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on December 19, 2001
The ONLY reason why I chose to buy this particular edition was because of the incredibly low price tag it carried for FOUR books. However, once the package arrived and I had worked my way past the first and second chapters (of the Hobbit) it became obvious WHY this particular printing had been such a steal.
For someone like me, who has read the ORIGINAL Hobbit (Unwin Publication), this edition was as close to a rip-off as one could get in the book-publishing world. Let me make a list here.
1. Typographical errors
2. The RUNES of the map are not correct either. It should read, "When the Trush Knocks", instead it reads,"Hwen the Trush Knocks"
3. The ENTIRE introduction by the author, (On Runes and their history, from where I learnt to read them 15 years ago) is MISSING! I wonder what anyone who reads this publication will think of Tolkien's runic writing without the authors guiding words.
Sadly, I have now lost the original Hobbit book (I lent it to a friend who lost it) so I will have to make do with the one from this boxed set. It's something. But it certainly WILL NOT PLEASE ANY FAN OF TOLKIEN.
If you are a Tolkien fan, or want to enjoy the TRUE magic of the Ring, DO NOT BUY THIS BOXED SET!!! This is strictly for the casual reader who cannot tell Tolkien from Eddings!
(...)
0Comment|32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 21, 2000
Everyone knows the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are wonderful stories, and I fully agree. The reason for my bad rating of this PARTICULAR edition of JRR Tolkien's works is that the books are riddled with typographical errors, some so severe that they change the meaning of sentences, effectively reversing the author's intent. One example: "The Breelanders locked their doors at night, which was also not unusual in the Shire." The word "unusual" should have been "usual"--i.e., the Shire Hobbits don't usually lock their doors at night. But exactly the opposite idea is conveyed by this typographical error! And there are many more errors where that one came from. I counted THREE errors on ONE PAGE! AVOID THIS EDITION at all costs!
0Comment|29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 1, 2012
This review is for regular size paperback only, as far as the books themselves, of course they're classics. Unfortunately Amazon links their reviews to multiple versions of the same product (meaning you can write a review for an audio book and that same review show up on a paperback edition of the same title. It's really bad for music reviews, let me tell you!).

If you should by this edition of HOBBIT/LOTR really depends on what you what for your money. I first purchased trade paperback editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS back in the early to mid nineties. They're nice and more portable than, perhaps, other editions of the book if you looking for some quick reading on the beach/airport/wherever and they're economical.

However, these editions tend of have more misprints, are not as sturdy as other editions of Tolkien's classic texts, and the maps are just hell to look at. As any regular size paperback they are not as hardy as other, better found bound books.

The oversize paperback editions are better, but overall the books do not hold up as well or are durable as hard back editions. If you do want to read the stories though without having to worry about the shape the books are in then the regular paperbacks would be the way to go, as (for me anyway) I want to keep the nicer editions in relatively clean condition.

Given Tolkien's status of one of the world's most popular writers, I would recommend picking up nicer editions of these works anyway, as you can get them at reasonable prices and they are much better purchases than the paperback box sets. The only real drawback is there is no general uniformity between the editions of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS that I recommend, if that is important to you.

Douglas A. Anderson's THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, is the definitive text of THE HOBBIT, has numerous textual annotations and examines in complete detail all the different revisions Tolkien made to the work in the subsequent decades after its initial publication in 1937.

For THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the most accurate text is the 50th Anniversay edition prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. I have the one volume oversize paperback edition of LOTR and am quite pleased with it.

The only way I would recommend purchasing the boxset of these books is if they published The Annotated Hobbit and the 50th Annivesary LOTR text as a uniform set as those are the definitive versions, and personally I'd prefer to see all four volumes hardbound. I don't think I've seen a hardbound version box set of all four works, though there are plenty to be had of LOTR.

In summary, unless you are wanting cheap editions of these books, you will be better served by purchasing other editions of Tolkien's books
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
As that was only in regards to these actual editions of Tolkien's work and not reviews of the books themselves, I am also including my separate reviews I have written for Amazon of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Also included is an abandoned review I wrote for THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING all the way back in early 2000 but was never posted on Amazon, explaining how Tolkien's life work of THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy but rather three parts of one work divided up for publishing purposes
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE HOBBIT Review - Inferior to THE LORD OF THE RINGS? I think not! No, just different!, April 7, 2000

The biggest problem with this novel is perception. Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature.
The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings. It became attached to his mythology, and became as important to him as The Silmarillion.

So delineation is required if you want to read this. Do not go in with the thought that The Hobbit is a "precursor" or any such nonsense to The Lord of the Rings. Think of it like you would think of any other children's classics: children's classics. If you take it on The L. R.'s terms, this is a failure, primary because it is not written to be like that. But, on the flipside, The L. R. is as much a failure in children's fiction. It is not children's fiction, it is epic fantasy, and one should not equate it with children's fiction. That is EXACTLY what people try to do with The Hobbit. They try to put it in the same type of genre or playing field as The L. R. They are both masterpieces, and I love them both dearly. But one is for children, the other with adults.

