Monday, June 11, 2012
William H. Green's "King Thorin's Mines: The Hobbit as Victorian Adventure Novel" was published in Extrapolation 42.1 (Spring 2001: 53-64). In the article, Green asserts that Tolkien's children's book The Hobbit partakes of a long tradition of juvenile novel commonly associated with Stevenson's Treasure Island, largely because it closely mimics H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines. Green explicates a number of textual parallels to support his thesis, including the socio-economic status of the protagonists, their marital status, and a number of specifics of plot and milieu. Green is not always wholly accurate in his parallels, however. In one example, he asserts that Tolkien's Bilbo Baggins is an old man, while Tolkien makes clear that Baggins is instead in early middle age. In another, Green draws a parallel between Tolkien's depiction of Thorin and Company's encounter with the trolls and Haggard's recounting of danger from elephants; it is not as clear a textual parallel as a number of his other examples. Those other examples, though, admirably support Green's key point that Tolkien borrows much from Haggard, leaving the article a solid piece of scholarship.