Thoughts on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
This is my second attempt at reading The Hobbit after extreme boredom with the story ended my initial effort when I was in college. I was inspired to try again by the forthcoming film and by my participation in the
Sword & Laser Book Club, of which The Hobbit is the December selection. Having finished the book this time, I am pleased to add my name to the list of people who have read this classic, though I was terribly disappointed by the novel itself.
The main reason for my disappointment is the writing style of J.R.R. Tolkien, which I found meandering and far too whimsical for my taste. I fully understand why this is such a beloved book, but I was not able to whip up even a fraction of enjoyment that my peers seem to have gained from the same experience. I felt Tolkien lingered too long on uninteresting encounters and completely rushed through the scenes that I found myself enjoying. The story itself is entertaining, but my enjoyment of it was marred by the writing style. I feel badly about that, as though I've completely missed the point.
I do appreciate what I feel is one of the lessons of The Hobbit, which is that with the right coalition of allies, you can overcome overwhelming hardship. Tolkien learned this lesson personally as a soldier during World War I. It is an important lesson, but I wonder if the children who were the original target audience of this story would see it. Despite my disappointment, I am glad I read The Hobbit. It has informed so much our current popular culture since its publication and will surely again when the films are released.