Soh Kam Yung's Reviews > The History of the Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins

The History of the Hobbit, Part One by John D. Rateliff
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's review
Aug 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: sf-and-fantasy, reference
Read in August, 2011

If you're read ""The Hobbit"" and are interested in how the text for the story was developed, this is the book for you.

This book includes the initial manuscripts and revisions to the text done by Tolkien. Rateliff highlights the various changes; some small, some major and some that Tolkien appear to have added without initial planning to resolve plot points as they developed.

Rateliff also shows how Tolkien's interest in philology and his (then unpublished) mythology for Middle-Earth influenced the names, places and events that take place in "The Hobbit". The most critical of the changes include how Bilbo gets the ring (which was not yet The One Ring) from Gollum, how Smaug the dragon was to be killed and the events that occur afterwards (the location and composition of armies in The Battle of Five Armies).

Also of interest in this book was Tolkien's abortive attempt in the 1960s to rewrite "The Hobbit" to match the tone and style of "The Lord of the Rings" (removal of the first-person narration, tighter match with the dates, mythology and geography as found in "Rings"); an attempt that he, fortunately, abandons to the delight of this fan of ""The Hobbit"".

This book is a good companion to Douglas A. Anderson's "The Annotated Hobbit", which Rateliff also references. That book and this one will give the reader a very good appreciation into how "The Hobbit" was written and revised.

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