Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Hobbit – Initial Thoughts

I thought I would offer my initial thoughts about The Hobbit before I actually start reading. It has been a number of years since I last read it, and I am looking forward to reading through it again. Tolkien remains one of my favorite authors as I continue to be amazed at the detail that he put into Middle Earth.

I remember my first introduction to The Hobbit was the Rankin/Bass version in 1977. I was fairly young at the time, and I had not seen anything like it prior to that point. Needless to say I was fascinated by the entire thing. Looking back on the animated show through a much more mature lense, the gaps and short comings are fairly obvious, but at the time I thought it was great, as it captured my imagination like nothing else had. I also remember my father hinting that there was more to the story, but would not elaborate more than that.

It would be several years later that I actually had the book in my hands, which was the soft cover illustrated version from the Rank/Bass production. While I enjoyed reading that particular book, as some of the illustrations were quite striking, I will say that the binding on that version was crap and it promptly fell apart. It would be a significant number of years later before I would pick up a sturdier version which matched my hardcover Lord of the Ring editions. I am happy to report that the matching sets still sit on top of my small bookcase that is in our bedroom next to my bed, and I do not expect to be moving them any time soon.

Just recently, I bought the annotated version for my son, which he has read through, and now I find myself running short of books to read here in China, prior to my return to the States which is scheduled for late June, making it a good time to pick it up and read through again. As an aside, after this book, I will have 2 more books left from the bunch I brought that needs to last me two months. Now one of them is Martin's A Feast of Crows, which comes in at almost 1000 pages, so all is not lost.

While Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a children’s story, it is one of those books that appeals to a wide range of ages, as it is a simple tale at its heart which the younger folks can enjoy, and it provides a deeper reading for the more advanced reader. The language and tone of The Hobbit is a softer voice when compared to the more serious tone of its sequel, but that does not take away from the enjoyment of the book no matter what the age. The style of prose between the two works is an interesting contrast, and I will be commenting on that as I make my way through the book.

So with that, I am looking forward to flipping through the pages of the annotated version and once again visiting Middle Earth.


Anonymous said...

I never tire of reading this book. I read a lot of books and I love the Black Company, Conan, Kull, Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, and the weird fantasies of Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith, but the Hobbit is always a welcome read.

Mr Baron said...

agreed. there are a lot of things to like about the book.