critique cache: the hobbit.

to say that i loved re-reading j.r.r. tolkien's the hobbit is a severe understatement.

i first read the hobbit in a seventh-grade english class. that very copy i read so many years ago was recently discovered in a box, locked away in storage. the degree to which it is battered & time-worn seems a testament to how much i loved it then, & exactly how much more i loved it the second go-round.

first off, the book is filled to the brim with witty, sarcastic, & unexpected tangents & remarks. 

'what do you mean?' he said. 'do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether i want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?' [page 11].  

'... and knocked their king golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. it sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment' [page 21].

as the reader progresses through the novel, they will find that remarks such as these are plenty - & these are precisely the reason i love tolkien's style so much in this classic.

not only does tolkien have a knack for wit, he also has a way of charming the reader. 

'it was a beautiful golden harp, and when thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill' [page 18].

'their spirits rose as they went down and down. the trees changed to beech and oak, and there was a comfortable feeling in the twilight' [page 44].

'then suddenly when their hope was lowest a red ray of the sun escaped like a finger through a rent in the cloud. a gleam of light came straight through the opening into the bay and fell on the smooth rock-face. the old thrush, who had been watching from a high perch with beady eyes and head cocked on one side, gave a sudden trill. there was a loud crack. a flake of rock split from the wall and fell' [page 162].

the spinning of such vivid & peaceful imagery, the capturing of such alluring energy, seems to be a trademark of tolkien's. i was wooed & drawn in with every passage that resembled that of the above. tolkien is a master at spinning simple phrases that feel impossibly cozy.

and then, of course, the simple bits that leave you captivated, though you have no idea why... tolkien's writing just feels like an old friend.

'he had eaten most, talked most, and laughed most' [page 32].

if you're looking to compare the tolkien's writing to that of rowling's, for example, it seems to me that gandalf - while every bit as lovable - is more believable than dumbledore.

'gandalf thought of most things; and though he could not do everything, he could do a great deal for friends in a tight corner' [page 57].

not to mention, the made-up words [or as i've annotated in my volume, 'the ironic use of non-words'], the tongue-in-cheek remarks amongst one another, & the sense that these are all [well, at least bilbo is] just simple people, on a more-than-simple journey.

i promise you: if you enjoyed any small part of the above - if you liked any of the categories, one, two, or all - you will enjoy reading the hobbit. and perhaps you need a bit more persuading? go see the movie. if anything, it piqued my interest in the written word even more.

p.s. make sure to read a copy with the accompanying illustrations. personally, it made me feel even more connected to the work, when my visions of the words were affirmed.

have you read j.r.r. tolkien's the hobbit? please link up & share below if so.


Manda said…
I have! In 7th grade or so as well :)
I had every intention of reading it over before seeing the Movie- but it was a no go.
The Movie was good, I thought. A bit drawn out though.

Much Love,
Manda from Eat Cake
Ellie said…
Great review! It's been a long time since I"ve read The Hobbit, but you've made me want to revisit it. I think I enjoyed it more than the Lord of the Rings trilogy because it was less focused on war and more on fantasy. And I definitely thought the book was better than the movie, although that's often the case!

xx Ellie 
Ashley said…
You're making me want to re-read The Hobbit, even though I read it for the first time not that long ago. It's one I'm sure I'll read again and again over the years.

I enjoyed your thoughts on the way Tolkien creates such vivid images. I'm also laughing at the sentence about how golf was created. :)

I've never heard of your book that's up next, but I'll have to look into that.
Shon said…
Oh my, I am enchanted. I loved the movies and have yet to read the books. I will have to get this for me and my daughters. They will love this!

Thanks for sharing,

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