This summer is half over and I’m—as always—surprised at how fast time can move. I haven’t been getting as much writing out as I would like, but I have started reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit for the first time. This shouldn’t be a surprise since I spent much of my youth avoiding books in general, especially books that people told me I would love. Shudder.
As I read The Hobbit, I’ve come to realize how much of an influence this man has had on modern literature (and culture). This goes far beyond Peter Jackson’s filmography. I mean, anytime you think of Elijah Wood or see someone with extra hairy feet, you immediately think something out of Tonkien’s mind.
But that’s a step beyond where I want to go right now. The Hobbit (published 1937) is as much a story of adventure as it is a story of a pilgrimage, and I can’t help but think of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (published 1926) while I read. The main characters (Jake Barnes and Bilbo Baggins) are on journeys of self-exploration and personal growth while the experience new things with their traveling companions. And they both seem to be searching for a…for some…I don’t know what. Well, I know that Jake is in search of manliness and possibly a companion, but I’m not really sure what Bilbo is searching for.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe Bilbo is just thrust into his journey without a cause, much like how we are thrust into new experiences in life. I guess I will have to wait and see.