Critical Insights: The Hobbit Review

“When it was published in 1937, The Hobbit changed the landscape of fantasy literature forever. This collection of critical viewpoints explores some of the reasons why, beginning with two chapters introducing the history and context of the work itself, and the life and times of its author.

The following Critical Contexts section contains four essays, which examine the major influences on Tolkien as an author, the critical reception of The Hobbit, and the themes it shares with both medieval Germanic tales and with the Harry Potter series. These viewpoints are meant to orient the reader to the The Hobbit’s cultural, historical, and literary origins.

Nine essays build upon this foundation by examining more specific motifs in the text of The Hobbit itself, notably its juxtaposition of British sensibleness with the lure of magical adventure, its roots in Northern mythologies and heroism traditions, some of the specific fairy stories and fantastical tales whose elements can be detected in Bilbo’s journey, the mythopoeic work that formed the foundation of The Hobbit and eventually The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and, of course, Tolkien’s lifelong passion for philology.

There is too much to say about The Hobbit to be contained in one volume, but this collection of perspectives is a good starting place for anyone interested in Tolkien specifically, or high fantasy in general. The Lord of the Rings trilogy sometimes comes in for more than its fair share of analysis, so this critical attention to The Hobbit is an important addition to scholarly conversations about Tolkien’s work.”