How Long Was The Hobbit Book – Anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. Corey Olsen, author of the new book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, tells us the history of how the story of Bilbo Baggins changed even after the book was published. In addition, see Tolkien’s beautiful illustrations for The Hobbit.
Let me give a brief overview of the history of Tolkien’s writing of The Hobbit. I think of the story of The Hobbit as developing in three distinct stages, which I call the solo stage, the review stage, and the assimilation stage.
How Long Was The Hobbit Book
The Hobbit was published in England on 21 September 1937 by George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Tolkien had previously published some poems, but The Hobbit was his first major publication. For many years this book was the only piece of literature that anyone associated with Tolkien, and it was so popular that Tolkien’s publishers pressured him to write a sequel. He started working on a second book, which would follow in the footsteps of The Hobbit, and he and his friends called it “The New Hobbit” for a while. However, the writing of the second book did not go according to Tolkien’s or Allen and Unwin’s plan at all. What started as another short hobbit adventure story for children eventually grew into The Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit: Michael Hague: 9780048233806: Amazon.com: Books
I call this stage the Solo stage, because years after its publication something was printed in The Hobbit, all readers knew of Middle-earth. I do not mean to suggest that this was the only story Tolkien had in mind. The mythological stories of the ancient history of Middle-earth – the stories later developed, collected and published as The Silmarillion – already existed in more than one draft, and it is quite clear that Tolkien connected the story of Bilbo to that world when he wrote The Hobbit. . But there was only a small handful of people who knew this; it would be decades before more of the story of Middle-earth would be revealed. For the most part, what we could read between the covers of The Hobbit was all there was.
The Lord of the Rings may have started as a sequel to The Hobbit, but it soon took Tolkien in a very different direction. The new story did start with some story seeds that came from The Hobbit, but they grew in surprising ways. For one thing, Tolkien found that the new book he was writing was no longer a children’s book; he was rather afraid that alone would make it unsuitable as a sequel. More importantly, however, both the new story and the world it inhabited grew and expanded far beyond the scope of the story Tolkien told in The Hobbit. Nowhere was this more evident than in the primary connection between The Hobbit and its sequel: Bilbo’s magic ring.
When Tolkien published The Hobbit, the ring was nothing more than a magical ring of invisibility that Bilbo found on his journey. It was Gollum’s ring, but although it was Gollum’s greatest treasure, he was not originally bewitched by it or damaged in any way. When Gollum introduces the riddle game to Bilbo in The Hobbit, he tells Bilbo that he will give him a gift – meaning the ring – if Bilbo wins. When Bilbo does win, Gollum is stuck because he first realizes that he has lost his ring somewhere and now has no gift to give Bilbo. Gollum is extremely sorry, and he apologizes to Bilbo again and again. Bilbo tells him that it’s all right, and that Gollum can only show him the way out instead of giving him his prize. Bilbo is not being completely honest with Gollum here, because he already guesses that the ring he found in the tunnel in the dark and which he recently rediscovered in his pocket is exactly the gift that Gollum gave him wanted to give, and he knows that well so he gets a double reward. Bilbo is in trouble though, so it’s hard to blame him too much. Gollum points Bilbo to the exit, where Bilbo cheerfully waves him goodbye, and the two go their separate ways. In the rest of his adventure, Bilbo makes use of the magic ring, and it turns out to be just as useful as Gollum told him it would be.
If that story looks nothing like The Hobbit, you know, there’s a reason for that. The summary I have just given is of the story as it appeared in the first issue of The Hobbit in 1937; it is the original story of Bilbo, Gollum and the ring. However, while Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings, he put Bilbo’s ring at the center of the story, and decided that it would turn out to be the Ring of Power, which the Dark Lord had lost. However, this choice created a large discrepancy with Tolkien’s treatment of the ring in the first edition of The Hobbit, which was still in circulation. Bilbo’s use of the ring in the rest of the book could be made to fit perfectly with the new conception of the Ring, but the original version of the Gollum story and his cheerful willingness to give the Ring away were now completely incompatible with the later story. In 1951, Allen and Unwin published a revised second edition of The Hobbit, in which Tolkien inserted a significantly revised version of the Gollum chapter. This later version is now the one that everyone reads, and the original version of the story is mostly forgotten.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
However, keep in mind that during what I call the Revision Phase, The Lord of the Rings is still not published. When the revised edition of The Hobbit with its new “Baggins! We hate it forever!” version of Gollum was published in 1951, it was still the only story of Middle-earth available to the public. The revisions may have given some very observant readers a hint as to the direction in which Tolkien was taking his new, larger story (if they had known that he was still working on one, 10 years after the publication of The Hobbit), but they still would not have known to have. much The story people could read between the covers of The Hobbit had changed a bit, but it was still all they had. The idea that Bilbo’s ring has evil forces working to destroy him is an idea that lies outside the story of The Hobbit, even after it was edited.
The first volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, was finally published in 1954, almost 17 years after The Hobbit was first so gratefully received by readers around the world. Now readers could finally immerse themselves in the much longer story that followed the short children’s book, and in the much more detailed world that Tolkien developed in the long process of writing The Lord of the Rings. I call this stage the Assimilation stage, because in it Tolkien adapts the story of The Hobbit backwards to the newer story that he wrote and invented.
Tolkien had already edited The Hobbit to change the one element in it that was completely incompatible with the later story, and now through his new story he has expanded and developed many of the points from the original Hobbit. Gandalf was in the Necromancer’s dungeons (when he met Thrain and got the key and map) because he confirmed that the Necromancer was indeed Sauron, who had been reborn into the world after his defeat by the end of the Second Century. Of course this also explained the move the White Council made against Sauron to drive him out of Mirkwood. The Wood Elves of Mirkwood were given a more detailed history and even some names, and the history of the Ivy Mountain – its settlement and its fall and resettlement – was given its place in the larger story of Durin’s people and the history of the Mines of Moria , called Khazad-dûm by the dwarves.
All of this wider story, not to mention the grand story of the Ring of Power itself, was revealed in The Lord of the Rings and its long appendix. A long section of Appendix A, cut from the original publication, was later published in Unfinished Tales under the title “The Quest of Erebor.” That story had the fictional framework of a conversation between Gandalf and the remaining companions in Minas Tirith after the War of the Ring, and it gave Gandalf his side of the entire Hobbit story, beginning with his first meeting with Thorin and describing what led to the Unexpected Feast at Bag-End.
Book V Film: The Hobbit
So thorough was Tolkien’s assimilation of his earlier work that even the revision of The Hobbit itself was incorporated into the story. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Frodo discuss the fact that Bilbo’s book (published as The Hobbit) is a fake
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