Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm havin' hobbits for Christmas

Christmas (or in my case, the birthday-Christmas season) is a time of excess. Personally I've spent the last couple of days baking booze cakes (yes plural, and both those recipes are delicious), drinking pumpkin spice Irish cream in my coffee, and sewing sequins onto a sweater. Ho ho ho.

The other thing I've been doing, which is in its own way excessive, is re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I passed over the three-volume hardbacks and the paperback omnibus and went right for the pleatherette Big Red One:

Uff da.
It's a nice bright festive red with shiny metallic printing, and satisfyingly hefty. Like the Ring itself, this edition is reluctant to be moved and feels especially heavy when you consider taking it with you anywhere.

Having just watched the Peter Jackson trilogy with Alice, the movies are fresh in my mind --

Break to gush over the Hobbit trailer: SQUEEEE! Martin Freeman was born to play Arthur Dent, Dr. Watson, and Bilbo Baggins, so thank you world for making these happen.

-- certainly much fresher than the books. I have a horrible memory; in fact I think when I saw Two Towers and Return of the King in theaters I had pretty much forgotten the respective books already. The movies are "big" visually, but the books feel "big" in time. What I mean is, the art direction and the use of New Zealand's geography makes it seem like the movies were shot in a real continent-sized place; and while the books certainly have that complete world in them, what strikes me first and most immediately is that there are thousands of years present in and behind the story. Even on a smaller scale, I've just gotten up to the arrival in Rivendell and already years have passed in the main plot. And of course the events of The Hobbit are directly involved as well.

I'm trying to pay better attention to the poems and songs -- as my experiences with AS Byatt will attest, I have a tendency to gloss over this kind of thing to get back to the plot as soon as possible. Aside from your feelings about poetry, I guess you have to like spending time with the characters in order to appreciate this kind of literature within literature. After all, in this case at least, the poems are the characters' way of expressing and enjoying themselves.

Being (hopefully) (sort of) older and wiser since the last/first time I read LOTR, another thing that strikes me is that the characters are very much adults. Frodo is out of his "tweens" almost right out the gate, and the other characters (at least so far) are mature if not actually old. Of course there's an element of growing up, learning, gaining experience to the quest, but it's not a coming-of-age story. It seems even sort of Tolkien-esque to say that the characters' lives to this point have been a kind of preparation for this quest in a broad destiny sort of way.

This frivolous image is your reward for reading this far.
 Anyhow, I am plugging along and hopefully will have more and better thoughts to share with you over the next few weeks. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!


  1. That is one awesome edition of Lord of the Rings! I would just say, that while I dearly love Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit, for that matter) I HATE THE SONGS. I honestly can't deal with them, and I want to kill Tom Bombadil. Literally. And I don't care that this is the characters' way of expressing themselves, they should express themselves in some other, less annoying way. So there.

    Also, thanks for the festive Legolas. Needed that :)


    I always make up tunes for songs in books, which makes them more fun. Also I'm glad you're baking. Also MERRY CHRISTMAAAAAAAS!