“A Fragment Detached”: The Hobbit and The Silmarillion

Tolkien at Kalamazoo: The Hobbit on Its 75th AnniversaryTolkien at Kalamazoo: The Hobbit 
on Its 75th Anniversary

“A Fragment Detached”: The Hobbit and The Silmarillion 

John D. Rateliff (Independent Scholar)

This brief summary is just an overview of a paper given during one of the Tolkien at Kalamazoo sessions. It was an interesting look at The Hobbit and Silmarillion and how one influenced the other. 

In January 1938, just after The Hobbit was published, Tolkien was asked about his influences and sources for the book. Tolkien replied that he was influenced by fairy tales, but derived from older stories, not Victorian ones. Beowulf was cited as a major ingredient in his creation for The Hobbit, but not consciously based on it. The Hobbit was loosely based on The Silmarillion which had not yet been published. The Hobbit was not meant to have anything to do with The Silmarillion initially but ended up having crossover. Since there is no necessary connection between The Hobbit and The Silmarillion both books can stand alone. Despite this claim, Tolkien stated the background myth in The Hobbit developed into a further tale where there was an indirect influence. While The Hobbit was not originally intended to be part of The Silmarillion, it was the starting point where Tolkien decided that there was more to the lore of Middle Earth.

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