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The Hobbit Book

1st edition HobbitOf course we cannot fully praise the coming forth of these movies without giving proper credit to the origins of such.  In other posts, I have discussed the tribute and life of the great JRR Tolkien and the touch he has had on fantasy throughout the world.  Although the movie will most likely depart from the book at times (The Hobbit Part 2 may contain a completely new story), it is important to remember where it all came from.   For those that haven’t, I recommend reading the book before seeing the movies.  You will truly see the magic behind Tolkien’s character and have a much greater appreciation of the characters.  In most cases, books are better the movies, but its been a tough call on the LOTR trilogy.  At any rate, pick up a soft cover and get reading.  Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll find:

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children’s book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”,[1] The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic children’s book.

Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory.[2] The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the “Tookish” side) and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.[3]

The final chapters deal with the climactic Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict. Critics have cited Tolkien’s own experiences and the themes of other writers who fought in World War I, along with the author’s professional knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and personal interest in fairy tales, as the chief influences.

Due to the book’s critical and financial success, Tolkien’s publishers requested a sequel. As work on The Lord of the Rings progressed, Tolkien made retrospective accommodations for it in one chapter of The Hobbit. These few but significant changes were integrated into the second edition. Further editions followed with minor emendations, including those reflecting Tolkien’s changing concept of the world into which Bilbo stumbled.

The work has never been out of print since the paper shortages of the Second World War. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, and gaming, both board and video games. Some of these adaptations have received critical recognition of their own, including a video game that won the Golden Joystick Award, a scenario of a war game that won an Origins Award, and an animated picture nominated for a Hugo Award.

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