Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A short book about hobbits

I've been reading The Hobbit, which is probably the literary equivalent of a nice cup of tea. There's something comforting about it. It can't be nostalgia, because I don't really have any memory of reading it before, even though I found a scruffy old copy of it in my wardrobe. It reads like a gentle wander across Middle-earth, and that's a nice place to be if you're not actually there. Yes, there's violence and terror, but it's a cosy story. Unspeakable danger isn't so bad when it's narrated like a bedtime story. And there's not much to think about, because there are only hints of the deep mythology that Tolkein would create later, like it's just dipping your toe into a very deep pool. Apart from everything else, The Lord of the Rings and the other work that surround it are a masterpiece of world-building. There's more there than anyone could ever know. If you wanted to, you could learn about the history of every blade of grass. And I'm starting to think that's the best way to read it. I've read The Fellowship of the Ring before but then stopped, because, after all, it is very long and sometimes very boring. Maybe I wasn't reading it right. The problem is that I already know the story, so reading it passively isn't going to work. Instead, the fun is in the details. It's like a game to piece it all together, with the maps and the timelines and Appendix B with the things about the stuff. There's a whole world in there. Whether it's worth it or not, I'm not sure. The Hobbit is a children's book, and quite short, so I don't know if my interest will last much further. If I make it all the way through, I could read The Silmarillion, which is mostly in another language.

This is all a contradiction, because I've never had much patience with long books, and I expect I'll leave Frodo somewhere in a field again, halfway through his adventure. I do like the idea of it, though. This is why I don't mind The Hobbit films being too long. They're indulgent escapism. And I can just about see how they did it. The book does fall into three pieces, each with a neat climax, and it can be stretched out to three films if you really take your time and invent some other things. I'm glad they did it. It's fun to be in that world again. At the very least, I'm now the sort of person who browses the Lord of the Rings Wiki for fun. There's a lot on there. I could read that instead.

1 comment:

  1. While The Hobbit novel makes for an excellent introduction to Middle Earth, I'm not so sure the movies have the same virtue. They clearly cater to fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, shining the spotlight on things that aren't going to show up again until 9 hours later (like the Morgul Blade). Fun movies though. Gandalf does more magic in Desolation of Smaug than he does in all three Lord of the Rings films.