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The History of the Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins

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First published in 1938, The Hobbit is a story that “grew in the telling,” and many characters and events in the published book are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads.” For the first time, The History of the Hobbit reproduces the original version of one of literature’s most famous stories, and First published in 1938, The Hobbit is a story that “grew in the telling,” and many characters and events in the published book are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads.” For the first time, The History of the Hobbit reproduces the original version of one of literature’s most famous stories, and includes many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for The Hobbit created by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive annotations and commentaries on the date of composition, how Tolkien’s professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how he came to revise the book in the years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.


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First published in 1938, The Hobbit is a story that “grew in the telling,” and many characters and events in the published book are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads.” For the first time, The History of the Hobbit reproduces the original version of one of literature’s most famous stories, and First published in 1938, The Hobbit is a story that “grew in the telling,” and many characters and events in the published book are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads.” For the first time, The History of the Hobbit reproduces the original version of one of literature’s most famous stories, and includes many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for The Hobbit created by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive annotations and commentaries on the date of composition, how Tolkien’s professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how he came to revise the book in the years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.

30 review for The History of the Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Mr. Baggins is a scholarly book and one more suited to the die-hard Tolkien enthusiast than the casual reader. That's not to say that it's dry or boring; quite the reverse, in fact. This is a book about a book, or more precisely a book about part of a book, as it covers about 2/3s of the action of The Hobbit. Rateliff has taken a number of fragments and drafts of The Hobbit and presents them to us with copious notes and commentaries. Although the main plot is essentially the same as Tolkien's pub Mr. Baggins is a scholarly book and one more suited to the die-hard Tolkien enthusiast than the casual reader. That's not to say that it's dry or boring; quite the reverse, in fact. This is a book about a book, or more precisely a book about part of a book, as it covers about 2/3s of the action of The Hobbit. Rateliff has taken a number of fragments and drafts of The Hobbit and presents them to us with copious notes and commentaries. Although the main plot is essentially the same as Tolkien's published story, there were many differences in detail and it's fascinating to see how the accumulation of such modifications affected the work as a whole. The book is divided into the chapters of the published story that we're familiar with, although the draft version had no such divisions. Tolkien's text is annotated to highlight the variations. Each chapter is then followed by Rateliff's commentaries on what we've just read, providing fascinating insight into Tolkien's sources, inspirations and useful background information. Thus we learn about Tolkien's fascination with "eagles-to-the-rescue"; the development of elves from Norse and Celtic folklore, through the Middle-ages and into the late Victorian and Edwardian era; Tolkien's likely source for Beorn the werebear; neolithic lake towns, etc. That the commentaries are annotated, and frequently refer back to Tolkien's own invented mythology, makes the book wonderfully convoluted and recursive. And some nice illustrated plates are thrown in for good measure. Next time I read The Hobbit, it will certainly be with this book, and the companion volume, The History of the Hobbit, Volume 2, by my side.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L

    Deeply fascinating and insightful this illuminating book is a must-read for all JRR Tolkien fans Similarly to ‘The History of Middle Earth’ series (13 books in total) this book examines in detail ‘The Hobbit’ in regards to how this children’s story came into being and how it grew. First published on 21st September 1937, the Hobbit has become more than simply a ‘fireside story’ but something containing great meaning and value to many readers, both young and old. With the recent release of Peter J Deeply fascinating and insightful this illuminating book is a must-read for all JRR Tolkien fans Similarly to ‘The History of Middle Earth’ series (13 books in total) this book examines in detail ‘The Hobbit’ in regards to how this children’s story came into being and how it grew. First published on 21st September 1937, the Hobbit has become more than simply a ‘fireside story’ but something containing great meaning and value to many readers, both young and old. With the recent release of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation (part 1: the Hobbit ~ an unexpected journey), now more than ever people are interested in the details behind Bilbo’s journey to the lonely mountain and of Dwarves and Dragons. This is the first installment within a 2 volume collection, which presents the original manuscript of The Hobbit accompanied by John D. Rateliff’s lively commentary. This book looks behind Tolkien’s tale to explore those themes hidden within, as well as noting those changes that have occurred over the years to the original publication. Ratecliff looks at each chapter in turn and looks at why changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien’s ever-growing concept of Middle-Earth. ‘Riddles in the dark’ with Bilbo and Gollum has to be one of the most significant parts of the Hobbit, and so I enjoyed reading into this part very much and finding out more about the finding of the One Ring. The enchanting tale of Hobbits is brought vividly to life in this enlightening guide to Tolkien’s spellbinding story, which delves into such detail and depth. Complete with full-color illustrations done by JRR Tolkien and photographs, this really is a beautiful book and something to treasure! I value and rate this book very highly, due to its captivating content and exquisite cover and images inside. If you are looking for an assured, accurate read relating to J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ then the history behind it makes for great reading. “...The road goes ever on and on… Down from the door where it began”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The History of the Hobbit is a series similar to Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-Earth, with Rateliff providing early manuscripts of the story, plot notes and his own commentaries, allowing fans to see how The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again was formed. While a few names differ from the published version, the story isn't so dissimilar from the published version we're used to. Indeed, the biggest change is probably the meeting between Gollum and Bilbo, which was only changed to the ve The History of the Hobbit is a series similar to Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-Earth, with Rateliff providing early manuscripts of the story, plot notes and his own commentaries, allowing fans to see how The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again was formed. While a few names differ from the published version, the story isn't so dissimilar from the published version we're used to. Indeed, the biggest change is probably the meeting between Gollum and Bilbo, which was only changed to the version everyone knows after Lord of the Rings was published. The plot notes, however, allow us a tantalising glimpse at different ideas Tolkien thought about including. The commentaries are – to me – more readable and interesting than those in History of Middle-Earth. They trace possible inspirations to related material, including historic texts, but also to Tolkien's own legendarium. On a shallow note, the presentation of the hardcover editions are absolutely beautiful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Othy

