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Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' | [Corey Olsen]

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'

The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the 20th century. Now Professor Corey Olsen takes listeners deep within the text to uncover its secrets and delights. Chapter by chapter, he reveals the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the transformation within the life of Bilbo Baggins.
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Publisher's Summary

The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the 20th century. Now Corey Olsen takes listeners deep within the text to uncover its secrets and delights.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit" is a fun, thoughtful, and insightful companion volume, designed to bring a thorough and original new reading of this great work to a general audience. Professor Olsen takes listeners on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit, chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the transformation within the life of Bilbo Baggins.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is a book that will make The Hobbit come alive for you as never before.

©2012 Corey Olsen (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"An admirable and thought-provoking consideration of the underlying themes of The Hobbit, following the there-and-back-again progress from its famous first line on through to Bilbo’s return home at the story's end." (Douglas A. Anderson, author of The Annotated Hobbit)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (93 )
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4.3 (88 )
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  •  
    Laura Riverview, FL, United States 02-04-13
    Laura Riverview, FL, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book by The Tolkien Professor"
    What did you love best about Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'?

    Corey Olsen is a medieval scholar and a professor at a bricks-and-mortar university as well as an online professor. HIs podcasts of The Tolkien Professor are in-depth discussions of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other Tolkien works. He also founded the Mythgard Institute for online studies.


    Have you listened to any of Corey Olsen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I am so pleased that Corey narrated this himself. He has a wonderful way of expressing his enthusiasm for Tolkien's work that comes across well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I rationed myself to a half hour of listening a day to make it last longer.


    Any additional comments?

    More, please!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Bleuel Canoga Park, CA United States 05-02-13
    William Bleuel Canoga Park, CA United States 05-02-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good entry-level primer!"

    Professor Olson gives a thorough, and highly-entertaining, introductory class in Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Professor Olson touches on all the major themes and history of the novel and whets the appetite for a deeper, more thorough analysis.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Rae Wilkens Stillwater, MN USA 02-19-13
    Jane Rae Wilkens Stillwater, MN USA 02-19-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Knowledgable and Interesting!"

    His enthusiasm for this subject is quite evident and contagious. The ideas and background are quite interesting and show his knowledge of all things Tolkien. He's easy to listen to and the organization of the topics was easy to follow.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-09-15

    I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Appreciation, Not Dissection"

    One of the biggest issues I've ever had with literature comes when the scholastic/learned pin down the world's greatest books and open them up like a cadaver, turning them into something lifeless and soulless. Most literary types I've ever encountered take the same approaches to the great works as do music critics or movie reviewers, but they spend much of their time trying to prove to you that they're not doing that by using whatever tricks they think they've mastered that make them seem literary.

    In recent years, however, I've learned to separate out the true scholars who seek to elevate your appreciation of the great works from those who lean on those works to prove their own sense of smug superiority. We all know how to tell the difference because these other types always make you feel the life get sucked out of the work, out of the room, and out of you. That means that when you find one of the learned whose career is built on love and appreciation of the works they teach, you immediately feel like they engage you in the experience. They help you to engage with the work at deeper levels than you might expect possible. And they open up that world in a way that invites you to travel in it as far as you're willing to go. The world needs more educators like this.

    Corey Olsen is one of these quality educators. Known as the "Tolkien Professor," his own career path has followed that of Tolkien himself, into the world of medieval literature. Applying this store of knowledge the way Tolkien did in creating the world of Middle Earth, Olsen is able to translate the scholarly to those who might otherwise think of The Hobbit only as a good story. For the Tolkien enthusiast at any level, including those who have only seen Peter Jackson's movies and are reading the book for the first time, this book is a welcome foothold into the deeper understanding of Middle Earth. Not only is it enlightening, it's fun.

