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Original version of the Hobbit

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Harad

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Does such a thing exist? Does anybody know of, or have a 1930-1940 epoch edition of the Hobbit? It would be fascinating to see what the sum total of changes are compared with todays canonical version. Of course the "Riddle Game" is crucial, but also did the description of the Ring change:

...it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible...But who knows how Gollum came by that present...
 

Bill the Pony

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Harad, there seems to be a book called the annotated hobbit that compares all the versions of the hobbit that came out. Amazon mentions that it will be published again later this year. I looked for a used copy, but they are all ridiculously expensive ($200). So I guess the answer should wait until summer.
 
H

Harad

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The Hobbit was first published in 1937...Lets assume a kid was 7 when he got a copy. That kid would be 72 years old today. Could anybody have saved it all that time? Maybe given it to a grandchild who goes online? Probably in England. Do any of the UK types know of similar forums based in England? That might be a better bet to find someone posting who has such a collectors piece.

Another good find by BtP. Thanks.

More important is the matter of Chapter 5. There the true story of the ending of the Riddle Game, as it was eventually revealed (under pressure) by Bilbo to Gandalf...
I want to see what was written in 1937. One can only hope that the "annotated" got it right.
 

Bill the Pony

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Thanks to Jurian and Gimli on the dutch forum, I found a website that compares the old and the new versions. Apparently the description of the ring on the old version goes something like:

and in the end Bilbo gathered that Gollum had had a ring—a wonderful, beautiful ring, a ring that he had been given for a birthday present, ages and ages before in the old days when such rings were less uncommon
<snip>
if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that was a faint and shaky sort of shadow.
 
H

Harad

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BtP:

I would like to compare what you have posted to what is in the current Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark" but I dont know what to compare, exactly. Perhaps its:

Not far away was his island, of which Bilbo knew nothing, and there in his hiding-place he kept a few wretched oddments, and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring.

"My birthday-present!" he whispered to himself, as he had often done in the endless dark days. "That's what we wants now, yes; we wants it!"
He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint.

"My birthday-present! It came to me on my birthday, my precious," So he had always said to himself. But who knows how Gollum came by that present, ages ago in the old days when such rings were still at large in the world? Perhaps even the Master who ruled them could not have said.
If this is the direct comparison then the difference is clear:

The old version states it was his b-day present. The new version discounts this explanation and mentions the "Master" who ruled them. However, the old version might have served without any changes IMO, since Gollum was convinced in his own warped mind that it WAS a b-day present, and Bilbo didnt find out differently for another 80 years or so.
 

Bill the Pony

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On the website:
http://www.ringgame.net/riddles.html

the two versions are compared sentence by sentence. Check it out, because I'm not sure what exactly you are looking for. You quoted the properties for the ring, so I looked for a description of the ring in the old version. There are many more changes between the two versions. I guess the most important one is that in the old version Gollum really wanted to give the ring as a present, and apologized a lot to Bilbo for 'cheating' at the riddle game. With the Ring of LOTR that would be impossible, so Tolkien changed it to the current version.
 
H

Harad

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Wow!!!
That site is utterly fantastic. Hail Bill the Pony for uncovering it!!!

For anybody who wants to see how "The Hobbit" evolved to accommodate LOTR, this is a must. And this is a wonderful reminder that works of Art often evolve--they are not set in stone-- and are not perfect, originally, or, dare I say, even at the end. That doesnt make them any less worthwhile.

For example, the original published version has:

Bilbo turned round and waited, wondering what it could be that the creature was making such a fuss about. this proved very fortunate afterwards. For Gollum came back and made a tremendous spluttering and whispering and croaking; and in the end Bilbo gathered that Gollum had had a ring—a wonderful, beautiful ring, a ring that he had been given for a birthday present, ages and ages before in the old days when such rings were less uncommon. Sometimes he had it in his pocket; usually he kept it in a little hole in the rock on his island; sometimes he wore it—when he was very, very hungry, and tired of fish, and crept along dark passages looking for stray goblins. The he might even venture into places where the torches were lit and made his eyes blink and smart; for he would be safe. Oh yes! very nearly safe; for if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that was a faint and shaky sort of shadow. I don't know how many times Gollum begged Bilbo's pardon. He kept on saying: "We are ssorry; we didn't mean to cheat, we meant to give it our only only pressent, if it won the competition." He even offered to catch Bilbo some nice juicy fish to eat as a consolation. Bilbo shuddered at the thought of it. "No thank you!" he said as politely as he could.
Can you imagine a Gollum who is "sssory"? Furtermore, in the original version there is no:

"Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!"
Yaygollum and Smeagol_Gollum should know about this and realize that their boy was the victim of a vicious rewrite.
 
H

Harad

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A Little Problem?

JRRT rewrote "The Hobbit" to be compatible with the subsequent LOTR, as shown above in the BtP-uncovered reference. However a question remains, asked by GGG in

http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2683

Gollum says in both versions:

"What iss he, my preciouss?" whispered Gollum
The issue is that later in LOTR JRRT made Gollum into a hobbit. This is evident since Gandalf says in LOTR:

Long after, but still very long ago, there lived by the banks of the Great River on the edge of Wilderland a clever-handed and quiet-footed little people. I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made little boats of reeds. There was among them a family of high repute, for it was large and wealthier than most, and it was ruled by a grandmother of the folk, stern and wise in old lore, such as they had. The most inquisitive and curious-minded of that family was called Sméagol.
So why didnt Gollum recognize Bilbo? The answer might be that Gollum did recognize Bilbo as a "man/hobbit", i.e., whatever Gollum thought himself to be. But that didnt help Gollum to identify Bilbo, because Gollum didnt know what "tribe" or location to assign Bilbo. Therefore "Shire" and "Baggins" were the keys, as always, but Gollum didnt know what they meant. The race of Bilbo was an irrelevancy because it was, in fact, familiar to Gollum, even if he couldnt put the current name of "hobbit" or "halfling" to it.

"What iss he, my preciouss?" whispered Gollum
may just be Gollum's way of talking to himself, a la: "What have we, here?"
 

Gary Gamgee

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The differences between the two versions are fascinating. Gollums character changes so much. Mhhm.......

Harad you could be right about him musing as to what race of Hobbit Bilbo was, yes i think so.

Great thread.
 
K

KrossRodes

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Question about the original "The Hobbit"

I've read many stories and acounts about the original story of the Hobbit.
According to them, before Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings the chapter "Riddles in the Dark" where Bilbo meets Gollum was much different. Is this true?
If so, where can I find a copy of the book without the changes made?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

Bill the Pony

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Yet it's true. On the website quoted above (the fourth and sixth posts of this thread), you can compare the two versions sentence by sentence. Also there is a book called the annotated hobbit, which is supposed to come out later this year, that is supposed to compare the two versions. Or you can go to ebay and try to find a really old copy. But then you must be really rich...

Oh, and welcome to the forum.
 

Khamul

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Ulairi, I guess Bill's site was the reason that they kept it.....?????
 

Gamil Zirak

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Harad

I noticed that Harad is no longer a member of the forum. Did he get kicked out or something?
 

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