The Hobbit is the first major book of which I have a conscious memory. Probably four or five years old, I remember being with my mother visiting a friend’s house; a vague recollection, perhaps garbled, of sharing a guestroom with Wedgwood blue walls and high ceilings.
And my mother showing me this book. The cover illustration enthralled me and was my first exposure to perspective. For years after, I would carefully draw serried ranges of pointed peaks receding to infinity. I also remember, a few years later, a little boy visiting us with his mother, and both mothers calling him ‘Bilbo Baggins’ due to his small-but-sturdy appearance.
So a couple of years ago, seeing a reprint of this edition, present in our house for years, I bought it and just re-read it, delighted at the rediscovery of its wit, warmth, and lively vocabulary, such as two weapons called Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer (63).
And a renewed appreciation of the resilient, resourceful, dapple-skilled protagonist Bilbo Baggins who ‘could do lots of things, besides blowing smoke-rings, asking riddles and cooking’ (144) and fully deserving of his own ‘imperishable songs’ (226). As he tells Smaug the Dragon, “I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly” (200). Something to put on your business card, surely?
Choice quotations are shared in other posts.
Source: The Hobbit: or there and back again, J.R.R. Tolkien (London: HarperCollins, 1995)