Monday, September 3, 2012
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.
My Rating: *****
The Hobbit is a reread for me, and I was planning on reading it this year, but not until closer to the movie release. But I walked past it every day and it called to me, so I gave in. What can I say? I have no willpower where Tolkien is involved. I'm trying really hard not to start in on The Lord of the Rings, because I have a tall TBR pile. How can I resist when The Hobbit leads right into Lord of the Rings so brilliantly? With all its cool foreshadowing and all those objects just randomly picked up along the way (mithril coat of arms, the sword Sting, the ring) that become so essential to the plot of LOTR? I will probably be giving in soon. Or hiding the books. One or the other.
What can I say? I love these stories and I love Tolkien's writing style. So lovely and imaginative and descriptive without bogging things down too much. Nobody writes this way anymore for fear of being labeled long-winded. Tolkien is long-winded, but I believe it's in the very best way. His world is so real.
If you haven't read The Hobbit, I hope I'm not convincing you that the pace is slow. The story flies along, and Bilbo is thrust right out of comfort into adventure after adventure, with very little rest in between. The trolls, the goblins, the riddle war with Gollum, the eagles, the forest, the SPIDERS, the escape from the elven palace, the barrels, the dragon, the battle... it never stops and it's so exciting and thrilling. Ah I love it all and I'm now so excited to see it on the big screen. The Hobbit has deserved a decent movie adaptation ever since it was written (don't talk to me about the animated version). And Martin Freeman as Bilbo? Could it be more perfect? I love him as Watson in PBS's Sherlock series. He really does sincere and lovable and funny with unexpected depth - exactly what Bilbo needs. ANYWAY.
This is a story for anyone who gets tired of normal life and would like to go on an adventure. I plan on reading it to my seven year-old daughter very soon. The Hobbit is a classic and if you haven't read it please do.
My favorite quote from this reading:
(Bilbo is creeping down the tunnel from the hidden doorway into Smaug's lair for the first time - he can hear Smaug snoring.)
"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait. At any rate after a short halt go on he did; and you can picture him coming to the end of the tunnel, an opening of much the same size and shape as the door above. Through it peeps the hobbit's little head. Before him lies the great bottommost cellar of dungeon-hall of the ancient dwarves right at the Mountain's root. It is almost dark so that its vastness can only be dimly guessed, but rising from the near side of the rocky floor there is a great glow. The glow of Smaug!"