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 grys03 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 grys03’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
This one was easy – 1971
I was a comic book collector & had made friends with a guy who ran a bookshop
He was an ex-literature/English teacher/private tutor in his 70’s
We had come to an arrangement whereby he would let me know when something interesting came in &
I would grade & value the comics
On one of these occasions I spotted a silly paperback in a box in the back room
It looked like fun & had even sillier name: Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon
About an hour later (I was a quick reader) I was hooked.
What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I was always fond of books/stories that filled in details via background data (e.g. Dune)
So Tolkien’s appendixes, family trees was a fascination for me
& eventually The Silmarillion, in particular, almost became far more important than LoTR
providing a rich history
inconsistencies I ignored – stories grow over time & the details can change
even in a well researched/laid out world such as Middle-Earth
What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Reading LotR to my kids 4 & 5 as bedtime a series of bedtime stories
I would paraphrase a section of a chapter
We would talk about unfamiliar concepts etc
This led to many games of HeroQuest, Talisman (board games) &
eventually Dungeon & Dragons when they had matured at ages 5 & 6
Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
I always considered LoTR a grand adventure
It was the adventures of Hercules & Thor & other great tales all rolled into one
It was populated with heroes, ‘magicians’, evil demons, elves, dwarves, etc.
What more could you want
Except, as time went on I realized that the journey to Mordor, the reinstatement of Aragorn as king of Gondor
the travels through Middle-Earth, the destruction of the Ring etc were actually the back story
The real story was the ‘coming of age’ of the Hobbits – their growing confidence & their ability to decide their own future
Which is why, though I loved the movies, I was disappointed that the Homecoming was not handled properly
To me that was the most important chapter in the book
Not the most exciting or grandiose or epic but certainly most important
Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
It took me several attempts to get past the first 33 pages
Once I did I read the next 70 odd pages in the next day
But the rest of the book simply flowed very quickly
So, depends on the person. LoTR is a great book but to me it always felt like a book that thought it was a movie
Descriptive passages were almost written as if Tolkien was one of the Fellowship & described what he saw
similarly, Tolkien wrote as if he was an eavesdropper
Not everyone is interested in reading that style of book