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.
"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)
Say something about yourself!
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.
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.
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.
I rationed myself to a half hour of listening a day to make it last longer.
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.
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.
It wasn't the narrator that had a problem with his performance. It was the editor and producer of this book who messed up.
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.
The author goes into great detail about Tolkien's work. This is a good book if you want to know how Tolkien wrote The Hobbit.
The book exposes the depth of the characters and story philosophy that can't be gleaned from just reading Tolkien's story.
My personal experience listening for the first time was not as captivating as I would have liked. If I could sit and listen without distraction I would have enjoyed it more. I find it requires the utmost attention at all times. Otherwise it doesn't flow like a story and you end up missing too much information.
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.
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.
The description of how Tolkien made the Trolls less scary and how Tolkien worked to make the story appropriate for children.
Yes...but I don't want to provide spoilers here.
Whether you are a writer, reader, or just a Tolkien fanatic, you will enjoy this book.
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.
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.
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.
Really good for people who are interested in literature and the writing process.
I enjoyed delving deeper into meanings behind the storyline of The Hobbit. This book brought up some ideas that I had not considered. I will listen to this book again while simultaneously reading The Hobbit. The narration was nice too.
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.
Olsen's analysis of The Hobbit doesn't bring any daring interpretations to the table (though that's by design)- a good way to put specific passages under a microscope and derive character motivation and plot details from brevity of the original text. Audible narration is very upbeat and listenable, though there are several points in which the editor let multiple takes of the same sentence slip through the cracks.
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