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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Interest in discussion of "History of the Hobbit" by Rateliff?


Jun 10 2013, 2:13am

Post #1 of 11 (213 views)
Interest in discussion of "History of the Hobbit" by Rateliff? Can't Post

Hi. New here. Blush Wondering what the protocol is for seeing if anyone's interested in book discussion--just got the one-volume edition of "The History of the Hobbit" by John D. Rateliff. Lots of draft chapters of the early Hobbit included. I find looking at Tolkien's process fascinating...though I wonder if I'm the only one.

I did search the posts and really only found some comments on HotH back in 2009. Apologies if I missed a past discussion, however.

(This post was edited by bruinen on Jun 10 2013, 2:15am)


Jun 10 2013, 2:28am

Post #2 of 11 (139 views)
Welcome Bruinen! [In reply to] Can't Post

Not much protocol other than to jump in and ask a question, so you got it right the first time. Tongue

I haven't read that book myself, and can't say I plan to anytime soon (have the 10-volume Hist. of MEarth to plow through first), but hopefully there will be others interested in joining. There was a read-through of The Hobbit itself last year, but I don't recall a reading of The History of the Hobbit in the 3 years I've been here.


Jun 10 2013, 2:58pm

Post #3 of 11 (119 views)
Thanks...and sample in case it catches anyone's interest [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, CuriousG!

Here are some bullet point notes from the intro, in case anyone finds something of interest...

Bruinen’s Notes From:
History of the Hobbit, John D. Rateliff; “The revised and expanded one-volume edition,” HarperCollins Publishers, London. c2011.

Introduction pp. xi-xii
· Author states source: “This book offers for the first time a complete edition of the manuscript of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit now in the Special Collections and University Archives of Marquette University.” And: “…this edition tries…to capture the first form in which the story flowed from his pen…even though the original draft strongly resembles the published story…nevertheless, the differences between the two are significant.”
· Some of examples of the differences author cites between the first form and the published draft:
- “In the original, Gollum does not try to kill Bilbo but instead faithfully shows him the way out.”
- “The entire scene in which Bilbo and the dwarves encounter the Enchanted Stream in Mirkwood did not exist in the original draft and was interpolated into the story later, at the typescript stage.”
- “No such character as Dain existed until a very late stage in the drafting, while Bard is introduced abruptly only to be killed off almost at once.”
- “…Bilbo would kill the dragon himself, with the Gem of Girion (better known by its later name, as ‘the Arkenstone’) to be his promised reward…”
- “The great battle that forms the story’s climax was to take place on Bilbo’s return journey, not at the Lonely Mountain; nor were any of the dwarves to take part in it, nor would Thorin and his admirable (great-) nephews die.” (Note, originally Fili and Kili were great-nephews and not heirs, rather than sister-sons/heirs.)

· Author states: “It is disconcerting to discover that the names of some of the major characters were different when those characters were created.”
· Author’s examples of original character names:
- “For much of the original story the wizard who rousts the hobbit from his comfortable hobbit-hole is Bladorthin, not ‘Gandalf’, with the name Gandalf belonging instead to the dwarven leader known in the published story as ‘Thorin Oakenshield’…
- “…the great werebear of the Misty Mountains is Medwed, not ‘Beorn’.
- “Other names were more ephemeral, such as Pryftan for the dragon better known as Smaug.”
· At end of introduction is a quote from Tolkien’s classic essay ‘On Fairy Stories’, and the author urges readers to “clean our windows so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of familiarity.” I particulary like Tolkien’s caution about stories: “…we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.”

Comments or observations?


Jun 10 2013, 3:25pm

Post #4 of 11 (112 views)
I have read the two-volume edition of Rateliff within the past year... [In reply to] Can't Post

I know that the subject came up at some point in the forums and I'm suprised that a search didn't turn it up. I borrowed the volumes through our local library.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Jun 10 2013, 3:40pm

Post #5 of 11 (111 views)
Performed a search under 'Rateliff' [In reply to] Can't Post

It turns out that it was more like two years ago that I read The History of The Hobbit. How time flies!

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Jun 10 2013, 7:21pm

Post #6 of 11 (102 views)
Hi, welcome to TORn [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd say yes to a HOTH discussion, I read the book earlier this year, and found it fascinating-the links to Tolkien's early silmarilion made me reconsider the Hobbit in a new light (make sure you read Rateliffe's commentary-it's thorough to say the least-there are 12 pages on Radgast, and a lengthy entry on Bolg and Azog for instance) I'm sure it would make for an interesting discussion, if you were to raise it with one of the forum admins they might be able to give you more of an answer (there is an ongoing Silmarillion discussion which would probably have to end first). I have only been a (pretty infrequent) member of the forum for a couple of years, so I don't know how clued up other members are on the H.O.T.H (or H.O.M.E) for that matter-they aren't as well known or popular books as Tolkien's other works so might not merit an in depth discussion.

‘As they came to the gates Cirdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and we was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said ‘All is now ready.’

Perhaps the most fascinating Individual in Middle Earth


Jun 12 2013, 12:12am

Post #7 of 11 (96 views)
Just bought a copy myself [In reply to] Can't Post

So I would indeed be interested in discussing it as I read it! Absolutely! I usually only have some time in evenings during work to read but I just finished The Annotated Hobbit this past weekend for the first time and usually read The Hobbit 2-3 times a year.

That said, I'm absolutely thrilled to read this book! I hope to discuss it on here.


Jun 12 2013, 1:54pm

Post #8 of 11 (78 views)
Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

For the interest. Shall we wait to see if there's more than three of us?


Jun 15 2013, 10:18pm

Post #9 of 11 (62 views)
Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

That'd be nice. I have never actually participated in a discussion - I have only ever read Tolkien discussions from past years, not been in one. I look forward to it, though. Any way we can get this thread bumped up so more people can see it?


Jun 15 2013, 11:07pm

Post #10 of 11 (62 views)
I enjoy that book and would probably participate in a discussion [In reply to] Can't Post

If you are waiting on a critical mass you can add me in. Smile

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons. -- Douglas Adams


Jun 16 2013, 3:05pm

Post #11 of 11 (61 views)
Posted an update// [In reply to] Can't Post



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