It took me a little longer than usual to get ahold of this year’s Tolkien calendar. When I finally remembered my need to order it around Christmas time, it was nigh impossible to find. Not at Amazon. Not at Barnes and Noble. It seemed to be out of stock everywhere. Luckily, I found a copy at ebay from a Canadian bookseller. Took a little longer than usual to get here, of course, but that’s okay. The Alan Lee art is beautiful as always. And I quite like the quote for January from the first chapter of The Hobbit:
By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed)– Gandalf came by. Gandalf!
What a great way to introduce the characters- saying so much while saying so little.
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In a letter dated 15 October 1937, Tolkien wrote:
. . . I cannot think of anything more to say about hobbits. Mr. Baggins seems to have exhibited so fully both the Took and the Baggins side of their nature. But I have only too much to say, and much already written, about the world into which the hobbit intruded . . . My daughter would like something on the Took family. One reader wants fuller details about Gandalf and the Necromancer. But that is too dark– much too much for Richard Hughes’ snag. I am afraid that snag appears in everything; though actually the presence (even if only on the borders) of the terrible is, I believe, what gives this imagined world its verisimilitude. A safe fairy-land is untrue to all worlds.
It wouldn’t take long, of course, for Tolkien to start weaving together the “long-expected party” that begins the next chapter of Tolkien’s grand story. I like the idea of “the snag that appears everywhere.” The snag is a reference to concern that the going deeper into the edges of Tolkien’s forest of a story wouldn’t make for good “bed-time reading” with children. But the snag is there . . . and the the snag is everywhere, not just in fairy-lands but in all worlds.