15 Nov 2010

The History of The Hobbit (in simple words) - (Part 1)

' I desired dragons...' 

According to Professor Tolkien himself, his very first story was written before his eighth birthday. 'It was all about a dragon' , he wrote many years later, and remembered how his beloved mother explained to him that he could not say ' green great dragon', but instead had to say 'a great green dragon'. Later in life , he would begin working on a new tale about a dragon, not green this time, but golden and very big. In his personal journey of discovery into the magical world of fantasy, Tolkien considers dragons as necessary to step into the 'Other-worlds' and create enchantment .

The dragon had the trade-mark of Faerie written plain upon him. In whatever world he had his being it was an Other-world. Fantasy, the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds, was the heart of the desire of Faerie. I desired dragons with a profound desire. (J.R.R.Tolkien -On Fairy-Stories)

And so it happened that sometime between 1930/1933 Professor Tolkien wrote on an exam paper that he was supposed to mark :" In a hole in a ground there lived a hobbit...!" and some time later began telling his own children about a funny little creature called Bilbo Baggins, who found a magic ring that made him invisible so that he could stole a golden dragon's treasure that belonged to some Dwarves.

At the beginning Professor Tolkien did not understand why he wrote that little opening sentence, or about the creature he called 'hobbit', yet he knew it was important so he kept it in the back of his mind. Tolkien's children will remember on how in his study in front of the fireplace , their father told them a long story about a small fellow with hairy feet. The creative process is never a smooth ride and might take one on a journey of discovery. Bilbo Baggins was probably living inside Tolkien's mind for a while and the road the little hobbit was to undertake already set for him. As far as we know, the original exam paper upon which Professor Tolkien scribbled down the opening sentence of The Hobbit did not survived, however some priceless pages from the original manuscript ( 3 sheets) have been preserved.

- Concerning Mr Bilbo Baggins , Hobbit of the Shire

Unlike its sequel, The Hobbit is generally regarded as a book for young readers. Professor Tolkien himself said that the story is 'addressed to children'. First and foremost, The Hobbit is a tale of adventure about a hobbit with a very comfortable existence until one day a wizard and thirteen Dwarves whisk him off ( without his beloved handkerchief) to a Lonely Mountain, to steal a treasure from a golden dragon called Smaug. From respectable hobbit to burglar, the story of Bilbo Baggins begins in his very own home, Bag End on The Hill in the Shire. In the next instalment of "The History of The Hobbit" we will learn more about Bilbo and about his life in the Shire at the time when the events in The Hobbit took place.

To Be Continued...