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View Full Version : What if The Hobbit were published after LOTR?



Muz
2009-04-17, 03:34 PM
So upon re-reading The Hobbit on a whim, I was thinking (as I am oft' times wont to do :smalltongue:) about the change in tone between The Hobbit (more child-friendly) and The Lord of the Rings (more mature). To quote Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hobbit#Legacy):
Many of the thematic and stylistic differences arose because Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a story for children, and The Lord of the Rings for the same audience, who had subsequently grown up since its publication.

It occurred to me that Star Wars is somewhat the reverse of that: With the exception of the Ewoks, the OT is (arguably) more mature than the PT in the sense that it doesn't have Jar-Jar, battle droids, and younglings (as well as other senses I won't bother listing here). Many people who'd seen the OT as kids felt (consciously or otherwise) that the PT should have grown up a bit with them, and were rather burned upon their first viewing of The Phantom Menace.

So my question/thread topic/ontological exercise/etc is this: Say The Lord of the Rings had come out first, and was then followed some years later by a prequel: The Hobbit. Assuming it was still identical to its current form (revisions to the riddle game included), how do you suppose fans of LOTR would have reacted?

Cúchulainn
2009-04-17, 04:26 PM
"Bilbo? Why would we want to hear about Bilbo? If they're gonna make a prequel why don't they make it about Aragorn as a ranger or something?"

Rutskarn
2009-04-17, 04:50 PM
I think The Hobbit would have been a letdown for some fans of the trilogy, for a few reasons:

1.) It's not as epic. It's some guy who goes to kill a dragon to retrieve a dwarven hoard--kind of anticlimactic, after the story about destroying a malevolent artifact in an attempt to prevent the destruction of civilization.

Then again, Seven Samurai is a story about 7 guys fighting 30 bandits, and that's pretty damn epic. I suppose it's all subjective--point is, it would disappoint some.

2.) Some might find it less mature. I think the difference in maturity between LotR and The Hobbit is often greatly exaggerated, but I also acknowledge that parts of the fanbase might balk.

3.) It's only one book. After a massive three-part saga, a measly 300 pages would seem kinda sparse.

snoopy13a
2009-04-17, 05:13 PM
Actually, I think that most people read LOTR first. There are many Tolkien junkies who don't like The Hobbit and prefer LOTR and the Simillarion (I'm not going to find my copy to figure out how to spell that). So, if The Hobbit were a prequel, many of the fans would have been disappointed in it.

I really like The Hobbit and I have no problems with its lighter tone. I also like the first couple chapters of LOTR with the hobbits walking to Bree and their adventures along the way (including Tom Bombadil) which have a similar tone to the The Hobbit.

As for the Star Wars movies, all of them were designed for kids. The problem was that fans who liked the Star Wars movies when they were kids expected the prequel trilogy to be focused on them and not the contemporary kids.

Rogue 7
2009-04-17, 07:56 PM
Maybe it's because I read it when I was a lot younger, but I always preferred The Hobbit to LOTR. It was so much easier to read- it didn't get so bogged down in descriptions the way LOTR did.

DomaDoma
2009-04-17, 11:00 PM
I was just rereading it myself, and yeah, even with changes in tone and scope put by the wayside, it would not go over well because of the breaks in canon alone. I mean, I am distinctly not a fan of the grim-faced world-deserting lengthy-poem-obsessed Tolkien elves, but even I have to draw the line at them as twinkly-eyed child creatures breaking out into merry "tril-lil-lil-lolly"s. To say nothing of what the hell "king" Thorin was afraid people somewhere in the Weathertop region had never heard of...

Don Julio Anejo
2009-04-18, 04:14 AM
I actually read the Hobbit first. And honestly, I like it more. It's a nice, cute, soft and fuzzy fairy tale. LotR, while epic, half the time reads like written transcriptions of Scottish people. I do, however, really like the gloomy and dark atmosphere of doom about to be unleashed upon the land...

But to answer the original question... It might do well as a standalone book, but not as a prequel. People who like LotR enough would in general want more of the same. Something dark and gloomy and epic... Maybe about how men of Noldor came to the Middle Earth to be corrupted by Sauron. Not about a hobbit who just wanted to drink his tea in peace that wouldn't be left alone.

Heck, hardcore LotR fans would probably go rabid on Tolkien for writing the Hobbit.

