The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug came out on DVD today. I would like to say that this post is in honor of that, but it is in fact merely coincidence that I thought to write this post today. In fact, if my far-thinking husband had not pre-ordered a copy for us, and if my long-suffering mail carrier (he’s a very nice man but my dogs hate him) had not just delivered it a few minutes ago, I might have completely missed the fact that I am writing about the Hobbit on the day that Peter Jackson’s second movie hit the DVD market.
Originally, I wanted to simply link a website to the Pinterest board I maintain for all things to do with British Literature (or rather, all things pertaining to the particular British Literature course I direct as a Challenge II Director for Classical Conversations). However, that particular web page does not contain any images, and Pinterest will only link to images. I will refrain from commenting upon that fact and simply say that this explains why I have written this completely redundant blog entry. Think of this as a gateway-post to a much more informative site.
Herein begins the actual point of my post:
When J.R. Tolkien first wrote The Hobbit, he characterized Gollum as an odd yet cooperative little fellow, who willingly gave up his precious ring as a prize for the game of riddles he plays with Bilbo. When the ring came into a new light in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien had to rewrite Chapter Five of the Hobbit to make the ring more sinister and portray Gollum as its victim, enthralled by the magic ring and therefore unwilling to give it up.
This means that the 1937 First Edition of The Hobbit has a slightly different story than anyone purchasing a later edition. Being an erstwhile editor myself, that fact alone was not enough to satisfy me. I needed to see it for myself.
And just so that I can link this to my Pinterest board, so that my students can find it, here is a picture of the book. I took it myself, so it’s royalty-free. If you click on the picture of the book, it will take you to Mr. Barker’s comparison.
I think I have jumped through enough hoops for one lesson plan, so I will end this here.
Although I must add, if anyone would like to read further into the implications of the revision, here is another excellent article by William D.B. Loos and Wayne G. Hammond Jr. over at The Grey Havens that discusses it at some length.
No, wait, still not ending… just in case you haven’t yet been deluged on your favorite social media site with one of those interminable lists that are all the rage these days, even making their way into badly-written “news” articles authored by interns who still haven’t figured out the difference between “your” and “you’re,” here is a quite comprehensive list of “25 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About The Hobbit” by Tom Hawker. While I am pleased to report that Tom Hawker’s grammar is flawless, I apologize in advance for his occasional forays into juvenile locker-room humor.