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Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in the Hobbit Paperback – 23 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: Saint Benedict Press (23 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618900587
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618900586
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 690,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By damcar65 on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good and interesting. But NOT for somebody who has NOT YET read Lord of the Rings as it gives details you would NOT like to know!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent and prompt service! So happy with this book that gives you the Christian perspective of the meaning to the Tolkien children classic. Journey = Pilgrimage!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Bilbo's Journey~Our Journey 29 Nov. 2012
By Theresa M. George - Published on
Format: Paperback
Needless to say, I was just giddy when asked to review this book being a great fan of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as well as other books by JRR Tolkien.

It comes as no surprise that there are beautiful Catholic themes woven throughout The Hobbit since JRR Tolkien was a lifelong Catholic. The themes are not quite as obvious in The Hobbit as in the The Lord of the Rings which makes this book quite an interesting treasure to read. Although some points from The Lord of the Rings are also included which I much appreciated and enjoyed.

Professor Pearce takes us on a journey~Bilbo's journey~which is also the journey of a soul. This is the journey of a soul that dies to self in order to be reborn again in Christ. One that leaves the comforts and pleasures of a self-centered life to embark on a pilgrimage filled with trials, dangers, and temptations. As in the spiritual life, this is how the soul is purified and tested.

Bilbo's journey is an adventure in which the virtues of loyalty, patience, self-sacrifice, prudence, peacemaking, forgiveness, courage, and faithfulness are acquired. When Bilbo finally returns to his home from his journey, he is truly *a new man*.

It's timely release is a perfect companion to those picking up The Hobbit for the first time, those looking forward to the movie's release this December, and those seasoned readers who have a dog-eared copy. I would also recommend this to late middle school and high school students who are encountering Tolkien's literature in school or at home.

Professor Pearce has really opened my eyes to the implications of many of the characters and situations in The Hobbit that has allowed me to see it in a new light...a spiritual light. I will never read it the same way again.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Unearthing the Catholic symbolism in Middle-Earth 20 Dec. 2012
By Brandon Vogt - Published on
Format: Paperback
Many regard Joseph Pearce as today's premiere Catholic biographer. He's profiled many literary icons like Shakespeare, G.K. Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis. His book on J.R.R. Tolkien remains my favorite Tolkien biography. Thus I was excited to hear about Pearce's new book on The Hobbit, published alongside its December film adaptation.

Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit (Saint Benedict Press, 144 pages, paperback) goes beyond the fantasy to unearth the profound Christian truths hidden within Tolkien's classic work.

Tolkien himself described the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which The Hobbit precedes, as a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work." This underlying dimension is often noble, as in the virtue and self-sacrifice we spot in Bilbo, the dwarves, and the elves. These characters, Pearce notes, embody Jesus' beatific teachings. But there are also darker dimensions like the pride, lust, and greed we see in figures like Smaug, which affirm Jesus' warning that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).

When examined through this Catholic lens, The Hobbit becomes a multi-layered spiritual journey:

"[The Hobbit] is a rite of passage from ignorance to wisdom and from bourgeois vice to heroic virtue. Its main character, Bilbo, represents each of us journeying toward God and moral perfection."

Pearce also shows how this journey is aided by religious forces like providence.Though Tolkien never mentions God throughout his fiction, his characters consistently face dire odds but emerge through the help of so-called "luck." Yet this is no mere chance, Pearce explains. Tolkien's aim was to show how God is constantly operating in the world, and even today guides history with intention and love.

Bilbo's Journey closes with two interesting appendices. The first offers a short summary of Tolkien's important essay, "On Fairy Stories," and the second presents Pearce's own thoughts on the importance of wonder. Readers may actually be helped by reading these appendices first, before the rest of the book.

In all, Bilbo's Journey is a timely, invigorating read by a foremost Tolkien scholar. Pearce's own background in Catholicism and English literature enable him to uniquely probe the hidden meaning of Tolkien's classic work. Whether you read this book alongside the film or the original book, it will shine new light on an old story.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent insights into how The Hobbit reveals Divine Providence 20 Feb. 2013
By Terryn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought this book was excellent. Pearce goes through the story and unlocks the hidden meanings that Tolkien put into the book. I especially liked how Pearce showed the parallels between Bilbo's comforts at home in the beginning vs. the Dragon's comfort with the gold, and his description of "dragon sickness". I also liked how Pearce unlocked this not only as a "coming of age" story for Bilbo, but of how Divine Providence works through our lives as we partake of our own journeys, and how Providence is really at work when we think of it as luck. I gained some good insights into how Providence and free will work together through this book. Plus, it was fun to go through The Hobbit story again through a different lens.

