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Thursday Quotables – The Hobbit

“There was a terrible storm; the stone-giants were out hurling rocks, and at the head of the pass we took refuge in a cave, the hobbit and I and several of our companions…”

“Do you call two several?”

“Well, no. As a matter of fact there were more than two.”

“Where are they? Killed, eaten, gone home?”

“Well, no. They don’t seem all to have come when I whistled. Shy, I expect. You see, we are very much afraid that we are rather a lot for you to entertain.”

“Go on, whistle again! I am in for a party, it seems, and one or two more won’t make much difference,” growled Beorn.

Gandalf whistled again; but Nori and Ori were there almost before he had stopped, for, if you remember, Gandalf had told them to come in pairs every five minutes.

“Hullo!” said Beorn. “You came pretty quick – where were you hiding? Come on my jack-in-the-boxes!”

“Nori at your service, Ori at…” they began; but Beorn interrupted them.

“Thank you! When I want your help I will ask for it. Sit down, and let’s get on with this tale, or it will be supper-time before it is ended.”

“As soon as we were asleep,” went on Gandalf, “a crack at the back of the cave opened; goblins came out and grabbed the hobbits and the dwarves and our troop of ponies-“

“Troop of ponies? What were you-a travelling circus? Or were you carrying lots of goods? Or do you always call six a troop?”

“O no! As a matter of fact there were more than six ponies, for there were more than six of us-and well, here are two more!”

Just at that moment Balin and Dwalin appeared and bowed so low that their beards swept the stone floor. The big man was frowning at first, but they did their very best to be frightfully polite, and kept on nodding and bending and bowing and waving their hoods before their knees (in proper dwarf-fashion), till he stopped frowning and burst into a chuckling laugh; they looked so comical. “Troop, was right,” he said. “A fine comic one. Come in my merry men, and what are your names? I don’t want your service just now, only your names; and then sit down and stop wagging!”

“Balin and Dwalin,” they said not daring to be offended, and sat flop on the floor looking rather surprised.

“Now go on again!” said Beorn to the wizard.

“Where was I? O yes –  I was not grabbed. I killed a goblin or two with a flash-“

“Good!” growled Beorn. “It is some good being a wizard, then.”

“-and slipped inside the crack before it closed. I followed down into the main hall, which was crowded with goblins. The Great Goblin was there with thirty or forty armed guards. I thought to myself ‘even if they were not all chained together, what can a dozen do against so many?’ “

“A dozen! That’s the first time I’ve heard eight called a dozen. Or have you still got some more jacks that haven’t yet come out of their boxes?”

“Well, yes, there seem to be a couple more here now – Fili and Kili, I believe,” said Gandalf, as these two now appeared and stood smiling and bowing.

“That’s enough!” said Beorn. “Sit down and be quiet! Now go on, Gandalf!”

Thursday Quotables Meme

The first time I read The Hobbit as a teenager, I wasn’t particularly impressed. I thought I had read better fantasy novels. And that is how this book may appear to someone who reads it without knowing Middle-earth. A lovely children’s story, but nothing spectacular.

Therefore, when I reread it as an adult, I was shocked. As I read the arrival of the Dwarves at Bag End (which is still one of my favourite parts in the book), I kept thinking: Wait! Wait! What’s this? This is not the book I read when I was a girl. This is fantastic!!!!

And this is the essence of The Hobbit to me. Like his protagonist, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, there’s more to this story than it meets the eye, and on many levels. It is in itself an enjoyable story of a person who thinks he’s a very normal, not very special guy, and who discovers in himself a strength that nobody (not even him) had ever suspected (except maybe a certain wizard).

But it’s also a story that now sits firmly inside Tolkien’s universe. If you can read the many hints to the larger story, you’ll start to see a broader meaning.

As I reread it this time, I enjoyed discovering these little gems, this links to the larger story, and connect not just the events but the ideas to a more universal outlook of life.

This is The Hobbit. A small story that can give you far more than you ever imagined.

The Hobbit by #Tolkien may seem a nice children’s story, but nothing spectacular. Yet there's more to it than it meets the eye #readingcommunity Share on X

I was a Tolkien fan far before Peter Jackson filmed his trilogy. When the trilogy came out at the beginning of the 2000s, I had already read Tolkien’s main books and fell (quite happily, I should say) under his spell.

At the beginning of this year, I joined the readers’ community Litsy. There are all kinds of activities going on in any given moments, many of which are readalongs, where people read a book at the same time and then discuss it. I had mostly stayed away from that because I thought it was too demanding on my daily routine. But when someone came up with the idea of reading Tolkien’s main work, one chapter a day… well, you guessed it, I just joined and who cares of my daily routine!

I have immensely enjoyed it. We read The Hobbit in July, and we are now reading The Two Towers.
It has been several years since last I read anything by Tolkien, and honestly, I didn’t remember how much I love Middle Earth. The complexity of the world, the ideas at the heart of characters and places.
There are many funny episodes both in The Hobbit, (like the one I’ve quoted – Beorn never fails to make me chuckle) and a far darker story like The Lord of the Rings. As well as very deep, dense ones, very epic ones. It would be disconcerting if it didn’t make so much sense in this context.

Tolkien has informed a significant part of my understanding of writing fantasy. I learned from him the love of history and the idea that history can guide our speculative imagination, can root it in reality even when this is not so obvious. I learned from him the importance of connecting the dots, that everything is connected to everything else and that this creates ideas and meanings that no single idea would be able to sustain alone. I learned from him to respect the reader and to give them the best I can, the most realistic, believable made-up universe I can conjure and that that’s what I should aim for.

