Friday, September 21, 2012

In a hole in the ground there lived a story

The first paperback version I read
And what a story it was.  75 years ago this very day, a publishing company released a children's book by an English professor named 'The Hobbit.'  It was a cute little thing, based partly on the bedside stories the professor told his children, and interwoven with a fictional myth he was working on and a new bread of characters that he had invented once while monitoring exams - hobbits.  The book was a children's book for a more literate age.  If more people read today, the reading level of those who do, I'm convinced, is much lower than those days.  Maybe fewer people could read, but those who could had a reading ability far beyond ours today.  I say this because I've heard young people who began reading at the feet of J.K. Rowling and her boy wizard who then attempted The Hobbit, come away shocked at its difficulty and depth.

Still, The Hobbit was merely the pregame warm-up for that epic masterpiece that our little British professor named J.R.R. Tolkien would pen as a sequel: The Lord of the Rings.  Though I'm not a fan of fantasy, and I've never really 'loved' The Hobbit, I appreciate it for its role in the overall Middle-Earth corpus.  And it all started today.  Who would have known the love that Tolkien had for myth and legend, nature and languages, would be embraced by so many, and influence so many more.  So here's to you Professor Tolkien, cheers and well met today, the anniversary of the book that started it all.

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