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Hompen, eller En resa dit och tillbaksigen
Hompen (front).jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
TranslatorTore Zetterholm
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 edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (and thus the first published translation of any work by Tolkien).[1] The book was illustrated by Torbjörn Zetterholm (interior illustrations) and Charles Sjöblom (cover and maps).[2]

Tolkien on Hompen[edit | edit source]

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[3]

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[4]

The translation of the name 'Hobbit' to 'Hompe'[note 1] 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."[5]

Some other curiosities about Zetterholm's translation are his renderings 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").[2]

Excerpt[edit | edit source]

En oväntad bjudning
I ett hål i jorden bodde en hompe.
Det var inget smutsigt, otrevligt och vått hål, fullt med maskar och gyttjelukt,
och heller inget torrt, sandigt, naket hål utan något att sitta på eller att äta.
Nej, det var ett hompehål, och det betyder att det var hemtrevligt.

 Chapter 1, An Unexpected Party
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell,
nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat;
it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Images[edit | edit source]


  1. The name 'Hompen' is the definite form (as in The Hobbit) of 'Hompe'.