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 Dom 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 Dom N’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My dad gave me The Hobbit to read when I was in junior high. I remember we were going to visit my mom, who lived in another state. I started reading before we left and was so engrossed I couldn’t wait for us to arrive at my mom’s house so I could rush out of the car and continue reading. I continued to devour The Lord of the Rings (the old Ballentine editions). I devoured the books. I even told my family one night that I was skipping dinner so I could keep reading.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The richness of the text. His writing has so many layers. There’s so much to discover upon rereading the books.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Two experiences. First, the first time I read the books (see above). I was hooked! Second, I presented a paper about politics in Lord of the Rings at Mythmoot and Mythcon. The paper was well received and I received very positive feedback from several scholars, including Prof. Corey Olsen. I won the Alexei Kondratiev Award for the paper and it was published in Mythlore (2014). So I am now a published Tolkien scholar!
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Definitely. As noted in the answers above, I went from reading the books as a young pre-teen on my mom’s couch to publishing an academic paper on Tolkien’s works. I loved the books as a kid for the epic action/adventure and vivid world-building. As I got older, I’ve grown to appreciate the themes and the writing style and the stories that influenced Tolkien.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Of course. With that said, I would also say that Tolkien’s writing is not for everyone. Tolkien set out to create a fantasy story in the style of a medieval epic. He succeeded wildly, but I realize that’s not what all readers want or expect from epic fantasy. Some readers have complained about the book because Tolkien spends so much time with the Hobbits walking and walking and walking. I obviously love the books, but they’re probably not for the casual reader.
If you want to hear more from Dom, check out his great SFF blog: https://domnardireviews.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @Nardiviews