This week has been all aflutter with hobbit-related news and celebration, which is just how I like it. This week was the annual Tolkien Week, today being the 75th anniversary of the publication of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and culminating in tomorrow’s Hobbit Day Celebration coinciding with Bilbo & Frodo’s joint birthday. In solidarity, I suggest giving away some presents, attending or hosting a Second Breakfast, or checking in on the Middle-earth Network Radio’s enormous Hobbit Day Extravaganza, a full-day celebration which will include readings from The Hobbit by fans and scholars (notably Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and Corey Olsen). Click here for a full list of scheduled readings. Other scheduled events include several live Tolkien Professor episodes (an interview about his new book, Riddles in the Dark, and a Q&A hosted by the Mythgard Institute), screenings of the fan-produced film Born of Hope, and an interview with one of my favorite people in the history of the world, actor Billy Boyd. For a full schedule, follow the link.
Speaking of the Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen’s shiny new book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, is available now! Born, as I was, with more than my fair share of luck, Barnes & Noble fortuitously screwed up and/or ignored the release date (September 18th) and shipped my copy last week, so I got it about five days ahead of schedule. Though I haven’t had time to start reading it yet, I can tell you from his lectures, podcasts and teaching that Professor Olsen’s book will be well worth any Tolkien fan or scholar’s time and money. Not only does Professor Olsen’s text-based and in-depth critical style lend itself to this type of chapter by chapter analysis, but (excluding the more historical History of the Hobbit and Annotated Hobbit) his book is the first full-length critical study of this cornerstone of the fantasy, fairy-tale, and children’s genres. The Hobbit has earned its place in history as the start (in terms of publication chronology) of the behemoth of modern publishing that is Tolkien Middle-earth legendarium, and is a remarkably complex and delightful read all on its own, and it deserves to be studied as such.
In other furry-footed news, Peter Jackson has joined in the festivities by presenting the second trailer for the first of the upcoming Hobbit Trilogy, An Unexpected Journey. Click here to watch the trailer, complete with four alternate endings. New and exciting content includes goblins and stone giants, the start of the riddle game, and Radagast the Brown’s (in)famous bunny sled. Notably absent are the Woodland Elves and denizens of Laketown, which to me suggests an earlier split between films 1 and 2 now that the studio has OK’d the expansion to three films. Coupled with the fact that we’ve seen little to no promotion of Legolas, Thranduil or Tauriel thus far (a good portion of the obligatory hot actor contingent, excepting Kili of all people), I’m inclined to think that we’ve got another year to wait before the dwarves reach the home of the elves. Or maybe the film will end with their capture? Time will tell. For those looking for fun and in-depth speculation about the upcoming film, check out the Riddles in the Dark podcast produced by The Tolkien Professor and the Mythgard Institute.
Happy Hobbit Day to all, and may your beards grow ever longer!