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Author Topic: The Hobbit still kicks ass
Roll of Honor Thorin
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I read The Hobbit over the weekend and would like to report that it remains the greatest book of all time.

That is all.

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White Gold Wielder
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It still packs quite a punch, despite all its 'silly' bits.
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Madomir
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2 or 3 years ago I read it with my then 1st grade daughter, I don't know that I've ever enjoyed a book more. []
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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[] Yes, even decent enough people like WGW and his friends think it 'silly' (which is a very silly thing to think), or get annoyed with it. Not that Hobbitphiles would care; they would only laugh all the more if you told them so.

The problem with the Hobbit is that literature snobs tend to ignore it because of all the “Dungeons & Dragons geekdom” that followed it. Tolkien snobs (of which said fraternity I am a member) tend to ignore it because it is, well, not geeky enough.

They are both wrong.

For lovers of Middle-earth, it explains parts of that world better than anything else. For instance, in one paragraph the Hobbit explains the sundering of the elves more brilliantly than anything found in the Lord of the Rings. People get hung up on the trolls or the elves singing “tra-la-la” and lose sight of the whole.

For lovers of literature, the more I think about it the more the Hobbit should stand out. Not only does this book hold its own with the best literature in the world, in many cases it surpasses it:

The Hobbit is a classic adventure story that betters Robert Louis Stevenson.

It is a morality story that doesn’t have a “and the moral of the story is…” cliché ending. The questions it raise are difficult yet subtle. This is a thinking-man’s book. You just have to think to realise it. It doesn’t slap you in the face like Vonnegut.

It is timeless. A person reading the Hobbit in 1937, 2007 or 2037 can relate to the fears and hopes of the characters. Everyone everywhere can relate somehow. Not everyone has been named Rabbit in 1960’s suburbia and cheated on your wife. (Sorry, Updike. I do love your Everyman, but he isn’t really an Everyman.)

It is written in beautifully descriptive, yet simple, language. Take that, Pynchon.

It creates a more compelling reality than Lewis or Rowling. Probably the only author in the same league would be McCarthy – his The Road quite literally astonished me.

It is a universal coming-of-age story. Bilbo goes there and back again, but a different person returns. He has grown and evolved, just like all of us. Huck Finn grew too, but his fairy-tale ending did not come with the hint of sadness and loss that the real world entails.

So, yes, the appreciation of the printed word is very subjective. But I can make a case that this book is one of the best things that has ever been printed.

[ 09-01-2009, 07:20 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
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I don't necessarily agree that he creates "a more compelling reality," but on the whole I really like the case you've made.
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White Gold Wielder
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Thorin:
Haven't I earned any respect at all? I thought the 'silly' in quotes would be understood as 'some see as silly'.

We had the same point, I just said it in one line.

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Mablung
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I think the fact that it's being made into a movie for the first time after 70 years, says it all: how many other books can say that?

Edit:

quote:
The problem with the Hobbit is that literature snobs tend to ignore it because of all the “Dungeons & Dragons geekdom” that followed it. Tolkien snobs (of which said fraternity I am a member) tend to ignore it because it is, well, not geeky enough.

What irks me, is that a far "sillier" book like Orwell's "Animal Farm" will get the highest praises from them!

[ 09-01-2009, 01:21 PM: Message edited by: Mablung ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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WGW: Of course. My preamble was simply a rewording from the Hobbit regarding those who thought the elves were foolish. Call it mock-outrage.

I know how you feel. I've been here over eight years, you know. []

[ 09-01-2009, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Tigranes
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quote:
What irks me, is that a far "sillier" book like Orwell's "Animal Farm" will get the highest praises from them!
Yeah, but "Animal Farm" is, although less subtle than "The Hobbit", a great book as well.


E: concerning this: “Dungeons & Dragons geekdom”: I suspect that this often keeps serious people from reading Tolkien's books - because they perceive them as "fantasy" literature, instead of seeing them as the novels they are.
I am also inclined to think that Peter Jackson was inspired much more by this "geek" world (especially video games) than by the books themselves. This bodes ill for the upcoming "Hobbit" movie(s).

