The Hobbit group-read, part 1

Over the last couple of weeks, roughly, the guys over at Writers’ Bloc have been hosting a group-read of The Hobbit, a book which I have never read before (shocking, I know). Essentially, we’re reading a chapter a day, and at the end of each week some of us are taking it in turns to ask questions to the other readers based on the chapters read in that week. I am part of the interrogation team discussion leading in week two, and those questions will be posted up later this weekend, but for now, I need to go back and answer the questions from week 1, which can be found here (but which I will also show on this post).

Feel free to join in the discussions if you have read the book before, either through comments on my blog or particularly at the Writers’ Bloc page (which you should definitely visit and join in the fun).

Inkeri’s Questions

1. In the book Bilbo gets visited by 13 strange dwarves, and just lets them in to eat his cakes and drink tea. In the modern world it would be really weird if people just started barging in your home. Why didn’t Bilbo just tell them to go?

I guess because Bilbo was just flustered, and they were pretty insistent. Also it was clear Gandalf had something to do with it, and I suppose I wouldn’t want to mess with a wizard on any level, unless I was one myself. Interestingly, it reminded me of an old Monty Python sketch (I say this about far too many things), where people kept barging into a man’s home right as he was about to seduce a woman who he was with, and slowly but surely his house turns into this party, and when he tries to throw them out they accuse him of rudeness and eventually shoot him, continuing to party. Of course it’s all very silly, but kind of funny all the same. Anyway, back to the question, I guess it hints at a time long past, where hospitality would extend even to strangers barging into your home. These days most people would just call the police.

2. Where would the dwarves and Bilbo be if Gandalf wasn’t with them? It’s seems to me that it’s him who saves them from the scary situations.

It does seem a lot that way, and I’m pretty sure that Gandalf “having to leave them for business down south” in later chapters was Tolkien’s way of making the story more interesting by taking out the character that keeps saving everyone too easily. I actually think for me, as much as I love Gandalf, the way he kept saving them almost made the first few chapters kind of predictable. But without him, they probably wouldn’t have gotten very far.

3. Bilbo plays a game of riddles with Gollum. He ends up winning by asking “What have I got in my pockets?”, which Gollum is unable to answer. Do you think it was a fair, as it wasn’t actually a riddle?

I guess it’s technically not fair, as Gollum shouts, but then neither was stealing his ring. Nor does Gollum do a lot of fair things in his story through Tolkien’s various tales. I figured if I was in Bilbo’s shoes, I would have done the same.

Tanya’s Questions
4. For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, is the tone of writing one you’d expect from a book that has been loudly proclaimed as a classic? And for those of you who have read it before, how did it feel – like coming home to a much loved book, or were you surprised by how much you’d forgotten?

For me, as a first time reader, yes and no. It does feel like a classic, it does feel like a children’s book in some ways, but frankly, the first few chapters I really struggled with. I expected it to be gripping from the start, but it only became really interesting about the point Gollum and the ring came into it. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for such a book, I’m not entirely sure. I think as the book goes on, yes, the tone of writing does seem to fit, but it does also remind you that this book was written in the 1930s, unlike a lot of other fantasy literature. Having said this, I think this slightly older tone fits the genre much better, once you become used to it.

5. We’ve seen quite a few songs so far. Do you pay attention to them, or do you skip them altogether? Do you like how silly they are, or do you think them an interruption?

I do read the songs actually, and quite like them. They make for a nice break from some of the writing sometimes, and often can be quite menacing at the right moments, and also quite funny at other moments. I think reading this book without reading the songs is like reading a picture book without reading the accompanying words – you can still make sense of it, but it isn’t as fulfilling. 

6. What has been your favourite scene, so far?

In the first six chapters, my favourite scene was probably the riddle scene. Apart from the familiarity of Gollum and the ring, I found this scene just more entertaining, and it’s the first time Bilbo has to think on his own two feet. It’s also the first time he shows any sense of heroism or initiative, or even just a backbone.

