will focus on the figure of the Gaffer, who, together with other simple and ordinary characters – just think of Parish in Leaf, by Niggle –, teaches us that coming to terms with one’s own reality is sometimes complicated. But the ordinariness of cabbages and potatoes is in relation to and within something greater, that is History. In the ordinariness of each life something greater acts; simplicity lets the extraordinary happen. “And that may be an encouraging thought.”

About Enrico Spadaro:

Enrico Spadaro is an Italian young researcher with a passion for J.R.R. Tolkien. Born in Catania (Italy) in 1991. When he watched Peter Jackson’s adaption of The Fellowship of the Rings he fell in love with Tolkien. Thus, he started studying foreign languages and literatures at university. In 2014 he obtained a master in Literary Translation at the University of Pisa, in Tuscany. In his final dissertation, Tolkien’s tale The Lost Road was translated into Italian. He continued his research on Tolkien in France at Aix-Marseille Université and he defended his PhD thesis in November 2018: the title of the thesis is La Littérature-Monde de J.R.R. Tolkien: pertinence, discours et modernité d’une oeuvre originale, under the supervision of Pr. Joanny Moulin. The thesis has been published in March 2021 by the French publisher L’Harmattan.

In summer 2019, he applied for the postdoc Teach@Tübingen fellowship at the University of Tübingen in Germany, which started in October 2020, with a duration of six months.

He took part in congresses about literature and fiction: in May 2017, he communicated at the meeting Chemins de Traverse en fiction, held in Paris at École Normale Supérieure. In August 2019, he attended Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham, where he presented a paper entitled “To the Origins of Fairy-tales”.

He is currently a language teacher and member of the Italian group “Tolkieniani Italiani”, that analyses and comments Tolkien’s themes and works. A radio podcast “La Voce di Arda” is broadcast every Friday evening ( on such themes. The podcast was presented at the Association for Digital Humanities and Digital Culture (AIUCD) 10th annual conference in January 2021 and during the Prancing Pony Podcast Moot in May 2021.

About Mauro Toninelli:

Mauro Toninelli has been passionate of Tolkien since high school, back in the 1990s, when he first read The Lord of the Rings. Those days when he immersed himself in Middle-earth were the beginning of a passion that gradually turned into something greater.

Born in Brescia (Italy) in 1977, he graduated in modern literature after classical high school. He is a member of the Lombardy Order of Journalists and works at La Voce del Popolo, a diocesan weekly newspaper in Brescia, with which he still collaborates. He teaches Religion in Secondary Schools and holds a Master’s degree in Religious Sciences. He is the author of Perché ci vuole Cuore, a reflection on school, of Io, papà? 9 mesi coi baffi, diary of the father between the serious and the facetious in a pregnancy, of Siate fedeli alla terra!, hints of anthropological reflection between Nietzsche and Hadjadj. His last work is Colui che raccontò la Grazia. Una rilettura de Il Signore degli Anelli di J.R.R. Tolkien, published by the Cittadella publishing house, in which he offers ideas concerning the Catholic themes in Tolkien’s work. After the publication of this work, which had already been preceded by meetings on Tolkien in the Brescia area, he participated in several meetings about Tolkien and published articles on

He is a member of the Italian group “Tolkieniani Italiani” and occasionally participates as an expert guest in the radio broadcasts “La Voce di Arda” (

In summer 2021 he was among the speakers at the international conference "The Tree of Tales" held at the Rimini Meeting in collaboration with University of St Andrews, University of Oxford, Associazione Newman e King Edward’s School of Birmingham (Tolkien, The Tree of Tales Conference – The Tree of Tales).

Not the Fellowship. Dragons Welcome!


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