This isn't a scholarly analysis of The Hobbit.
It's a lively, intelligent talk about it.
Corey Olsen (like me) has loved The Hobbit
from early childhood, and has reread it frequently since that first long ago adventure. He's able to make at least part of his living talking about his favorite writer -- he has his PhD in medieval English literature and teaches courses on Chaucer, Arthurian literature, and, yes, Tolkien. He points out something that makes this very different from his other classes: "No one had ever come up to me after class to show me the ragged and dearly loved copy of Chrétien de Troyes' Arthurian romances that her parents had first read to her when she was seven."
I have the feeling that all
of Olsen's students are very lucky, indeed. And readers can now enjoy the insight and fresh ideas he's gained from enthusiastic rereading of the same loved text.
If you love The Hobbit
but tend to skim the poems, Olsen will convince you that you're missing out. If you enjoy the story for its own sake, Olsen will show you the lessons it can teach about human (and hobbit) nature. And if you've read The Hobbit
often enough that you think it can't hold any surprises for you -- well, you should definitely read Olsen's book.