From my point of view, there are three (linked) things that make Corey Olsen’s Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit an effective companion to one of the most important pieces of literature in the 20th century:
1. A focussed close-reading of the text, going “beard to beard” with the text (a phrase I borrow from C.S. Lewis);
2. A treatment of The Hobbit as a work of literature in and of itself–connected to the larger Middle-earth Legendarium, but its own story (and its own text history); and
3. A treatment of the poetry, showing how these songs and poems we read are critical to the themes of the book.
Now, it is true that the author, Corey Olsen, aka, the Tolkien Prof., is my boss and a friend. But I still think the book worth reading on its own merits.
Goodreads Book Description:
The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the twentieth century. In December 2012, millions will be introduced or reintroduced to J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic with the arrival of the first of two film adaptations by acclaimed director Peter Jackson. Exploring The Hobbit is a fun, thoughtful, and insightful companion volume, designed to bring a thorough and original new reading of this great work to a general audience. Professor Corey Olsen (also known as the Tolkien Professor) will take readers on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the revolutions within the life of Bilbo Baggins. Exploring The Hobbit is a book that will make The Hobbit come alive for readers as never before.