Monday, 30 March 2015

Review 2015 No. 10 | The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit", begins John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's The Hobbit, which has been consistently in print, and widely regarded as one of the finest high fantasy and children's books ever written in the English language, since it's publication in 1937. The Hobbit tells the story of the human-like hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, as well as others such as the wizard Gandalf (literally "Dreamer") and Thorin, and is the prequel to the magnum opus of all magnum opus', The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I could wax lyrical about its many diacritic facets, the fact that it has spawned generations of geeks and a multi-billion pound film trilogy, but I'm convinced that you've heard that all before. In many ways what is key to The Hobbit's success is its self-contained, tight prose and lucid plot. My own Tolkien story began when I was given a copy (and a hobbit house cake!) for my twelfth birthday. It picked up again along the lines of "in a student house in Canterbury there lived a girl (who hadn't read The Hobbit before)". I was enthralled and enamoured in equal measure.

I discovered a treasure (Gollum might refer to it as precious) that was entirely unique, readable, and a crossover novel for all ages. Tolkien was a storyteller, of the kind your mum became when making up stories for you in the back of the car on long journeys, and a true creative. The hobbits lived "between the Dawn of Faerie and the Dominion of Men" and Tolkien lived between the Dawn of the fairy tale and the modern world. This allowed him to create more than books. He created an entirely complete, entirely perfect world. With the diminishment of the academic, literary and social world in which he created The Hobbit, I believe it is a feat that will never be repeated again. He was a one off. It is a one off. Read it!

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