The Hobbit is one of those classics that make you scratch your head when you go to write a review, wondering where to start. If you look on sites like...moreThe Hobbit is one of those classics that make you scratch your head when you go to write a review, wondering where to start. If you look on sites like Goodreads, most people just give it a rating and don’t bother to review, since so many already have and if you leave less than 4 stars people will sometimes hound you to find out why. There are Tolkienites and Tolkien historians who have already analyzed Middle Earth and picked apart every word that the English linguist wrote. There is even a term for Tolkien fandom: Tolkienism .
Truthfully, this is just my favorite book and I wrote this review to tell you why.
One of my favorite quotes: "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."
The Hobbit has a different voice than The Lord of the Rings epic. It’s a children’s book and a classic in children’s literature, having won a “best juvenile fiction” award from the New York Herald Tribune. Because of this and because of the large gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings releases, its voice is unique from its sequels. Several editions are even augmented by Tolkien’s own illustrations. Even Tolkien acknowlegged the difference in voice between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when he went back and tried to revise The Hobbit after finishing its sequel in an attempt to bridge the significant stylistic gaps between them. He stopped, however, after just three chapters when he realized that it “just wasn’t The Hobbit” anymore. Whereas The Lord of the Rings is loquacious and at times long-winded, The Hobbit is more succinct, to-the-point, and lighthearted despite the overbearing quest the protagonists face.
Tolkien’s Middle Earth, elves, and hobbits (a race of creatures he created for the series), ultimately paved the way for the modern fantasy genre as we know it today. He reintroduced the idea of the long fantasy epic when he built a fascinating world on the brink of war: a staple in most epic fantasy novels.
What’s funny is that Tolkien really just wrote The Lord of the Rings epic to fuel his fascination for the Elfish race after he was asked for a sequel to The Hobbit. He originally gave his editors his drafts for The Silmarillion, which they promptly rejected (but it was published later anyway). Eventually, Tolkien began a different, approved sequel titled The New Hobbit, which spiraled into the epic that we know today as The Lord of the Rings after roughly ten years of Tolkien’s diligence.
Tolkien chose to revise The Hobbit after he had worked on the concept for his new sequel, because otherwise there were plot inconsistencies. His primary concern was to make the ring more prevalent: originally, Bilbo wins the ring from Gollum in a riddle game and all’s fair. They part as friends(ish). However, in later revisions that we read today, Tolkien refined Gollum’s character as more aggressive and brings to light the ring’s significance through Bilbo’s winning it. Curiously, Tolkien didn’t hear from his publishers for years when he sent them these important revisions to keep the series accurate. It just goes to show that a published novel isn't necessarily a finished work.
The Hobbit is an adventure that forces a creature from whom nothing was ever expected to go out and experience life. The hobbit society largely frowned upon leaving their town or doing anything riskier than launching fireworks; yet, Bilbo confronts dragons, tricks trolls, and raises all sorts of hell in the process in a journey that other hobbits miss out of a fear of the unknown. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in an enchanting escape. It can make a reader of any age happy, and will leave you wondering what it is that you might be missing out on, too.