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Subject:  Re: The Hobbit by J.R.R .Tolkein Date:  3/5/2002  8:59 AM
Author:  AGlupOfWax Number:  602 of 3350

Has anyone ever read the original version of the book? I am curious what Tolkein had to modify and if it made any real difference in the story

I haven't read or posses a copy of the original version, but I do have a book called the Letter of JRR Tolkien. isbn 0-395-31555-7 copyright 1981

The first revision to The Hobbit occured in 1951, and the second in 1966.

From what I gather from the letters sent back and forth with his publisher, the 1951 changes involved chapter V, the riddles in the dark. Essentially I "guess" the first 1937 version had the riddle game end just like he told the dwarves. The revised version has the "what have i got in my pocket" question. This leads to the Bilbo's confession at the Council of Elrond and asking forgiveness from the dwarves for having told them a different story.


In my new edition of LOTR, they have a prologue which explains some of the hobbit for the benefit of folks who haven't read it before. They give a brief explanation of the differences.

Apparently in the first version, Gollum claims that if Bilbo wins the riddle game, then Gollum will give him a present. Bilbo assumes that the ring in his pocket is the present he is supposed to get and so feels justified in keeping it. This is supposedly the story he told the dwarves and Gandalf. In later editions, this version is explained as being a lie showing the early influence of the ring upon Bilbo. They also say that Gandalf never really believed the first version of the story.

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