I came to re-read The Hobbit with some trepidation having first read it before I was a teenager. It inspired me on to read the tauntingly thick single bound edition of the LOTR Trilogy. I loved all the books.
The LOTR films I was less keen on. They were long and, at times, rather boring. Nevertheless, I went on to watch all three Hobbit movies, the mind boggling how they could make three long movies out of a relatively short novel. It was for that reason I returned to The Hobbit anew – now as an adult – to see what was in the movies…and what wasn’t. But I feared that Tolkien might not prove to be as good decades later and yet another childhood memory would be shattered if the author didn’t live up to expectations.
Certainly, the films take liberties though mostly by adding considerable extra detail, stories and characters not found in the original novel and the tone is more ‘grown up’ and dark than the book. Likewise, what is considered acceptable in writing has changed a great deal since 1937. Tolkien adopts a chatty style as if a favourite uncle was making up a tale for his young nephews. Exclamation marks abound including, bizarrely, three together like this ! ! ! Odd spellings and references to words no longer used such as ‘Tomnoddy’ also appear, incongruously at times.
The biggest irritant for me though was the use of the ugly word ‘huger’. Horrible word – ‘bigger’ would have sufficed. I can’t believe the well-educated author thought that was a good word even back then.
But honestly, that’s it. I can’t fault the book after all that. It is still a wonderful tale, perhaps more innocently told than the films portray but wonderful nevertheless. It was a joy to read, I was hooked from beginning to end and I found myself admiring the films much more; their vision in my mind enhancing the tale and not detracting from it. Yes, I still find it funny that the third movie dealt with less than the last fifty pages of the book! But it was well done nonetheless. Book and films complement each other well.
The Hobbit is still a book which one can recommend to anyone to read without qualm and still one which young children will enjoy. This child, at least, loved every word. Except ‘huger’ .