I read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was in middle school. I remember I had borrowed the books from one of my dad’s friends and it was a big deal because they were some special editions or something and it took me about a month to read each book. Anyways, back then I did not really realize the scope of Middle Earth and all of Tolkien’s labors. I was just really focused on hearing this popular tale and being able to pass some test that checked my comprehension.
I had not realized that Tolkien had put so much effort into developing this idea of Middle Earth, and languages, and all the inhabitants. I am glad to revisit the Hobbit because I do not remember the voice it was told in before. I like to imagine it, as a lonely old man who has some story the he knows you are craving to hear. The old fellow is happy to have company and chit chat so he lets himself get side-tracked with family history or any other fun facts that may enter his mind but are not absolutely vital to the story (It is a little funny to note that the gentleman that I originally borrowed the books from had a model train set up throughout his garage, but I digress, and that seems to be the exact kind of side note the old Narrator would mention.) I like this kind of narration for the tale because it adds that kind of feeling of attachment to the story. If I were a reporter trying to get some scoop from some random old grandpa in a nursing home I would be frustrated and bored to tears with his ranting but, I am reading the book for pleasure and there is no rush. There are too many details to try to soak up as the tale unfolds so I feel like I might as well stop and smell the roses from time to time. I really do not have much personal interest in the Took ancestry but, when Tolkien mentions in passing how a Took simultaneously clubbed an ogre’s head off and invented golf, I am delighted. Those little things give the writing so much down homey charm that nonstop-action-packed-thrill-rides lack. The whole development of every aspect of Middle Earth seems to be an act of love. Now that I know that Tolkien was an orphan and a soldier, I wonder if this realm was his escape of sorts. That seems like a really easy psychobabble answer. He could have just been a Star Trek nerd a few years premature. Either way, I am impressed he cultivated this idea his whole life and, I am glad it wound up making him money and our entertainment.