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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
1960 version of The Hobbit?

BountyHunter
The Shire

Nov 5, 8:37pm

Post #1 of 21 (1745 views)
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1960 version of The Hobbit? Can't Post

I read on another forum (that I can't post on yet) that Tolkien was working on a new edit of The Hobbit around 1960 or so, that was going to add more references from LoTR. Is this true? What can you tell me about this?

It's the first I've heard of it.


squire
Half-elven


Nov 5, 9:04pm

Post #2 of 21 (1705 views)
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He gave it up as a bad job, but it is interesting to read as far as he got... [In reply to] Can't Post

In Rateliff's 'History of The Hobbit' (2007), the manuscript of a thoroughly revised version of the children's classic is printed. It ends when the gang is about halfway to Rivendell.

After he'd completed The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien often commented that he wasn't pleased with the 'childish' aspects of The Hobbit, that differed in tone from the nominal 'sequel', LotR. So he began a rewrite, taking out all the condescending language, the chatty narrator, the anachronisms (at least the ones that didn't also occur in LotR), etc.

As Rateliff reports the event, Tolkien sent the first few chapters to a female relative to get a reaction. Evidently she said something along the lines of, it's perfectly nice but it isn't The Hobbit!

Tolkien had second thoughts, abandoned ship, and only very lightly edited a third edition of The Hobbit for a paperback edition a few years later. The Hobbit remains The Hobbit - not quite in the world of The Lord of the Rings, but obviously closely linked to it. We might say that LotR looks back fully on TH, but TH does not look forward at all to LotR.



squire online:
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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 5, 11:38pm

Post #3 of 21 (1692 views)
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Looking Forward [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Tolkien had second thoughts, abandoned ship, and only very lightly edited a third edition of The Hobbit for a paperback edition a few years later. The Hobbit remains The Hobbit - not quite in the world of The Lord of the Rings, but obviously closely linked to it. We might say that LotR looks back fully on TH, but TH does not look forward at all to LotR.


I wouldn't say that. The 1966 revision does alter the details of Bilbo's acquisition of his 'magic ring' as a direct result to the revelations to be made in The Lord of the Rings.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Nov 6, 3:14am

Post #4 of 21 (1669 views)
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Almost everything Tolkien ever wrote looked forward... [In reply to] Can't Post

to a Silmarillion.


squire
Half-elven


Nov 6, 3:26am

Post #5 of 21 (1668 views)
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I missed that. [In reply to] Can't Post

What changes to the story of Bilbo's finding the Ring were made in the 1966 paperback edition of The Hobbit?



squire online:
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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 6, 4:50am

Post #6 of 21 (1660 views)
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I would have thought you would know this. [In reply to] Can't Post

For the 1966 edition Tolkien substantially rewrote "Riddles in the Dark" and the following chapter to bring them in line with LotR. Bilbo's encounter with Gollum originally went essentially according to the story that he gave to Gandalf and the dwarves (again keeping the ring a secret).

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


BountyHunter
The Shire

Nov 6, 6:05am

Post #7 of 21 (1643 views)
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Hmmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

So you can read these changes in The History of The Hobbit? I'm curious now,


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 6, 2:04pm

Post #8 of 21 (1555 views)
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Not just there. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So you can read these changes in The History of The Hobbit? I'm curious now,


Douglas A. Anderson also quotes extensively from the original text in The Annotated Hobbit. Anderson, however, does not much (if at all) concern himself with the abandoned 1960 version. He does include, as Appendix A, Tolkien's essay "The Quest of Erebor".

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 6, 2:18pm)


Chen G.
Rivendell

Nov 6, 4:27pm

Post #9 of 21 (1525 views)
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I dunno [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As Rateliff reports the event, Tolkien sent the first few chapters to a female relative to get a reaction. Evidently she said something along the lines of, it's perfectly nice but it isn't The Hobbit!

Tolkien had second thoughts, abandoned ship, and only very lightly edited a third edition of The Hobbit for a paperback edition a few years later.


We can't ever be sure, though. Tolkien had a habit of jumping from writing one part of his legendarium to another, especially when it came time to bring any one of his stories to a close: he had a hard time finishing stories.

So, the heavily revised version of The Hobbit could have remained unmade for that reason, and not just because his test audience was unenthused.


squire
Half-elven


Nov 6, 6:30pm

Post #10 of 21 (1516 views)
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I may be wrong [In reply to] Can't Post

But I'm pretty certain the changes you're referring to, the substantial revision to the 'Riddles in the Dark' chapter of The Hobbit to bring that story in line with what The Lord of the Rings said happened, were executed in the second edition of The Hobbit, which was issued in 1951.

