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 Tanya 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 Tanya P’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
By chance, if chance you call it. When I was 14, a few months after my family and I came to US, I went with my mother and sister to the local library to pick out a book to read together, for the purposes of learning English. We were really at a loss what book to pick. So we wandered to a random shelf. There my mother pointed to some books and said “Look, there’s Tolkien.” My sister and I never heard the name before and were puzzled, so my mother, who like us never read Tolkien either, said that she heard that “this Tolkien was sought after” by more enthusiastic book lovers in Russia. That was good enough for us. So we plucked a random book by this Tolkien from the shelf and check it out. It was called The Hobbit. We began reading it together, but my mom and sister got bored very quickly and quit. I devoured the book and been reading and enjoying Tolkien’s works ever since.
What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
My favorite Tolkien’s book is The Silmarillion, but I’m having trouble pinpointing a single favorite passage or chapter in it. On the other hand, in The Lord of the Rings, I have several favorite passages. I like them for different reasons. But the one describing Gandalf’s flash of real light in Moria stands out even among them. Moria is one of my favorite locations in Middle-earth. Its perpetual darkness conceals secrets that I long to uncover. And I love the moment when Gandalf lifts this veil of mystery and gives his companions, and readers, a tiny glimpse of what they are missing.
What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Being part of the Tolkien community and being able to share the love for the works of my most favorite author with like-minded people through discussion, speculation and humor. I was a solitary and lonely fan for twenty years. When I joined the Tolkien Society Facebook group, I was overjoyed to finally find someone to talk to about all things Tolkien.
Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes and no. It was really natural progression over time, fueled by age and exposure to the Tolkien’s fandom. This is how it went: This is such a great story, can’t wait to find out what happens next. —> Arda is such a rich world, must know every detail. —> These books are great works of literature, must think of all the different themes that the author included and tried to explore in his works. —> There are so many influences, references and allusions to external sources both literary and historical, must find all these hidden gems and thoroughly analyze them. But my greatest interest always was and still remains Arda itself – it’s history, metaphysical structure and internal workings.
Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Yes I would if I ever get a chance because I think that a person of almost any age will find something interesting in Tolkien’s books. But unlike many other fans, I generally like to talk Tolkien only to the people whom I already know to be fans. And though I recommended the “next Tolkien book” many times, I almost never get an opportunity to recommend it to someone who never read Tolkien before.