September 25, 2017

THERE'S ONLY ONE STORY (profanity alert):

There and Back Again : What J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Hobbit still has to offer, 80 years after its publication (VANN R. NEWKIRK II  SEP 22, 2017, The Atlantic)

Although the short and whimsical book is considered lightweight compared to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it's still in many ways the best that literature has to offer. Tolkien is first a linguist, and it's not only his creation of elvish, dwarvish, and orcish languages out of whole cloth that impresses, but also the way he toys with English and illustrates the power of language itself to create. Ever a good author surrogate, Bilbo's true arms and armor aren't his trusty half-sword Sting or his mithril shirt, but--as Gollum would find out--his words and riddles. As Bilbo tells Smaug, the dragon:

I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen. ... I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number. ... I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water.

Bilbo's warrior-poetry is big and boastful enough to go toe-to-toe with Muhammad Ali.

The hobbit's journey from the comforts of the Shire through the mysterious dwarven ruins in the bowels of mountains and to the lair of a treasure-hoarding dragon double as a Bildungsroman, not only for the protagonist but for Tolkien as well. In the climax of the book, when the hero despairs at the greed and collapse of diplomacy that leads to the pointless Battle of Five Armies, so is revealed Tolkien's hatred of war. 

Posted by at September 25, 2017 6:49 AM

  

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