Monday, February 4, 2008

I am Interviewed . . .

. . . by the NATIONAL REVIEW. You can listen to the ten-minute audio interview here at their NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE site:


This was recorded about a month ago; listening to it now, I'm grateful to find that I seem to be reasonably coherent and that either I avoided too many 'umm's or else they seamlessly edited them out. Having listened to some of the other interviews posted on the same site in preparation for my own, I'm inclined to credit this to John J. Miller's being a good interviewer. And they certainly cover a wide range of topics and authors, from Rbt E. Howard's CONAN to a new biography of Joseph McCarthy.

Most of what I say in the interview will be familiar to anyone who's read my book; I think the one point I stressed that I may have only mentioned in passing before is the degree to which THE HOBBIT marks an ambitious step in Tolkien's career as a writer. It is his first book-length work of fiction, more than twice the length of ROVERANDOM or the 1930 QUENTA. Only THE BOOK OF LOST TALES, or all Tolkien's previous work, is as long, and that was composed of many short tales linked by a frame story modeled upon Morris's THE EARTHLY PARADISE and, besides, left unfinished.

The one point in my book I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet in any of the reviews or discussions I've seen? My argument that, according to my reconstruction of the original outline for THE HOBBIT, the Battle of Five Armies was originally to take place not at the Lonely Mountain but on Bilbo's return journey, in the Anduin River valley between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains. I suspect this is simply because that comes so many hundreds of pages into the book(s) that not that many people have made it that far yet. We'll see.

--John R.

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