Hobbits and dwarves coming to Toronto!
Is the hair on your toes prickling? Feeling a tad peckish, though you ate only an hour ago? Thinking about having a second breakfast? Or blowing smoke rings? Are you craving tea and a nice seed cake, by the fire? Does the steam rising from your cup seem to take the shape of a dragon on the wing? That haunting music you hear in the distance, which lures you from your comfortable hearth, could it be elfish? And deep down, do you have an irresistible urge to leave the safety of hearth and hole and go on an adventure? Not long to wait now, fellow Tolkienists. Somewhere in Middle Earth a troop of dwarves wend their way to Bag End in the Shire, there to call on one Bilbo Baggins, who they intend to contract as company burglar, having it on good authority from the great wizard Gandalf that he is equal to the task.
The movie version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit will arrive in Toronto on December 14. I shall be there, glasses polished to perfection, companions sworn to silence. No milk duds, twizzlers, popcorn or cheesies—nothing that crumples, rattles, crinkles or crunches—and nothing they wouldn’t eat in the Shire. I’m considering concocting my own version of elfish bread -- something that would stand up to the long journey from Rivendell to the Lonely Mountain—and smuggling it past the theatre Smaug.
The Hobbit, of course, is a perfect book. This is my conclusion each and every time I turn the last page (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it—at least three, quite possibly four. And I will read it again.) This gem of a book, which hasn't been out of print since it was first published 75 years ago, shines like the stolen jewels in Smaug's hoard. If you haven’t read it but would like to before the Toronto movie premier, the library has lots of copies. Reserve one, or phone your local Toronto Public Library branch to see if they have one they can put one aside for you. If you've read it, and now want something to enhance your experience of Tolkien's world, consider the following:
(Or, just go to the bottom of this post, where a Tolkien inspired musical treat awaits you!)
The art of the Hobbit: "To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, a sumptuous full colour art book containing the complete collection of more than 100 Hobbit sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien.”
The wisdom of the Shire: "Noble Smith sheds a light on the life-changing ideas tucked away inside the classic works of J.R.R. Tolkien and his most beloved creation—the stouthearted Hobbits."
The Hobbit and philosophy: "With the help of some of history's great philosophers, this book ponders a host of deep questions raised in this timeless tale."
The keys of Middle-Earth: discovering Medieval literature through the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien: "The Keys of Middle-Earth introduces the reader to the world of medieval literature through the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien... readers are taken back to the works of Old, Middle English and Old Norse literature that so influenced Tolkien."
The history of the Hobbit :"The History of the Hobbit presents for the first time, in two volumes, the complete unpublished text of the original manuscript of J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff's lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published."
Tree and leaf: This collection includes Tolkien's famous essay, ‘On Fairy-stories’ and the story that exemplifies this, ‘Leaf by Niggle’.
Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: "Professor Corey Olsen takes readers on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the transformation within the life of Bilbo Baggins."
Inside Tolkien's The Hobbit (DVD): "A look at Tolkien's first tale of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit, featuring computer graphics and stunning artwork by the Brothers Hildebrandt that take you inside Tolkien's amazing world."
J. R. R. Tolkien (DVD): "This film tells the story of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, English writer, poet, philologist and author of many stories, including most famously The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It describes the importance of the rural English West Midlands, where Tolkien grew up, in shaping his literary imagination and how the ancient northern languages he studied and taught throughout his life influenced his writing."
Ents, Elves, and Eriador: the environmental vision of J. R. R. Tolkien: "In Ents, Elves, and Eriador, Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans show how Tolkien anticipated some of the tenets of modern environmentalism in the imagined world of Middle-earth."
The atlas of Middlle-earth: "Revision of Fonstad's 1981 version of the topography and synopsis of Tolkien's great epic."
The annotated Hobbit: "Douglas A. Anderson, a noted Tolkien scholar, has done an introduction and notes with the full cooperation of Tolkien's family. To the text of the third edition he has added many illustrations from a variety of foreign language editions--Swedish, Lithuanian, Russian. Contains textual and revisional notes, runes, and a bibliography of writings by JRRT and about him and his works."
Tolkien's imaginary worlds have inspired many musical artists, such as Led Zeppelin, Enya, Rush, Black Sabbath, and Acadamy Award winning composer Howard Shore, who composed the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings. Bands from all over the world have taken their name from Tolkien's works: Cirith Ungol (U.S.A.), The Ring-Bearers (Australia), Rivendell (Finland), Rivendell Lords (Spain), Rohan (Wales), Silmarillian (Venezuela), Ringwraith (Italy), Smaug (Australia). Surely, one of the most bizarre Tolkien tunes is "The Hobbit song" sung by none other than Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek fame. Aside from how hilariously bad this early music video is, isn't it jarring to see the actor we will forever think of as the emotionally repressed Mr. Spock grinning so much?