Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Age Group: Children
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. Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!
The Hobbit was originally published on 21 September 1937. Tolkien began work on The Hobbit early in the 1930s, writing the words “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” on a blank paper. One of the first persons to read the manuscript was in fact C.S. Lewis, known for his famous “The Chronicles of Narnia” series which is also a classic children’s fantasy tale and has been adapted for the big screen several times.
Although this is a children’s book (and it certainly reads like a children’s book), I think it suits children as well as adults. The Hobbit was a delight to read even though I’m 21. Tolkien said he wanted to write a “fairy-story” for children, but rephrased later that he didn’t specifically mean to write it for children, but that he wrote it out of interest in mythology and legend. My opinion? This is a book for all ages, young and old, this tale will appeal to you in a way you may have forgotten about. It brings out your inner child.
The great thing about this book is the fact that although Bilbo and his companions end up in quite a few predicaments, it is told with such a light tone and with a special kind of humor, that it makes this whole book very lighthearted. Which is great to read! You can easily get lost within its pages without even noticing it.
The story is told from a third person perspective, a storyteller that knows everything about the tale and the outcome but keeps us in suspense. This creates certain expectations and excitement because off course, when the storyteller says “you will see how this or that turns out in a bit”, you want to know what in heaven’s name will happen!
I think one of the most powerful aspects of the story is the personal growth Bilbo goes through. When we first meet him in the very beginning of the story, Bilbo is a frightened homester who likes his routines and lots of food and sleep. During their travels and adventures Bilbo turns in to a leader and a bit of a daredevil, someone you can trust and depend on.
Tolkien has created a magnificent world in this first book that started our journey in Middle Earth. It is one of the fantastic Fantasy classics that shaped the Fantasy book world and still has lots of influence on the stories told now, decades later. With the major movie adaption luring people to theaters all over the world, Tolkien has yet again put his mark on our everyday life. I will certainly read this book to my children when the time comes and I’m sure many will do the same, for many years to come.
Fun fact: The cover image of my edition of The Hobbit was actually drawn by Tolkien himself.