    Somewhat disappointing, unfortunately, especially compared to Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle Earth." Most of the comments by Rateliff (the author) concern guessing influences on Tolkien's imagination or nit-picking small textual changes. It was good to read some of Tolkien's ideas of where The Hobbit might have gone, but I've been getting the feeling lately that we're delving a bit too much into Tolkien's creative process. Don't get me wrong, I love the Histories of Middle Earth, but t Somewhat disappointing, unfortunately, especially compared to Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle Earth." Most of the comments by Rateliff (the author) concern guessing influences on Tolkien's imagination or nit-picking small textual changes. It was good to read some of Tolkien's ideas of where The Hobbit might have gone, but I've been getting the feeling lately that we're delving a bit too much into Tolkien's creative process. Don't get me wrong, I love the Histories of Middle Earth, but there's only so much you can hack apart the process of a writing. Noting that Fili instead of Kili said such-and-such really has very little point for anything.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Soledad

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Steele

    Any history of Tolkein's writing is a history of the man himself and I would have liked to see it tied more closely to his own life. However various biographers and DVD special edition extras have done that to death already. What you're left with is a deep and scholarly dissemination of the writing process and how Middle Earth was built. A must read for anyone who considers themselves more than a casual fan, but a little dull for the rest of us.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Haplila

    Fantastic. Terribly dry, but if you love the Hobbit and you love history(as I do) you'll enjoy this. Must read for anyone who love's hobbit story!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I love Lord of the rings and I think this is a good precuel.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan'l Danehy-oakes

    This being the first of two closely-linked volumes, I shall keep my comments to a minimum here, reserving them for a full review of the whole when I finish reading Part 2. Rateliff presents, with a fair plethora of apparatus (Introduction, text notes, chapter commentaries on divers topics, notes on the commentaries, appendices...), Tolkien's various drafts for _The Hobbit_, more or less chronologically as written. There are two of Tolkien's fairly typical false starts, followed by a long period o This being the first of two closely-linked volumes, I shall keep my comments to a minimum here, reserving them for a full review of the whole when I finish reading Part 2. Rateliff presents, with a fair plethora of apparatus (Introduction, text notes, chapter commentaries on divers topics, notes on the commentaries, appendices...), Tolkien's various drafts for _The Hobbit_, more or less chronologically as written. There are two of Tolkien's fairly typical false starts, followed by a long period of composition which takes us up to (and beyond) the end of this volume - the Lake-town episode. The only other comment I will offer here is that this is much less "heavy" reading than the _History of Middle-earth_ volumes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rexa'S Books

    This one-volume edition is absolutely amazing. The information in it is very detailed and Ratcliff has done an excellent job compiling and commenting on the various stages of The Hobbit creation. I definetely give it five stars. The book itself is of very high quality with a very pretty dustcover. If you take the dustcover off the book is also gorgeous to look at. The paper used for the book itself is matte with pictures in glossy paper. Certainly looks very well put together. Having everything This one-volume edition is absolutely amazing. The information in it is very detailed and Ratcliff has done an excellent job compiling and commenting on the various stages of The Hobbit creation. I definetely give it five stars. The book itself is of very high quality with a very pretty dustcover. If you take the dustcover off the book is also gorgeous to look at. The paper used for the book itself is matte with pictures in glossy paper. Certainly looks very well put together. Having everything in one edition instead of the original format of two volumes makes the book a bit heavier, but in my opinion, strengthens and makes for a better and far more presentable product. Fully recommend it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emy

    I found parts of this book good, but sometimes I didn't because it was written so long ago and it was written quite weird and old words. I took quite a while to read it because I wasn't really enjoying it too much and it was a relief to finish it. I really liked the movies though, so for me the movies were better

  12. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Martin

    as a massive tolkien fan, i really enjoyed this. it takes parts of the book and adds a lot of obseervations and notes and for me at least gave a lot iof intereing insights into the hobbits that i wouldnt perhaps have looked at otherwise. some people might find it a bit dry and lecture-like but i think the style suits the format. will definitely appeal to tolkien fans everywhere

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Lee

    The Hobbit was magical and exciting. I read this book in 6th grade which is very rare for me. I was not much of a reader and this book had me dreaming about The Middle Earth... I would even paint and draw pictures after each chapter which has lead me to LOVE the movies series of the Lord of the Rings which I have yet to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Very interesting! Wouldn't recommend unless you've read the hobbit a couple times, or just read it recently. If you've read even a bit of the history of middle earth, it makes it even more interesting. Glad I read this!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This doesn't have the personal touch that the History of LOTR books did, but since the Hobbit was written when Tolkien's children were still small, there probably isn't a lot of personal insight they could have added to it anyway.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aliona Shokurova

    My favourite childhood book. Thought I found a secret Treasure in the library shelfs. Mind blowing. Brought me into the land of fairies and dragons.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Raegan

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nolan

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ava

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Coty

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emelia

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonas

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Name

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Norwood

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Guy

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Florence

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marley

    A well written book. Enjoyed reading it.

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