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Dept. of Korrektions

Anne T. Eaton, reviewing The Hobbit for The New York Times, 1938:

This is one of the most freshly original and delightfully imaginative books for children that have appeared in many a long day. Like “Alice in Wonderland,” it comes from Oxford University, where the author is Professor of Anglo-Saxon, and like Lewis Carroll’s story, it was written for children that the author knew (in this case his own four children) and then inevitably found a larger audience.

W.H. Auden, reviewing The Fellowship of the Ring for The New York Times, 1954:

Seventeen years ago there appeared, without any fanfare, a book called “The Hobbit” which, in my opinion, is one of the best children’s stories of this century.

Donald Barr, reviewing The Two Towers for The New York Times, 1955:

In 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien wrote “The Hobbit,” intended for a children’s book but touched here and there with terrors which had the darker involvements of myth, and at times even with that “clang and groan of great iron” which Chesterton heard in the medieval chansons de geste.

Philip Norman, interviewing Tolkein for The New York Times, 1967:

“The Hobbit” wasn’t written for children, and it certainly wasn’t done just for the amusement of Tolkien’s three sons and one daughter, as is generally reported. “That’s all sob stuff. No, of course, I didn’t. If you’re a youngish man and you don’t want to be made fun of, you say you’re writing for children. At any rate, children are your immediate audience and you write or tell them stories, for which they are mildly grateful: long rambling stories at bedtime.

“‘The Hobbit’ was written in what I should now regard as bad style, as if one were talking to children. There’s nothing my children loathed more. They taught me a lesson. Anything that in any way marked out ‘The Hobbit’ as for children instead of just for people, they disliked-instinctively. I did too, now that I think about it. All this ‘I won’t tell you any more, you think about it’ stuff. Oh no, they loathe it; it’s awful.

Comments

  1. What does Derrida say about it?

  2. Jonathan Potter says:

    Trying to lure Cubeland back?

  3. Angelico Nguyen says:

    THE PIN
    You read Tolkien?

    BRENDAN
    What?

    THE PIN
    You know, the Hobbit books?

    BRENDAN
    Yeah.

    THE PIN
    His descriptions of things are really good. He makes you want to be there.

    Rian Johnson, Brick

    • Matthew Lickona says:

      Does merely mentioning something on this blog (in this case, Brick) automatically download it into your head, or do you have to go seek it out?

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

        Sometimes, Internet:Angelico::earth:Antaeus — as when, e.g., I have to look up Antaeus’ name.

        In this instance, though, I happened to be playing Brick as a background to chore-time last night; the ‘Tolkien’ exchange stood out; and it was still fresh in my memory when your post on Tolkien appeared.

        As is so often the case, it was a coincidence with a capital K.

  4. m,
    Thanks for the post. I have always thought the genius of the author was in his ability to be like a child (with amazing linguistic skills) writing for a public of adults.
    Happy Guadalupe Day, by the way.
    df

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