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 Jay 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 a 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 Jay Karpowich’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was 17 years old in 1978, we did not have cable TV back then, but where I lived there was something called Wometco. It was a over the air station that broadcast on UHF channel 50. During the day it was a Public Broadcast Station, but at 8pm every night they would scramble their signal and broadcast current movies. If you bought a $10 a month subscription, you would get a box for your TV that would unscramble the picture and sound. One of the movies that they showed was Ralph Bakshi’s animated The Lord of the Rings. Wometco would rebroadcast the same movies many times in a month so I saw the movie 5 or 6 times. I was immediately drawn into the story the movie was trying to tell. (I also found some of Bakshi.’s animations pretty cool for back then). But I was left hanging because the movie ended at the battle of Helm’s Deep, and no second part was ever made.
My sister who was at college at this time found out I saw and liked the movie. She told me she had the paperbacks in her room and to go borrow her copies if I wanted to read them. After reading them, I was hooked for life. And while I see the movie as a pale shadow of the literary work, I still hold a soft spot for it for introducing me to Tolkien, though I know many people hated it.
I then read The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion, (both borrowed from my sister again). But very soon bought my own copies, and any other works by Tolkien I could find.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
There are many, and like everyone else, hard to point to just one. But to pick one, I would say the Horns of the Rohirrim. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s side they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last. Always gives me chills and misty eyes. Even the version of this in the Jackson movies does the same.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
That would have to be playing the MMO The Lord of the Rings Online. I have always been a gamer going back to pinball games through console games and computer games. Was lucky to be invited to play LOTRO in it’s beta testing days, and have now been playing it for over 11 years. The development team has done a fantastic job of story telling and in their own way fleshing out parts of Tolkien’s works that he left vague. And just to be able to run around in Middle-earth, though it be a digital version, is just too much fun to describe.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Somewhat. At first I read the books or listened to the audio versions just for the joy and entertainment they brought to me. And each time I would find something new I missed before. Now, by listening to pod casts like The Tolkien Professor’s, and talking to other fans, I look at the works with a keener eye, looking for things that I may have missed or miss-interpreted before.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Always have and always will. They are a wonderful body of work that I would want others to have the chance to love as much as I do.
If you want to hear more from Jay, he is on Facebook. You can also find him in Lord of the Rings Online as Linlen or Louni (on Landroval server).