Check out this great side-by-side comparison of the original version of a key scene in The Hobbit to the version we know today. It’s the scene where Bilbo meets Gollum and steals the One Ring in the bowels of the Misty Mountains. Each paragraph of both versions is laid out side by side, with changes highlighted in blue. I’m such a huge Tolkien nerd, and this is intensely cool. Here’s a passage from the introduction:

The following is a side-by-side comparison of the two versions, presented in order to provide insight as to how the smallest of details can affect the overall themes of Tolkien’s work. Of particular interest is the characterization of Gollum, who in the revised version is much more malevolent and treacherous, and yet also more pitiful, echoing the later role that he will play in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Check It Out: Compare Original Version of Bilbo Getting Ring from Gollum to the Revised Version We Know Today

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  1. geoduck

    This was actually very interesting. As a writer I know how particular scenes develop from revision to revision. It’s neat to see some of Tolkein’s thinking.

    One thought though; we won’t see this ever again. Tolkein had typed out paper copies that were hand marked up and then retyped. Now if I want to change something I go in and edit the text file, and save it. There’s no paper trail to follow. No one will be able to come back and say “See, this was what Douglas Aalseth was thinking as he wrote chapter four.” the old versions are gone as soon as I make the changes.

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