Of course, Tolkien is part of the problem. How many books do you know that is a children's book and has an adult sequel? Not very many. The Hobbit, scarcely 300 pages, was written and published in the children's market. He then talked to his publishers, and they wanted a sequel. So he began "the new Hobbit", as C. S. (Jack) Lewis so aptly put it. He was preoccupied with his mythology, and the sequel was drawn into it. So we have two works, spanning two different genres, and as far as surface connections go its little more than prequel/sequel. Instead of looking at The Hobbit as a prequel, a precursor to his ADULT masterpiece, an inferiour version, think of as his CHILDREN'S masterpiece. The Hobbit is top of the class in children's fiction, one of the few contenders against such other great children's works as Narnia and Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings, likewise, is THE crowning masterpiece of the fantasy genre, of which its influence is incalculable to that fantasy market. Both are as important as the other, just in different fields.

I haven't talked about The Silmarillion much. I have already reviewed it, so I won't go real in-depth here. But the same thing happened with it. People, expecting another Lord of the Rings, were inevitably disappointed with the Biblical style of the published version. If Tolkien wrote that book out in narrative form as he did Lord of the Rings, it would be ten times longer than Lord of the Rings. The biggest problem with Tolkien is people have to many preconceptions that are incorrect.

So, basically, in conclusion, think of it like this:

1. The Hobbit - Children's masterpiece. He scores big with this one.

2. The Lord of the Rings - a single fantasy, not a trilogy. (Tolkien was always quick to point that out). The Crowning achievement of modern fantasy.

3. The Silmarillion - the Bible of Middle-earth. Much more for students of his work than the causal reader.
.
.
.
.
.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
***** Despite vehement critical hostility, Tolkien is among our most important writers because the way he handles Myth, 26 Sep 2007

Over the past several decades, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has sold millions of copies and is commonly regarded as one of the most influential fantasy novels ever published. Many first time readers have began their trek into Middle-earth with Frodo and the Company of the Ring in recent years. What they will encounter there has been loved by millions of readers before them, and if they allow themselves to respond to Tolkien and his Myth will doubtless become a loyal and ardent fan of Tolkien and those furry-footed hobbits. What's also notable about THE LORD OF THE RINGS is, for a book as long as it is, many of its readers reread the novel many times over. Yet despite its enduring popularity, Tolkien is often held in complete disregard by the literary establishment.

The real question is why? In the literary climate that is characterized by modernism and post-modernism where the twentieth and twenty first century is a wasteland why does a "series" of fantasy novels become one of the most beloved works in modern times?

It's because the power of myth over the human imagination works wonders, creating a longing and a hunger that, Tolkien argues, is met by the Christian religion. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the flip-sides of the same coin, with Lewis giving us accounts of the longing and Tolkien providing the books that would create that longing. And what about the longing? It's that longing for Myth, that love for those beauties which Tolkien shows us in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It's that longing that sets man apart from all other creatures in the universe: a craving for beauty and for joy. The German word for this longing is "senhsucht". In a time characterized by fast-food, cell-phones, materialism, superficiality, the account of a Hobbit working against all odds in a mythic landscape so captures the human imagination (and this is NOT hype) that an entire genre is created. It is because of how Tolkien so masterfully handles Myth that he has been so highly treasured by such a large fan base.

Still, there are a few things to consider when reading Tolkien nowadays. Looking over the reviews, it proved rather shocking to me that people have been complaining that, although it was original when it was published, much of what Tolkien has done has become cliche and that other writers are much better working with these cliches and making them more exciting than Tolkien. They complain about his "endless descriptions" of the natural world, very detailed accounts of geography and not enough "characterization." The characters are unrealistic: the "human drama" required by the book's very nature is beyond Tolkien's scope as a writer. THE FELLOWSHIP is both uneven and very weak in pacing, with so much invested in the world and its history Tolkien forgets to make us care about the characters themselves. Another fault oft cited against Tolkien is the lack of "female characters," and there have been accusations that Tolkien is racist; one of my favorite misconceptions is that Frodo and Sam are homosexuals.

Academia has no time for Tolkien, and many of our key critics have denounced Tolkien as ill-written or escapist (Harold Bloom said that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a period piece which will simply not die but just keeps lingering on long after its relevance. This is the stance taken by a lot of professional critics with a grudge against Tolkien, and wonderfully have been proven wrong). To this day, while not nearly as openly hostile as previous decades, academia in general harbors resentment against Tolkien and everything he's done. As far as they're concerned, he's done something that is actually popular and therefore unworthy of study. It's one of those "high-brow vs. low-brow" situations, and instead of producing "worthwhile" academic research, Tolkien instead writes a "series" of novels which become one of the most established authors of this century. In recent years, academic support has grown tremendously for Tolkien, but he is still a very hotly contested modern writer, unlike some other "academically undeniable" classics such as James Joyce. Unlike the academic favorites, Tolkien highly polarizes the professional literary establishment. Fortunately he has gained some ground here though.

