This is the third in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Old Badger-brock and the other participants for this.
To see the idea behind this project, check out this page
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!
If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.
Now, on to Old Badger-brock’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My mother introduced my brothers and me to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with a set of paperbacks when I was age 11. I recall her reading portions of The Hobbit to us.
What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I’m not certain how to interpret “part”. Do you mean which work, what particular scene in that work, or what aspect or attribute of Tolkien’s works? I’ll answer the first two.
My favorite work is The Lord of the Rings. It’s a wonderful work from beginning to end, but my very favorite scenes are “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm” (especially Tolkien’s use of the drums to build and diminish tension) and Éowyn’s encounter with the Lord of the Nazgûl in “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” (especially Éowyn’s speech to him). If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick the latter.
What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I love all my experiences with his work! Perhaps my fondest experience is reading portions of it aloud to my wife. Although I’ve read his works many times, I find I still get emotional during certain passages. Tolkien’s words are so beautiful, as are the scenes they describe. C.S. Lewis wonderfully described LotR when he stated “here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron”. Being able to share Tolkien’s words with the one dearest to me, and to communicate how meaningful they are to me, is particularly gratifying.
Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes and no. (How’s that for an Elven response!) “Yes” because I first read them as a youth, and now that I am in my mid-50s my understanding of both Tolkien’s works and the world we live in has greatly increased. “No” because Tolkien’s words and what they express are timeless. There should be no change in interpretation from when they were published in the ’50s to when I first read them in the ’70s to now in the 2010s. The only change would be the greater understanding now possible due to the publication of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Letters, HoME, etc.
Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
An easy question! Yes, of course I would recommend them, and have. Tolkien’s works have great appeal simply as an adventure story, but the more mature reader finds applicability to their lives and the lives of others. His words stir both the emotions and the intellect. I would not recommend LotR and similar works, e.g., The Silmarillion, to younger readers, but The Hobbit was written with children in mind and should be enjoyed by them.
You can see regular comments about Tolkien and other subjects from Old Badger-brock by following his Twitter account: @oldbadgerbrock