“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”
— Tolkien, J. R. R. (2009-04-20). The Hobbit (p. 48). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
‘The Hobbit’ has been a very special book for me for such a long time. I first read it years ago as a child and since then I’ve returned to it every now and then. I wouldn’t know how many times I have read it, but I know I’ve done it in two languages (Estonian and English) and I think I have managed to keep preferences out of those languages (although I’d go for English right now if I had to).
What is it about Bilbo Baggins? Is it the cheerful tone that carries throughout the book? Or is it the comparison between the dwarves and the hobbit? Or how Bilbo goes on to be from this measly burglar to the near-leader of the group?
The good ending of the story is never really in doubt (especially if you know how to read the hints which are in the book), but there are plenty of moments where it is easy to think that not all will end well — and, well, not all does end well. And yet, the overall outcome is probably not as bad as it could have been yet causing ‘sufficient’ sorrow and sadness. I think that only adds to this elusive charm of what this story is.
“You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
— Tolkien, J. R. R. (2009-04-20). The Hobbit (p. 54). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
So, what is this charm? I have a hard time defining it, but I can still say that I have not gone for the option of watching what Mr Peter Jackson has made the book. I have preferred to keep to my own imaginary devices, and they work fine. I do wonder though, what will prompt me to watch Mr Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’ and when that will be…
I think what I like most about rereading ‘The Hobbit’ is seeing the tone that the author has employed. It is friendly and soothing, and it can probably be called escapist. But I wouldn’t do that. The narrator is a friend and ally here, he is invested in the story — he wants Bilbo to come through and so do I. Because, in the end, who would I be if I didn’t want Mr Baggins to best that dragon and to return to his hobbit-hole?
“And why should not they prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
— Tolkien, J. R. R. (2009-04-20). The Hobbit (p. 272). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.