Much of the complaints voiced against THE LORD OF THE RINGS are both unimportant and irrelevant. Tolkien is working with literary traditions not in-tune with the modern mind, but is instead handling narrative threads of Myth. Tolkien gives us solid archetypes to work with, bringing out the very qualities of masculinity and the beauties and stark wonders of femininty, but all expressed in mythological terminology. The idea of Sam and Frodo as homosexual is both ridiculous and totally unfounded. In Myth, good is characterized and seen as "White," and the evil is dark and perverted. Those who say Tolkien is racist approach him from the wrong standpoint.

As for the modern fantasy reader, those who complain about Tolkien's originality (while acknowledging it, but that later writers do a much better job with it) is like saying Shakespeare, while a good dramatist, is not that good because other people take his principals and make them more exciting, etc. I heard a story once about a person who went to see a Shakespeare play and went away complaining there were too many quotes in the play to make it any good. Shakespeare is the source of these quotes and he did not even realise it.

Most people know that Tolkien founded modern fantasy. Tolkien laid down the template for the fantasy genre in general, and anyone who reads fantasy has been touched, directly or indirectly, by Tolkien's work. Almost all of the major fantasy authors have acknowledge their debt to Tolkien, and the shadow Tolkien casts over fantasy literature is very long indeed. Because there is fifty years separating us from the original publication, it is much harder to approach THE LORD OF THE RINGS as those first reviewers, for those who have grown up reading fantasy literature are now accustomed to Dwarves and Elves and Dark Lords and Epic Quests, but when it was issued THE LORD OF THE RINGS transformed and invented an entire new genre. It is not Tolkien's fault that his vision of a mythology was so successful that everyone else decided they would try their hand at fantasy and work within Tolkien's templates. The main problem with fantasy authors in general are they are more interested in emulation than they are in true "myth-making." Much like early rock and roll, which, because rock was not an established form of music, the early musicians relied on other forms to create a new genre, Tolkien did not have this tradition to fall back on so instead he used various literatures and epic poems to create his own vision of myth. A lot of fantasy writers do not work in the context of myth any more, but rather rely on genre stereotypes which are generally found in Tolkien. Many readers who are interested in "pulp" fantasy get bogged down in Tolkien because he takes the time to fully explain his world and its cultures, because his goal is different. There is plenty of action in LORD OF THE RINGS, but those raised on the pulp fantasy will not care for it.

Ultimately, THE LORD OF THE RINGS's criticism has shown itself to be of little important on its durability as a major text. Ever since its publication in 1954, 1955, and 1956, LOTR has become one of the most important literary works our era has produced, highly regarded and passionately loved by an enormous amount of people. Despite the very vocal minority who despise Tolkien and his work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has consistently topped the polls for the best book of the last one hundred years. Whatever the critics say, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is here to stay because popular imagination has grabbed hold of Tolkien's vision and ran with it. Tolkien and Lewis have been wonderfully vindicated in their belief that there is an enormous adult appetite for Myth and fantasy literature.

For many, it's more than a mere novel. It's a glimpse of the divine.

It is like water in a dry place.
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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy

I have been looking over the reviews THE LORD OF THE RINGS. There is one consistent problem that keeps jumping to my attention: the reviewers keep talking as if each volume in "the trilogy" is a self-contained novel. They are not actual novels. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is not a trilogy - it's a single novel divided into three parts for publication purposes. That's why they're published Part I, Part II, and Part III instead of Book I, etc.

When Tolkien wrote it and had it published by Allen & Unwin, Sir Stanley Unwin had doubts about its size and the market (remember, this was back in the 50s, and THE HOBBIT had been a book for children - now they have this book that has all the hall marks of a publishing nightmare). Instead of publishing it as a whole, they decided to divide the novel* into three parts. Because there were six subdivisions therein (although I might be mistaken, and these Books I-VI might also be publication impositions), they chose to publish THE LORD OF THE RINGS in three books. One purpose for this was to hide the sheer size of the book. The second reason for doing so was to get three reviews instead of one. Tolkien himself, however, always made it a point to tell people that it is not a trilogy but a single, unified work.

Although THE LORD OF THE RINGS basically invented the fantasy genre, from a publisher's standpoint, it was a dangerous gamble. It had to be sold at a high cost (21 shillings) to the reader, but Rayner Unwin (Sir Stanley's son) thought it a `work of genius', so they published it. Instead of usual royalty payments, Tolkien got half of all profits, which meant that if the book flopped (most probable) he wouldn't get anything, because the book had to pay for itself before either the author OR the publisher got profits. Obviously Tolkien came out far ahead on that deal than had he gone with a more traditional publishing arrangement with Stanley Unwin.
Comment | Permalink

J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings)
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $18.69
Availability: In Stock
167 used & new from $8.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This rating is for the paperback edition only, not the actual quality of the books as literature, December 15, 2011

This review is from: J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) (Mass Market Paperback)
This review is for regular size paperback only, as far as the books themselves, of course they're classics. Unfortunately Amazon links their reviews to multiple versions of the same product (meaning you can write a review for an audio book and that same review show up on a paperback edition of the same title. It's really bad for music reviews, let me tell you!).

