Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You've Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard, and Your Way

I am a huge fan of J.R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. I am not particularly interested in philosophy. However, due to that first fact, I decided to give The Hobbit and Philosophy a try. I was particularly enticed by the subtitle: "For when you've lost your dwarves, your wizard, and your way."

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Some of the articles were, I confess, a bit dull for my tastes, but others were fascinating. The essays gave me something to think about, regarding life, Tolkien, and The Hobbit.

One of my favorite essays was "Pretty Fair Nonsense" by Philip Tallon. It includes a Tolkien quote I was not familiar with.

"Tolkien was similarly unconcerned with whether modernist critics would judge his fantasy writings to be nonsense. Tolkien invented and endlessly elaborated his world of Middle-earth with no sense that it could ever be anything more than a private amusement. 'I am a very serious person and cannot distinguish between private amusement and duty,' Tolkien writes, adding, 'I work only for private amusement, since I find my duties privately amusing.'"

I like that a lot - it makes me admire Tolkien even more! Another essay, "Hobbitus Ludens" by David L. O'Hara, contained a C.S. Lewis quote that caught my attention. (I'm no fan of Lewis, so I've not read much that he has said.) "The Hobbit, though very unlike Alice [in Wonderland], resembles it in being the work of a professor at play." I love Alice, and I'd never thought of Alice and the Hobbit as being connected in this way. And I enjoy the image of both authors "at play."

Another essay I especially enjoyed was "There and Back Again" by Joe Kraus, which discusses the Hobbit in context with William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

If you are a fan of the Hobbit, I think you'll find some essays to enjoy in The Hobbit and Philosophy.

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