As we listened to dwarves singing about vengeance and stolen treasure in "dungeons deep and caverns old", listened to ancient riddles, learned of deep magic and old feuds, we realized that the tale of one little Hobbit on what seemed like a fools errand was just a small sliver of the intricate and elaborate world of Middle-Earth.
Including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there are over 12 volumes of published works that deal with the stories and history of Middle-Earth. These Tolkien wrote and revised for over 50 years until he died in 1973. The more we began to realize the breadth and depth that encompassed this little story we were reading the more we burned with one simple question. Why? Why would Tolkien go to such great lengths to fabricate such a sense of reality?
In an attempt to answer that question I think it is beneficial to explore two different areas. One is Tolkien's worldview as a source of motivation for him to create. The other is the nature of fiction and its paradoxical ability to relate to reality.
These two topics are worthy of a post in themselves, possibly two posts. So, I will leave them for another day.
Growing up, I was a big Tolkien fan and there has always been a place in my heart for The Lord of the Rings. My interest in Tolkien has been refreshed thanks to my new post as 6th grade teacher, and it is an interest that continues to enrich my mind and spirit. If you are one searching for something with depth and inspiration, I would strongly suggest you begin the journey to Middle-Earth. Let The Hobbit start you off then delve into The Lord of the Rings and perhaps some of the posthumously published works of this literary giant.