Ostensibly, The Hobbit is an adventurous tale about hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who leaves the cozy comforts of his home to try to win a share of a treasure guarded by a dragon named Smaug. The novel follows Bilbo and an assorted cast of magical characters and creatures, including dwarves, the wizard Gandolf, giants, goblins, and the mysterious Gollum.
Tolkien brings so many different characters to life and keeps the plot moving at a fast enough pace that readers of all kinds have been easily engrossed reading the novel over the last 75 years. To say Tolkien eventually outdid himself in response would be a drastic understatement. What followed was the most famous trilogy of the fantasy genre, The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien drew upon his background and spent over a decade fashioning the history of his world and the characters, including some of the old Gandalf and Bilbo and a lot of the new Frodo, Aragorn, Sam.
More than million copies have been sold in more than 30 languages, and the trilogy is among the top-selling novels of all time. Tolkien took the themes from The Hobbit and revisited them, but this time he went even deeper. Frank Baum and Lloyd Alexander alongside the works of Gene Wolfe and Jonathan Swift , which are more often considered adult literature. The Hobbit has been called "the most popular of all twentieth-century fantasies written for children".
Tolkien's prose is unpretentious and straightforward, taking as given the existence of his imaginary world and describing its details in a matter-of-fact way, while often introducing the new and fantastic in an almost casual manner. This down-to-earth style, also found in later fantasy such as Richard Adams ' Watership Down and Peter Beagle 's The Last Unicorn , accepts readers into the fictional world , rather than cajoling or attempting to convince them of its reality. The narrator, who occasionally interrupts the narrative flow with asides a device common to both children's and Anglo-Saxon literature ,  has his own linguistic style separate from those of the main characters.
The basic form of the story is that of a quest ,  told in episodes. For the most part of the book, each chapter introduces a different denizen of the Wilderland, some helpful and friendly towards the protagonists, and others threatening or dangerous. However the general tone is kept light-hearted, being interspersed with songs and humour. One example of the use of song to maintain tone is when Thorin and Company are kidnapped by goblins, who, when marching them into the underworld, sing:. Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
This onomatopoeic singing undercuts the dangerous scene with a sense of humour. Tolkien achieves balance of humour and danger through other means as well, as seen in the foolishness and Cockney dialect of the trolls and in the drunkenness of the elven captors. The evolution and maturation of the protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is central to the story. This journey of maturation, where Bilbo gains a clear sense of identity and confidence in the outside world, may be seen as a Bildungsroman rather than a traditional quest.
The overcoming of greed and selfishness has been seen as the central moral of the story. Bilbo steals the Arkenstone—a most ancient relic of the dwarves—and attempts to ransom it to Thorin for peace. However, Thorin turns on the Hobbit as a traitor, disregarding all the promises and "at your services" he had previously bestowed.
Tolkien also explores the motif of jewels that inspire intense greed that corrupts those who covet them in the Silmarillion , and there are connections between the words "Arkenstone" and " Silmaril " in Tolkien's invented etymologies. The Hobbit employs themes of animism. An important concept in anthropology and child development , animism is the idea that all things—including inanimate objects and natural events, such as storms or purses, as well as living things like animals and plants—possess human-like intelligence.
John D. Rateliff calls this the " Doctor Dolittle Theme" in The History of the Hobbit , and cites the multitude of talking animals as indicative of this theme. These talking creatures include ravens, a thrush, spiders and the dragon Smaug, alongside the anthropomorphic goblins and elves. Patrick Curry notes that animism is also found in Tolkien's other works, and mentions the "roots of mountains" and "feet of trees" in The Hobbit as a linguistic shifting in level from the inanimate to animate. The first men to talk of 'trees and stars' saw things very differently.
To them, the world was alive with mythological beings To them the whole of creation was 'myth-woven and elf-patterned'. As in plot and setting, Tolkien brings his literary theories to bear in forming characters and their interactions. He portrays Bilbo as a modern anachronism exploring an essentially antique world. Bilbo is able to negotiate and interact within this antique world because language and tradition make connections between the two worlds.
For example, Gollum 's riddles are taken from old historical sources, while those of Bilbo come from modern nursery books. It is the form of the riddle game, familiar to both, which allows Gollum and Bilbo to engage each other, rather than the content of the riddles themselves. This idea of a superficial contrast between characters' individual linguistic style, tone and sphere of interest, leading to an understanding of the deeper unity between the ancient and modern, is a recurring theme in The Hobbit.
Smaug is the main antagonist. In many ways the Smaug episode reflects and references the dragon of Beowulf , and Tolkien uses the episode to put into practice some of the ground-breaking literary theories he had developed about the Old English poem in its portrayal of the dragon as having bestial intelligence. Just as Tolkien's literary theories have been seen to influence the tale, so have Tolkien's experiences.
The Hobbit may be read as Tolkien's parable of World War I with the hero being plucked from his rural home and thrown into a far-off war where traditional types of heroism are shown to be futile. As Janet Croft notes, Tolkien's literary reaction to war at this time differed from most post-war writers by eschewing irony as a method for distancing events and instead using mythology to mediate his experiences.
Well, it seems a very gloomy business. Lewis , friend of Tolkien and later author of The Chronicles of Narnia between and , writing in The Times reports:. The truth is that in this book a number of good things, never before united, have come together: a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar's with the poet's grasp of mythology The professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity that is worth oceans of glib "originality.
