Man oh man. I reread this for discussion in a couple of weeks at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. The Hobbit is the flavor of the month just at present thanks to the upcoming movie, so I’m sure I’m not the only one rereading and finding new insights.
It was still really good even though this is the umpteenth time I’ve read this classic. I took the opportunity to get the audiobook from the library because I wanted to pay special attention to the songs and poems which were so important to Tolkien but which I always tended to skip right over. I enjoyed being forced, as it were, to listen to them line by line because each time it gave me insight into the singer (or singers, as the case may be).
And can I just mention that Bilbo’s burgling career gave me courage for something that I was going to try for the first time? (Not burgling, by the way.) So it is inspirational too. No, I’m not telling. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear that story.
Rob Inglis’ narration in The Hobbit wasn’t perfect (meaning that his interpretation of various voices was not as I “heard” them in my mind’s ear), however it was good enough. I’m interested to hear how he handles The Fellowship.
Key to my renewed enjoyment of Tolkien is The Tolkien Professor’s 8-part series on The Hobbit and the fact that he’s posted his lectures on the Lord of the Rings trilogy from his Tolkien class. He has really helped me to see below the surface of these very enjoyable stories to the Catholic worldview that anchored Tolkien and his storytelling. Olsen’s book Exploring The Hobbit has the insights from his lectures with even more information included, according to one of the Amazon reviews. Here’s hoping that he will have time to do similar commentary for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
All right, I admit I looked through this quickly, stopping to read whenever the author was NOT giving the original text of the story in the sidebar. Although it is interesting that the original story was retooled to give it more links with The Lord of the Rings, once it became clear that Tolkien was writing something on a larger scale … as I say, that is interesting but I don’t care to read the original.
What this book did, though, was awaken my respect for Tolkien as an artist and illustrator. I had no idea that he was so good at that aspect of story telling. For example, that book cover for the Hobbit at the top of this post was done by Tolkien himself.
As a result, I’m eagerly awaiting J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond from the library on that subject and I’d have had no idea about it if not for this book.