    One of the most interesting points of comparison in this book is the infamous "Riddles in the Dark" chapter that introduces Gollum. I had always heard that Gollum had changed over the years, but without actually having found a first edition printing of The Hobbit, I was unable to know the extent of the evolution myself. With the writing of The Lord of the Rings, Gollum went from a good guy to an evil guy to the version we know so well today across the revisions. Olsen navigates us through these revisions with an understanding of how Middle Earth evolved in Tolkien's mind. This is but one of the many things about this book that makes it so interesting. Olsen goes through the entirety of The Hobbit chapter by chapter, presenting it all to us in a way that seems both new and familiar at the same time. If that sort of experience is what you seek, this is the book for you. Hopefully in the near future we'll get more books in this series dealing with The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and maybe even the other collected volumes of Middle Earth tales. I feel like I'm immersed in these works fairly well as it is as I've been a Tolkien fan all my life. But there are always new levels to explore. I think Olsen proves with this book that those new levels are accessible to anyone, regardless of experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark St. Ann, MO, United States 03-20-13
    Mark St. Ann, MO, United States 03-20-13
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    "Cool for literature nerds"
    What did you love best about Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'?

    A very in-depth study of what is going on in the hobbit beyond the story. It reveals a lot about what Tolkien was thinking and his writing process.


    What three words best describe Corey Olsen’s performance?

    Read by the author. He does a surprisingly good job. A few times he messes up, but it does not detract from the message or his passion about the subject.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I liked to listen to this one in smaller chunks because it was easier to absorb the information. But it was exciting to come back to it.


    Any additional comments?

    Really good for people who are interested in literature and the writing process.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Weatherford, TX, United States 05-23-15
    Donna Weatherford, TX, United States 05-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Tolkien would love this"
    Would you listen to Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' again? Why?

    Listen again and again...I've read the Hobbit at least 100 times in the past 20 years as well as all the other Tolkien works. Professor Olsen opened my eyes to details I had overlooked, giving a deeper appreciation of the works of my favorite 20th century author.


    What other book might you compare Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' to and why?

    Professor Michael Drout, renowned Medievalist and Tolkien scholar, has an audio course: The Modern Scholar: Tolkien and the West which dovetails with this book very well.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The description of how Tolkien made the Trolls less scary and how Tolkien worked to make the story appropriate for children.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes...but I don't want to provide spoilers here.


    Any additional comments?

    Whether you are a writer, reader, or just a Tolkien fanatic, you will enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Galileo 05-18-15
    Galileo 05-18-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Delightful"
    If you could sum up Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' in three words, what would they be?

    Eye-opening fun


    Any additional comments?

    Olsen does a wonderful job opening the world Middle Earth even more to lovers of Tolkien. Anyone familiar with The Hobbit will appreciate the in-depth exploration of a beloved novel. I wish I had re-read The Hobbit, chapter by chapter, as Corey Olsen expands on the book by calling attention to the minutiae that enhance the story line and characters in greater detail. I recommend it for lovers of Tolkien as well as those just beginning their exploration of his world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JayCadiram 05-14-15
    JayCadiram 05-14-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent and insightful view"

    I found this audiobook, read by the writer himself, interesting, insightful and thought provoking.
    The author goes through the source novel chapter by chapter, while also addressing recurring themes and matter which affects and is affected by other works in the same universe, and explains and expounds.
    Those with a love for the source material will be intrigued and enjoy this audiobook immensely while casual listeners will find themselves unable to stop from having a good time and, fired by the author's obvious enthusiasm, itching to read (or listen to!) Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'.
    The audio is clear and the reader does a good job. The book is read in an almost conversational tone, which perfectly suits the material, and only a few instances where a few sentences are repeated (perhaps from CD changes) are jarring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ionakani 05-12-15
    Ionakani 05-12-15
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    "Good analysis, bad audio editing"

    below average editing. More than a few stops and repeats left in the audio but the analysis was excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 04-28-15
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 04-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A Lot of Editing Mistakes"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I think this book is in desperate need of being re-recorded. The narrator has a pleasant enough voice but the editing and recording is botched in several places throughout the book. The narrator will pause and re-read a line or two that he messed up on and both versions are still in the final product. This happened four or five times during my listening and it was a little distracting. However, it did torn ruin the book for me by any means.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'?

    I've read The Hobbit and all the other Tolkien books many times and this was a fresh take on the subject. With those three awful "Hobbit" movies out in theaters, I wanted to dip my toe back into the Hobbit's waters, but I didn't really want to read it again. It is far from my favorite of Tolkien's tales and this treatment of the story allowed me to do jsut that.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It wasn't the narrator that had a problem with his performance. It was the editor and producer of this book who messed up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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