If you should by this edition of HOBBIT/LOTR really depends on what you what for your money. I first purchased trade paperback editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS back in the early to mid nineties. They're nice and more portable than, perhaps, other editions of the book if you looking for some quick reading on the beach/airport/wherever and they're economical.

However, these editions tend of have more misprints, are not as sturdy as other editions of Tolkien's classic texts, and the maps are just hell to look at. As any regular size paperback they are not as hardy as other, better found bound books.

The oversize paperback editions are better, but overall the books do not hold up as well or are durable as hard back editions. If you do want to read the stories though without having to worry about the shape the books are in then the regular paperbacks would be the way to go, as (for me anyway) I want to keep the nicer editions in relatively clean condition.

Given Tolkien's status of one of the world's most popular writers, I would recommend picking up nicer editions of these works anyway, as you can get them at reasonable prices and they are much better purchases than the paperback box sets. The only real drawback is there is no general uniformity between the editions of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS that I recommend, if that is important to you.

Douglas A. Anderson's THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, is the definitive text of THE HOBBIT, has numerous textual annotations and examines in complete detail all the different revisions Tolkien made to the work in the subsequent decades after its initial publication in 1937.

For THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the most accurate text is the 50th Anniversay edition prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. I have the one volume oversize paperback edition of LOTR and am quite pleased with it.

The only way I would recommend purchasing the boxset of these books is if they published The Annotated Hobbit and the 50th Annivesary LOTR text as a uniform set as those are the definitive versions, and personally I'd prefer to see all four volumes hardbound. I don't think I've seen a hardbound version box set of all four works, though there are plenty to be had of LOTR.

In summary, unless you are wanting cheap editions of these books, you will be better served by purchasing other editions of Tolkien's books
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
As that was only in regards to these actual editions of Tolkien's work and not reviews of the books themselves, I am also including my separate reviews I have written for Amazon of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Also included is an abandoned review I wrote for THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING all the way back in early 2000 but was never posted on Amazon, explaining how Tolkien's life work of THE LORD OF THE RINGS is NOT a trilogy but rather three parts of one work divided up for publishing purposes
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE HOBBIT Review - Inferior to THE LORD OF THE RINGS? I think not! No, just different!, April 7, 2000

The biggest problem with this novel is perception. Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature.
The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings. It became attached to his mythology, and became as important to him as The Silmarillion.

So delineation is required if you want to read this. Do not go in with the thought that The Hobbit is a "precursor" or any such nonsense to The Lord of the Rings. Think of it like you would think of any other children's classics: children's classics. If you take it on The L. R.'s terms, this is a failure, primary because it is not written to be like that. But, on the flipside, The L. R. is as much a failure in children's fiction. It is not children's fiction, it is epic fantasy, and one should not equate it with children's fiction. That is EXACTLY what people try to do with The Hobbit. They try to put it in the same type of genre or playing field as The L. R. They are both masterpieces, and I love them both dearly. But one is for children, the other with adults.

Of course, Tolkien is part of the problem. How many books do you know that is a children's book and has an adult sequel? Not very many. The Hobbit, scarcely 300 pages, was written and published in the children's market. He then talked to his publishers, and they wanted a sequel. So he began "the new Hobbit", as C. S. (Jack) Lewis so aptly put it. He was preoccupied with his mythology, and the sequel was drawn into it. So we have two works, spanning two different genres, and as far as surface connections go its little more than prequel/sequel. Instead of looking at The Hobbit as a prequel, a precursor to his ADULT masterpiece, an inferiour version, think of as his CHILDREN'S masterpiece. The Hobbit is top of the class in children's fiction, one of the few contenders against such other great children's works as Narnia and Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings, likewise, is THE crowning masterpiece of the fantasy genre, of which its influence is incalculable to that fantasy market. Both are as important as the other, just in different fields.

I haven't talked about The Silmarillion much. I have already reviewed it, so I won't go real in-depth here. But the same thing happened with it. People, expecting another Lord of the Rings, were inevitably disappointed with the Biblical style of the published version. If Tolkien wrote that book out in narrative form as he did Lord of the Rings, it would be ten times longer than Lord of the Rings. The biggest problem with Tolkien is people have to many preconceptions that are incorrect.

So, basically, in conclusion, think of it like this:

1. The Hobbit - Children's masterpiece. He scores big with this one.

2. The Lord of the Rings - a single fantasy, not a trilogy. (Tolkien was always quick to point that out). The Crowning achievement of modern fantasy.

