Monday, October 8, 2012

The Hobbit Read-a-long: Week 1 Discussion

Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick. p.15-16
Welcome to the start of our read-a-long! We'll be talking about Chapters 1 and 2 this week. If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest you follow by rss, email, twitter or Google+ to make sure you see the discussion posts. I'm aiming to have them scheduled to go up in the morning PST (GMT-8).

The Hobbit was written in the early 1930s as a story for Tolkien's children, but he wasn't convinced to have it published until 1936. It was published in 1937. In 1951, Tolkien made edits to better connect it with The Lord of the Rings, to be published three years later. Some editions feature some of Tolkien's own artwork (check out the 75th Anniversary editions if you'd like to see it).

In 'An Unexpected Party', we meet Bilbo Baggins, one of the Bagginses from under The Hill, as he meets Gandalf the Wizard outside his hobbit hole. The next day, Gandalf secretly invites thirteen dwarves to Bag End by signing the unknowing Bilbo up to be part of their adventure. An so Bilbo begins his first adventure, one that he, nor readers will ever forget.

Tolkien was a noted scholar of mythology and legends. Do you see the influence of his scholarly research this early in the novel? What do you think of the encounter with the trolls? Any favorite passages so far?


Leanne Yang said...

I just finished reading this!! Haha, I found it so bizarre as all the dwarves just started pouring into his hobbit hole. Haha.

Vonnie Rivera said...

Yes, it was bizarre. I find it very interesting how Bilbo kept reminding himself about his manners even though he didn't know these dwarves.

If strangers all of a sudden started barging into my house and started asking for food and drink, I think I will panic and start screaming.

Vonnie Rivera said...

Yes, I do see some of his scholarly research into his writing. You can really see this with the stereotypes that are described with the dwarves, Gandalf, and the trolls. The dwarves are short, fat, and have long beards; they also mine. Gandalf is the typical magician with long robes, staff, and long beard. The trolls are huge and stupid.

Though I'm not too familiar with hobbit mythology, other than Tolkien's works, I do quiet enjoy Tolkien's descriptions of the hobbits and their world. I giggle every time food is discuss with them (they are always eating!) and how innocent they appear.

Now, the encounter with the trolls was quite interesting but not my favorite passage so far. I enjoyed how the trolls kept arguing between themselves and how they easily fell into Gandalf's trick. The part that I enjoyed the most would have to be when the dwarves started barging in at Bilbo's house. Bilbo was too sweet to kick them out and kept worrying if he had enough food to feed them. He even gave them lodging!

Myra White said...

I haven't read this before and don't really know what the story is about so I'm very excited to have started reading!
I can see Tolkien has crafted his beings from the myths and legends but I have no problems with that, he creates wonderful worlds and individual characters.

I love how the two things foremost in Bilbo's mind are worries about food and making sure he remains polite. Not much has happened so far but I really liked the unexpected arrival of the dwarves, all assuming Bilbo had an idea of what was about and the encounter with the trolls was quite fun.

No favourite passages so far but I did like Gandalf saying how he tried to find a warrior or hero, but they were all busy or too hard to find.

Vonnie Rivera said...

Hehehe, I too liked what Gandalf said. It's almost like he was telling Bilbo that Bilbo was their last choice for the last member.

Sarah Williams said...

Bilbo is rather like the society lady forced to socialize with those he doesn't like when they all show up. At least they are fairly decent guests and did some of the cleanup for him.

To me, its the songs Tolkien makes that remind me of the real world mythologies. The one the dwarves sing in Chapter 1 is the one featured in the first trailer. But put his descriptions of the hobbits here and in Fellowship, and you could almost get an anthropological type of description.

Sarah Williams said...

That is an odd passage. Myself, I'd probably be cursing them after the 2nd or 3rd arrived, but my manners aren't as good as Bilbo's. Some reason this passage makes me very curious as to what the mark Gandalf used to call them there.

Sarah Williams said...

I think Tolkien's knowledge of real world myths and legends really benefited his creating Middle Earth and all the creatures. It gives a realistic feel or the history to really see it as possible, instead of just fantasy world.

Vonnie Rivera said...

Huh, I can't believe I didn't make that connection: Bilbo being like a society lady. It makes sense.

Also, I'm going to be honest. I'm not a big fan of verse passages. This book is filled with verses and I remember back when I first read The Hobbit at 14, this style made it irritating for me to read.

Now, I appreciate it more as I'm re-reading, but it's still not my favorite. I had to read it twice so I could get a grasp what the dwarves' song was about. Luckily it was further explained towards the end of the chapter. I don't think Bilbo appreciates verse as well ;)

Sarah Williams said...

I think I skimmed those in LOTR. The dwarves song seems a little more pertinent than the song the elves make up in Chapter 3. Although, I think they are much better when the stories are performed. I keep listening to that trailer for the song.