This is one 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 Silmarien 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 Silmarien Ingoldo’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I watched Peter Jackson’s films when I was little and I absolutely loved them. But it wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I finally managed to read Tolkien’s works. When I was around 19, I came across a Wiki article about The Silmarillion. I remember the title struck me as somewhat ethereal and I made a mental note to read it. Coincidentally, around the same time, a friend told me he was reading it and advised me to read it as well. I tried but I found the beginning tiring and confusing. I tried again during the summer but I gave up for a second time. The next year, I had a Lord of the Rings [films] marathon and I became hooked. I searched for some details I was curious about and I was amazed to see that there was a whole mythology behind everything. Then, I managed to finally sit down and read the whole book [The Silmarillion].
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
It is the longing feeling that his works evoke about something you haven’t experienced but you wish it was real. And I love how his work succeeds in making me feel nostalgia. I reach the final pages of The Lord of the Rings or I read the poems and songs that various characters sing about the days of old and I can feel the depth of time, the world-weariness of the Elves in Middle-earth and their bittersweet nostalgia. You start the whole journey from The Silmarillion, throughout The Hobbit and finally The Lord of the Rings and when you are done, you feel as if you yourself experienced what you read. Finally, another favourite part is that a person reading Tolkien’s work can become a better person. You get influenced by the high and noble morals of the characters, you get motivated to go through difficulties and you can gain a whole new appreciation of nature; what I call “seeing the world through Elven eyes”.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Undoubtedly, reading The Silmarillion for the first time. I cannot overestimate what reading this book did to me. I was completely astonished with its epicness and world-building, and the tragedies moved me as no other book has ever moved me. This book made me lose myself in a fantasy world.
Also, the friends I made. I became a member of online communities where I met some of the kindest and deepest people I could ever had hoped for. Those people were with me when I wanted to have someone to share my love (or rather obsession) for Tolkien’s works and we still talk everyday. You can tell the influence that Tolkien had on their character formation to an extent and this creates a peculiar, special bond between us.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Definitely. I read Tolkien’s works before I started studying English Literature. So, everything was new and amazing. After I started my studies, I saw how extensively Tolkien was influenced by other literatures. This gave me a new perspective of his intellectualism and erudition, I realised that his work possessed the best elements of older works and motifs combined and improved with his own imagination and talent.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would certainly recommend it. It is the kind of high literature that is didactic and reminds us that it is alright to seek escapism once in a while. You can elevate yourself higher if you permit it to draw you in.
If you would like to see some of Silmarien Ingoldo’s fusions of Tolkien and other literature, visit literature-fusions.tumblr.com/