December 19, 2012
by Sal Robinson
The avalanche of Hobbitania has rained down upon us, complete with weird beard-braiding, the Denny’s Hobbit menu, and no less than 6 tie-in editions, activity books, movie guides, and “visual companions” from Tolkien’s publishers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who make up for it somewhat with the beautiful and appropriately rune-suggestive jackets of the new editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Here are some things I did not know until this week about Tolkien, Middle Earth, and The Hobbit:
- Tolkien was born in South Africa
- Andy Serkis, who reprised his role as Gollum in the new movie, was also Captain Haddock in the recent Tintin movie, King Kong in King Kong, and Caesar in Planet of the Apes. Clearly, the man is the King of Hollywood.
- Bilbo is actually a Bengali bhadralok
- Tolkien claimed that Finnish was a particularly strong influence on the languages and names he invented for Middle Earth
- Stephen Colbert is a big LOTR geek (and may have a cameo in one of the two Hobbit movies to come)
- Tolkien once stole a bus. And could blow smoke rings.
- One of the main collections of Tolkien’s manuscripts is in Milwaukee, at Marquette University
- In Christopher Tolkien’s first and only interview, which appeared in Le Monde in July 2012, he reveals that he has dreams in which his father confronts him about how he fucked up the reconstruction of The Silmarillion
- You can, in fact, buy your own Hobbit Hole
- There’s no Gollum voice like Tolkien’s Gollum voice
- There are far, far too many “Gandalf Style” parody music videos for me to get any work done for at least the next two weeks
Sal Robinson is a former Melville House editor. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.