Satyr
2009-04-18, 04:22 AM
I read the Hobbit first, and I still like it better. Especially because it is less "epic" and over the top. It is also more interesting to read (especially in the age I read the books), because it lacks the sometimes extremely dull parts of the Lord of the Rings.
This is actually unusual for my reading habits, as I normally prefer a more mature lecture.

I generally don't think that prequels are such a good idea, because the end is pretty much predetermined.

GoC
2009-04-18, 06:59 AM
I also feel The Hobbit was an easier read. I thought LotR was alright but it's a bit boring and depressing compared to the lightheartedness of The Hobbit.

charl
2009-04-18, 07:25 AM
I've never liked LOTR at all. It's completely overrated. The Hobbit on the other hand I do like.

Scylfing
2009-04-18, 09:08 AM
I think that if "The Hobbit" were published after "The Lord of the Rings" my guess is it would probably have been written differently, with more focus on the monstrous and the epic battles, the history and the scenery--that is, more like LotR. I don't think this would be a good idea, since for all its quirky fun the story of The Hobbit could more or less fit into an appendix chapter of LotR if it's just going to serve in its "prequel" function. I just don't think it would be as gripping after the save-the-world plot.

Another question would be, what if "The Silmarillion" had been published before LotR, in a completed form no less. This would introduce the readers to his mythology properly right at the outset, which might not be a good idea unless the book were restructured so that the main plot of the jewels started right from the beginning. I love the Song of the Ainur but it's not something that would immerse most readers, so I think it would fit later in the book. And if it were written with a lot more dialogue so we get to know these epic characters better, I think that would help it quite a bit as well to serve as the actual first part of the overarching story leading up to LotR than purely as mythography.

factotum
2009-04-18, 11:31 AM
Given the sort of style Tolkien was writing in toward his later years, a Hobbit that was written after LOTR would probably have been unreadable. However, surely the other half of the question would be: what would LOTR be like if Tolkien had written it at the same time as he did the Hobbit? I'm not convinced it would have worked...after all, LOTR only came about because Tolkien's early attempts to publish the Silmarillion came to nothing.

One thing I think is certain: hobbits themselves would never have existed if Tolkien hadn't written a book for children. He chose to use "small" people because he thought that would provide a suitably childlike viewpoint, even though hobbits simply don't fit into any of the creation myths he later wrote.

Berserk Monk
2009-04-19, 02:46 PM
Um, what if you checked the name of the thread before submitting it? What if the Hobbit WERE... Is hobbit the plural?

Kneenibble
2009-04-19, 03:00 PM
UM, maybe you should read up on a little something called the subjunctive mood before trolling somebody perniciously about their grammar.

:biggrin:

Quincunx
2009-04-19, 03:12 PM
Plaudo, plaudo. (That is highly condensed Latin for "The law that inserts a spelling or grammar error into any post critiquing same isn't violated just because you can't see one before hitting 'Submit' ".)

chiasaur11
2009-04-19, 03:13 PM
UM, maybe you should read up on a little something called the subjunctive mood before trolling somebody perniciously about their grammar.

:biggrin:

"Subjunctive"?

Admit it. Now you're just making up words.

The Glyphstone
2009-04-19, 03:30 PM
He is?

It helps to double-check your assertions before accusing people. (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=subjunctive+mood)


On-topic....i'd have to agree that a post-LOTR Hobbit would be much more GRIMDARK. Whether that's a good or bad thing would depend on how easily I could read it.

chiasaur11
2009-04-19, 03:55 PM
He is?

It helps to double-check your assertions before accusing people. (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=subjunctive+mood)


On-topic....i'd have to agree that a post-LOTR Hobbit would be much more GRIMDARK. Whether that's a good or bad thing would depend on how easily I could read it.

See that body there?

It was a joke. You killed it.

It may not have been a good joke, but it had hopes and dreams. It was from a long line of jokes, having relatives who made it big, a brother who had a famous appearance on Red vs Blue, an uncle on The Office who said there was an opening for him if he ever made it big time. He just had to have one big break and he could make something of himself. He could finally give his sister's orphans a good home after her brutal murder on a recent episode of "Better Off Ted". He might even meet his idols, the jokes from the monorail episode of the Simpsons.

But no. You had to kill him. Bravo.

Gorgondantess
2009-04-19, 04:01 PM
One thing I think is certain: hobbits themselves would never have existed if Tolkien hadn't written a book for children. He chose to use "small" people because he thought that would provide a suitably childlike viewpoint, even though hobbits simply don't fit into any of the creation myths he later wrote.