Be aware that Pearce expects that you have read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before you read this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Spiritual Journey for the reader as well 24 Oct. 2013
By Don Mulcare - Published on
Format: Paperback
Pearce and Tolkien believed that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were fundamentally religious and Catholic works. Apparently critics had either missed or resented this interpretation. Pearce paraphrased Tolkien in suggesting that the real reason for critical prejudice against Tolkien's and similar works had grown out of a particular hostility toward Christianity.

The failure to see and understand the hidden meaning of Tolkien's works, parallels an episode within the pages of The Hobbit where the company of dwarfs and even Gandalf could not see, let alone interpret directions on an ancient map. Elrond did see, understand and read that hidden message because he viewed it on a midsummer's eve under a crescent moon. These were the same conditions in effect when the message was first inscribed. Similarly, to fully grasp the hidden meaning of The Hobbit, the tale must be read with Catholic eyes.

Who better to uncover the hidden meaning of The Hobbit than noted Catholic author Joseph Pearce, who wrote biographies of J. R. R. Tolkien and two of the major influences in Tolkien's intellectual and literary development--Hilarie Belloc and G. K. Chesterton. To further support his assertions Pearce delved into many of the sources used by Tolkien in writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings allowing him to share Tolkien's perspective.

Pearce opened his arguments with this statement:

Apart from the story's status as a Christian bildungsroman, charting Bilbo's rite of passage from ignorance to wisdom and from bourgeois vice to heroic virtue, The Hobbit parallels The Lord of the Rings in the mystical suggestiveness of its treatment of Divine Providence, and serves as a moral commentary on the words of Christ that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). In these three aspects, it can be truly said of The Hobbit, as Tolkien said of The Lord of the Rings, that it is "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

Critics faulted The Hobbit for "the continued presence of biased fortune" or incredibly good luck whenever needed. In response Pearce explained that Divine Providence aided those who opened themselves to the influence of Grace, particularly by a show of mercy even to their enemies. Pearce turned the tables on those critics, blind to Grace, who faulted The Hobbit for the excessive influence of "luck," but who in their own turn explained the "enormity and complexity of the cosmos" as the effect of "chance alone."

Dragon Sickness, a recurring theme evoked the image of the avaricious and arrogant Smaug the Terrible buried in a pile of stolen dwarf treasure, but its symptoms included Bilbo's clinging to the comfort of his Hobbit hole and eventually "The Ring." Pearce reminded his readers of Tolkien's description of Elrond's virtuous disposition and that he did "not altogether approve of dwarves and their love of gold." Pearce warned against modern contamination with Dragon Sickness as applied to the human tendency toward "bourgeois vice" whereby individuals clung to life within a "comfort zone."

Gandalf's apparent abandonment of the company of dwarves brought about Bilbo's coming of age as adversity prompted ethical decisions and the flow of Grace allowed the Hobbit to grow beyond his comfort zone to realize his true capabilities. In the end Bilbo profited from the adventure, despite his personal suffering and loss.

Through Bilbo's Journey Pearce offered his readers a spiritual commentary as well as a literary guide to Tolkien's work. Bilbo's Journey, a storehouse of topics worthy of spiritual reflection deserves multiple readings that offer both inner peace and a more complete understanding the Catholic roots of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Pearce, Joseph. Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2012.

(© 2013 Donald J. Mulcare)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very Insightful! 6 Jan. 2013
By Nancy Kenny - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My daughter had to read "The Hobbit" as a 7th grade Literature assignment in her virtual school. This book is the perfect companion to understanding the deeper meaning of the characters and their actions, the setting, the conflict, the mercy, and most profoundly the "journey" of the Hobbit, and of all of us, to "grow up" and become more "other-centered" instead of self-centered. You will appreciate many of Joseph Pearce's insights. I highly recommend reading "Bilbo's Journey" section by section, just enough of each of his chapters as you finish each chapter in the Hobbit...pick up this book and ponder Pearce's intelligent commentary. They only minor suggestion I could make on improving this book would be to indicate corresponding chapter numbers in "The Hobbit." A couple of times, we thought Pearce was analyzing the chapter we had just finished, but the next paragraph went into something we hadn't read yet..."spoiler alert!" my kids would yell! We would have stopped reading had Pearce noted in the margin when he jumped into the next chapter. We all LOVE this book!
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