3. The Silmarillion - the Bible of Middle-earth. Much more for students of his work than the causal reader.
.
.
.
.
.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
***** Despite vehement critical hostility, Tolkien is among our most important writers because the way he handles Myth, 26 Sep 2007

Over the past several decades, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has sold millions of copies and is commonly regarded as one of the most influential fantasy novels ever published. Many first time readers have began their trek into Middle-earth with Frodo and the Company of the Ring in recent years. What they will encounter there has been loved by millions of readers before them, and if they allow themselves to respond to Tolkien and his Myth will doubtless become a loyal and ardent fan of Tolkien and those furry-footed hobbits. What's also notable about THE LORD OF THE RINGS is, for a book as long as it is, many of its readers reread the novel many times over. Yet despite its enduring popularity, Tolkien is often held in complete disregard by the literary establishment.

The real question is why? In the literary climate that is characterized by modernism and post-modernism where the twentieth and twenty first century is a wasteland why does a "series" of fantasy novels become one of the most beloved works in modern times?

It's because the power of myth over the human imagination works wonders, creating a longing and a hunger that, Tolkien argues, is met by the Christian religion. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the flip-sides of the same coin, with Lewis giving us accounts of the longing and Tolkien providing the books that would create that longing. And what about the longing? It's that longing for Myth, that love for those beauties which Tolkien shows us in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It's that longing that sets man apart from all other creatures in the universe: a craving for beauty and for joy. The German word for this longing is "senhsucht". In a time characterized by fast-food, cell-phones, materialism, superficiality, the account of a Hobbit working against all odds in a mythic landscape so captures the human imagination (and this is NOT hype) that an entire genre is created. It is because of how Tolkien so masterfully handles Myth that he has been so highly treasured by such a large fan base.

Still, there are a few things to consider when reading Tolkien nowadays. Looking over the reviews, it proved rather shocking to me that people have been complaining that, although it was original when it was published, much of what Tolkien has done has become cliche and that other writers are much better working with these cliches and making them more exciting than Tolkien. They complain about his "endless descriptions" of the natural world, very detailed accounts of geography and not enough "characterization." The characters are unrealistic: the "human drama" required by the book's very nature is beyond Tolkien's scope as a writer. THE FELLOWSHIP is both uneven and very weak in pacing, with so much invested in the world and its history Tolkien forgets to make us care about the characters themselves. Another fault oft cited against Tolkien is the lack of "female characters," and there have been accusations that Tolkien is racist; one of my favorite misconceptions is that Frodo and Sam are homosexuals.

Academia has no time for Tolkien, and many of our key critics have denounced Tolkien as ill-written or escapist (Harold Bloom said that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a period piece which will simply not die but just keeps lingering on long after its relevance. This is the stance taken by a lot of professional critics with a grudge against Tolkien, and wonderfully have been proven wrong). To this day, while not nearly as openly hostile as previous decades, academia in general harbors resentment against Tolkien and everything he's done. As far as they're concerned, he's done something that is actually popular and therefore unworthy of study. It's one of those "high-brow vs. low-brow" situations, and instead of producing "worthwhile" academic research, Tolkien instead writes a "series" of novels which become one of the most established authors of this century. In recent years, academic support has grown tremendously for Tolkien, but he is still a very hotly contested modern writer, unlike some other "academically undeniable" classics such as James Joyce. Unlike the academic favorites, Tolkien highly polarizes the professional literary establishment. Fortunately he has gained some ground here though.

Much of the complaints voiced against THE LORD OF THE RINGS are both unimportant and irrelevant. Tolkien is working with literary traditions not in-tune with the modern mind, but is instead handling narrative threads of Myth. Tolkien gives us solid archetypes to work with, bringing out the very qualities of masculinity and the beauties and stark wonders of femininty, but all expressed in mythological terminology. The idea of Sam and Frodo as homosexual is both ridiculous and totally unfounded. In Myth, good is characterized and seen as "White," and the evil is dark and perverted. Those who say Tolkien is racist approach him from the wrong standpoint.

As for the modern fantasy reader, those who complain about Tolkien's originality (while acknowledging it, but that later writers do a much better job with it) is like saying Shakespeare, while a good dramatist, is not that good because other people take his principals and make them more exciting, etc. I heard a story once about a person who went to see a Shakespeare play and went away complaining there were too many quotes in the play to make it any good. Shakespeare is the source of these quotes and he did not even realise it.

