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 Xenia 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 Xenia M’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was a wannabe hippie at a very small high school in rural Ohio in the late 1960’s. There was a girl named Joyce who was further advanced in hippie-dom than I was so I looked to her for guidance. She was reading a book with a very psychedelic cover so naturally I had to get a copy. It was The Fellowship of the Ring. I don’t think Joyce ever finished the book; she mostly carried it around for effect. But I devoured it and saved my allowance money (some hippie!) for the next two volumes. I read them over and over.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I liked the travel sections the best when the Fellowship is traveling through woods, mountains, and Moria.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
I used to hike a lot as a young person and imagine I was part of a Fellowship traveling through Middle-earth.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes, I have been affected by two things:
1. The Tolkien Professor’s podcasts, which led to participating live in the Tuesday and Wednesday night Mythgard classes, which led to enrolling in Signum University as a graduate student. The course work has caused me to take a more scholarly look at Tolkien’s writing. Happily, this has not been dry but actually has enhanced my enjoyment. I notice subtleties that I had previously overlooked.
2. The Peter Jackson movies, for better or for worse. Previously, I didn’t pay much attention to the battle scenes and JRRT didn’t elaborate on them too much either but the movies made the battles extremely, possibly overly, exciting. Also the monsters, such as the cave troll and the oliphants were very exciting in the movies. Also, when I read the books now I have an actor’s face for every character which I suppose is OK but not something I would have wished for.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Yes! Especially to people who are overly involved with politics, accounting, databases, etc. I suggest they start with The Lord of the Rings, then The Hobbit, and then The Silmarillion, in that order.