The name's Luna.
24/Los Angeles/wannabe blogger & researcher
Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom.
A place for me to ramble about books I love... also probably the only blog I'll ever have that will keep its theme. I don't want my page to be a mess so I'm only going to shelve books starting with what I've read in the past year.
I'm not always eloquent, and I'm certainly not pretentious. I am just a huge nerd who lurks in used bookstores and likes to read and do research for fun.
This is one of my favorite first chapters of all the books I've ever read, if not my very favorite. The chapter opens with a description of Bilbo's home which is vivid and cozy and immediately gives you an idea of the sort of life Bilbo is accustomed to. In the following page and a half we're told a bit about Bilbo's family history- just enough so that we come away understanding that though Bilbo is certainly a Baggins through and through, there might be something within him (his "Tookishness") that will set him apart from his fellow hobbits.
I love reading about Gandalf meeting Bilbo outside. The first time I read it, I immediately wanted to be as cool as Gandalf:
"Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
The image of Biblo enjoying his pipe on a beautiful morning in front of his beautiful door, in a time when "there was less noise and more green" is so pleasant it almost makes me actually feel jealous. And that's the point- to show how simple and lovely Bilbo's life is. Even still, there is a small sliver of him that longs to see more of the world. When he realizes who Gandalf is, he lets his memory trail off as he's talking:
"Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves- or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite inter- I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time."
When Gandalf, pretty much out of nowhere, tells Bilbo he's sending him on an adventure, Bilbo gets quite flustered and runs inside- but not before inviting Gandalf to tea tomorrow. "What on earth did I ask him to tea for!" he says to himself after closing the door. I suppose it was that Tookishness within him that wouldn't let him completely walk away from a chance to "go off into the Blue".
"...a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors... if you have a pipe about you, sit down and have a fill of mine! There's no hurry, we have all the day before us!"
The story continues with the next day. Bilbo has forgotten about tea, and is rushing to prepare for Gandalf's entrance when he hears the doorbell. Upon opening the door, he is quite surprised to see not Gandalf but a dwarf- Dwalin, the first to arrive. Over the next few pages the rest of the party arrives, and a befuddled Bilbo realizes that he is being dragged into an adventure, whether he likes it or not. Before he knows it, there are 13 dwarves sitting at his table, and Gandalf is telling them all that Bilbo is the exact man they need to complete their party.
The main thing I wanted to talk about was the way Tolkien introduces the reader to this fantasy world. As Prof. Corey Olsen points out in this awesome lecture, we are essentially having the same experience Bilbo is having- we're going from the simplicity and comfort of our own reality to "a world of fantastic horrors and marvels" as the dwarves tell the story of their lost village and the dangerous journey that awaits them in order to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Even though Bilbo may have heard of dragons and elves and whatnot, they're about as real to him as they are to us- the world of the hobbits, like ours, contains "little or no magic", so the tales the dwarves tell of Smaug and his destruction and hidden treasures is quite jarring.
Bilbo has everything we think we want- a nice home, 'respectability', good food, lots of clothes, and the time to sit on the front porch and enjoy a pipe while taking in the brilliant green grass in the perfectly warm morning sun. But deep down, we all long for a bit of adventure. To see new places and experience a (slightly) less comfortable life. And like Bilbo, we usually wont embrace our own "Tookishness" without a little push.
Anywho, I'm sure we are going to discuss this whole chapter to death, so I don't want to make this too long, I just wanted to go over a couple of my favorite things about the chapter... I'm probably going to go ahead and start working on Chapter 2 so I can get ahead; it's going to be a busy week.
Happy Hobbit Sunday, everybody!