On Jan 30, 2012, at 11:56 AM, Boldingbroke wrote:
As we read The Hobbit out loud to our son, I am struck by the rhythmic nature of the prose, especially in the earlier chapters. It sounds very much like he was writing in the mode of "oral storytelling." And of course, this is a hero's quest. There are times, such as the encounter with the Ogres or the Goblins. Later in the book, the narrative voice seems much less mesmerizing and much more straightforward.
Have there been any worthwhile studies you are aware of that look at oral storytelling as a means to mixing the pagan (as in Germanic, Nordic myths) and the Christian? I'd like to read something recommended, as the few I've found online are not terribly academic.
Sharon L. Bolding
Good topic. I currently separated from my library and offhand can't think of any pieces along those lines. Re. the narrative voice, I do think this is one of the great strengths of THE HOBBIT, and I'm glad Tolkien never followed through on his later desire to expunge the 'intrusive narrator' from the book.
Re. oral storytelling, one version of THE HOBBIT's origin holds that it was first an oral tale and only later written down into its current fixed form. That's how Michael and John Tolkien, the two eldest sons, remembered it. I originally subscribed to this theory, and did a presentation on it at the 1987 Hobbit Workshop in London and again at the '87 MythCon at Marquette. Later I concluded from close examination of the manuscript that this was not the case, that the tale came into being on the written page (which is the way Tolkien himself remembered it), but many still believe the oral pre-Hobbit version, so consulting some of the latter might give you a good starting point.
Hope this helps. Let us all know if you do find something interesting along those lines -- or, better still, if you write it up yourself.