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Hompen, eller En resa dit och tillbaksigen
Hompen (front).jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherStockholm: Kooperativa Förbundets Bokförlag

Hompen, eller En resa dit och tillbaksigen ("The Hobbit, or A journey there and back again"), translated to Swedish by Tore Zetterholm, was the first non-English international edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (and thus the first translation of a work by Tolkien). The book was illustrated by Torbjörn Zetterholm (interior illustrations) and Charles Sjöblom (cover and maps).

Tolkien on Hompen

Concerning the translation work of The Hobbit to Swedish, Tolkien himself was not involved. Writing to Allen & Unwin in 1956 on the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien says:

"I wish to avoid a repetition of my experience with the Swedish translation of The Hobbit. I discovered that this had taken unwarranted liberties with the text and other details, without consultation or approval; it was also unfavourably criticized in general by a Swedish expert, familiar with the original, to whom I submitted it."
― J.R.R. Tolkien[1]

Later in the same year and writing on the same subject, Tolkien more specifically points out a source of dislike with Hompen to Rayner Unwin:

"May I say now at once that I will not tolerate any similar tinkering with the personal nomenclature. Nor with the name/word Hobbit. I will not have any more Hompen (in which I was not consulted), nor any Hobbel or what not."
― J.R.R. Tolkien[2]

The translation of the name 'Hobbit' to 'Hompe'[3] was not the only thing that annoyed Tolkien about this edition. Already in 1948, he wrote to Rosemary, a young fan, that "the picture of Gollum in the Swedish edition of The Hobbit makes him look huge."[4]

Some other curiosities about Zetterholm's translation are his translations of 'Bilbo' to 'Bimbo' (!), 'elf' to 'älva' (disregarding the etymological connection, 'älva' carries connotations in Swedish which would rather translate it to 'fairy'), and 'goblin' to 'svartalf' ("darkelf").[5]


Back cover
File:Hompen (map).jpg
Map by Charles Sjöblom


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 188, (dated 3 April 1956)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 190, (dated 3 July 1956)
  3. The name 'Hompen' is the definite form (as in The Hobbit) of 'Hompe'.
  4. Hammond, Wayne G, and Scull, Christina, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, p.328
  5. Stentröm, Anders, "Tolkien in Swedish Translation: from Hompen to Ringarnas herre", in Translating Tolkien: Text and Film (Thomas Honegger, ed.)