Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reader's Diary #811- J. R. R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Earlier this year I read a graphic novel adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I wasn't overly thrilled with it, but wondered if it it might simply have been a mediocre adaptation.

Now that I've read the original, I'm not sure. I did enjoy it marginally better than the graphic novel, but I can't say I'm really much of a fan. I know a lot of people say they prefer it over the Lord of the Rings, but I definitely wouldn't say that (though the Hobbit does have the shorter length in its favour). I found it much harder to get behind the premise. Bilbo goes out in search of adventure with a group of dwarves who in turn are in search of long lost treasure. It's much harder to get behind this mission than that of the Lord of the Rings, in which the travelers must destroy a ring that threatens to enslave the world. Therefore, when Bilbo complains (as he often does) about missing home or being hungry, I found it hard to care or find sympathy.

Plus I find Tolkien very long-winded. The Hobbit goes like this: geographic description-journey-whine about journey- battle-repeat for 300 pages. I suspect that if a reader was to start his exposure to fantasy novels with the Hobbit, he might like this book more. The hobbits, dwarves, elves, goblins, wizards, talking spiders and other mythological creatures would no doubt capture the imagination of children who have not yet come across such beasts in other books, but they certainly didn't save the book for me.

At least I know I'm forever done with Tolkien books, and for a long while, fantasy.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I read the Hobbit decades ago and all I can remember the experience is zoning out during the pages and pages of description. So you are not alone! I wish I had read a graphic novel version.

Loni said...

Though I think I liked The Hobbit more than you, I didn't like it more than Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings is epic. That being said, Tolkien is very wordy. That's why I've never read The Simarillion or The Unfinished Tales, even though my hubby has copies. You shouldn't read them either. Whenever you feel the need to read fantasy again, I've read comtemporary authors you might like better.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Then I hope there's another graphic novel adaptation out there, because the one I read didn't feel concise. I wonder what Peter Jackson will do with it. He cut out all the annoying songs in LOTR, so maybe he'll be able to salvage this one as well.

Loni: I've read a few contemporary fantasy authors, but couldn't get into them either. Who would you recommend? (For when I'm open to giving fantasy another shot.)

Jules said...

I'm not sure if I like LOTR books better than the Hobbit - it's been so long since I've read the LOTR books and I've seen the movies so many times, I don't remember the differences - I hope to re-read then this year. I do remember loving the Hobbit and having it read to me as a child. I think it was one of the first books I ever re-read multiples times. I love Tolkiens wordyness, although I do see how it can be a bit repetitive as well.