The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0) The Hobbit discussion


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Question on third person narrative used in this book?

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Michael Targaryen Am I going crazy, or does Tolkien employ third person like an Epistolary novel?
The events are written in such a way that they are touched upon, but not given a great amount of detail, like one would recollect in a journal...
Yet I’ve also seen fairy tales written similar also.
Very curious If there is a correlation...


Will Once Interesting thought. For me, an epistolary novel usually doesn't have a strong single narrator. Because the story is told through letters, diary entries and articles the narrator's voice is (usually) constantly shifting. Each fragment or document has its own author and its own reason for being.

An epistolary novel also has a sense of a world beyond the narrator. People write letters to each other because they want to write letters to each other. Newspapers print articles because that's what they do too. An epistolary novel gathers them together. The guiding hand is a curator, not a creator.

By contrast, a conventional third person or first person novel exists because the narrator wants to tell you this story, whether they are inside the story or not. The narrator is creating the narrative, even if they are (supposedly) recounting something that actually happened.

I've always thought of the Hobbit as a father or a grandfather telling a bedtime story to a child. That makes it a third person novel with a single strong narrative voice. It may have elements of fairy story, but not - for me - an epistolary novel.


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