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The Hobbit: One Book to Rule Them All

Tweezers of Thu

Dec 9 2012, 3:40pm

Post #1 of 8 (263 views)
The Hobbit: One Book to Rule Them All Can't Post

Although not remotely a scholarly analysis, Jon Michaud's article for The New Yorker offers an entertaining (and snarkily amusing) comparison between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. No mention of their scary older brother, The Silmarillion. Heads up for what appears to be conflation of the books, which are the focus of this "critic-lite" piece, and the LotR movies.

I love Istvan Banyai's illustration.

With the imminent release of the first of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of “The Hobbit,” I revisited J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel, which I had not opened since I was a teen-ager. Re-reading “The Hobbit” turned out to be something of a revelation. Formerly, I’d seen it as nothing more than an appetizer for the big feast of “The Lord of the Rings.” Now, I realized, it was a perfecly balanced meal of its own—one that left you feeling sated rather than gorged. A good case can be made that “The Hobbit” is a better and more satisfying read than its gargantuan successor. Herewith, some arguments in the little book’s favor:

Why The Hobbit is a better book than the Lord of the Rings

Oooooh, the heresy! But I do agree with some of his points. ~ Tweezers of Thû

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau


Dec 9 2012, 3:45pm

Post #2 of 8 (179 views)
working link: [In reply to] Can't Post


your link got a little messed up. A mod might be able to fix it for you if you can't get to it before the edit window elapses.

and... OMG.. that first comment is hilarious! (although the poster surely did not intend it to be). Point that person out to me at a social function so I can stay clear of them!

But, this is the New Yorker. They get their little subculture to bask in. We get ours.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

(This post was edited by Magpie on Dec 9 2012, 3:50pm)

Lily Fairbairn

Dec 9 2012, 4:02pm

Post #3 of 8 (177 views)
Unintentionally funny, oh my yes [In reply to] Can't Post

The part where I actually laughed out loud was this, about Tom Bombadil:

He is also, as you can see, an over-user of the exclamation point—always a suspect trait.

He doesn't mention the Faramir/Eowyn romance in RotK under "no love interest", which really is a believable romance... Ah well. I'll take this piece as it was written: Lightly Smile


Dec 9 2012, 4:19pm

Post #4 of 8 (197 views)
Pretty shallow stuff for the New Yorker [In reply to] Can't Post

As you say, Michaud is no scholar. Yet this essay seems written entirely as snark, and it wears thin pretty soon. Many of his references to weaknesses in The Lord of the Rings seem influenced by the New Line films: "the hobbits’ ...tiresome whingeing about not having a second breakfast"; "Sam Gamgee...Mindlessly devoted and masochistically self-denying"; "Poor Gimli is charged...with providing much of the comic relief in the trilogy." I'll pass on pointing out numerous other weaknesses, for fear of being called a scholar where one is not wanted. This is, after all, the season of The Hobbit, and we must lighten up.

I can't help but come to this article just hours after reading another more or less incomprehensible blurb about Tolkien and The Hobbit in The New York Times. In both cases my takeaway is that the marketing mavens for the new film have done their work well. By placing a few serio-comic puff pieces that pretend to analyze the literary roots of the lesser-known Hobbit (without actually addressing the relationships between the two books and the two film series), they have given the new film some protective coloration against any critics among the New York literati who might dislike it on purely artistic grounds.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.

Tweezers of Thu

Dec 9 2012, 4:33pm

Post #5 of 8 (159 views)
Dang... [In reply to] Can't Post

Post in haste, regret at leisure. I should have checked the url more thoroughly. Thanks muchly for reposting the full link

In Reply To
They get their little subculture to bask in. We get ours.


A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau

Tweezers of Thu

Dec 9 2012, 4:41pm

Post #6 of 8 (206 views)
That comment was a doozy. [In reply to] Can't Post

Agree or not with Mr. Michaud's screed, er, I mean, critique, Wink there were some funny bits in there, e.g., "Smaug combines the haughty condescension of a one-per-center and the killer instinct of an apex predator. He’s Gordon Gekko with a flamethrower."

In Reply To
I'll take this piece as it was written: Lightly

*nods in agreement*

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau


Dec 9 2012, 5:46pm

Post #7 of 8 (152 views)
Fascinating... [In reply to] Can't Post

and always fun to see someone elses' slant on these stories. I think I'll cling to my own ;)


I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.

TORn's Observations Lists
Unused Scenes


Dec 10 2012, 12:14am

Post #8 of 8 (222 views)
Bomby puts..exclamation points! [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to make Goldberry!!
very happy..

Sorry to be
such an

As long


Reporting in....
from the OldForest..!!?


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