Actually, hobbits have nothing to do with children. Rather, they're an analogy to the rural folk of the English countryside- simple, "small" people.

snoopy13a
2009-04-19, 04:04 PM
Actually, hobbits have nothing to do with children. Rather, they're an analogy to the rural folk of the English countryside- simple, "small" people.

The person's point was that he(or she) believes that Tolkien used a hobbit as a protagonist because children, his target audience for The Hobbit , would identify better with a hobbit than a elf or dwarf or man. I agree with that belief.

Weezer
2009-04-19, 04:29 PM
I'd think that the hobbit would be a great let down after reading LOTR, I know that when i reread the hobbit after reading LOTR for the first time it didn't seem to mesh with the tone of the world seen in LOTR. I agree with domadoma in saying that the elves in the hobbit were rather lame. though I do disagree in one respect cause I do like "grim-faced world-deserting lengthy-poem-obsessed Tolkien elves" but thats not a discussion for here.


Maybe about how men of Noldor came to the Middle Earth to be corrupted by Sauron.

Just one nitpick, the Noldor were elves and they weren't corrupted by sauron, sauron was a bit player when the Noldor returned to middle earth. Anyways the Noldor were never corrupted.

Scylfing
2009-04-19, 05:42 PM
Just one nitpick, the Noldor were elves and they weren't corrupted by sauron, sauron was a bit player when the Noldor returned to middle earth. Anyways the Noldor were never corrupted.

I think the Teleri would dispute that. That said, you're basically right, they weren't corrupted as a people, but Feanor and his sons were. Maeglin too, though he was only half-Noldor.


The person's point was that he(or she) believes that Tolkien used a hobbit as a protagonist because children, his target audience for The Hobbit , would identify better with a hobbit than a elf or dwarf or man. I agree with that belief.

Possibly, but by Tolkien's own account "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit" was something that kind of just came to him, and everything thereafter was him working out what exactly a Hobbit is.

Vuzzmop
2009-04-19, 06:29 PM
The Hobbit, if written after LOTR, would probably be very poorly recieved for the positive tonal shift. I am reminded of a fellow by the name of Binks, if you'll excuse the blasphemy.

Joran
2009-04-21, 11:11 AM
I read the Hobbit and the Silmarillion after I read LotR. I think I actually enjoyed both the Hobbit and the Silmarillion more than LotR. I think trying to slog through LotR was harder to read than the Hobbit, which was more upbeat, and the Silmarillion, which was in smaller, digestible pieces.

Muz
2009-04-21, 01:04 PM
Um, what if you checked the name of the thread before submitting it? What if the Hobbit WERE... Is hobbit the plural?

If it makes you feel any better, I originally titled it with "was" before realizing my error. :smallsmile:

I agree that The Hobbit, if written after LOTR, would very likely be a different book. I'm more asking what if somehow he'd written it, put it on a shelf, and THEN published it. (Actually now I'm curious to read a Hobbit written afterward, just to see how it might turn out.

Suppose we'll get a bunch of people who've only seen the LOTR movies accusing the upcoming Hobbit film of Jarjarism.

Hey, lookit that, I maded a word! :smallbiggrin:

Telonius
2009-04-21, 01:54 PM
Various reactions...

"Oh, come on. Linear plot, dumbed-down dialogue. Good lord, you're turning it into a video game, and Bilbo is a total Mary Sue. At least he had the guts to have bad things happen to Frodo."

"What's with this "goblins" stuff? They're orcs, call 'em orcs!"

"The part with the Dragon was pretty cool."

"Hold on a sec, how many times did Bilbo use that ring, and Sauron didn't catch him? But Frodo even thinks about putting it on for like, a nanosecond, and the Witch-King and three Ringwraiths show up. Totally dumbing it down."

"Hey, it's his right to make a kids' story. Gives them a good intro to get into the heavier stuff later on."

zeratul
2009-04-21, 02:05 PM
I personally like them equally. If I want a light easy read I read the hobbit. If I want something amazing with wonderful descriptions that's more epic and darker I go for the Lord of the Rings. I understand why a lot of people don;t like it though as many don;t have as large a vocabulary as mine and just don;t understand what;s going on, or don;t like long descriptions. Children of Hurin was also fantastic and possibly the most depressing book I've ever read. Depressing =/= bad. I think I sort of generally prefer tolkeins darker work although his light work is also great.


UM, maybe you should read up on a little something called the subjunctive mood before trolling somebody perniciously about their grammar.

:biggrin:

That my friend, was badass :smalltongue: