Tuesday June 22, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Hobbit
On this Day:
In 1342, the Fictional character Bilbo Baggins, of “The Hobbit”, returned to his home at Bag End, Shire Reckoning.
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a children’s fantasy novel by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children’s literature.
The Hobbit is set within Tolkien’s fictional universe and follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins, the titular hobbit, to win a share of the treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s journey takes him from his light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory.
The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature or type of creature of Tolkien’s geography. Bilbo gains a new level of maturity, competence, and wisdom by accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey, and adventurous sides of his nature and applying his wits and common sense. The story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict.
Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story, along with motifs of warfare. These themes have led critics to view Tolkien’s own experiences during World War I as instrumental in shaping the story. The author’s scholarly knowledge of Germanic philology and interest in mythology and fairy tales are often noted as influences.
The publisher was encouraged by the book’s critical and financial success and, therefore, requested a sequel. As Tolkien’s work progressed on its successor, The Lord of the Rings, he made retrospective accommodations for it in The Hobbit. These few but significant changes were integrated into the second edition. Further editions followed with minor emendations, including those reflecting Tolkien’s changing concept of the world into which Bilbo stumbled.
The work has never been out of print. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, board games, and video games. Several of these adaptations have received critical recognition on their own merits.
Bilbo Baggins, the titular protagonist, is a respectable, reserved hobbit—a race resembling very short humans with furry, leathery feet who live in underground houses and are mainly pastoral farmers and gardeners. During his adventure, Bilbo often refers to the contents of his larder at home and wishes he had more food. Until he finds a magic ring, he is more baggage than help. Gandalf, an itinerant wizard, introduces Bilbo to a company of thirteen dwarves. During the journey the wizard disappears on side errands dimly hinted at, only to appear again at key moments in the story. Thorin Oakenshield, the proud, pompous head of the company of dwarves and heir to the destroyed dwarvish kingdom under the Lonely Mountain, makes many mistakes in his leadership, relying on Gandalf and Bilbo to get him out of trouble, but proves himself a mighty warrior. Smaug is a dragon who long ago pillaged the dwarvish kingdom of Thorin’s grandfather and sleeps upon the vast treasure.
The plot involves a host of other characters of varying importance, such as the twelve other dwarves of the company; two types of elves: both puckish and more serious warrior types; Men; man-eating trolls; boulder-throwing giants; evil cave-dwelling goblins; forest-dwelling giant spiders who can speak; immense and heroic eagles who also speak; evil wolves, or Wargs, who are allied with the goblins; Elrond the sage; Gollum, a strange creature inhabiting an underground lake; Beorn, a man who can assume bear form; and Bard the Bowman, a grim but honourable archer of Lake-town.
Gandalf tricks Bilbo Baggins into hosting a party for Thorin Oakenshield and his band of twelve dwarves, (Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur) who sing of reclaiming the Lonely Mountain and its vast treasure from the dragon Smaug. When the music ends, Gandalf unveils Thrór’s map showing a secret door into the Mountain and proposes that the dumbfounded Bilbo serve as the expedition’s “burglar”. The dwarves ridicule the idea, but Bilbo, indignant, joins despite himself.
The group travels into the wild, where Gandalf saves the company from trolls and leads them to Rivendell, where Elrond reveals more secrets from the map. When they attempt to cross the Misty Mountains they are caught by goblins and driven deep underground. Although Gandalf rescues them, Bilbo gets separated from the others as they flee the goblins. Lost in the goblin tunnels, he stumbles across a mysterious ring and then encounters Gollum, who engages him in a game of riddles. As a reward for solving all riddles Gollum will show him the path out of the tunnels, but if Bilbo fails, his life will be forfeit. With the help of the ring, which confers invisibility, Bilbo escapes and rejoins the dwarves, improving his reputation with them. The goblins and Wargs give chase, but the company is saved by eagles before resting in the house of Beorn.
The company enters the black forest of Mirkwood without Gandalf. In Mirkwood, Bilbo first saves the dwarves from giant spiders and then from the dungeons of the Wood-elves. Nearing the Lonely Mountain, the travellers are welcomed by the human inhabitants of Lake-town, who hope the dwarves will fulfil prophecies of Smaug’s demise. The expedition reaches the mountain, and finds the secret door; its Moon-letters can only be read on Durin’s Day by the last light of the setting sun. Bilbo scouts the dragon’s lair, stealing a great cup and espying a gap in Smaug’s armour. The enraged dragon, deducing that Lake-town has aided the intruder, sets out to destroy the town. A thrush had overheard Bilbo’s report of Smaug’s vulnerability and reported it to Lake-town defender Bard. Bard’s arrow finds the hollow spot and kills the dragon.
When the dwarves take possession of the mountain, Bilbo finds the Arkenstone, an heirloom of Thorin’s family, and hides it away. The Wood-elves and Lake-men besiege the mountain and request compensation for their aid, reparations for Lake-town’s destruction, and settlement of old claims on the treasure. Thorin refuses and, having summoned his kin from the Iron Hills, reinforces his position. Bilbo tries to ransom the Arkenstone to head off a war, but Thorin is only enraged at the betrayal. He banishes Bilbo, and battle seems inevitable.
Gandalf reappears to warn all of an approaching army of goblins and Wargs. The dwarves, men and elves band together, but only with the timely arrival of the eagles and Beorn do they win the climactic Battle of Five Armies. Thorin is fatally wounded and reconciles with Bilbo before he dies.
Bilbo accepts only a small portion of his share of the treasure, having no want or need for more, but still returns home a very wealthy hobbit roughly a year and a month after he first left. He writes the story of his adventures.
On first publication in October 1937, The Hobbit was met with almost unanimously favourable reviews from publications both in the UK and the US, including The Times, Catholic World and New York Post. C. S. Lewis, friend of Tolkien (and later author of The Chronicles of Narnia between 1949 and 1954), writing in The Times reports:
The truth is that in this book a number of good things, never before united, have come together: a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar’s with the poet’s grasp of mythology… The professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity that is worth oceans of glib “originality.”
Lewis compares the book to Alice in Wonderland in that both children and adults may find different things to enjoy in it, and places it alongside Flatland, Phantastes, and The Wind in the Willows. W. H. Auden, in his review of the sequel The Fellowship of the Ring, calls The Hobbit “one of the best children’s stories of this century”. Auden was later to correspond with Tolkien, and they became friends. The Hobbit was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction of the year (1938). More recently, the book has been recognized as “Most Important 20th-Century Novel (for Older Readers)” in the Children’s Books of the Century poll in Books for Keeps.
Publication of the sequel The Lord of the Rings altered many critics’ reception of the work. Instead of approaching The Hobbit as a children’s book in its own right, critics such as Randel Helms picked up on the idea of The Hobbit as being a “prelude”, relegating the story to a dry-run for the later work. Countering a presentist interpretation are those who say this approach misses out on much of the original’s value as a children’s book and as a work of high fantasy in its own right, and that it disregards the book’s influence on these genres. Commentators such as Paul Kocher, John D. Rateliff and C. W. Sullivan encouraged readers to treat the works separately, both because The Hobbit was conceived, published, and received independently of the later work, and to avoid dashing readers’ expectations of tone and style.
While The Hobbit has been adapted and elaborated upon in many ways, its sequel The Lord of the Rings is often claimed to be its greatest legacy. The plots share the same basic structure progressing in the same sequence: the stories begin at Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins; Bilbo hosts a party that sets the novel’s main plot into motion; Gandalf sends the protagonist into a quest eastward; Elrond offers a haven and advice; the adventurers escape dangerous creatures underground (Goblin Town/Moria); they engage another group of elves (Mirkwood/Lothlórien); they traverse a desolate region (Desolation of Smaug/the Dead Marshes); they are received and nourished by a small settlement of men (Esgaroth/Ithilien); they fight in a massive battle (The Battle of Five Armies/Battle of Pelennor Fields); their journey climaxes within an infamous mountain peak (Lonely Mountain/Mount Doom); a descendant of kings is restored to his ancestral throne (Bard/Aragorn); and the questing party returns home to find it in a deteriorated condition (having possessions auctioned off / the Scouring of the Shire).
