Sunday, August 21, 2016

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit Review
Severe Spoilers Ahead

I recently finished reading Corey Olsen's Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', a sort of compendium of analysis relating to The Hobbit.

Corey Olsen may be better known as The Tolkien Professor, and he leads a series of podcasts as well as various courses dedicated to learning about Tolkien's works.

I've listened to The Tolkien Professor podcasts and I always find them very insightful.  Not only is Professor Olsen very knowledgeable about all things Tolkien, but he also seems like a nice guy and isn't your typical dry professor.

There is a series of lectures he posted on The Hobbit, and I would say that this book is basically the written form of those podcasts.  I have listened to all of the lectures, so there was nothing much in this book that I hadn't heard from him before, but if you haven't listened to the podcasts or prefer to read his analyses in book form, I would definitely recommend Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'.

The main theme throughout the book is Bilbo's change from being a very prim "Baggins" to embracing a bit more of his Took side.  Through each chapter we are granted a look at how Bilbo changes and begins to accept prudent adventure.

Along with extensive writing concerning Bilbo's character, a lot of the book consists of analyses about the Wild, what the Wilderness is like, how it is good and how it is bad.  I find Professor Olsen's writings on Beorn particularly interesting and he picks up on a lot of little things that I had missed.  One area that I really hadn't paid enough attention to that this book shed light on was the many songs and poems of The Hobbit.  I read them of course, but I don't often slow down to really look at what they're saying.  I like how a considerable amount of time was spent on these (apparently important!) aspects of the story.

Now I will admit that The Hobbit is not my favorite of Tolkien's works, but after listening to the podcast/lectures and reading this book, I think I may have been underestimating it all these years.  While it is a children's book, it still has deeper meanings and symbolism that I didn't catch on to.

My reading of this book was fairly slow and dry only because I felt like I was just re-reading the lectures, but like I said earlier, if you don't want to listen to the lectures or you prefer book form, you should definitely read this book.  One way or another (podcast or book) you definitely want to know what Corey Olsen has to say about The Hobbit.

Have you read Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'?  Did anything in it surprise you?

Are you going to read Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'?  Have you listened to the lectures before?


  1. I actually started reading it today. The Hobbit is my favorite of Tolkien writtings, so I appreciate that he analyzes it as a work apart from LOTR or the Silmarillion. There are some elements of "The Hobbit" that I've always loved, but never understood why they appealed to me so much. Mr Olsen breaks down the nuances in the language and the story so well, it's pretty illuminating.

    1. It is unique how he focuses solely on the Hobbit. That's very true; I agree with you.