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 Wesley 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 Wesley Schantz’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
As a kid, I read an illustrated Hobbit with pictures from the Rankin-Bass movie. I think it was my dad’s. I would read and look at the pictures about equally. Then in middle school I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in plain paperback editions at least a couple of times through, before the Peter Jackson movies came out.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The sense of an individual crafting something which also aspires to be universal, a mythic whole, and that we’re being invited to imaginatively participate in the endeavor.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Reading The Hobbit for the first time at summer camp, when Bilbo comes to Gollum’s lake, to the spiders in Mirkwood, to Smaug, and finally makes it back home again.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Listening to The Tolkien Professor courses on The Silmarillion, Leaf by Niggle, Smith, etc. and studying Tolkien’s scholarly work, starting with the two big essays and his translations, I’ve become interested in his cultural impact, beyond just his stories.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I highly recommend it. A great way for new readers to encounter him is in the company of Narnia, Harry Potter, and A Wrinkle in Time, through Signum Academy’s summer camps!
For more from Wesley Schantz, check out his blog!