[ 09-01-2009, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: Tigranes ]

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Cernunnos
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An antidote to the 'silliness' of part of TH:

Get a cheap edition - second-hand, perhaps from a charity shop - and go through it blacking out all the 'silly' or unecessary bits (the endliess descriptions of Bilbo as 'little', the trolls' names, etc). It much improves it, and the amount of 'censorship' one applies grows gratifyingly less as the book proceeds.

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Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Well, I guess it all comes down to personal taste. Personally, I have always thought it strange when The Hobbit is pointed out as silly and other classics are not.

So singing elves in The Hobbit are silly but the Tralfamadorian race of living toilet plungers in Slaughterhouse Five are not? O-kaaay.

(For the record, I absolutely love Slaughterhouse Five and in no way think it is silly. Vonnegut came from my hometown and I’m quite fond of him.)

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Halion
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The Hobbit might be a bit silly but in that good, Tolkienian way. []

Those who don't like the silliness might want to try the abandoned 1960 rewriting published in The History of The Hobbit.

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Mablung
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quote:
An antidote to the 'silliness' of part of TH:

Get a cheap edition - second-hand, perhaps from a charity shop - and go through it blacking out all the 'silly' or unecessary bits (the endliess descriptions of Bilbo as 'little', the trolls' names, etc). It much improves it, and the amount of 'censorship' one applies grows gratifyingly less as the book proceeds.

Or just get ahold of a text-version, then highlight-and-cut.
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Alatar the Wizard
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The Hobbit is clearly written for children, although it is a fine children's novel. If critics ignore it, that is probably for this reason.
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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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Let the King of Hobbit Trivia weigh in. It is a wonderful, slightly silly tale, that traps the reader into a world of wonder and excitement. Some of the most enjoyable 'childrens' stories out there are also some of the best in humor and satire. You can't be stupid and read MAD Magazine and get anything out of it.

And, of course, once trapped, one has to continue the journey through The Lord of the Rings. Pure marketing genius!

If only someone would create another world and string it together so that people waited eagerly with anticipation to the next book to be released. Oh, wait . . .

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Marcho Blackwood, MSS - #16 Brookshade Close - Bindbale, North Farthing, The Shire
1st Winner Mahanaxar's Boy Howdy of Approval with 2 Bronze Stars (3rd Award) & Balrog Cluster with Laurel.
King of Grammar with Queen SSA
Sass this hoopy hobbit frood who really knows where his towel is!

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Only thing is that it did take Tolkien 16 years to publish his sequal after the first novel. And he wasn't even a professional writer! Can you imagine a modern writer waiting that long before writing a sequal to a tale that was a commercial hit! No it would be a couple of years or even less before we would read another 600 pages of some angst-ridden hero!
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Tar-Aldarion
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just read it for my girlfriend:) she absolutley loved it..and i loved it even more:))) altough ive read it like 20 times before.
really a good book too read too others.

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For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest.

— Fëanor, from the Quenta Silmarillion.

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Artaresto
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Try reading Silmarillion. []
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Hopafoot
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Thorin, I greatly identify with your long post (above). I think that Tolkien is the greatest writer of all time *by far*. Two things that distinguish him:
classicism: Tolkien affects the reader's emotions in keeping with reason (opposed to "romantic" writing, which affects the reader's emotions not in keeping with reason: this includes almost all modern writers that I know of)
purity: in Tolkien, sin is not presented in a positive or neutral light

I will argue anyone till the cows come home that Tolkien is way better than anyone else, *anyone* (that we know of). Sometimes I think only bad literature is remembered and canonized: only the fashionable stuff (= rubbish).

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Earendilyon
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Hamfast Gamgee wrote:
quote:
Only thing is that it did take Tolkien 16 years to publish his sequal after the first novel. And he wasn't even a professional writer! Can you imagine a modern writer waiting that long before writing a sequal to a tale that was a commercial hit!
Actually, there's a writer out there who waited 21 years with his sequels: the first volume of the planned tetralogy The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson was published in 2004, while the last volume of the trilogy The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was published in 1983. Source.

~ Ear.

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"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

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