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Taking it back to the source

October 29, 2012 at 11:14 am by greendragon  - 

As fans impatiently wait for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, one journalist in Middle-earth – ahem, in New Zealand – has written a great article which reminds us of the humble beginnings of this extraordinary tale.  When Professor Tolkien jotted down those few, simple words – ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ – it was indeed, as Gandalf might tell us, ‘like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche…’  When did you first encounter Middle-earth?  Relive those memories with this charming article.

Posted in Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Tolkien on October 29, 2012 by
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles

3 responses to “Taking it back to the source”

  1. citoyen david says:

    In 1967 I found the book in a box of other books and decided I liked to cover jacket, so read it. How
    many times have I read it since then I wonder?
    I hope this movie can stay on the book and not added sensationalism to it like the Ring Trilogy did. People who have no idea of the story other than the movies have missed the truth of JRRT. Already the Dwarfs have turned into Klingons and the money making characters of the Rings have cameo appearances. I look forward to the movie but afraid of its exaggerated content.

  2. Brian Boru says:

    Not a bad article. It certainly makes a change to read an article in a Middle-earth …. ahem NZ newspaper, which is about scholarly matters like this rather than the potential for The Hobbit movies to attract other Hollywood productions into NZ and for the movies to be tourist pamphlets for NZ. I should point out that the small beginnings of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings could be traced back to a century ago next year when Tolkien first started reading in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic at Oxford University under the tutelage of NZ Rhodes scholar Kenneth Sisam, born in Opotiki NZ in 1887, who was a graduate of both Auckland University and Oxford University. According to Humphrey Carpenter’s biography Sisam taught Tolkien the processes of philology, which enabled him to invent the word ‘hobbit’ from the philological effect of the Latin word ‘habitat’ introduced into the Middle English period on the Old English word ‘holbytla’, which translates as ‘hole-builder/dweller’. This can be seen when considering how the opening line of The Hobbit ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ translates in Latin as ‘In foramine terrae habitabat hobbitus’. Sisam also got Tolkien to write a glossary for his Middle English Reader in 1922, which was no mean feat given the different dialects that make up Middle English and explains the conciseness and complexity of Tolkien’s works. And Tolkien also had to go up against Sisam for the professorship of Anglo-Saxon in 1925, which had to be decided in the end by the Vice Chancellor’s casting vote between them, which obviously favoured Tolkien. A whole article could be written about all this and other NZ academic connections with Tolkien. By the way, despite having said all that as a resident NZer by birth I agree with you saying; ‘Middle-earth … ahem, in NZ’ because aside from the NZ media only focusing on The Hobbit movies economic potential from the film and tourism industries there is absolutely no appreciation in this country for the education processes that Tolkien went through, that NZer Kenneth Sisam played a significant part in, that enabled Tolkien to create his legendarium in the first place. Even after the scholarship that made up the programme that Tolkien taught at Oxford was drawn upon to help with the development of the movies.

  3. Brian Boru says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I have heard a whiff from someone working in the wardrobe department that they have designed the Dwarves costumes so they reflect what their names actually mean from the Old Icelandic sources that Tolkien got them from but I am thinking that will be lost in all the other characteristics that they have fabricated for the Dwarves that I have read about. Also, the way that the likes of Orlando Bloom is talked up is ridiculous as if the whole trilogy will become the bomb of all time if he doesn’t make his million dollar two minute cameo, which won’t make any sense unless John Rhys-Davies does one too, for example, when Dain’s army arrives at the Lonely Mountain and his escort led by Gimli meets up with Thranduil’s escort led by Legolas? I could be exagerating the dollar figure on Bloom’s cameo. But I did read something like that somewhere a long time ago now. However, even if it was a tenth of that it still sounds like a lot just for a cameo.

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