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The History of the Hobbit Hardcover – 27 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Revised Updated edition edition (27 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007440820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007440825
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 6.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

John D. Rateliff moved to Wisconsin in 1981 in order to work with the Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette University. He has been active in Tolkien scholarship for many years, delivering papers on Tolkien and the Inklings. While at Marquette, he assisted in the collation of their holdings with those Christopher Tolkien was editing for his History of Middle-earth series. A professional editor, he lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three cats, only one of whom is named after a Tolkien character.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Similarly to `The History of Middle Earth' series (13 books in total) this book examines in detail `The Hobbit' in regards to how this children's story came into being and how it grew. First published on 21st September 1937, the Hobbit has become more than simply a `fireside story' but something containing great meaning and value to many readers, both young and old. With the recent release of Peter Jackson's film adaptation (part 1: the Hobbit ~ an unexpected journey), now more than ever people are interested in the details behind Bilbo's journey to the lonely mountain and of Dwarves and Dragons. This is the first installment within a 2 volume collection, which presents the original manuscript of The Hobbit accompanied by John D. Rateliff's lively commentary.

This book looks behind Tolkien's tale to explore those themes hidden within, as well as noting those changes that have occurred over the years to the original publication. Ratecliff looks at each chapter in turn and looks at why changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien's ever-growing concept of Middle-Earth. `Riddles in the dark' with Bilbo and Gollum has to be one of the most significant parts of the Hobbit, and so I enjoyed reading into this part very much and finding out more about the finding of the One Ring. The enchanting tale of Hobbits is brought vividly to life in this enlightening guide to Tolkien's spellbinding story, which delves into such detail and depth. Complete with full-color illustrations done by JRR Tolkien and photographs, this really is a beautiful book and something to treasure!

I value and rate this book very highly, due to its captivating content and exquisite cover and images inside. If you are looking for an assured, accurate read relating to J.R.R. Tolkien's `The Hobbit' then the history behind it makes for great reading.

"...The road goes ever on and on...
Down from the door where it began"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MR C J SPENCER on 31 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book for the Tolkien fanatics - of which I am one. It is a piece of seriously academic work about the writing of The Hobbit - an insight into the mind of J R R Tolkien. If that is your thing, this is a great piece of work - but don't expect another exciting story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book. It pretty much goes without saying that you really should have read The Hobbit before reading this. I would add that you will probably get more out of it if you've also read The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, but these are not essential as the author usually contextualises any references to those books.
The History of the Hobbit presents the earliest-surviving versions of manuscripts and typescripts of the story as originally written by JRR Tolkien. Each chapter of the story is accompanied by notes, and followed by essays on subjects arising from that chapter. The discussions draw on a wide range of sources to illuminate concepts and influences, with Ratecliff referencing correspondence, ancient Scandinavian mythology, philology, archaeology, European folklore, Radio interviews, and Tolkien's other writings of Middle Earth. This thorough analysis helps you understand the broad foundation that quietly and invisibly supports The Hobbit, and makes you reappraise the story, and certainly deepened my love for the tale and helped me really appreciate the achievement it represents.
Amongst the pleasures to be discovered in the first draft itself are the alternative names for some of the characters, different (and quite surprising) plot threads, and in particular, the original version of the Riddles in the Dark chapter which was changed by Tolkien for the second edition following the start of his work on the sequel.
At 900+ pages it's not for the casual reader, but if you have a passion for Tolkien's work, if you have an interest in the craft of writing, or if you want to be inspired, I highly recommend this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Palmer on 10 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rateliff has done a thorough job in researching the sources of the original mauscripts of The Hobbit. His revelations provide much pause for thought when looking at the alleged originality of Tolkien's earliest published novel. There are discussions relating to the sources of each name that Tolkien uses, each location, each people, each myth. Rateliff's analysis of the relationship between Tolkien's myths and those of Greece, Rome, Celtic and Norse origin is enlightening and very much adds to the enjoyment of the original work.

An adult response to a childhood story. Much welcomed. Now I am off to read the second half of Rateliff's academic work: Return To Bag End
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By PanamaHat on 18 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
You don't - in theory - have to be a Tolkien fan to find value in this book (and its continuation in part 2). Its main thrust is a step by step, academically rigorous examination of the process of composition, starting from the first manuscript and including the notes and memoranda Tolkien made for himself. As such, it provides an insight into the development of storyline and characters which should interest any writer. It shows that, in the case of The Hobbit, while much of the published narrative was as originally conceived, significant changes took place as the novel grew: the names of three major characters were changed, many inconsistencies were ironed out, some elements were abandoned and others introduced, often taking the story in a new direction.
The format is to reproduce Tolkien's original manuscript chapter by chapter, including the abbreviations, crossings out, insertions and so on that he made at the time; this is supplemented by 'Text Notes' which identify his sources, point out the process of change as the story moved from manuscript to typescript to printer's proofs to publication, and shed sidelights based on Tolkien's correspondence and other writings. Following each chunk of text and notes is a commentary (also supplemented by its own notes) on selected themes introduced in that chapter.
Again there's a lot here that's of interest on a general level: Tolkien, for example, didn't - as most readers might suppose - make up all The Hobbit's character and place names; many of them come from sources in Nordic mythology; various others are carefully constructed from obscure or archaic English, Celtic, etc.
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