Soviet Hobbit illustrations

Thomas sez, "English Russia posted the gorgeous illustrations from the first soviet edition of Tolkien's The Hobbit, accompagnied by three videos of a 70's low budget telefilm/play broadcasted to entertain Soviet children. The result is truly hilarious, and yet touching. Gollum is a must-see!"

Russian Lord of the Rings


  1. That made my day. Those illustrations are just plain wonderful.

    I’d buy another copy of The Hobbit if it had those illustrations.

    Tolkien likely didn’t make a cent on the Russian editions, but I bet he’d love those illustrations too.

    I can’t watch the videos at work, darn it.

  2. I’ve got a copy of that book, I found it at a charity shop in the Channel Islands. It’s gorgeous, just got to keep working on the Russian classes until I can actually read it!

  3. Bilbo looks more like I always imagined Hobbits looked than many other interpretations I’ve seen, certainly better than the pointy-eared, teenage-boy-haired freaks in the movies.

    1. That’s a fairly awesome Gandalf.

      I wonder what’s in his pipe. He seems awfully alert.

  4. My boyfriend owns this book. I am in love with it.
    The hairy legs are because Russians don’t distinguish between legs and feet or arms and hands in colloquial speech. There exist extra words for them but they are mostly used in an anatomical context.
    Thus the Russians misunderstood the remark of hairy feet to mean hairy legs. And bare feet = bare legs, hence the lack of pants.

  5. The map is pure fairytale (“Long ago and far away”), Bjorn is exactly as I’ve imagined him (Bilbo and Thorin…not so much), and Bard has a real Alexander Nevsky thing going on.

    Now, about license fees…

  6. I’m impressed that the artist has obviously actually read the book beforehand. That’s not quite so common when it comes to early-ish editions of Tolkien’s books.

  7. Hmmm . . . a friend’s wife, who grew up in Russia, said that there is a Russian version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

    A DVD of that would be a really cool cult import!

  8. I would now like to brag a little–I bought that very edition of that book while in Russia in 1992, and showed my 4-year old the pictures just last week. It’s survived waves of moves and book downsizing.

    Russian woodcut illustrations are simply fantastic.

  9. Here’s Finnish TV-series of Lotr from early 90’s:
    Shire looks like post apocalyptic slum and all props are either cheap or “artistic”. As a fresh lotr fan at the time, I remember being extremely disappointed of the series.

    The Russian version looks superior, even with sparkly, spaced out Gandalf.

  10. Great found! Looks a bit like the Russian translation of The Hobbit had enough distance to the original to bare the fairy tale underlying the literature, remapping the characters to fairy tale archetypes in the illustrations.

    Does anyone know if/how this can be found on amazon?

  11. Those illustrations are delightful…

    I don;t know if *anyone* remembers a very old foriegn childrens’ series that was shown on British TV called ‘The SInging ringing Tree’ – but for some reason teh illustrations made me remember it…

    Eastern-European folklore always did seem very Tolkenesque to me!

  12. Hilarious? They are fantastic and as tillwe says, really in keeping with the mythic archetypes of the inspiration for Tolkein’s work. The Folio Society in the UK also did a beautiful hardback Hobbit in the 1970s, with similarly folkloric illustrations by Eric Fraser, which you can still get from them – see here:

  13. Not funny, beautiful.

    I can’t understand the lack of appreciation. These illustrations are stunning.

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