Lewis compares the book to Alice in Wonderland in that both children and adults may find different things to enjoy in it, and places it alongside Flatland , Phantastes , and The Wind in the Willows. Auden , in his review of the sequel The Fellowship of the Ring calls The Hobbit "one of the best children's stories of this century". The Hobbit was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction of the year Publication of the sequel The Lord of the Rings altered many critics' reception of the work.
Instead of approaching The Hobbit as a children's book in its own right, critics such as Randell Helms picked up on the idea of The Hobbit as being a "prelude", relegating the story to a dry-run for the later work. Countering a presentist interpretation are those who say this approach misses out on much of the original's value as a children's book and as a work of high fantasy in its own right, and that it disregards the book's influence on these genres. Rateliff  and C. Sullivan  encourage readers to treat the works separately, both because The Hobbit was conceived, published, and received independently of the later work, and to avoid dashing readers' expectations of tone and style.
While The Hobbit has been adapted and elaborated upon in many ways, its sequel The Lord of the Rings is often claimed to be its greatest legacy. The Lord of the Rings contains several more supporting scenes, and has a more sophisticated plot structure, following the paths of multiple characters. Tolkien wrote the later story in much less humorous tones and infused it with more complex moral and philosophical themes.
The differences between the two stories can cause difficulties when readers, expecting them to be similar, find that they are not. Further, Tolkien's concept of Middle-earth was to continually change and slowly evolve throughout his life and writings. The style and themes of the book have been seen to help stretch young readers' literacy skills, preparing them to approach the works of Dickens and Shakespeare.
Hobbit, The - Study Guide
By contrast, offering advanced younger readers modern teenage-oriented fiction may not exercise their reading skills, while the material may contain themes more suited to adolescents. Several teaching guides and books of study notes have been published to help teachers and students gain the most from the book. The Hobbit introduces literary concepts, notably allegory , to young readers, as the work has been seen to have allegorical aspects reflecting the life and times of the author.
Another approach to critique taken in the classroom has been to propose the insignificance of female characters in the story as sexist. While Bilbo may be seen as a literary symbol of small folk of any gender,  a gender-conscious approach can help students establish notions of a "socially symbolic text" where meaning is generated by tendentious readings of a given work.
The first authorized adaptation of The Hobbit appeared in March , a stage production by St. Margaret's School, Edinburgh. The first motion picture adaptation of The Hobbit , a minute film of cartoon stills, was commissioned from Gene Deitch by William L. Snyder in , as related by Deitch himself.
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Since then all "authorized" adaptations have been signed-off by Tolkien Enterprises. The series was released on audio cassette in and on CD in The adaptation has been called "execrable"  and confusing for those not already familiar with the plot. A children's opera was written and premiered in Composer and librettist Dean Burry was commissioned by the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus , who produced the premiere in Toronto, Ontario, and subsequently toured it to the Maritime provinces the same year.
In Decembers of ,  ,  and ,  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and New Line Cinema released one part each of a three-part live-action film version produced and directed by Peter Jackson. In a one-volume edition was released by Unwin Paperbacks. The cover was artwork by the original illustrator David Wenzel.
A reprint collected in one volume was released by Del Rey Books in ME Games Ltd formerly Middle-earth Play-by-Mail , which has won several Origins Awards , uses the Battle of Five Armies as an introductory scenario to the full game and includes characters and armies from the book. Several computer and video games, both licensed and unlicensed, have been based on the story.
One of the most successful was The Hobbit , an award-winning computer game published in by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House with compatibility for most computers available at the time. A copy of the novel was included in each game package. While reliable figures are difficult to obtain, estimated global sales of The Hobbit run between 35  and  million copies since In the UK The Hobbit has not retreated from the top 5, bestselling books measured by Nielsen BookScan since , when the index began,  achieving a three-year sales peak rising from 33, to , , , and 61, , ranking it at the 3rd position in Nielsen's "Evergreen" book list.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Fantasy novel by J. This article is about the novel. For the film series, see The Hobbit film series. For the animated film, see The Hobbit film.
For other uses, see The Hobbit disambiguation. For other uses, see There and Back Again disambiguation. High fantasy Juvenile fantasy. Main article: List of The Hobbit characters. Further information: Hobbit word. See also: English-language editions of The Hobbit.
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Main article: Adaptations of The Hobbit. Middle-earth portal. University of Toronto Press. Tolkien's Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction Analysis. Beacham Publishers. At the beginning of The Hobbit Bilbo Baggins seems little more than a conservative but good-natured innocent. But their chief role was to offer sage advice: Merlin as a tutor and counselor to King Arthur; Gandalf through stories and wisdom in his itinerant travels throughout the countryside.
Tolkien and the Silmarils 1st ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. As apt a description of Thorin Oakenshield as of the dwarf-lord of Nogrod; but yet when we see Thorin in person, Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Barron's Educational Series. In Bloom, Harold ed. Chelsea House. The Tolkienaeum: Essays on J. Tolkien and his Legendarium. In Chance, Jane ed. Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader. University Press of Kentucky. Sullivan In Hunt, Peter ed. International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Clair , p. Further, the birds carry the good news of Smaug's fall over the countryside.
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