Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Hobbit Day!

Today is the birthday of that most estimable hobbit, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, and of his equally redoubtable nephew, Master Frodo:

It is also Hobbit Day, and - this year at any rate - the first day of Tolkien Week. The actually dates of Tolkien Week vary from year to year, but it is always the week that encompasses the twenty-second. Of course, a great Tolkien fan, such as yours truly, cannot let so auspicious a celebration go by without marking it, so I present to all of you, this recording of J.R.R Tolkien reading aloud Riddles in the Dark from The Hobbit. 

The story behind the recording is rather interesting. In 1952, Tolkien recorded a series of excerpts from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring. This was before The Lord of the Rings had even been published, and the poor man was getting quite discouraged about his book. His good friend, George Sayer, came up with the idea, and the amateur recordings were made in George's own study. Tolkien notes in on of his Letters, that he was favourably impress by them, and it went a long way to restoring his confidence in the stories. (All struggling writers should take The Good Professor as an inspiration. He re-wrote The Lord of the Rings at least twice, struggled with his plot, got side-tracked by research on such matters as moon phases, and how to roast rabbit, was confronted with characters he liked, but wanted to go away, as they were holding up the narrative. It took him 10 years to finish the thing, but what a tremendous finish it was!)