I know that many English scholars look down on Tolkien’s works. I am not an English scholar and I don’t look down on his works. He is, in fact, one of my literary heroes. I am a proud, map-owning Tolkien fan-boy. Having just finished the Hobbit for the first time since I was 10, I thought that it was about time to write a little post on it, nothing big, but just a few thoughts. You should probably also know that I’ve seen the film twice at the cinema and am almost at the end of my amazing Hobbit devotional (by Ed Strauss). For those of you that don’t know what a devotional is, it’s a themed Christian book with a chapter to read every day. I bet you all wish you had a Hobbit devotional now.
Firstly: the film. I loved the film, but I know that many people didn’t – they thought it was boring, slow-paced, dull etc. (which is basically my opinion of the Les Miserables film…sorry!). There was a lot of talking at the start, I can’t exactly deny that, but I liked it. I let myself be wholly immersed in the film and came out of the cinema thinking that it seemed a lot shorter than its impressive 2.5+ hour run time. My English teacher thinks I’m crazy for actually enjoying the film. I don’t have the time, expertise or inclination to write a proper review, but you’ve probably got the gist of my perspective in the few sentences above.
Secondly: the book. Again, many people find the book boring. I disagree. It took me two days to read it this time round and I must say that I found it thoroughly entertaining. The first bit of the book is not boring, thank you very much. I find that there is great humour worked into the book right from the start, in fact, the book contains that age old combination of humour, intelligence and adventure that is bound to appeal to people. What’s more, The Hobbit was originally a children’s book, so it is by no means a chore to read and is fairly easy to understand (though the Battle of the Five Armies was a bit much for my ten-year-old brain). I genuinely do not understand how people can dislike it!
I’m not going to go on for too much longer, because this was never meant to be a long post, but I just want to talk briefly about the heart of the book, if that makes sense. I know Tolkien was a Christian, but that’s not necessarily something that I need to go into now, because the Hobbit is definitely something more than a book for young kids to read when they’re not in Sunday School; it has universal appeal. Why is this? Well, I think it’s because it has a bit of everything. I’ve already mentioned the humour-intelligence-adventure triumvirate*, but it has more. It has a happy ending, which is a big tick in my book, the characters are likeable without being too simple (take the fascinating character of Thorin Oakenshield, for example), there is mystery and magic (always entertaining), there’s victory over evil, but above all, there’s imagination – good, old-fashioned fantasy. Say what you like about Tolkien, but you can’t say that he’s not creative.
From Hobbits in the Shire to dragons under the mountain, The Hobbit is a beautiful, captivating, timeless book that is a joy to read. The film, in my opinion was a huge success, mixing the children’s story with a bit of the grit of Lord of the Rings to increase its appeal. People may well disagree with me, I’m well aware of that, but I don’t really care. There’s nothing that anyone can say to convince me not to like this masterpiece from one my great, literary heroes. If you haven’t read the book, I urge you to do so!
*I don’t know if humour-intelligence-adventure is actually an age old triumvirate, but it sounds impressive, so I wrote it anyway in a bid to make myself sound clever. In writing this footnote, I’ve probably undone any appearance of intelligence that I had constructed. That’ll teach me for showing off.