How to Take A Hobbit Journey Again… For the First Time

The new trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has arrived! What do you think?

I suspect that you’ve read The Hobbit already. How many years ago? I first read it when I was 7 years old, and moved right on up to The Lord of the Rings at age 8. If you’re like me, you’d love to have the thrill of discovering a world as awe-inspiring as that again.

I think we can. We just need to find a way to see Bilbo Baggins, The Shire, the dwarves, Gandalf, Mirkwood Forest, and the Lonely Mountain with new eyes.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories are countries full of treasure that will go undiscovered and unappreciated unless we learn how to be attentive treasure hunters.

My good friend Matthew Dickerson writes as one who has spent his summers in the Shire, hiked every trail in Mirkwood Forest, taken counsel from Gandalf, and argued with Gollum and Smaug. It’s as though he sharpened the tools of his intellect in deep conversation with Tolkien himself.

And now he’s blessed us with a guide to rediscovering Middle Earth. It’s called A Hobbit Journey.

Dickerson, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, a novelist, director of the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf, and a fellow member of The Chrysostom Society, will prove to be a thought-provoking guide through Middle-earth whether you’re a frequent visitor there or a newcomer ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

His previous works include From Homer to Harry PotterThe Mind and the MachineNarnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis; and Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Take A Hobbit Journey with Dickerson, and I think you’ll enjoy The Hobbit more than ever before.

(But be careful. The more you understand and appreciate the accomplishments of J.R.R. Tolkien, the more you’re likely to see just how badly Peter Jackson’s movies have misinterpreted and misrepresented their source material!)



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  • I am looking forward to The Hobbit movies with great anticipation, even though (as an Inklings scholar) I know that many aspects will be butchered. Here are two thoughts that might help me to endure, and even appreciate, wild departures:
    1. First, I have been reading a bit about adaptation theory, which is helping me learn how to evaluate an adaptation on its own terms, rather then merely as a new setting of the same material. Indeed, since I firmly believe that “form” is inseparable from “content,” putting the same content in a new form radically and necessarily changes it. So I will try to watch these films as films, for their own merits, rather than as settings of the books.
    2. That said, however, I have been listening to a podcast, “Riddles in the Dark,” by Corey Olsen, The Tolkien Professor. He goes through each theme from the books and speculates how the movies might set them. In the process, he reviews all the extra material on which Peter Jackson is drawing: the appendixes to LOTR, the “Quest of Erebor,” The Lost Tales, the History of Middle Earth, and all the other material besides The Silmarillion (to which he does not have the rights). Based on these works of Tolkien’s, there is lots of latitude for backstory, sidestory, and creative extrapolation. I’m sure Jackson & Co will make use of this.

  • Mike

    The Hobbit is the first book I can remember my Mom reading to me. When I got older I read it again for myself and tried to follow it up with The Lord of the Rings. I know I finished, but I didn’t remember much about it until I picked it up again in Junior High, and loved it!

    Needless to say, I think I can trace my love of Fantasy and Science Fiction (and more importantly reading) back Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lewis’s Narnian Chronicles.