"The Hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien's famous story of which the movie version opens Dec. 14, was first published in 1937. The world of Middle Earth was set in an indeterminate time, but looked remarkably like an idealized early 19th-century England, though well-stocked with wizards, dwarfs, elves, dragons, trolls, goblins and of course hobbits. But techwise, it was, and is, the Stone Age of Middle Dearth.
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