(love these expressionistic illustrations from a Swedish edition of The Hobbit by Torbjörn Zetterholm, 1947)
Yes, yes, I know. I was supposed to be reading The Hobbit over the next two months with my read-a-long compatriots over at Unputownables, but as the site’s name implies, I just couldn’t put it down! My greatest pleasure over the last few weeks was getting in bed under alllllll the covers and being told this story each night. That’s exactly how Tolkien’s writing feels in this book. He pauses, comments that he wishes he had time to tell you this or sing you that, wonders, and interjects. I completely felt like a wee one in the best way possible — full of amazement and thrills and terror and sorrow and happiness, hanging on every word. “Just one more chapter! Pleeeeeeeease?”
The other thing I loved about this book is how grey it is — meaning there are no pat answers, very few of the characters are all good or all bad (goblins excepting), and the best thing to do is complicated and may even go against the general societal tide. I also love that he gives such warmth, strength, and courage to The Everyman. So much wisdom found in these pages. If you think we are not in an age where enormous scary dragons are sitting on vast hoardes of gold, and we don’t need the Yous and the Mes to find just how kick-ass we can be, think again.
“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”