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Film 'The Hobbit': Flight of fantasy

By Lu Qianwen (Global Times)

11:14, November 30, 2012

Cover for the Chinese version of The Hobbit due next month (GT)

Fantasy movie-goers really have something to be excited about this holiday season as the prequel to The Lord of the Rings series will premiere globally December 14th. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first installment of yet another trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson based upon the writings of British author J.R.R. Tolkein (1892-1973).

In China, however, audiences will not only be lucky enough to watch the movie, but fans can also read a new Chinese version of the book. Shanghai based Wenjing Book Company has announced that its translation of The Hobbit will meet the public early next month.

Together with The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is considered a signature work by Tolkien.

Now not just those books, but others including Letters from Father Christmas will be published, as well as related works studying Tolkien's writing like The Art of the Hobbit and The Map of Middle Earth.

Introducing a master

"A total of over 20 books by Tolkien or related [to Tolkien] will be introduced in China in the next five to seven years," said Wang Lei, vice general manager of Wenjing Book Co. "We are planning to rebuild Tolkien's position as a great master of modern literature in China instead of a writer of children's books," she told the Global Times.

Indeed, although he gained wide recognition for his writing of the imaginative and neatly-designed Middle-earth world presented in the movies, the image of Tolkien as a master in the field of literature is relatively unclear in the country.

"Most of his books that were introduced by domestic publishers before were [taken as children's] literature, as we can see from their cover designs and translations," said Wang.

Unprofessional translations were common in previous versions. For example, when The Lord of the Rings movies hit the market between 2001 and 2003, Yilin Publishing House in Nanjiang of eastern Jiangsu Province introduced The Silmarillion, an extensive depiction of Middle-earth that was written (but not published) by Tolkien after the success of The Hobbit and before publication of The Lord of the Rings. But during the book's translation and editing, the genealogy of the Hobbit and map of the Middle-earth in the appendix were all deleted.

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