Hi Friends! We were struck with the idea that reading books out loud to each other was a good idea right now. It was a first-thing-in-the-morning waking thought idea, one that led to a short journey (to the bookshelves) and slightly panicked search for treasure: Jacquie’s 1977 Edition of The Hobbit (Or: There and Back Again) as she knew it, then. This was the first fully illustrated edition, with over 230 illustrations. J spent untold hours with this book as a kid. It holds a fair bit of magic for her, and for Dave as a Tolkien fan as a teenager and afterward, and we know the books and later, the films, do for millions of other fans of fantasy and adventure.
The Hobbit was most certainly a children’s story, one that linked to the more adult and broadened Lord of the Rings. Bilbo was to become the most strange and wondrous hobbit after throwing in with Gandalf and the company of dwarves on the quest to reclaim their rightful mountain home and treasure from the sleepy dragon, Smaug. It was a short-ish book, and a nighttime read for many children. Bilbo had to learn, abruptly, to leave his numerous comforts and his normal life for a calling that would transform him forever – not to a cinematic ninja – but inch-by-inch, thrust out of his comfortable life in The Hill into reluctant heroism: messy, full of challenges, a roller-coaster of emotions, bravery, finding unknown talents and resources, all the things that are not the stuff of “fantasy” at all, but also, common challenges we all know about by now in navigating regular life. Fate played a a hand – belevolent, mysterious Gandalf the Grey would set Bilbo on his unexpected course with a cryptic signal on the door, advertising the hobbit as a Burglar looking for work. This detail is so strange, and funny, and bears thinking about, doesn’t it?
Scroll down for Chapter 1: An Unexpected Party (5 short parts). This chapter is delightful as we get a sense of the hobbit’s living and eating habits, which make up their defining characteristics and around which they organize their hill-living days.
We hope you enjoy reading along or listening. We’ll upload a new chapter every day – the whole book – (19 chapters). The first chapter which serves as an introduction is long, so it breaks down into 5 parts (about 40 minutes of reading). The rest of the chapters seem to be about half that, so 20 minutes each.
We’ll include some more photography as well as we go. Feel free to share and invite others.
You can subscribe by email to be reminded of new chapters, and listen to them in your own time.
CHAPTER 1: AN UNEXPECTED PARTY
CHAPTER 2: ROAST MUTTON
The party sets off on their adventure, and run into a trio of trolls. Chapter 3 to follow tomorrow!
- “If you had dusted the mantelpiece, you would have found this just under the clock,” said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note (written, of course, on his own note-paper).
- “Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey, if it don’t look like mutton again tomorrer,” said one of the trolls.
- Trolls are slow in the uptake, and mighty suspicious about anything new to them.
- “Who shall we sit on first?” said the voice.
Chapter 2: Part One
Chapter Two: Part Two
Chapter Two: Part Three
CHAPTER 3: A SHORT REST
In this chapter, we finally get to experience some of Bilbo’s sense of wonder about the most fascinating creature beyond his borders of home. He has a fascination with elves, and now he will get to meet some, and see his subject of fascination out of books he’s read over long pipes and warm hearth fires of his home in the hill. Each chapter so far is like a capsule story about strange new people and the widening world of the hobbit, learning who to trust or fear, and is one of the most wonderful things about the way Tolkien structured the book (and so, introduced children to his wider world/universe). It’s but a short rest, and a short chapter!
CHAPTER 4: OVER HILL and UNDER HILL
After a recuperating stay with Elrond and the Elves, Bilbo and the company are well and truly off on their adventure into the mountains. They don’t get far before they encounter trouble, however….and the group becomes separated.
CHAPTER 5: RIDDLES IN THE DARK
This is a pivotal chapter, very excited to bring you Bilbo’s chance meeting with Gollum, which will change his entire life’s fate. In my childhood, Gollum looked like this: a frog-like creature, fairly terrifying, an anti-Kermit. Never imagining his back story or him ever living in the world. It turns out my Gollum reading-voice was slightly inspired by Stuart from Letterkenny, a worthy muse for these dark times.
A little late posting this one, we’ll get back on track with daily chapters posted every afternoon by 5:00 EST, tomorrow (Saturday.)