Michael Finocchiaro's Reviews > The Hobbit Or There And Back Again

The Hobbit Or There And Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
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it was amazing
bookshelves: american-20th-c, fiction, fantasy, made-into-movie, favorites, novels
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What makes The Hobbit such a seminal work in the fantasy genre? Is it the nine hours of over-budget, sensorially explosive movies by Peter Jackson? Nope. Is it a complex tale of multiple human kingdoms slaughtering each other for an Iron Throne with buckets of blood and guts and plenty of sex? Nope. Is it simply wonderful writing. As simple and boring as that. Does that mean that I was incredibly disappointed in the movie adaptation (not to say abortion)? Yep. Does that mean I don't love Game of Thrones (books and TV shows)? No, they are great too. But the seminal work, the Divine Comedy that created the language and inspiration for George R.R. Martin as Dante created Italian from the common vernacular in Florence and Ravenna, was The Hobbit. The book, even for a slow reader is most likely able to be finished in 1/3 the time that Peter Jackson spent telling the story in 70mm film. Unlike Peter Jackson's version, there are no orcs and the element of danger is more psychological than psychical: Bilbo Baggins is battling his fears and his provincialism and growing up. The Hobbit should be read as the Odyssey of Middle Earth - a voyage of self-learning and maturation that is more about the monsters in Bilbo's imagination than those encountered in his baptismal voyage into the unknown with Gandalf. Gandalf. Honestly, would there EVER have been a Dumbledore had there not been a Gandalf? Did any Tolkien reader not NOT picture Gandalf when Rowlings talked about Gandalf in the first Harry Potter book?

Bilbo does encounter some monsters and even outsmarts Smaug the Dragon (wow, I mean what a perfect name for a dragon! More evocative than Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion in my opinion - and again would they even have existed had Smaug not preceded them?) and he saves Middle Earth before returning to the Shire. He is not the same person he was before leaving. He is Ulysses without a Penelope waiting for him (unless his pipe is secretly called Penelope in his expanded imagination).

In literature, there is nothing quite like the Hobbit in its simplicity and beauty and its symbolic voyage: we are of course introduced to the elves, the humans, the dwarves...but they are all on the outskirts of the story. The Hobbit is about one small hobbit fighting his greatest fears...and winning.
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September 28, 2016 – Shelved
November 18, 2016 – Shelved as: american-20th-c
November 18, 2016 – Shelved as: fiction
November 18, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
November 18, 2016 – Shelved as: made-into-movie
November 18, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites
November 21, 2016 – Shelved as: novels

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric I'd disagree by a lot. The writing is of itself passable, though other aspects of the book and series are pretty wonderful . (Incidentally- and ironically given that one of our most racist politicians in the US was nicknamed Bilbo - there may have been, I've seen some convincing-to-me reasoning , some rather positive political "subtexts" in the Tolkien, with the hobbits being early(?) examples of heroes not secretly kings/gods in disguise/forklaadgud/... (though LoTR as a whole doesn't do without the trope of course)- not to mention other things...

Ije the Devourer of Books I enjoyed reading your review. Thank you :)

Michael Finocchiaro Ok, but what exactly do you disagree within my review? I think I may have missed your point although I would love to debate it with you if I could find it.

Michael Finocchiaro @Eric, I tried to say that the beauty of The Hobbit was that all the magical creatures were really just background to the real story of Bilbo's voyage of initiation. I have a hard time reading racial stereotypes into this particular book (they are far more obvious in, say, Tintin or Kipling for example)

Michael Finocchiaro The most obvious for me being the Ferengi with their big Semitic ears and noses and obsession with money...interesting to not that the word "ferengi" means "foreigner" in some Indian dialects.

Michael Finocchiaro "Note" not "not", sorry for the typo

Chris Gager How about Vermithrax Pejorative from "Dragonslayer" - I like that one!

message 8: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Austin You nailed it, simply wonderful writing. Great fantastical world. Worth a re-read, and another.

Mea *Rowling, not Rowlings.

message 10: by Choko (new)

Choko Awesome review, even if I prefer the movies to the book😀

Renee Great review! I never read The Hobbit until the movies were coming out, (fantasy wasn't my thing when I was younger) and I was so disappointed when I saw the movie and the orcs chasing them (a dead orc at that) through the whole thing. I don't HATE the movies, I'll put them on as background noise if there is nothing else on, but I absolutely loved the book!

Michael Finocchiaro Thanks Choko and Renee!

message 13: by Lyn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyn Elliott I agree absolutely - the book is a classic and the films are leaden.

Mea Lyn wrote: "I agree absolutely - the book is a classic and the films are leaden."


message 15: by Rita (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rita I have reread this book more times than I can remember. I loved your review. I thought it was ridiculous when I heard that Peter Jackson was going to stretch The Hobbit into 3 movies. Poor Peter. He wants to do the Lord of the Rings trilogy all over again.

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