Friday, September 5, 2014

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the ninth book that I've read for Classics Club so far, and that means I'm 15% of the way through my list. Now, someone remind me not to leave all the ones I'm dreading until the end, yes??

Bilbo Baggins and I go back a long way. Back, in fact, to 1994 when my mum read The Hobbit to me and my little brother as a bedtime story over the course of several weeks. I've read it maybe twice since then, but the last time I did a reread was probably in about 2009, so it's been a while.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure to the Lonely Mountain, whether it's from the book version or the two (soon to be three) movies that Peter Jackson's managed to drag out of a 350 page book. But what surprised me this time around was how obvious it is that it's a children's book. Maybe it's that I've been reading more middle-grade books since I started working in a primary school library, and so it's more obvious to me?? Whatever it is, there's something about the descriptions, about the language used, about the simplicity of much of the dialogue that just makes the intended audience incredibly obvious.

It shows through too in the fact that much of the violence of the story - and it IS a violent story. There's a dragon, trolls, giant spiders, and an enormous battle for starters! - takes place quickly and in very brief terms. The Battle of the Five Armies takes place over the course of seven pages, and at least one of those pages is basically Bilbo going "Oh shit, we're all going to die" and then getting knocked unconscious. Smaug being defeated takes about a page to describe, and the dwarfs have no idea it even happened until days after the event. It's all surprisingly low-key when compared to the story that Peter Jackson tells us.

I loved the story, as I always have. But what I loved most this time around were Tolkien's illustrations. Despite being simple, black and white line drawings, they really bring the story to life. Especially when it's apparent how much the illustrations have influenced the set designs in the films. All you have to do is look at Tolkien's drawing of the front hall at Bag End to see the similarities:
All in all, I love the somewhat childish story Tolkien weaves. It gives you this warm fuzzy sense of nostalgia while still being full of action. And I'll be very interested to see how Peter Jackson handles the remaining chunk of the book (I mean, he inserted that ridiculous dip-the-dragon-in-melted-gold scene to The Desolation of Smaug, so......) when the final film comes out at the end of the year.

In short, there's a reason this book is a children's classic and remains on bestseller lists across the globe - it's really freaking good.

Have you read it? What did you think? And are you equally intrigued by how Peter Jackson is going to turn, like, one chapter of a book into a two and a half hour movie?!

K xx


  1. I only recently read it around the time the first movie came out and I was very aware this was a childrens book. I actually didn't like it so much, and it took me forever to get through it. It is probably a great book for children but comig upon it as an adult, having first read the LotR, was probably the wrong way to go about it.

  2. The Hobbit has led to some irritating questions at work (bookshop) when a customer asked if it was out yet - just after the 75th anniversary of its publication! And another woman asked if there was a children's edition: well, yes, it's a children's book. I was really excited for the first film, and although it wasn't up to the standard of LotR, it didn't disappoint me much, but after the last installment I'm just not excited at all, just kinda want for it to be over. I think Jackson finds battle sequences far more exciting than I do, and after six films, and the next one being probably ENTIRELY battle sequence - meh. But I love the book, and have two paperbacks as well as the graphic novel version, which is beautiful.

  3. I'm still sort of miffed why the LOTR books only got one movie each....yet the Hobbit is ONE book but getting 3 movies?! *whispers* I feel like they're doing it to prey on the money of fans here. lol XD

    I haven't read the book yet. I'd actually like to find the audio, maybe, and I do want to, but I had a bad time with LOTR and kind of swore off Tolkien. :| BUT STILL. I do like Hobbits. They eat food and live comfortably. What's not to love??!

  4. I should probably reread this at some point. I read it before I read LOTR but honestly don't remember a whole lot about it. And for some odd reason, I actually have yet to see either of the movies. But I do remember loving this story and you're so right — the illustrations are lovely.


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