Monday, November 1, 2010

Riddles in the Dark

In my previous post I stated that The Hobbit had a major revision in 1951. Tolkien altered "Riddles in the Dark" to be more in line with The Lord of the Rings. What I neglected to do was to note where one could find the original.

There is a website and two books that I would direct you to:

The website has a comparative layout with the original on one side and the revision on the other. So if you are simply curious you can see line by line how the chapter was changed.

The first book is The Annotated Hobbit. This is a pretty neat version and does contain the original chapter, albeit in a very long footnote. The size of the book makes it good for bedside/fireside reading and it contains a lot of little treasures.

The second book(s)is John D. Rateliff's History of The Hobbit. This magnum opus is a crowning work of scholarship. So much so that some of the footnotes have footnotes. Granted it does not reach a House of Leaves absurdity, but be warned.

Any of these will undoubtedly shed some light on the original vision of The Hobbit in 1937 should you desire it. However as things have changed, it is interesting that while The Hobbit can be viewed without The Lord of the Rings, the reverse is not true. As a work the prelude to The Lord of the Rings will always be The Hobbit.