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The Big-Screen Hobbit in its Underground Days

Published: December 12, 2012

J.R.R. Tolkien

In 1966, Tolkien's saga of elves, dwarves, and dragons suddenly became the hottest-selling item in U.S. campus bookstores.

You may recall the concern of some parents, back in 1997, about this Harry Potter character who was suddenly so popular among young people. Some adults found it troubling that children who had shunned books all their lives were suddenly disappearing into their rooms for hours to read. Was it a cult? Was this Potter kid teaching black magic?

There were similar worries back in the 1960s, when some adults fretted over the sudden popularity of The Hobbit, which was originally published September 21, 1937. Parents and teachers were concerned, in those rebellious days, if there was some evil influence inside the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. What made them so popular among high school and college students? Could it involve drugs, somehow? Was it some underground movement? What was a “Frodo”?

Frodo Lives

In response to such questions, the Post offered Harry Resnick’s article, “The Hobbit-Forming World of J.R.R. Tolkien” (July 2, 1966). Resnick reassured readers there was nothing sinister in this little-known novel that had been circulating among college students since the 1950s.

It’s interesting now to read about The Hobbit when it was still a relatively unknown book, when not even Gandalf could have transformed it into a multi-million dollar film.

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