Posts Tagged ‘The Hobbit’

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien
sung by Bilbo inĀ The Hobbit

Note: J.R.R. Tolkien was born January 3, 1892.
Happy birthday, Professor Tolkien!


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In 1977, Rankin & Bass produced a cartoon version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which instantly delighted many children all over the world. In the film, after the dwarves, the wizard Gandalf, and the hobbit Bilbo discover a stolen treasure amassed by trolls, Gandalf hands over a map of the Mountain to the dwarf-leader, Thorin Oakenshield. (In the book, Gandalf shares it with Thorin and Bilbo back at Bag End before their adventure ever begins — the story was changed a bit in the translation from the page to the animated performance.) In the Mountain, there is an even greater treasure, one that has been stolen and is being jealously guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It is why the dwarves and Bilbo are on their adventure: they are treasure-seekers.

You can see the scene on YouTube:

Gandalf Hands Over the Map

If you skip ahead in the clip linked above to 6:30, you will come upon one of my favorite exchanges between Gandalf and Bilbo about a secret way to the Mountain:

Bilbo: “If the secret door is hidden, how do we find it? The map doesn’t tell.”
Gandalf: “It does, and it doesn’t. You will understand in time.”

Jane Beal, PhD

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I spent the morning at the Wade Center, a small research library dedicated to seven authors, the best known of whom are J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers. I was reading through biographies of Tolkien and thinking about the impact of his personal experiences on his creation of The Hobbit when I found a poem he wrote for his wife, Edith, his Luthien. Here it is:

Lo! Young we are and yet have stood
like planted hearts in the great Sun
of Love so long (as two fair trees
in woodland or in open dale
stand utterly entwined and breathe
the airs and suck the very light
together) that we have become
as one, deep rooted in the soil
of Life and tangled in the sweet growth.

J.R.R. Tolkien
printed in Carpenter’s biography, Tolkien (1977)

There is something very lovely about this poem that anyone can sense and feel resonating in the heart. It makes me think of how rich and deep was not only the mind but the heart of Tolkien, though perhaps much of what went on inside of him was hidden from the world … revealed only indirectly through his stories … and his endless etymologies woven together as he did his philological work. Tolkien was a true lover of words, but words were not all that he loved.

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