Most people know that Tolkien founded modern fantasy. Tolkien laid down the template for the fantasy genre in general, and anyone who reads fantasy has been touched, directly or indirectly, by Tolkien's work. Almost all of the major fantasy authors have acknowledge their debt to Tolkien, and the shadow Tolkien casts over fantasy literature is very long indeed. Because there is fifty years separating us from the original publication, it is much harder to approach THE LORD OF THE RINGS as those first reviewers, for those who have grown up reading fantasy literature are now accustomed to Dwarves and Elves and Dark Lords and Epic Quests, but when it was issued THE LORD OF THE RINGS transformed and invented an entire new genre. It is not Tolkien's fault that his vision of a mythology was so successful that everyone else decided they would try their hand at fantasy and work within Tolkien's templates. The main problem with fantasy authors in general are they are more interested in emulation than they are in true "myth-making." Much like early rock and roll, which, because rock was not an established form of music, the early musicians relied on other forms to create a new genre, Tolkien did not have this tradition to fall back on so instead he used various literatures and epic poems to create his own vision of myth. A lot of fantasy writers do not work in the context of myth any more, but rather rely on genre stereotypes which are generally found in Tolkien. Many readers who are interested in "pulp" fantasy get bogged down in Tolkien because he takes the time to fully explain his world and its cultures, because his goal is different. There is plenty of action in LORD OF THE RINGS, but those raised on the pulp fantasy will not care for it.

Ultimately, THE LORD OF THE RINGS's criticism has shown itself to be of little important on its durability as a major text. Ever since its publication in 1954, 1955, and 1956, LOTR has become one of the most important literary works our era has produced, highly regarded and passionately loved by an enormous amount of people. Despite the very vocal minority who despise Tolkien and his work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has consistently topped the polls for the best book of the last one hundred years. Whatever the critics say, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is here to stay because popular imagination has grabbed hold of Tolkien's vision and ran with it. Tolkien and Lewis have been wonderfully vindicated in their belief that the
0Comment|10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 22, 2012
"The Hobbit or There and Back Again" by J. R. R. Tolkien was published on September 21st of 1937. It is the success of this book that paved the way for "The Lord of the Rings". "The Hobbit" is definitely geared towards younger readers, and it received favorable reviews from papers in the U.K. and the U.S., and it was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, as well as the New York Herald Tribune Children's Spring Book Festival Award in 1938.

"The Hobbit" is often over-shadowed by "The Lord of the Rings", and this is especially true when one treats "The Hobbit" as the prequel to "The Lord of the Rings". To consider it as such is both fair and unfair. It is fair, because clearly the events in "The Hobbit" took place prior to, and are key to the "The Lord of the Rings", and of course there are common characters in both stories. However, it is also not fair in that "The Hobbit" clearly was written for a younger audience, and even when reading one of the revised editions, where some passages were altered to better fit with "The Lord of the Rings", the overall tone of the work is much lighter. There was a brief attempt by Tolkien to rewrite "The Hobbit" in the same style, but he soon gave it up because it destroyed what was so good about the original. As a result, it would be better to consider "The Hobbit" as the children's telling of the events which took place prior to "The Lord of the Rings" and not attempt to hold it to the same standard.

Another thing that people have noted about the two stories is that at a high-level outline the two stories are very similar. The adventures both start in the Shire and are initiated by Gandolf, they travel to Rivendell, they go through caves and have to deal with the goblins/orcs therein, they meet elves on the other side, there is a huge war between numerous armies, and of course they return to the Shire to find things changed that they have to put right. Of course, that is an overly simple way to look at either of the two novels, especially "The Lord of the Rings", even though it is true on the surface, but it is an interesting observation.

As beings that are roughly half the height of a man, Hobbits make an ideal hero for a children's story, as it gives them a hero with whom they can identify. The story has a fair amount of humor in it, and a light-hearted feel through most of it, though certainly as an adventure there is a fair amount of peril, whether from the trolls, worgs (wolves), goblins, spiders, and even the wood elves, not to mention the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent. Despite being accessible to younger readers, older readers can still enjoy "The Hobbit" as well.
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on November 19, 2009
A classic, plain and simple. The illustrations are whimsical, sophisticated, and there are plenty of them. A nice copy printed on quality paper, this edition will stand up to many, many readings.
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"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." J.R.R. Tolkien first scribbed down the opening line of this book on an extra sheet of paper.

And years before "Lord of the Rings" was seen by anyone outside Tolkien's circle, Middle Earth was first introduced to readers. "The Hobbit" is simpler and less epic than the trilogy that followed it, but Tolkien's brilliant writing, magical world and pleasantly stodgy hero bring a special life to this early fantasy classic.

Bilbo Baggins lives a pleasantly stodgy and dull life, in a luxurious hobbit hole under a hill ("it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort"). He's the picture of dull respectability.

But his life is turned upside-down by the arrival of the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by the exiled king-in-waiting Thorin Oakenshield. They want to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (and a lot of treasure) from the dragon Smaug. Why do they want Bilbo? Because Gandalf has told them that he'd make a good burglar, even though Bilbo has never burgled in his life.

So before Bilbo is entirely sure what is going on, he is being swept off on a very unrespectable -- and dangerous -- adventure. The quirky little band ends up battling goblins and spiders, nearly getting eaten, and imprisoned by Elves, while Bilbo finds himself in possession of a magic Ring from the treacherous Gollum. But even with a magic Ring, can he defeat a monstrous dragon and win a war against multiple enemies?

