Back in April I shared audio of J.R.R. Tolkien reading from The Lord of the Rings. This rare treat was thanks to the Professor’s enjoyment of recording personal readings of his work on some of the first home-use tape recorders after being introduced to them by a friend in 1952.
These short stretches of audio are wonderful, capturing the particulars of the speech and dialects he created for his stories. You really get to hear the sound and roll of language that was so important to Tolkien both professionally and personally as a professor of language and literature. And coming from an age when author readings were rarely recorded, they are double treasures without question.
With that in mind, I am very pleased to share another audio clip of J.R.R reading his work. This time, the subject is a passage from Riddles in the Dark, the fifth chapter of The Hobbit. Whereas the previous sampling of audio in April encompassed many small passages plucked from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, this one is focused entirely on a single passage from that book.
It’s just as enjoyable as the first. As I’ve said before, Tolkien must have been a world-class bedtime story reader! He was a devoted father of four, and this is made very clear in many memoirs and recollections about him. The fact that The Hobbit is a work of juvenile fantasy, in my opinion, is good evidence that it evolved at least partly from a role he relished; that of a storytelling father. One needs look no farther than his twenty two years of letters from Father Christmas, crafted only for his sons and daughter, for harder proof of this.
The Hobbit remains a wonderful book to read to children. I’ve had the honor to do so on one occasion and would do so again. But I’m sure, as is evidenced here, that no one could read it at a bedside better than J.R.R could. :-) It’s wonderful to hear the life he puts into the prose, and the voice he gives to Gollum here I’m sure helped to inspire Andy Serkis’s portrayal of him in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
For my Tolkien fans out there, I hope you all enjoy!