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Tolkien explained the two different versions in the introduction of The Lord of the Rings, as well as inside "The Shadow of the Past", as a "lie" that Bilbo made up, probably because of the One Ring's influence on him, and which he originally wrote down in his book. Inside The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo finally confesses the real story at the Council of Elrond, although Gandalf had deduced the truth earlier. As Tolkien presented himself as the translator of the supposedly historic Red Book of Westmarch, where Bilbo and Frodo's stories were recorded, he further explained the two differing stories in The Hobbit by stating he had originally used Bilbo's original story, but later retranslated the work with the "true story" recorded by Frodo.

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