Skip to comments.Why J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ Isn’t Just For Kids
Posted on 10/17/2012 1:01:51 PM PDT by Altariel
One of the most consistently underappreciated elements of The Hobbit is Tolkiens use of poetry and song throughout the book. Most readers skim over the poems or even skip them outright, but they miss out on some of Tolkiens most thoughtful and compelling literary moments. The songs in The Hobbit are not merely verses embedded in the story; they are poems carefully designed to capture the voices and illustrate the attitudes of their singers.
The simple chant of the goblins when they first capture Bilbo and the dwarves, for instance, gives readers a stark insight into the goblin outlook on life in just the first few short lines: Clap! Snap! the black crack! / Grip, grab! Pinch, nab! The harsh, explosive consonants and the action-focused, verb-heavy monosyllables instantly immerse readers in the hard, violent world of the goblins, who take simple pleasure in acts of cruelty. The dwarves song in Bilbos kitchen, in which they cheerfully threaten to Chip the glasses and crack the plates! sounds similar, but reflects their comparative mildness and the domesticity of their (merely humorous) threats through the complexity of their phrasing and poetic lines. The Wood-elves also sing a monosyllabic song as they watch their barrels roll into the river, but their soft liquid consonants (roll-roll-rolling down the hole!) and their enjoyment of amusing sounds (Heave ho! Splash plump!) show that their simple pleasures are as innocent as the goblins are cruel. Tolkiens poetry enriches and complements not only the plot of the story, but the development of his fictional world.
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Big fan of Tolkien and The Hobbit.
But, with some notable exceptions, as a poet he was pretty generally third-rate.
Just got my sister to read The Hobbit a couple of weeks ago. Now hoooked on Tolkein.
Not many people realize the deep friendship Tolkien had with C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian apologists in the 20th century. Such brilliant people. Tolkien was one of Lewis’s closest friends who helped lead Lewis from atheism to a profound Christian faith.
Loved the Hobbit when I was a teenager. Will have to read it again.
They were captured by Trolls (not Goblins). They’ve got their mythic monsters mixed up.
Tolkien was also involved in the translation of the English language version of the Jerusalem Bible which is the most common English language translation used for the mass outside the US. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/liturgical-books-in-the-english-speaking-world.cfm
They were captured by both in the book.
First the trolls captured the dwarves (Bilbo escaped the initial capture and was hiding from the trolls), and then the goblins captured all but Gandalf later.
I hope she enjoys The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion as well.
I had no idea this was the 75th! I’m currently reading the Hobbit to my sons in preperation for the movie this Winter. I’ve never read before and can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years!
Indeed. Both were members of “The Inklings”, a group of literary enthusiasts who met at Oxford. Owen Barfield (author of Saving the Appearances: a Study in Idolatry and other books) and Charles Williams (author of The Place of the Lion and other novels) were also regulars in the group.
I read it in the fourth grade. It is best appreciated with the mind of a fourth-grader.
For adults, I recommend Spenser’s Faerie Queene.
I can go to the White House website, if I have a pressing need for that...
No they didn't. The party or a majority thereof was captured by trolls, goblins, spiders, and elves at various times.
The company was captured by Trolls (Bert and friends) and Goblins (Gandalf kills the Goblin King).
Thanks, I forgot that part. Over the years I have re-read The LOTR several times but the Hobbit just once back in my teens.
Tolkien didn’t write poetry for the poetry itself. He used poetry as a vehicle to enrich the characters in his books.
My 11 year old daughter has read the trilogy and The Hobbit and loved all four books. She has also read all 7 of the Harry Potter series.
IMO poor quality poetry doesn’t enrich anything.
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