So there we have it! Tomorrow, Writers’ Bloc shall post up my questions on the next six chapters, which I shall then also blog about on here, and answer myself.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

17 thoughts on “The Hobbit group-read, part 1

  1. Reblogged this on Angel's Theory and commented:
    Ho letto Lo Hobbit quando ero più piccola, alle medie, e ricordo che mi piacque molto, anche solo per il fatto di ritrovare i personaggi e i luoghi che tanto avevo amato nel signore degli Anelli. Sapere di Bilbo, della sua avventura con i nani e di Gandalf, e del terribile Drago Smaug … e dulcis in fundo, la scoperta dell’ Unico Anello, il vero collegamento tra una storia e l’altra. Per me è un libro fantastico, e mi piace molto l’idea di questo gruppo di lettura . Appena sarò libera dagli esami riprenderò con calma ogni domanda, curiosa di leggerne le risposte 😀 Mi sembrerà di leggere assieme a loro ! 🙂

  2. I also liked the riddle scene but I couldn’t help picking the trolls for my favourite – it made me laugh, I’m sure it would be quite unpleasant to be held upside down by your toes but I just couldn’t help picturing it. Wish I could find one of those talking purses!
    Having now read this week’s chapters it was interesting to see how Gandalf slowly introduced the Dwarves to Beorn – it did remind me of the first few chapters – where the dwarves came along in dribs and drabs until Bilbo found himself with a houseful. He’s a bit sneaky that Gandalf.
    Lynn 😀

    • The troll scene was quite memorable, definitely the most memorable from those first few chapters I think! 🙂
      And that is very true, there are comparisons you can draw between the Beorn chapter, and the first chapter. I found the Beorn chapter much more interesting though, there is something about that character himself I really liked.

  3. oh, it’s been so long since i’ve read the hobbit! i know i’ve forgotten more than i remember. i do remember the riddle scene for sure. i definitely want ot re-read it before the movies come out. love the idea of a read-along online. maybe i should find my copy and start catching up!

    • Yeah, I really wanted to read it before the films are released, so it suited me to read this book. You should definitely catch up, and join the group of us online who are reading together now. It’s a lot of fun 🙂

  4. Loved your answers, especially when you referred to that old Monty Python skit! It’s been ages since I read The Hobbit, so it’s fun to read how others perceived it (I follow Tanya, too) and reminds me that I just might want to go back and re-read it before the movie comes out. 🙂

    • It is interesting to see the different ways we are perceiving it, I agree. It seems I’m being the more cynical one, at least initially, with it. It’s grown on me since, but those first few chapters nearly finished me. But I’ve never read it until now, so I guess I wasn’t aware that it does improve (but then some people are loving every moment of it, haha). Glad I’m reading it now, a few months before the first movie comes out (I’m really struggling to see how they’ve turned this book into two movies though, the story isn’t that big).

  5. Pingback: The Hobbit – Week One « Writers' Bloc

  6. “I actually think for me, as much as I love Gandalf, the way he kept saving them almost made the first few chapters kind of predictable. ” I agree. That was my main problem with the first few chapters, I think. And Gandalf having to go away seemed like his way of saying, “Okay, boys. You’re on your own now. You want it, go get it.” He is supremely cool, though. 😀
    Bilbo has kind of been floating around without a backbone up to this point, hasn’t he? And you like the songs! Aaargh. I feel a little guilty, now. 😛

    • Glad you agree on that point. It was just becoming irritating, and I found I really began to enjoy the story once he left. Though I suspect he is going to come back now in these last few chapters, and I am wondering how the hell they’re going to kill or at least defeat Smaug. 😛
      But yes, I do like the songs hahaha. I think they’re important to the story, they add something to it, especially with it being more of a children’s story. I strongly suspect the songs will appear in the movies, too. I could be wrong though. 😛

  7. Pingback: The Hobbit Group-Read – Week Two « Writers' Bloc

    • Hahaha, I don’t think you’re the only one. The first few chapters are a bit rough to get through, I think you have to charge through the first 100 pages, and then it gets a lot better. The Hobbit is definitely not for everyone. In fact, Tolkien is just not for everyone, really. 😛

  8. Hmm… I’m starting to feel a little guilty as well with Tanya. After reading your and the others’ answers, I think I have to go back to the songs and maybe reread the whole book. 😀

  9. Pingback: The Hobbit group-read part 3 (Chapter 13 to The End) | wantoncreation

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