Friday, September 21, 2012

75th Anniversary of The Hobbit

This is the version of the paperback
that I'm reading to Joy right now.
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of The Hobbit, which was first published on September 21st, 1937.

As I have recently noted, I've been reading the story to my little three year-old daughter, and while that reading has been fraught with its own set of challenges, it's been fun and enlightening for me, too. Passages that, when reading to myself, I would've quickly read over and moved past, I've found myself having to dwell over to explain, and it's generated a new appreciation and outlook on the book that I previously did not have.

I also think I can safely say that, without The Hobbit, I'm not sure that I would have gotten into role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons specifically, or even fantasy in general.

I remember first reading The Hobbit over the Summer while spending a long "vacation" at my grandma's house with my mom and sister. I had brought the book with me, which actually belonged to my older sister but which she had long-since abandoned, and read it late at night using a flashlight.

What I don't remember is how I heard of The Hobbit originally, although there's a chance it may have been the Rankin-Bass animated version that aired on TV in 1977. I would've been between six and seven years old then (depending on when exactly it aired, which I don't remember). I also don't remember why my sister had the book and who bought it for her. 

In any event, reading The Hobbit helped to instill a sense of wonder and appreciation of fairy tales and fantasy in me. I spent the next few years in school, in 4th and 5th Grade, devouring Greek mythology, Aesop's Fables, and the legends of King Arthur, along with, of course, Star Wars. So, a couple of years later, in a completely different city and state, when I met a group who was into stuff like Conan, John Carter of Mars, Heavy Metal (the comic), and D&D at my school, I was hooked. The D&D game fit right in with my sense of fantasy as originally developed by the good Professor.

It's fitting that today, September 21st, also marks my birthday, so I raised a glass of ale to good Professor Tolkien at lunch today with my daughter and my mom, and thought a bit about how his simple story of a hobbit "in a hole in the ground" helped to shape a lot about my current life - I would not have the same strong group of friends I have today had I chosen not to spend my evenings squirreled away at my Grandma's house reading The Hobbit all those years ago.

Hanging: Home office on borrowed MacBook Pro
Drinking: Eagle Rock Double IPA at lunch about an hour ago
Listening: "Road to Benares" (Bombay Dub Orchestra Remix) by Thunderball

3 comments:

  1. Loving the IPA! Just had a Hophead the other day.

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  2. Happy birthday!

    My memory is fuzzy on the specifics of those early days, but I know I first read The Hobbit around the same time that I was getting into the Fighting Fantasy books; perhaps before, perhaps just after. So it's integral to the origins of my interest in both fantasy and gaming.

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  3. My story is a little bit of the reverse. I was playing D&D by 1983 and I went to the nearest bookstore to see if they had any modules. I lived in a rural area, they did not have games, only books. The shopkeeper recommended the Hobbit, and so I picked it up. I read it as fast as I could and became fascinated with riddles. I still collect riddles to this day.

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