The Lord of the Rings contains several more supporting scenes, and has a more sophisticated plot structure, following the paths of multiple characters. Tolkien wrote the later story in much less humorous tones and infused it with more complex moral and philosophical themes. The differences between the two stories can cause difficulties when readers, expecting them to be similar, find that they are not. Many of the thematic and stylistic differences arose because Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a story for children, and The Lord of the Rings for the same audience, who had subsequently grown up since its publication. Further, Tolkien’s concept of Middle-earth was to continually change and slowly evolve throughout his life and writings (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
What do you call 8 hobbits together? A hobbyte!
Second, a Song:
The Hobbit is a film series consisting of three high fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson. The three films are The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). The films are based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, with large portions of the trilogy inspired by the appendices to The Return of the King, which expand on the story told in The Hobbit, as well as new material and characters written especially for the films. Together they act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
The screenplay was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, who was originally chosen to direct before his departure from the project. The films take place in the fictional world of Middle-earth sixty years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, and follow hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The films expand upon certain elements from the novel and other source material, such as Gandalf’s investigation at Dol Guldur, and the pursuit of Azog and Bolg, who seek vengeance against Thorin and his kindred.
The films feature an ensemble cast that includes James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Billy Connolly, Graham McTavish, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Antony Sher, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans, with several actors reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings, including Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis. The films feature Manu Bennett, Conan Stevens, John Tui, Sylvester McCoy, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Mikael Persbrandt, Barry Humphries, and Lawrence Makoare. Returning for production, among others, were illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, art director Dan Hennah, cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, and composer Howard Shore, while props were again crafted by Weta Workshop, with visual effects managed by Weta Digital.
The first film in the trilogy premiered at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand on 28 November 2012. One hundred thousand people lined the red carpet on Courtenay Place, and the entire event was broadcast live on television in New Zealand and streamed over the Internet. The second film of the series premiered at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on 2 December 2013. The final film premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 1 December 2014. Despite critical reception being mixed, the series was a financial success. The Hobbit trilogy is one of the highest-grossing film series of all time with $2.932 billion in worldwide receipts. It was nominated for various awards and won several, although not as many as the original trilogy (per Wikipedia).
Clamavi De Profundis are a family that loves to sing together and record inspiring and uplifting music. Our music is influenced by classical and fantasy literature as well as cinematic, traditional, religious, and classical music. Being a family, we have the unique advantage of similar sounding voices that blend well together. We also have a very broad vocal range potential of over five octaves with a particular focus on singing in the deeper registers. This all enables us to create well blended recordings with a lot of musical depth.
Here is Clamavi De Profundis’ cover of Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold from the movie The Hobbit. The melody was written by David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche and Janet Roddick and is found in Howard Shore’s movie soundtrack.
One of the brothers from Clamavi De Profundis arranged this piece and the family thought it would be neat to sing more of the verses of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Misty Mountains” poem than they did in the movie. Three of the brothers and their father sang in this video. One of the brothers recorded and mixed it (per YouTube.com).
There are a total of 10 singing tracks in this video set to scenes from The Hobbit film series by Peter Jackson, performed by Clamavi De Profundis. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
Further to the Tiny Broadwick Smile, Eric O’Dell of Surrey, BC, Canada writes:
To you have to be crazy, stupid, or simply a dare-devil to do this stuff.
When we lived in Grouse Woods we would often see the paragliders take off from Grouse Mountain, fly over the house, and land at the park near the Cleveland Dam. One year while RV-ing at Casa Grande, a neighbour gave her husband a gift of a tandem skydive for his 60th birthday.
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky