A Dutch marvel: In de Ban van de Hobbit (27.10.05 by Pieter) - Comments

This is the first time "The Tolkien Library" reviews a non-English book, yet the importance of this new Dutch book made us decide to do so. The review is written in English, but can also be read in Dutch (click here).

In de ban van de hobbit
Author: Johan Vanhecke
Language: Dutch
Paperback: 223 pages
Publication Date: October 17, 2005
Publisher: Houtekiet
ISBN: 9052408564
Price in EUR: €19.95

Never did the announcement of a movie cause more excitement then what we saw with "the Lord of the Rings". When the trailer went on line on the 7th of April in 2000 it was downloaded 1,67 million times, braking all previous records.
Although the surprise was very big for many, it could have been expected. Since the publication of "The Lord of the Rings" in 1954, now exactly 50 years ago, the books have been treasured by many. Up until today there were sold already 150 million copies all across the world en the book can be seen as the most successful book of the twentieth century.

The works written by J.R.R. Tolkien can at least be called remarkable, but this can also be said about Tolkien himself. The book "In de Ban van de Hobbit" tells us more about the live and the works by this interesting personality. The book starts of with telling the story of his life and give us a total view on all the works he wrote. His sources of inspiration and important influences on his creations are explained thoroughly.

The book then takes us inside the success story of "The Lord of the Rings". Thus it is shown how the book influenced other writers and which impact it had on the entire fantasy-genre. We read about the many illustrators, musicians, movie directors , artists and theater directors who used the works of Tolkien as a source of inspiration. Also the many Tolkien movements and Societies that since the publication of "The Lord or the ring" had arisen are exhaustively described.

Furthermore "In de Ban van de Hobbit" invites us on a trail through Oxford. Beside Leeds and Bournemouth, this city was the most important live and work place for J.R.R. Tolkien. The many pubs, where Tolkien gladly stayed are passed by, as well as the universities, colleges, shops, museums, hotels and the botanic garden bring up interesting facts concerning Tolkien. The different houses where he lived are also discussed in detail.

Finally we examine Tolkien from a Dutch and Belgian perspective. Beside a complete overview of the Dutch translations of tolkien's work also the response of the Dutch press to these publications is given.

"In de Ban van de Hobbit" is a book for all who visited Middle Earth, by reading the books or seeing the movies, and want to find out know more about the creation of this world.

The writer, Johan Vanhecke, has already written a lot of interesting articles concerning Tolkien and these were now brought together and reworked to present a whole. In the Dutch literary area we could not have dreamed a better celebration for the fiftieth anniversary of "The Lord of the Rings". At last we have, beside the many translations, a brilliant book concerning J.R.R. Tolkien in Dutch. Hope it will be translated soon so all can start enjoying it!

In 1992, it was also Johan Vanhecke who, in honor of the Tolkien century, organized an exhibition about the English writer. this was held in the Archive and Museum for Cultural life in Antwerp, Belgium. The exhibition was open from the 25 of January until the 14th of march. It gave us information on the person Tolkien, the editions and translations of his works, his literary world, international fame and popularity. This exhibition caused a big change in the life of many. For them it was the first time they saw they were not the only Tolkien fans and collectors. The enormous success of the exhibition and the many visits by public and press were totally unexpected.

The exhibited books, photographs and original art work spoke to the imagination. The catalogue was for a lot of Dutch and Belgian people a first view on the interesting live of J.R.R. Tolkien and the success of his works.

Now thirteen years later, for the celebration of the fifty years "The Lord of the Rings", our memory needs to be refreshed and further to enriched. Besides an very good read, Johan Vanhecke offers us an enormous amount of information. We can hope this book will have the same impact as the exhibition had.

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