Tolkien had been crafting his mythos of Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and ancient Men for years before he ever came up with Bilbo's quest. But it's fortunately that he did, because while "The Hobbit" is overshadowed by the epic sweep of "Lord of the Rings" and the "Silmarillion," it's still an entertaining story that lays the groundwork for his more famous works -- especially the magical Ring that Bilbo finds in Gollum's cavern.

Tolkien's writing is swift, light and full of songs and poetry-laden descriptions, such as interludes in the shimmering, ethereal Rivendell and the cold, terrible Lonely Mountain. The pace in this is much faster than in most of his other works -- not surprising, when you consider it was originally a bedtime story for his children.

Most of the book's action is about Bilbo trying to keep himself and the dwarves from getting eaten, torn apart, or rotting in elf dungeons, but with some quiet interludes like a night at Beorn's mountain home. And the last chapters hint at the epic majesty that Tolkien was capable of, as well as the idea that even little people -- like a mild-mannered hobbit or a bird -- can change the world.

This book also first came up with hobbits -- the peaceful fuzzy-footed countryfolk -- in the form of Bilbo Baggins. He's a likable little guy, if the last person you'd ever expect to be a hero -- initially he seems weak and kind of boring, but his hidden strengths and wits come up to the surface when he needs to. By the end, he's almost a different person.

The dwarves are more comical, and the elves more whimsical in this book, but the supporting characters are still impressive -- the crotchety, mysterious wizard Gandalf, the dignified, flawed Dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, and a Guardsman who becomes a king. Even minor characters like Beorn, Elrond and the menacing Smaug are given plenty of dimension.

"The Hobbit" started as a fluke, grew into a bedtime story, and became one of the best fantasy stories in literary history -- a charming adventure in the time that never was. Brilliant.
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"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." J.R.R. Tolkien first scribbed down the opening line of this book on an extra sheet of paper.

And years before "Lord of the Rings" was seen by anyone outside Tolkien's circle, Middle Earth was first introduced to readers. "The Hobbit" is simpler and less epic than the trilogy that followed it, but Tolkien's brilliant writing, magical world and pleasantly stodgy hero bring a special life to this early fantasy classic.

Bilbo Baggins lives a pleasantly stodgy and dull life, in a luxurious hobbit hole under a hill ("it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort"). He's the picture of dull respectability.

But his life is turned upside-down by the arrival of the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by the exiled king-in-waiting Thorin Oakenshield. They want to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (and a lot of treasure) from the dragon Smaug. Why do they want Bilbo? Because Gandalf has told them that he'd make a good burglar, even though Bilbo has never burgled in his life.

So before Bilbo is entirely sure what is going on, he is being swept off on a very unrespectable -- and dangerous -- adventure. The quirky little band ends up battling goblins and spiders, nearly getting eaten, and imprisoned by Elves, while Bilbo finds himself in possession of a magic Ring from the treacherous Gollum. But even with a magic Ring, can he defeat a monstrous dragon and win a war against multiple enemies?

Tolkien had been crafting his mythos of Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and ancient Men for years before he ever came up with Bilbo's quest. But it's fortunately that he did, because while "The Hobbit" is overshadowed by the epic sweep of "Lord of the Rings" and the "Silmarillion," it's still an entertaining story that lays the groundwork for his more famous works -- especially the magical Ring that Bilbo finds in Gollum's cavern.

Tolkien's writing is swift, light and full of songs and poetry-laden descriptions, such as interludes in the shimmering, ethereal Rivendell and the cold, terrible Lonely Mountain. The pace in this is much faster than in most of his other works -- not surprising, when you consider it was originally a bedtime story for his children.

Most of the book's action is about Bilbo trying to keep himself and the dwarves from getting eaten, torn apart, or rotting in elf dungeons, but with some quiet interludes like a night at Beorn's mountain home. And the last chapters hint at the epic majesty that Tolkien was capable of, as well as the idea that even little people -- like a mild-mannered hobbit or a bird -- can change the world.

This book also first came up with hobbits -- the peaceful fuzzy-footed countryfolk -- in the form of Bilbo Baggins. He's a likable little guy, if the last person you'd ever expect to be a hero -- initially he seems weak and kind of boring, but his hidden strengths and wits come up to the surface when he needs to. By the end, he's almost a different person.

The dwarves are more comical, and the elves more whimsical in this book, but the supporting characters are still impressive -- the crotchety, mysterious wizard Gandalf, the dignified, flawed Dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, and a Guardsman who becomes a king. Even minor characters like Beorn, Elrond and the menacing Smaug are given plenty of dimension.

"The Hobbit" started as a fluke, grew into a bedtime story, and became one of the best fantasy stories in literary history -- a charming adventure in the time that never was. Brilliant.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon August 24, 2007
In a mythical or maybe just forgotten time, many creatures lived in places like the Shire, home to Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit. Hobbits are comfort loving creatures with no real sense for adventure. A knock on the door and Bilbo's life is about to change.

