The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Why do we love The Hobbit? Perhaps because we secretly hope we are all Bilbo. It was said of him, so perhaps it could be said of us: 

There's "more about him than you guess."

Tolkien sets the stage for what we will experience in the land of Middle Earth by presenting a sedentary Bilbo Baggins. When the wizard Gandalf comes looking for a partner in adventure, but having a hard time of it, Bilbo replies: 

I should think so--in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them," said our Mr. Baggins, and stuck one thumb behind his braces, and blew out another even bigger smoke-ring.

But Gandalf will not relent. Having already invited the dwarfs, who begin to appear in frustrating number, Bilbo gives in. He sets out on his adventure and is never the same.

Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.

When Tolkien wrote: "Bilbo saw that the moment had come when he must do something." I wonder, was this good story or social commentary? 

I suspect the former. We need the latter! Not the commentary, but the adventure. We're 21st-century Hobbits content to watch adventure, play at adventures, and celebrate the adventures of others. We've masters of the vicarious experience, we need more of the real thing. 

But I've gone to preaching . . . 

Note: Tolkien, who along with C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, was a member of the Inklings, an informal literary discussion group that met at Oxford's Eagle and Child Pub (and the University of Oxford). I visited the pub in 2017. Quite an experience.