And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in your hall without a word of explanation?
My first reaction to even the first paragraph of the Hobbit was, “Is this really the same author as the Silmarillion!?” Everyone told me it’s a children’s book, but I wasn’t quite prepared for such a drastic change.
Here are some things that jumped out at me: Tolkien (or the narrator, whoever he is) addresses the reader. It’s as if someone is actually telling the story out loud. For example, “And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in your hall without a word of explanation,” as well as the statement that hobbits are, “shy of the Big People, as they call us.” The language is so modern (20th century) and familiar-a style common for children’s books, of course. I was a little thrown off by all the things that are in the story that are relatively recent items. Food and drink, for example, include coffee, pickles, tea, cakes, poached eggs, etc. The one thing that most surprised me was the explanation of the invention of the game of Golf! Who would’ve thought that the game was so old! These things don’t detract from the story for me, at this point, I just needed to change my perspective since they were unexpected.
Just about the only thing that struck me as particularly similar to the Silmarillion is that the names (especially the dwarfish ones) all sound alike, or appear in groups of two or three that sound alike.
So, anyway, my initial feelings about my introduction to the Hobbit are that it has a much more “fantasy” feel. Naturally, I think I have a good idea of what the story is going to be about: an adventure to retrieve something from a dragon’s treasure hoard (if you’ll allow me to shave it down that far). The Hobbit is already a much more convincing argument that Tolkien is the “father of the modern fantasy genre” than the Silmarillion, since my idea of the modern fantasy genre was fostered by Light Raiders, Dungeons & Dragons, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, etc.
I suspect my chapter notes will be extremely short for the Hobbit, but I’ll definitely keep you all posted on how I’m enjoying, what I think about it, etc. as I go. Let me say that, so far, it’s a refreshing break from what one of the Messageboard poster’s referred to as “the systematic dismantling of the Elves.”
mark – edmond