Washington College Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen’s Book on The Hobbit Explores Tolkien’s Book Chapter and Verse

September 20, 2012

September 20, 2012

One of the most beloved books of the 20th Century, The Hobbit, turns 75 tomorrow, September 21, and Washington College assistant professor of English Corey Olsen is marking the occasion with a book of his own. Olsen’s Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” released this week by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, takes its readers on an in-depth, chapter-by-chapter journey through the richly layered children’s book and reveals stories within the story.

As the creator of the “Tolkien Professor” podcasts, Olsen is known for aiming his scholarly insights at a general audience. The same philosophy guides his book as he delves into Tolkien themes such as the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all the transformation in the life of the main character, Bilbo Baggins.

The Hobbit now boasts some 100 million copies in print in more than 50 languages. December will bring the first installment in the long-awaited film adaptation by director Peter Jackson, who has divided the story into a trilogy for the big screen. Amid all the excitement about the book’s 75 anniversary and the upcoming movie, Olsen’s book has been warmly received by fellow Tolkien scholars and book reviewers, alike. “Tolkien’s roads, it seems, go ever, ever on, but with as amiable and knowledgeable a guide as Olsen, the weather remains fine and the journey sweet,” opined Kirkus Reviews.

A Publisher’s Weekly review described it as “a work of love backed up by professional experience,” and wrote that “the author’s infectious enthusiasm pervades his words, ensuring that what could have been a dry work in other hands will retain even a casual reader’s interest. The result is a text suitable for fans and scholars alike.”

Professor Olsen will be signing books and communing with fellow Tolkien fans at book events across the country this fall, including a visit this Saturday, September 23, to the National Book Festival in Washington, the Southern Festival of Books on October 14 in Nashville, and the Boston Book Festival on October 27 in “Beantown.”

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