The Annotated Hobbit

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Other authorsDouglas A. Anderson (Editor)
Hardcover, 2003



Call number




HarperCollins (2003), Edition: Revised edition, Hardcover, 512 pages


J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved novel The hobbit has deep roots in European folklore, mythology, and language. As a reader's introduction to Tolkien's Middle-earth, it contains references to the ancient history of this imaginary world which, though rarely explained, contribute greatly to the effect of Tolkien's art. This revised and expanded edition of The annotated hobbit unobtrusively and authoritatively illuminates the novel's antecedents and curiosities. Douglas Anderson has also collected here wonderful illustrations from all over the world. The many new annotations in this edition reflect more than a decade's additional scholarship on the history and evolution of The hobbit, and the annotations and illustrations are newly integrated with the core text in a handsome reader-friendly format. This edition also reproduces the fully corrected text of The hobbit as J.R.R. Tolkien approved it before his death, in 1973. Anderson has compared every page from every major edition of The hobbit with Tolkien's own last checking copy in the restoration work for this definitive edition.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member epersonae
So yeah, I'm 36 years old, have read LoTR a couple of times, seen the movies a bunch, played lots of D&D, and somehow never got around to reading The Hobbit. I did see the movie once, at the library when I was a little kid, and I think one more time in the last decade or so.

It's a damn clever
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story; the locales are quite vivid, and I'm intrigued by the characters who weren't in LoTR. (Beorn in particular.)

I do wish I hadn't gotten the annotated version, though. Fascinating stuff, some of it, but also terribly distracting. And I'm still not so much for Tolkien's poetry.

All in all, I'm glad I finally got around to it.
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LibraryThing member labbit440
The annotations make quite interesting reading for any Tolkien fan, but they might not be new news for an amateur Tolkien scholar. The illustrations from other language editions are also interesting.
LibraryThing member MsrScott
My personal favorite book of all time. Because it's a childhood love of mine. I have a 1961 (the second revision, not the now standard 3rd!) British, Allen & Unwin edition. No jacket, but in good shape and from a US eBay auction. Originally purchased in a London bookshop. It's really is 'My
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LibraryThing member Cole_Hendron
Helps us understand how the work has penetrated other languages and cultures. One must stand in greater awe of JRRT to realize that, in addition to his creative writing skills, his mastery of most current and past European languages allowed him to actually review and correct the translations!
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
The Hobbit remains one of my favorite books, and I highly recommend the annotated edition for adults who are interested in learning more about the background of this wonderful story. One of the elements I found most interesting were the reproductions of artwork from different editions and
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translations of The Hobbit -- some of them are marvelous, some of them are downright cringe-worthy.
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LibraryThing member SarathCP
The hobbit as a book is a classic and I feel beyond any reviews. So I am just reviewing this particular edition, 'The Annotated Hobbit' by Douglas Anderson, a Tolkein scholar. This edition is a must have for any enthusiast of the Tolkein's middle-earth world. However, I would not recommend this
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book to a casual reader or anyone who is reading hobbit for the first time. There is an overwhelming amount of information in this book provided as annotation throughout the book. It provides info. on the various revisions in the text over the years. One major example would be the Chapter 5,Riddles in the Dark, which underwent some major changes to bring the story in line with 'The LOTR'. So, the whole of the older version of Ch.5 is provided as annotated text. Other than that, Tolkein's inspirations, illustrations from some international editions, on the origin of some of the names of the characters and even their attire (for ex. Gandalf's image was originally from a post card with an old man's picture). Different versions of Tolkein's own illustrations and earliest version of the map of 'Desolation of Smaug' is also provided. All in all, excellent details for an enthusiast who will be able to appreciate the extra info. if he/she is reading the story for the 2nd or 3rd time.
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LibraryThing member manishma
I especially liked the illustrations by Tolkien and others. The biographical information was good too, especially information about influences.
LibraryThing member rwjerome
I decided to reread this in preparation for the upcoming movie, and since I probably hadn't read it since childhood. It was exactly as fun and exciting as I remembered it, but there was a lot more to the story that I didn't pick up on as a kid. I was surprised at how much this is really a story
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about the growth of Bilbo. Tolkien makes it very satisfying to watch his transformation from a bungling tourist to a confident adventurer. It's a powerful moment when the dwarves (who are very experienced themselves) turn to Bilbo as their leader. This was definitely worth the time investment to revist as an adult.
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LibraryThing member sonofcarc
Indispensable for any serious Tolkienist. The second edition is a huge improvement over the first.
LibraryThing member willszal
On my second Christmas, my uncle gave me a copy of this text. Understandably, it has taken me awhile to finally get around to reading it.

The last time I heard “The Hobbit" was during fifth or sixth grade, when my teacher Ann-Mary went through it as a read aloud. I can recall the scene near the
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beginning with the three trolls around the fire, but not much else. Around that era, I also saw a clip of the animated film while at a friend’s place cutting down a Christmas tree; it was the goblin war near the end.

After the Lord of the Rings films, I remember reading the Wikipedia page for the upcoming Hobbit film—this was about two years before it premiered. I ended up watching it in theaters with my friend Gracie; it was so terrible I didn’t watch another.;

As a child, I remember thinking of “The Chronicles of Narnia” in the same genre as “The Hobbit.” In reading this annotated version, I’ve learned why: Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were both part of a Oxford literary group, the Inklings. Another notable member was Owen Barfield—a man worth looking up if you aren’t familiar.

During the first half of the book, I felt as though Tolkien was being glib, maybe even ironic, especially regarding his humor. The book has a bit of self-deprecating silliness too it—from the songs, to the use of language. Also, the way the book moves encounter to encounter feels a bit formulaic. At times, the journey feels like less of a grand adventure, and more a string of moments.

At the beginning of the book, I so expected Bilbo to be brought off on his adventure in the middle of the night. I was quite surprised when Bilbo got a good nights sleep, and then almost missed the departure; an inauspicious beginning. Aside from that, the dwarfs arrival is quite archetypal—reminiscent of Rumi’s “The Guest House."

I become frustrated with Tolkien’s repeated refrain, “and at this point, your protagonist has a lovely time, so there is nothing much to report, and I’ll skip ahead a month to the next battle scene.” Is this some artifact of colonial plot-development? The book is supposedly about a hobbit—one of the most homely of creatures. Why does Tolkien willfully deprive us of basking in such a merry stupor?

It is interesting to contemplate the relationship between myth and story. The mythologist Martin Shaw recommends that, in retelling a myth, we feed it and build a relationship with it, but take care not to modify any of the essence. Is Tolkien a defiler of indigenous wisdom? Potentially. Is there an appropriate way to remix traditional myths and themes into contemporary literature? Well, everyone does it. But I’m still contemplating the repurcussions. Disney is infamous for this.

About half way through the book, my attitude and outlook changed; maybe this is some great work of literature? By the end of the book, I felt quite contented. Now I want to reread “The Lord of the Rings."
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LibraryThing member themulhern
I'm less interested in the notes than in the illustrations, which are from many different editions and translations.
LibraryThing member ulan25
This is such a fun story that I never tire of rereading! The annotated edition has great background info about the text and the writing of the story and illustrations from different editions of The Hobbit. =)


Mythopoeic Awards (Finalist — Inklings Studies — 1990)


Original publication date


Physical description

512 p.; 9.76 inches


0007137273 / 9780007137275

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