by J.R.R. Tolkien
There and back again
I hadn't read The Hobbit for 30 years. With the film version on its way, I thought it was about time I refamiliarised myself with the plot, so I could tut knowingly and mutter “That doesn't happen in the book!” under my breath throughout the movie.
The Hobbit contains bits which are plain silly: sheep serving lunch; giants throwing boulders; trolls named William, Bert and Tom. Had Tolkien written the book after its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, he would surely have left these out.
But The Hobbit remains a great children's story. More to the point, pretty much every chapter comprises a new set-piece, allowing would-be film-makers plenty of scope to pad out this short book into a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque blockbusting trilogy. Shame on them.