Rereading Tolkien today is an incredible experience for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

READ MY ARTICLES ABOUT TOLKIEN ON MY MEDIUM PUBLICATION

JRR TOLKIEN - Discovering Middle-earth - My musings about my favourite author and his creations

One of the readers in the #LotRChapterADay group talked about this book back when we started reading. She says it is fascinating if a bit dense. In here is the complete first draft of The Hobbit, which was quite different from the published one, which explanations of why Tolkien decided every single change.

After publishing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien wanted to change The Hobbit once again, to atone it to the main work. It turned out to be a story far darker than the one we know. He let a few trusted readers read it, and one of them commented that it was a great book, but it wasn’t The Hobbit. So in the end, Tolkien didn’t publish that new version. But parts of it are in this book as well.

Sounds like something I want to read.

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In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies


THE HOBBIT (J.R.R. Tolkien) - When Gandalf the wizard appears at Bilbo's door, Bilbo can never imagine what will happen to his comfortable, cosy, predictable life. Leaving the Shire with thirteen Dwarves to resque a threasure from a dragon has never been on Bilbo's list of the things to do in his life

16 Comments

  • Terry Newman
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 12:05

    Nice reminder of the magic of ‘The Hobbit’. I didn’t know about the Rateliff book, so thanks for that too! Just picked it up second hand!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 21:26

      You’re wellcome, Terry. I’m going to buy it too ^_^

  • JOHN T. SHEA
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 19:21

    I bought LOTR many years ago and tried several times to read it, but did not get far. I greatly enjoyed the movies though. Then I tried ‘THE HOBBIT’ a few years ago, before its movies, and read and enjoyed it in no time. Pleasantly surprised, I moved on to LOTR and read all three books with ease and pleasure. I am pleased they left the slightly irritating Tom Bombadil out of the movies, along with the anti-climactic ‘THE SCOURING OF THE SHIRE’ chapter, but the extended DVD/Bluray versions showing more of Saruman are better than the cinema cuts.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 21:28

      I think this is true about Tolkien: the more you know about Middle Earth, the more you appreciate it. That seems to be a general feeling in the reading group.

      I love The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Unfortunatley, I can’t say the same of the Hobbit trilogy :-(

  • Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:46

    Hi Sarah – I tried the Hobbit as a child, younger than your teenager years … and never could quite get to grips with it – though occasionally try again. I enjoyed the films … but really need to read the books … but thanks for reminding me about how magical Tolkien is to read. Cheers Hilary

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 21:30

      Do read the books, Hilary. They are so incredibly good. I’ve been a fan for decades, and still, now I’m rereading them, I can’t believe how good they are.

  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 18:53

    I think it’s absolutely fascinating how we can read the same story at different times in our lives, and have completely different reactions to it, Sarah. I’m glad you enjoyed your second visit with Bilbo…

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 21:31

      That’s true. Unfortunately, sometimes the reread is a lto less satisfying than the first read. Happened to me.
      I’m enjoying this reading one chapter a day immensely. Far mor ethan I expected.

  • Sara Letourneau
    Posted September 11, 2017 at 02:20

    The Hobbit. <3 I didn't read it until I was an adult, and reading the Lord of the Rings and seeing the LOTR film trilogy. But before I ever bought my copy, my younger brother was assigned to read it for English class in high school. I was so jealous of him. *lol*

    I think you summed up many of my feelings about The Hobbit pretty well. So I'm not sure what else to add… except that I've always felt it was magical. :)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 16:25

      LOL!
      When I went to Dublin the first time to study English, one of my room-mate was a student at the Trinity College… and she had Tolkien and a few of his books in her curriculum.
      I couldn’t believe my eyes!

  • Carrie-Anne
    Posted September 11, 2017 at 18:07

    I tried to read The Hobbit twice, at the urging of my family. The first time was in elementary school (I think), and the second time was the summer before eighth grade. I only got through the end of the second chapter the second time, and never tried again. I can see why high, epic fantasy appeals to other people, but it’s just never been something I’ve gotten into myself.

    By the way, have you changed your Comment Luv settings recently? I keep seeing an error message when I visit your blog, preventing the link to my last post from automatically posting along with the other fields below the comment box.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 16:27

      I completely understnad, Carrie-Anne. Fantasy isn’t for everyone, as it’s the case for any genre. We need a certain inclination ;-)

      Thanks for telling me. I’ve tried to look into it. Will you tell me whether you encounter that problem again?

  • Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 22:05

    I need to reread The Hobbit! When I first read it in my teens, I didn’t love it — but as an adult, I came back to it after reading the LOTR books and thought it was wonderful.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 16:18

      LOL! Very close to my experience. This seems to strenghten my opinin that reading Tolkien’s stories just once is not enough ;-)

      I’m enjoying the buddy-read of Tolkien’s stories one chapter a day immensely, far more than I expected. I’d suggest the experience to any reader.

  • Cristina ana
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 09:24

    I read the book a few years ago. It was a great experience for me. It is very similar to my thinking. I love to read the book again. I am planning to watch the movie soon. Thank you so much.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted June 5, 2020 at 07:05

      Thanks for reading, Cristina and for taking the time to comment.
      The Hobbit is a story that offers so much more that one may think at first read.

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