Because I've heard many sing praises of Tolkien and it was on the Ambleside Online Year 6 Literature list, I figured The Hobbit was as good a choice as any. And, I must say, I was not disappointed. Actually, I was utterly surprised and quite pleased. Tolkien did not disappoint.
The Hobbit was originally published in 1937, while J. R. R. Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University. In late 1932 when he finished the manuscript, he lent it to friends, including his co-worker, C. S. Lewis, who encouraged him to publish his work. Both Tolkien and Lewis studied and taught the literature of medieval romance. According to an article at Christianity Today...
The two friends were interested in the literature of the romantic period because many of the poems and stories attempted to convey the supernatural, the "otherworldly"—and thus provided a window into spiritual things. Lewis explored romantic themes like joy and longing, and Tolkien emphasized the nature of people as storytelling beings who by telling stories reflect the creative powers of God. But they both rejected an "instinctive" approach to the imagination. Many romantic writers were interested in a kind of nature mysticism. They looked within themselves and at the world around them and sought flashes of insight into "the nature of things"—illuminations of truth that could not be explained, reasoned, or systematized. But Lewis and Tolkien insisted that the reason and the imagination must be integrated. In any understanding of truth, the whole person must be involved.Early in the story, I fell in love with Bilbo Baggins. His quest for courage and character made him a sympathetic "Everyman" protagonist. Despite his reluctance to entertain the dwarves and go along on their adventure, he remained hospitable and warmhearted. I found the loyalty of his character very appealing. He was honest and steadfast in doing what was right even in difficult situations.
The Hobbit made for wonderful conversation with the kids since we all read it together. Actually, we listened to the majority of it on audio. I must confess the narrator, Rob Inglis, was what first drew me into the story. His voice and ability to dramatize the characters was absolutely fabulous!! Just take a listen here to see what I mean.
In addition, if you'd like to hear a bit of Socratic discussion, hop on over the Center for Lit and listen to their Junior High Lit class discussion. It is about two hours long so be sure you set aside some time. The first hour is a bit slow, but the second hour is much better and hopefully will give you food for thought.
RileyAnn was very disappointed when Thorin Oakenshield died. I personally didn't really feel that bad.. This led to a great conversation about his character and good versus evil. I believe Thorin had to die given his greed. This gave the treasure and Lonely Mountain to Dain and the dwarves of the Iron Hills. After all the years of oppression, they were finally able to overcome. She totally understood. We were both heart warmed with Thorin's farewell to Bilbo on his deathbed. In the end, there was forgiveness for an honored friendship.
Since finishing the book, we are working through The Hobbit DVD's. I had no idea it was going to be a 9 hour venture. We just finished The Desolation of Smaug and so far have not been disappointed. Peter Jackson's tale has held fairly true to Tolkien's treasure. Of course, it's made for Hollywood so the special effects can be a bit much, but the story itself is good. However, I would definitely read Tolkien's original work before watching the movies!! There is something very special about developing images in your own mind's eye.
The Hobbit is a Sonlight recommendation in addition to AO. Since reading the book, I can finally understand the fascination. Tolkien's fantasy novel is definitely not to be missed.
By the way, I'll be linking this post to the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge as my Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Dystopian Classic.