Hobbit: From Children's Story to Mythic Creation Essay

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Hobbit: From Children's Story to Mythic Creation

"Mr. Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it - so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge."

-J.R.R Tolkien, letter to his publisher (quoted in Carpenter 1977, 182).

The Hobbit started as little more than a bedtime story for Tolkien's children. Like most of his fellow academics, Tolkien viewed fantasy as limited to childhood. The result was a book written in a chatty, informal style that contrasts sharply with that of its serious successors. The narrator makes frequent patronising and intrusive asides, such as "And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in
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It allows people to see in a new light what has become commonplace and drab. Although Elves, for instance, do not "exist" in a scientific sense, they embody the creative skill and immortality of the human spirit, and therefore do exist.

As Tolkien put it, the storyteller "makes a Secondary World in which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is "true": it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside". He called this process sub-creation: by creating a parallel world, the myth-maker emulates God, the supreme creator. The Bible is the ultimate, divine fairy story because it reconciles historic with mythic truth, and all man-made myth will reflect this. Tolkien famously disliked allegory, and saw myth as an entirely different art form.

In addition, Tolkien believed, fairy stories offer an escape from the gloom of modern life and, through eucatastrophe, or the happy ending, provide a joy similar to religious ecstasy. However, he could find no mythology indigenous to his native country, and so, in his own words, set out to create "a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogenic to the level of the romantic fairy story which I could dedicate simply to England" (quoted in

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