The changes were based on a purported thought experiment by Tolkien as he came to the end of writing LotR in the late 1940s: he sent his publisher a kind of "this is how it should have been - what do you think?" manuscript. But at the time no reprint of The Hobbit was in the works. A few years later the second edition was issued, and Tolkien affected to be shocked and surprised to see his changes set in print!

I have an older reprint of that edition, from the early 1960s, and there is a funny note just before the story begins, where the author explains the changes from the first edition.

"In this reprint several minor inaccuracies, most of them noted by readers, have been corrected. .... More important is the matter of Chapter Five. There the true story of the ending of the Riddle Game, as it was eventually revealed (under pressure) by Bilbo to Gandalf, is now given according to the Red Book, in place of the version Bilbo set down in his diary. This departure from truth on the part of a most honest hobbit was a portent of great significance. It does not, however, concern the present story, and those who in this edition make their first acquaintance with hobbit-lore need not trouble about it. Its explanation lies in the history of the Ring, as it is set out in the chronicles of the Red Book of Westmarch, and it must await their publication."

In short, the change hit The Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings was published, and made no particular sense to fond and loyal readers of The Hobbit at the time! And that major change to the first book was practically ancient history by 1960, when the even more major rewrite was aborted.

Getting back to the 1966 third edition, I myself cannot remember what the changes were, which is why I referred to them as minor, particularly in comparison to what Tolkien had hoped to do in 1960 about rewriting the book from start to finish to align it in style and tone with the trilogy.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 6, 6:40pm

Post #11 of 21 (1510 views)
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You might be correct. [In reply to] Can't Post

It may be that the 1966 edition included minor revisions and corrections and I should have been thinking of the 1951 revision. In fact, a second look at Douglas Anderson's annotations confirms this! My apologies. Blush

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Lorien

Nov 6, 6:57pm

Post #12 of 21 (1509 views)
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This would have been so amazing to read [In reply to] Can't Post

Almost as cool as The New Shadow. I wish Tolkien had lived longer, written more, etc. Smile

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Nov 6, 9:31pm

Post #13 of 21 (1486 views)
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Yes, I wish he'd written at least a little bit more. [In reply to] Can't Post

I really wanted to see how he would handle a re-write of the "tra-la-la-lally" Elves, but alas, that Bilbo never got as far as Rivendell.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Silmaril
Rohan


Nov 7, 1:13pm

Post #14 of 21 (1463 views)
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I enjoyed the reading of that rewrite very much! [In reply to] Can't Post

Would be great if Tolkien had finished the whole story. Maybe The Hobbit movies would have been as great as LOTR too! Wink


(This post was edited by Silmaril on Nov 7, 1:14pm)


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Lorien

Nov 7, 3:24pm

Post #15 of 21 (1447 views)
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Exactly what I thought too! [In reply to] Can't Post

The movies would have had a lot more to work with.

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Nov 9, 10:49am

Post #16 of 21 (1328 views)
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In 2019 the Reading Room will look at [In reply to] Can't Post

JRRT's novella, Smith of Wootten Major, which takes a more awesome approach to Faerie.


"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



Cygnus
Bree


Nov 24, 4:31am

Post #17 of 21 (1073 views)
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Where are his old writings? [In reply to] Can't Post

Whatever happened to all of his original writings? Are they tucked away with the family or in a museum or simply scattered all over the place?....or all of the above?

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Nov 24, 8:32am

Post #18 of 21 (1059 views)
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All of the above [In reply to] Can't Post

The Tolkien Estate has maintained vigilant control over everything in its possession. Most of the rest, along with material about his life, is at Marquette University in a special collection. Several years ago Marquette provided a small exhibit in NYC in conjunction with the live Fellowship of the Ring concert. Grammaboodawg and I, among other TORnsibs, visited it; you might have especially liked some literal back-of-the-envelope figuring about the moon phases in Book III.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Nov 24, 9:54am

Post #19 of 21 (1049 views)
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and the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and private collections, etc. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



Cygnus
Bree


Nov 24, 10:22pm

Post #20 of 21 (1003 views)
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head in the stars [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
you might have especially liked some literal back-of-the-envelope figuring about the moon phases in Book III.

You've got that right. I would have loved seeing that. I do wish there would have been more astronomy in the movies but that's okay. The stars looked pretty realistic when the Ents were having their meeting and also there was the scene when Legolas mentioned "the stars are veiled" and their entrance into Erebor with the crescent Moon....woops, this is the reading room, not the movie thread *walks out embarressed*

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


Khim
Bree


Dec 1, 8:24pm

Post #21 of 21 (790 views)
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Original version of “Riddles in the Dark” anthologized in 1985 [In reply to] Can't Post

My first exposure to the original ring finding chapter was in a story collection I bought in 1985, although I knew about the change earlier, and have since read it in the 3 volume History of The Hobbit.

The book was Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural...

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385185499/ref=nosim/librarythin06-20

I am Khim akin to Mim.

 
 

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