The Hobbit, or There And Back Again

by A Latter-day Bluestocking

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” J.R.R. Tolkien, 1892-1973

I discovered Tolkien when I was 9 years old.  I had seen the Ralph Bakshi directed Lord of the Rings and it made such an impression on me that it was absolutely imperative I read the book.  And read it, I did.  I still have that worn-out copy of The Fellowship of the Ring; I treasure it as a sacred relic, one that opened up a whole new wonderful world to me.  A special place for a 9-year-old, one populated with magic, kings, elves, dwarves, hobbits, good and evil.  I read The Hobbit soon after and received the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy for Christmas.  Tolkien’s profound realm not only served as escapism for me but had wide-ranging influence that Prof. Tolkien never foresaw.  Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft, Skyrim were all inspired by Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

My 11-year-old son is enchanted, much to my chagrin, by World of Warcraft, a pale facsimile to the world created by Tolkien.  He does love the LotR films but it always makes me cringe when he says that something was ripped-off from WoW.  My churlish response (complete with eye-roll):  “Listen, kid, if it were not for J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and “The Lord of the Rings” there would be no World of Warcraft.  This reality baffles him.  I think his introduction to the books is long past due.  The new film, The Hobbit,will be released in December which gives me the perfect excuse and opportunity to re-visit Middle Earth and introduce it to my son.

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world.  Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”   J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit