The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Admitedly, I would never have brought this book all the way from the east coast house to read had it not been for the movie which I waited for years since. I used to read this book during recess during highschool but I don’t remember the story much except its about Gandalf dragging a hobbit out of his hill to an adventure to Misty Mountains with a bunch of dwarves.

While I was waiting for the movie to arrive, there’s a lot of critics commenting how Peter Jackson is milking the story by stretching the 300+ pages novel down to the Return of the King’s appendices. After I have seen the first movie, I was aware how smooth the story goes from the start, connecting the movie to the subsequent sequel of the epic trilogy.

The Hobbit was made years before the publication of Lord of the Rings so it made sense that there are things in the Hobbit that made it a shortened version of Lord of the Rings and that LOTR itself was another attempt for the Tolkiens to reaffirm themselves and their fans of the Middle Earth’s lore.

Since I do read LOTR before this, I am quite surprised that The Hobbit is almost like the inferior version of LOTR. It started with a wizard, a quest, a group of male companion, some evil beings in the dark trying to break them. Again the familiar retelling in the sequel.

Essentially, The Hobbit is a simplified version of the epic itself. If anyone would have noticed it while reading through some parts of the story, there were hardly any dialogues in the book except for the memorable one. Narrated in third person but limited to Bilbo as himself, we are constantly bombarded by Bilbo’s incessant whining of how homesick he is. 

While the movie somehow made Bilbo (Martin Freeman) an adult with some of the hobbit’s quirks and habits, the book version was an immature version of the character itself. Supposedly, Bilbo is nearly 50 in The Hobbit but the constant monologue about The Shire is grating. Hence, the neccessity of the movie making Bilbo sympathising the plight of the wandering dwarves.

Both are different medium altogether, and in spite of me reading through the plots and basically spoiled myself silly with the ending of the book. I do think the movie would surprise me with the intensity that the first movie had. 

What surprised me was that the rest of the dwarves never had a proper quotes in the book. Everything is paraphrased and most of the time, long scenes ended in just several lines from the paragraphs. Paraphrasing scenes is not what I had expected from Tolkien. Hence, why I think he had bloated the verse of Middle Earth with the never ending publication his son have in running.

The book carried some of the moments but sometimes the sudden introduction of random characters does divert me from the storyline. 

I suppose the movie wont be too faithful to the text and they would add even more backstory into the mix as they had already. I am quite optimistic with Jackson’s work with this book, not many books received this extensive treatment to the source.

I never concerned myself with labels especially when most would see The Hobbit as children’s book (like Grimm’s Brothers who are forever labelled as children’s book authors although their tales are very adult in nature), I suppose Bilbo is a very immature character enough for some would feel connected with his stories. Admittedly, throughout the novel, my enjoyment was dampened by him. 

I remember enjoying the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter some years ago and it still never change.

Another thing about this series, was the lack of female counterparts in this story. Most would accept Eowyn as a strong female character worthy of the series but at this moment, I was convinced that the Tolkiens completely sterilize their story from any mention of the other gender by a great disproportionate characterization ratio. If that wasn’t a clear sign of chauvanism, then what is?

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