Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ turns 85 (and he doesn’t)

By the time humans enter retirement homes, Tolkien’s hero, born 85 years ago, has barely reached the age of reason. For good reason, Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit, and with a life expectancy of more than a hundred years, this “semi-man” has not finished making his fans dream. “The Hobbit” tells the story of Bilbo (or Bilbo) Baggins, a hobbit, therefore, who lives in the Shire, where he spends quiet days until the day he is drawn in spite of himself on a quest. In order to recover the treasure of the dragon Smaug, the peaceful hobbit teams up with thirteen dwarves and a magician. This story, childish at first, was born on September 21, 1937 in the mind of a professor of ancient languages ​​named John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. 85 years later, JRR Tolkien remains the father ofheroic fantasy.

Success right out

The writing of the “Hobbit” started with a simple sentence, put down on paper in the summer of 1930: “At the bottom of a hole lived a hobbit”. JRR Tolkien therefore asked himself, even when he had just invented this word: what is a hobbit and what can happen to him? Pushed by his four children in the writing of this tale, the Oxford professor who then gave lessons in Old English and Old Icelandic (among others) came to invent a story full of elves, dwarves, of magicians and fairy creatures, strongly inspired by Nordic legends. Armed with his pen, he also draws a map of this imaginary world and invents several languages ​​for the different peoples of Middle-earth: a complex mythology is born.

The professor’s children, first readers and adorers of the novel, had a flair for this story, since at the time of its release, the book of just over 300 pages sold thousands of copies in the first months. . Mainly read by children, the novel receives rave reviews, in particular that of Anne T. Eaton, journalist with the “New York Times” who writes, on March 13, 1938:

“It’s one of the most original and delightfully imaginative children’s books we’ve read in a long time. […] The songs of the dwarves and elves are true poetry, and since the author is talented enough to be able to do his own drawings, the illustrations are a perfect complement to the text. Boys and girls ages eight and up have already given The Hobbit an enthusiastic reception, but it’s a book with no age limit. Anyone, young or old, who loves a good adventure story, beautifully told, will take “The Hobbit” into their hearts. »

Since that famous September 21, 1937, “The Hobbit” has sold more than 150 million copies and was the starting point of a fantastic adventure for JRR Tolkien and his readers.

One legacy to rule them all

Today the legacy of the “Hobbit” is substantial, as the book has permeated pop culture and the works ofheroic fantasy published for the past 85 years. The book first turned into films, three in number, made between 2012 and 2014 by Peter Jackson, who had, ten years earlier, edited the first “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The latter managed the feat of shooting three feature films with a total duration of almost nine hours from a book of (only) 300 pages, the trilogy met with great success. Still in 2022, “The Hobbit” continues to fascinate and amuse the public. Proof of this is the series “The Rings of Power”, recently broadcast on Amazon Prime, with a pharaonic budget of 465 million dollars!

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And if the world still needs hobbits, they’ll be there for the world. Finally, not on Netflix, since the platform withdraws from its catalog the three parts of Peter Jackson on September 30th. Rest assured, they will be available on Prime, probably for the next 85 years, or so we hope.

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