If you’ve followed this blog, or gone back and some of the old posts, you know that I hold The Hobbit in particularly high esteem. If you haven’t, the reason for this—in a nutshell—is that I had a science teacher in sixth grade (way back in the dim, dark seventies), who read this book to us over the course of the year. I hadn’t really been a serious reader before that, but I see that teacher, a man named Robert Croddy, as being at least partially responsible for me eventually wanting to be a writer.
Thing is, I haven’t picked The Hobbit up in years. Literally. I read it so often when I was a teenager that I kinda burned myself out on it. I remember picking it up to read it one time and getting to about the point where the first movie ends and giving up. I’d just read it far too many times. The excitement was gone out of it for me.
Then, this past weekend, I picked up my hardcover edition that has the illustrations by the author (it’s a Houghton Mifflin edition) and read the first chapter.
I was enthralled.
By modern standards, Tolkien makes a lot of mistakes. For one, he writes in the omniscient mode, and he jumps around in his POVs. He also keeps us at arm’s length from the characters by telling us what they feel or see rather than showing us.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter because his writing is so lyrical, especially in The Hobbit. Probably because he wrote it for his children. LOTR seems to get more heavy and biblical in approach, but The Hobbit is very much an exciting read. His language is more of the everyday variety.
But it was good to rediscover the joy and wonder I felt all those years ago when I first heard and read The Hobbit, to immerse myself in Middle-earth again and completely and totally believe it exists as long as I’m reading those pages. Like Bilbo as he listens to the Dwarves tell tales of their history, I too wanted to see the caves and waterfalls. Something distinctly Tookish woke up in me, too. It did it when I was in sixth grade, and it did it again this weekend when I read the first chapter.
I don’t think I’ll completely put this book away. I might not read it consecutively, but I’ll dip into it on a regular basis and re-acquaint myself with the wonders of Middle-earth and the quest for Dwarven gold.
It’s not often we get to rediscover that kind of wonder in our lives.