“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Today’s the day! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has finally landed in movie theaters. In honor of this joyous occasion, I’m here to tell you about the book behind the movie, and the man behind the book: J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Hobbit, or There And Back Again is the story of Bilbo Baggins, who sets off on a quest to recover a lost treasure guarded by the dragon Smaug. His epic journey takes him through the fantastic landscapes of Middle Earth, away from the cozy Hobbits’ Shire, into the dreamy Elven territory Rivendell, through the perilous Misty Mountains, and deep within the dark, dank goblin tunnels, where he meets the creature Gollum and finds a very magical ring. Along the way he encounters man-eating trolls, gigantic talking spiders, massive eagles, a shape-shifting man who can morph into a bear, giants, elves, dwarves, and many more fascinating figures who dwell in the lands of Middle Earth.
The book was first published in 1937 (almost eighty years ago!) and found immediate success. The Hobbit was originally intended as a story for young readers and quickly became a classic of children’s literature, but with the publication of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the book’s readership grew and grew. It is now considered a foundational text of the modern fantasy genre and has been printed in more than forty languages.
Author J.R.R. Tolkien was an avid artist and writer, inspired by poetry, fairy tales, ancient legends, and his obsessive interest in languages. He loved studying word origins and learned to speak and write in dozens of different tongues during his life– English, Old English, Welsh, German, Norse, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, etc.. He even invented many languages of his own. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy contain pieces of fictional dialects he created, such as Quenya and Sindarin, both languages used by the elves of Middle Earth.
Now that the movie is here and the winter holidays are upon us, there’s no better time to escape into Middle Earth and school yourself on the writings of the guy considered by many to be the father of modern fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien. Grab a copy of The Hobbit today!