The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

On October 8, 1937, the Times published a review of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Recently, the newspaper's online archive opened up the review to the general public. Here's what it says:
All who love that kind of children's book which can be read and re-read by adults should take note that a new star has appeared in this constellation. If you like the adventures of Ratty and Mole you will like THE HOBBIT, by J. R. R. Tolkien (Allen and Unwin, 7s. 6d.). If, in those adventures, you prized the solidity of the social and geographical context in which your small friends moved, you will like "The Hobbit" even better. The hobbit himself, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, is as prosaic as Mole, but fate sets him wandering among dwarfs and elves, over goblin mountains, in search of dragon-guarded gold. Every one he meets can be enjoyed in the nursery ; but to the trained eye some characters will seem almost mythopoeic - notably the lugubrious gollum the fish-man, and the ferociously benevolent Beorn, half man, half bear, in his garden buzzing with bees.

The truth is that in this book a number of good things, never before united, have come together ; a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar's with the poet's grasp of mythology. On the edge of a valley one of Professor Tolkien's characters can pause and say : "It smells like elves." It may be years before we produce another author with such a nose for an elf. The Professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity which is worth oceans of glib "originality." The maps (with runes) are excellent and will be found thoroughly reliable by young travellers in the same region.


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