Finding an Old Friend

Cover to the 1937 first edition, from a drawin...

Cover to the 1937 first edition, from a drawing by Tolkien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Unfortunately, I have a lot of other reading to do, books I’ve checked out from the library, plus some I own that have been waiting ever so patiently for me. And then there’s the fact that I’m back in school, which requires a lot of soul-stealing reading about things like PHP and JavaScript. Not conducive to creative writing, I can tell you.

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.

From inside on of the hobbit holes, on locatio...


3 thoughts on “Finding an Old Friend

  1. Duke Pennell

    I’m happy to say Bob Croddy was a friend of mine. He’d be pleased to hear what you said about him. It’s tough to get much higher praise than to hear you influenced someone’s life for the better, but Bob did that for a lot of people. Me included.

  2. Susan McVay

    Again, I thank you for keeping my brothers memories alive and well. He impacted so many lives and it makes me happy to know that you think of him as the spark that ignited your passion to write. Bless you and keep putting pen to paper….or fingers to keyboard as it were.

  3. Greg Camp

    The Lord of the Rings was the first work of Tolkien that I read, and I was instantly ensorcelled. The Hobbit came later for me, but it was as wonderous. Like you, I have a list of authors who showed me early on that writing had power, and Tolkien is certainly one of them. Of course, I have to be pleased that a college professor who taught mediaeval literature became such a writing sensation.


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