Calling this book children's book is like calling "Alice in Wonderland" [see "The Annotated Alice"] a children's book. Yes children can read this book and it is fun. How ever there is a lot more to this book than a cute story. And it has all the depth of the other Tolkien works with the exception of being shorter.

Many people look at this story as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings", where in reality it is a stand-alone story with a perfectly good beginning, middle, and end. When you read "The Lord of the Rings" there is enough description to forgo "The Hobbit." Personally, I find that reading The Lord of the Rings first gave me the in-depth background to better appreciate The Hobbit.
Many of the creatures and adventures will put you on the edge of your seat. You will recognize the personalities and grow along will Bilbo as he faces new challenges as he learns to deal with life.
A good book to read first would be "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell. Then you get a clearer picture of why the story progresses as it does.
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on May 27, 2002
The Hobbit written by JRR Tolkien is an adventure fantasy novel in which contains a profusion of courage, adventure and Imagination. These three qualities unite, and create one of the finest adventure novels of all time. Tolkien keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat begging to turn the page by delivering climax after climax in this famous fantasy novel.
Tolkien initially grabs the reader with his in depth descriptive writing. His words describe the adventures of Bilbo Baggins so vividly that the reader becomes overwhelmed and begins to believe that he/she is indeed the protagonist. Although Tolkien intended The Hobbit to be a children's novel, the writing is still relevant for all ages. The Hobbit can take any average overscheduled adult away from his/her everyday stresses and return them back to their untainted childhood imaginations. This getaway is created on behalf of Tolkien's fantastically vivid descriptions of landscapes, feelings and characters. Even though the story is completely unbelievable, Tolkien describes everything in such incredible detail that the reader starts to believe that Hobbiton is a real place and being Bilbo Baggins is not fictional anymore.
The Hobbit is also a great read because of the never-ending climaxes throughout the book. Tolkien grabs the reader and keeps them captive for an entire novel. It becomes hard to put down the book because you are dawning on another expedition right after you just finished one. One could argue that Tolkien attempted to create a tie between the reader and the protagonist. Tolkien creates this tie through the comparison of Bilbo's sleeping patterns and that of the readers' patterns. Whenever Bilbo has had a long stretch without sleep the reader has not put down the book, however when Bilbo goes to sleep it is in a recession in the story's peaks. For example after Bilbo had left home he had slept very little until he went to Beorns house. This patterning style gives the reader an opportunity to take a rest. This use of literacy makes The Hobbit a very entertaining read.
In this novel we meet many different characters, enemy or friend. All of which seemed to be relevant except for the thirteen dwarves Bilbo travelled with. It would seem as though Tolkien added these characters just to aggravate the reader. During the novel these thirteen dwarves who were supposed to be running the show did nothing accept slow the process down by either passing out, getting lost or being captured; with the exception of Elrond, who is able to translate the moon-runes, and Bard, who is able to understand the language of the bird, Roac. Therefore leaving only two practical dwarves. Throughout the novel the reader continuously ask himself or herself 'why doesn't Bilbo just leave these idiots and do it himself?' This question remains unanswered at the end of the novel, in turn leaving the reader irritated. This is indeed a small blunder created by the author, however if he did indeed make these dwarves relevant it would have enhanced the story.
All things considered, The Hobbit is a fantastic adventure novel for all ages. It constantly brings the reader out of the frying pan and into the fire. It is truly unbelievable how imaginative Tolkien was. His literary intelligence gives every reader of The Hobbit a reminiscent taste of what it was like as a child with a wild imagination. The novel truly tickles the minds imagination, leaving us believing that everyone should have a little Bilbo Baggins in them.
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on May 9, 2002
Funny thing about The Lord of the Rings; it's almost exactly what you would expect from a SciFi fantasy. Wizards, dragons, trolls, sorcerers and so forth. For that matter the book should be fairly predictable... and it is. But I really enjoy Tolkien's writing style. He seems to know how to put together the entire story well and make it coherent and easy to follow. Not a lot of complex language structure or vocabulary is used. Also to keep in mind, Tolkien is British so his language usage is different than American English. Hence, I found the poetry and songs somewhat childish but the one thing it does do is put you into the characters' shoes, so to speak. The greatest aspect of Tolkien's writing is the ability to put you at the "edge of your seat". Just when things seem to slow down and get boring, Tolkien jumps in with an ambush by the black riders or a raid by Orcs. This alone made me want to finish the book (I've read it three times up to this point in my lifetime). Main character development was good as well, but I missed reading some excerpts with Sauron directly speaking. All that the reader learns about him comes from the other characters. I suppose Tolkien had a good reason for doing this because Sauron is one of the major characters in the novel. I'm still searching for the answer. Overall, it is a good book and suitable for young people (age ~13 and up). I recommend it for anyone with an interest in fiction, not merely science fiction or fantasy.
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